Internship Preview: Karishma Velagaleti heads to FedEx

Karishma Velagaleti is a member of Simon’s MS in Business Analytics Class of 2017. She recently answered a few questions about her upcoming summer internship at FedEx.

Where is your summer internship? What are your anticipated responsibilities?
I will be interning this summer with FedEx in Memphis, Tennessee. I will be working on a few data analytics projects to help my team.

How did you find this internship?
There is no one formula. I found mine through networking, but I would say different things work for different people, so I would recommend trying everything at your disposal.

KarishmaWhat CMC resources did you use to help you prepare for the interview process or any of the job responsibilities?
During the pre-fall quarter, we had weekly CMC workshops which I attended regularly. The workshops really helped me understand a lot about the US job search culture and various CMC resources that I could take advantage of. CMC resources such as student career advisors (SCAs are usually second year MBAs) were really helpful in imparting the necessary guidance, reviewing my résumé etc., as they had gone through a similar experience while they were on the job search.

What are you most looking forward to about your summer internship?
Since this is going to be my first working experience in the US, I am looking forward to learning as much as I can.

What do you think will be the most challenging aspect of your role?
The most challenging part of my role will be applying my technical skills to the job at hand and working to support my team.

Are you relocating? If so, what are you looking forward to exploring in your new home?
Yes, I am relocating for this position. Since Tennessee is a southern state, I am looking forward to understanding more about the southern culture, meeting new people, and of course, exploring a new place!

Navigating Business School with a Humanities Background

This blog post was written by Aileen Maria-Ritchie, 2017 MBA candidate. After graduation, Aileen will join Nationwide Insurance Company as a process management specialist doing internal consulting in the Business Transformation Office.

Business school can be intimidating for anyone, but even more so for those who come from a humanities background. I completed my undergraduate education at the University of California, Berkeley, with double major in English and art practice. I had avoided math like the plague and didn’t glance at it much until I was preparing for the GMAT.

As a result, it was no surprise I found myself struggling with the quantitative subjects in business school. In particular, halfway through the fall quarter, my finance midterm grade was a stark signpost that I could no longer ignore: I was failing. I realized that I had sat through the first three weeks of classes being so intimidated by the subject matter that I had learned nothing.

However, during the remainder of the quarter, I managed to turn it around. Here are some tips worth sharing from this experience.

head shot of Aileen Maria-Ritchie

Aileen shares her advice on how to excel in business school with a humanities background.

Don’t short sell yourself. Recognize your strengths.
Unlike many of my classmates, this was my first time seeing finance in the classroom. Most of my fellow classmates are pursuing an MBA with a finance focus. There are even multiple certified Level 1 and Level 2 CFA’s (Chartered Financial Analysts) in my class. With this in mind, I felt like I had to work twice as hard—and I started second-guessing my own abilities.

That was until I realized my strengths from my humanities background: the ability to learn, adapt, and understand people. Once I was more self-aware, I also became more confident. I made a plan to understand and conquer my weaknesses and to conquer finance.

Utilize your resources.
My next step was utilizing office hours with my finance professor and the finance teaching assistants. In my experience, office hours are extremely under-utilized in both undergraduate and graduate education. It was extremely rare to have any other classmate attend office hours at the same time—which meant I received free one-on-one tutoring multiple times a week.

My finance class offered three separate sets of office hours with teaching assistants, and I attended all of them for the remainder of the quarter. Sometimes we discussed concepts from lectures, and other times, we reviewed problem set after problem set.

By the third week of office hours, I felt confident and competent enough to complete the problem sets alone. By finals week, I was explaining the concepts of “Forwards and Futures” to my fellow classmates.

Reach out to your team and classmates.
Next, I asked my teammates for help. Once a week, during our lunch break, I reviewed practice problems with my friends. I reached out to a classmate who lives in my apartment complex, and we would work on finance problems together in the evenings. As finals approached, I studied in groups. Learning from classmates and repeating back concepts and problem solving methods helped me to solidify my understanding of finance.

Remember why you are in business school.
My struggle in finance class reminded me why I was here in the first place: to learn. But it was more than that. I was in business school for myself—to better myself so that I could make an impact in my future career. One of my main drivers for pursuing my MBA was that I felt I did not have enough academic knowledge in finance, accounting, and statistics. I knew this was holding me back in my previous job.

Remembering that learning this material would fuel my success in the future helped me to constantly challenge myself. It gave me the willpower to keep going when I was tired, upset, or frustrated with learning. Each time I struggled, I gained more understanding and yearned to learn more. I even began to like finance.

Hard work pays off.
When my grades were finally posted, I received a B+ in finance. My final exam scored an 88/100 and was above the class average. I was satisfied. I had managed to turn the entire situation around, and I now know so much more about financial ratios, the stock market, and arbitrage.

This success is a reflection of all the challenges and struggles that lie ahead. Learning new subject matter is tough. It was frustrating because I had to put myself out of my comfort zone every day. Yet, it was being out of my comfort zone that helped me to truly grow.

While academics are only one facet of pursuing an MBA, it is a challenging and rewarding experience. It was a reminder of how much I can achieve and that hard work does pay off.

Women in Business Q&A: Michelle Moore ’98 MBA, Head of Digital Banking, Bank of America

This article was written by Laura Emily Dunn (Twitter: @lauraemilyd) and originally appeared in The Huffington Post. It was repurposed with permission for the Simon Admissions Blog.

Michelle Moore is Head of Digital Banking for Bank of America. In this role, she is responsible for developing and executing Bank of America’s mobile and online strategy, roadmap and transformation. She is focused on making banking more convenient for customers by delivering innovative products and services across mobile devices and online platforms. Bank of America is a leader in Mobile and Online Banking with 33.8 million digital customers including 21.6 million Mobile Banking app users. Moore is also responsible for ATM, Preferred and Small Business Call Centers, and Financial Centers and Market Growth Strategy.

Michelle Moore '98 MBA, head of digital banking for Bank of America.

Michelle Moore ’98 MBA, head of digital banking for Bank of America.

Since joining Bank of America in 2003, Moore has held a number of leadership positions, including chief operating officer for Global Commercial Banking (GCB) and Finance executive for GCB Middle Markets, Bank of America Business Capital and Dealer Financial Services. Additionally, she served as the Finance executive for Corporate Workplace. Moore also has experience in the Consumer Banking business, having held positions as Strategy and Planning executive, as well as Checking Products executive.

Moore serves as the Executive Sponsor for the Leadership Advantage Program. She also serves on the board of Hope Haven, Inc.

Moore holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from Cornell University and a Master of Business Administration in finance from the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School. She resides in Charlotte with her husband and two sons.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I am the oldest of five siblings, with four younger brothers. We grew up in a small town in Western NY with humble beginnings, where early on we learned the values of working hard to accomplish great things; that whatever you set your mind to you can achieve; to never give up; to have faith and integrity; and to always trust in each other. I was always encouraged to be curious, have thirst for knowledge and to step out of my comfort zone. As the oldest, I encouraged my brothers to do the same and I still pass this on to my team today.

As I continued to grow, I also learned that no matter what your role is, you can always make a larger impact and help others. Having been at the bank for nearly 15 years, and serving in positions across Global Commercial Banking, Finance and leading operations for the bank’s consumer call centers and ATM network, I’ve learned that one of the best ways to help others is by listening. In fact, listening is a cornerstone to effective leadership. I still spend time in the call centers, in the financial centers and reading customer feedback almost daily. I know to ultimately lead my team to success, I need to understand our customer’s day-to-day and end goals to help them get there. The same is true for my team; I have to understand their career goals in order to help them achieve them.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Bank of America?
As mentioned, I have been with Bank of America for most my career and worked in numerous areas that have been essential experiences to prepare me for the role I have today. I chose a diverse career path, leading businesses, working in support functions like finance and spearheading client-facing organizations in both consumer and business banking, to be the most effective leader I can with the size of an organization like Bank of America.

I’d like to think my greatest strength acquired through my experience here has been my ability to relate and empathize. This skillset is integral to lead my team of nearly 5,600 employees, and then ultimately to deliver our more than 65 million clients the best customer experience.

We recognize our success is based fundamentally on the relationships we have with our clients, which is why I’m a firm believer in a customer-first approach to innovation. We regularly conduct surveys and convene focus groups to communicate with customers one-on-one and better understand what they want and need. My team listens to customers directly and indirectly, paying close attention to their feedback through social media and in the app store. In fact, I still read every review of Bank of America’s mobile app to help drive future innovations. The impact of relatability cannot be understated.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Bank of America?
Throughout my time at Bank of America, I’ve been witness to and a participant in many highlights and challenges in our industry and economic landscape. One of the greatest challenges we faced was during the financial crisis, where our perception and satisfaction among industry consumers dropped along with the economy. That was very difficult, not only as a leader, but as a consumer as well.

Turning the corner and climbing back from that drop though, has been both challenging and satisfying. We have been there, partnered with our customers through some of their most trying then rewarding times, and have become a simpler, more straightforward, stronger and better company for it.

I couldn’t be more pleased that our customer satisfaction today is at its highest ratings yet. That said, I don’t ever take it for granted. We should never rest on our laurels, always continue to improve, listen and practice – again, apply week to week what we learned in the previous. This is why I love our foundational strategy: driving responsible growth is all about doing what’s right for our clients, and the rest will follow.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Be present and seize opportunities to contribute and drive results. Think to yourself, ’how did I add value today?’ Your answer should never be circumstantial of your gender, but a focus on your passion, exuded effort, results and ability to find confidence in your success, and growth in your mistakes or failures.

At Bank of America, we set a standard of women in the workforce. Being diverse and inclusive makes us strong. It’s essential to our ability to meet the needs of our clients, communities and internal teams. We invest in women making meaningful contributions within the company, recognize the significant role women play in advancing thriving economies, and ensure tools and resources are available and utilized to do so.

For as long as I can remember, we have continued to grow the roles of women throughout all levels of our organization. We continue to focus on recruiting female talent to the company, developing our employees and supporting the economic empowerment of women around the world.

For those seeking a career in this industry, find somewhere that supports your passion and ambition to be the best at what you do, breaking barriers, shattering ceilings, and conquering success through practices of integrity, tenacity and focus.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
A quote from technology pioneer Steve Jobs comes to mind, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” As the head of digital banking at such a large company, it’s the job of my team and myself to anticipate customers’ ever-evolving needs and make their financial lives better. To ultimately not confine ourselves to four walls and what our industry is doing, but to continue to innovate without boundaries.

Despite record successes this year, my team will continue to go above in beyond in 2017 to deliver experiences customer never imagined were possible. And this mindset can be applied to any industry as long as you stay true to yourself, know what you want to accomplish and know what you want to give.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
For me there’s no question – family comes first, which makes me a more effective leader. I am a proud mother to two sons, who will always remain my number one priority. I will never miss their birthdays; I plan around school activities and sports the best that I can and I usually get it right 90 percent of the time, which I’m sure most working parents can relate to.

I am lucky to work at a company that offers a variety of benefits and programs to support employees with the challenges of work, personal life and family obligations, and I instill those values across my teams. I’ve had supportive leaders throughout my career who understand the importance of family, including my current managers who ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk and talk’ to ultimately create a culture conducive to achieving the ideal work/life balance.

I also strongly believe that no leader is effective without taking take time for themselves, too. Personally, running is my outlet. It helps me clear my mind and relieve stress while I get my exercise, but for everyone it’s different. It’s integral that everyone takes the time to figure out what it is for them, and then take the action to actually carve out the time.

Maintaining a true work/life balance helps me be a more effective mom, leader and ultimately a better person. While it’s not always easy, it’s essential to growth.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Ultimately, I think it all comes down to opportunity, which applies not only to women, but everyone. As a leader at Bank of America, I am accountable for creating an environment where everyone can be heard and contribute their individual talents to the end goal. It’s about building a culture and belief that diverse perspectives are essential to make the best decisions.

Having my team grow and thrive, and in turn the customer, is my true marker of success and I believe the more institutions that adopt the mindset, the better off they will be.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
To echo my point from above, mentorship is one of the most important roles in your career. When you’re young, you need people to impart wisdom on you, help you on your journey and to get you on a path. Then as you progress in your career, you have to pay it forward and you have to lead by example.

In fact, I still have many mentors here at Bank of America that I consult on a regular basis. To make decisions that truly make an impact, you oftentimes need an outside perspective – those that aren’t living and breathing the decisions day in and day out. I am immensely appreciative for all of the counsel and insight I seek from these individuals, and hope I’m able to pay it forward to my team.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
It’s nearly impossible to just pick one individual because I there are too many names that come to mind. What I admire is women who not only excel in their fields, but those who do it with grace, integrity, grit and focus.

Everyone faces challenges, everyone has different life experiences, but capitalizing on them, learning from them, and constantly striving to be a better person is the true marker of a role model. Pioneers like Megyn Kelly, Sheryl Sandberg, Tory Burch, Condoleeza Rice, and Meg Whitman come to mind; and all the women on our management team who show the strength within to drive change and I couldn’t be more appreciative to call them colleagues. They inspire me every day, and have played an integral role in shaping me into the leader I am today.

What do you want Bank of America Digital Banking to accomplish in the next year?
I’m excited to usher in a new era of high-touch, high-tech banking this year. This effort includes industry-leading developments in the emerging payments and artificial intelligence spaces, and forging partnerships with technology companies, academics and Silicon Valley leaders to better anticipant our customers’ ever-changing needs and expectations.

I have set my team’s sights high to solidify our leadership not only in banking, but also technology. And while running at the pace of innovation is a challenge for virtually all organizations in today’s world, if we remain connected with our purpose – to make financial lives better for our customers – we are sure to succeed.

Trista’s Tips: What to Expect After Submitting Your Application

After you submit your business school application, you might have a few questions about what comes next. Trista Wesley, assistant director of admissions, breaks down the behind-the-scenes Admissions processes after an application deadline and offers tips on how to stay connected with Simon while you wait for a possible interview invitation.

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If you are still considering business school for Fall 2017, submit an application to Simon! We encourage you to apply at your earliest opportunity, as there are still spots available for our MBA and MS programs and merit-based scholarship support will be offered to select candidates.