Eight Inspiring Soundbites from the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference

The following blog post was written by Wallace Gundy, MBA Class of 2020 and Simon Forté Fellow

Every now and then, I need a good old-fashioned dose of girl power! But attending the annual Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference with 14 other Simon Forté Fellows was that and a whole lot more. All of the nerves went away, and the anxious inner-monologue of “Can I really do this? Can I really get my MBA?” was drowned out by great conversation, connection making, laughter, and a pretty incredible #FortéPowerUp Spotify playlist. Being surrounded by 700+ women in my shoes, and embarking on this journey together, made for three incredible days and the perfect kickstart to my two years of business school.

Simon ladies #PowerUp!

Simon women #PowerUp!

The facts are the facts. Only five percent of current Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Women hold just over 20% of board seats in the Fortune 1000 companies. There is a gender wage gap of 20 percent, with women earning only 80 cents for every dollar men earn.

But after hearing from so many talented and successful women leaders in business, I am not only optimistic, I am certain that our generation will make a huge difference. We are smart, we are capable, we are empathetic, and we are ready to #PowerUp. Below are just a few of the comments I took away from the conference that I will carry with me over these next two years and beyond.

“Risk taking is a muscle you need to exercise.”
Julie Sweet, Chief Executive Officer – North America, Accenture
The unknown is tough and risks are scary. But they are so worth it. Julie also shared that she has a placard in her office that reads, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” Keep dreaming.

“One hand reaching up, one hand reaching back.”
Melissa Arnoldi, President, AT&T Technology & Operations
We are going to need to reach for help from others. But guess what? Women are going to be needing to reach for our help too.

“Find the thing that even senior people want to come to you for.”
Lori Heinel, Executive Vice President & Deputy Global Chief Investment Officer, State Street Global Advisors
Be an expert in something that is invaluable. Even if it’s small, if it’s the thing only you can do, you will be invaluable, too.

“Be a group of women that will create more firsts than this world knows what to do with.”
Noemie Tilghman, Principal Strategy & Operations, Deloitte
We are ready, Noemie!

Several Simon Forté fellows posed with a banner of Lydia Perez Poole '06S (MBA).

Several Simon Forté Fellows posed with a banner of Lydia Perez Poole, a 2006 Simon MBA graduate.

“Focus on what matters, but keep an open mind. Whenever things get hard, go back and think about why you’re doing what you’re doing. Take some chances. You might be surprised by how much you might learn.”
Lydia Perez Poole, Simon MBA ’06, Shopper Insights & Analytics Leader, Procter & Gamble
It’s a big world out there and you never know what opportunities you might encounter. Stay focused but not confined. Otherwise, you could miss out on something great.

“It’s not a career ladder, it’s a career jungle gym.”
Jennifer Bosl, Regional Operations Director, DaVita Kidney Care
If there is one thing I’ve already learned, it’s that careers aren’t linear. That’s part of why I am at Simon! Embrace the non-linear path! You never know where it could lead you.

“Come in every day and earn your chair.”
Kelly Greenauer, Data Quality Manager, M&T Bank
Make every day matter. Give it your all. Leave your job each day better than you found it that morning.

“Exercise your agency. Make your school a place where women can thrive as much as men do. When women around you succeed, celebrate their victories. Cheer loudly for them. Support them.”
Jessica Raasch, 2018 Edie Hunt Inspiration Award Winner
As a recent MBA graduate, Jessica was in our shoes just two years ago. Her words were the perfect conclusion to the conference.

I think I can speak for all of the Simon Forté Fellows when I say we will exercise our agency. We will support and celebrate one another. And we will all make Simon an even better place for women to grow as the next generation of leaders. Together.

 

MS in Finance Program Ranked No. 5 by Financial Times

We have exciting news to share: Simon Business School has been ranked among the top ten business schools in the US for its STEM designated MS in Finance program by the Financial Times!

No5forPre-Experience_social_MSF v2 (1080x1080)Simon is ranked 5th in the US in this year’s survey and 42nd among the top 65 Master’s in Finance programs in the world. The ranking is a weighted average of alumni career progress, school diversity, international course experience, and faculty research. While Simon performed well across multiple criteria, our primary areas of strength were the extent to which alumni fulfilled their goals, salaries increased, and percentage of international students.

Simon has long been regarded as one of the best business schools in the world, with particular strength in finance, and we are pleased to again be recognized for our world-class MS in Finance program by the Financial Times in its June 18, 2018, issue. It bears testimony to the leadership provided by our faculty in this field for almost 50 years.

Our graduates obtain employment in the financial services sector at premier companies such as Alipay.com, BNP Paribas, Deloitte, Discover Bank, Goldman Sachs, Nomura Securities, and Société Générale, as well as in a variety of other finance roles at firms such as Accenture, Dell, American Airlines, EY, Gartner, PwC, and Sprint. To learn more about our world-class MSF program, please visit our website or contact us at admissions@simon.rochester.edu to speak with one of our admissions officers.

Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

After a week packed with pre-graduation festivities — including a camping trip, scavenger hunt, a Rochester Red Wings baseball game, and the Dean’s picnic — Simon celebrated commencement on Saturday, June 10 at 10 a.m. in the Eastman Theatre. This year, 537 graduates became newly-minted alumni.

grad photo_crop

Members of the Class of 2018 gathered to take a pre-graduation photo in caps and gowns on the University of Rochester athletic field.

This year’s commencement ceremony honored Jihan Cooke, a student who passed away after a battle with cancer this year, with a posthumous degree, a memorial song, and honor stoles representative of Cooke’s home country, Jamaica. Cooke began her MBA degree in July 2016 and was a valued member of the Simon community, exceptionally involved in both academic and extracurricular activities. She was elected as vice president of communications of the Simon Finance and Investment Club, vice president of communications & marketing of the Simon School Venture Fund, and president of the Simon Dance Club. The Simon community supported Cooke throughout her battle and played an integral role in raising over $28,000 for her and her family.

This year’s commencement address was given by Stephen E. Rogers, who was also the recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Rogers earned his bachelor’s degree from the Sacramento State College of Business Administration and graduated with his MBA in Finance and Accounting from Simon Business School in 1990. He is an experienced board member with a history of working in both profit and non-profit industries. His strong entrepreneurship skills and experience in management, governance, and investments have expanded his volunteer capacities, particularly for his alma mater.

As a member of the Simon National Council and Simon Executive Advisory Committee, his valued mentorship to students and alumni and willingness to serve as an event host has strengthened countless connections throughout the Bay Area. He is dedicated alumnus and has consistently supported the students, alumni, and intellectual capacity of the Simon Business School.

Simon also awarded an honorary degree to Ronald H. Fielding, who graduated from Simon with his MA in 1973 and with his MBA in 1976. Fielding was an adjunct professor at RIT and the Graduate School of Management (the predecessor of the Simon School) from 1975-1982, while doing corporate finance and bond portfolio work at two Rochester banks. Fielding serves on the Simon National Council and the Simon Advisory Committee. A tremendous advocate of scholarships, he established the Ronald H. Fielding Scholarship Fund in 1996 to provide support for Simon students. In 2017 the School elevated the Fielding Fellows to become the premier scholarship offered by Simon. He is the 1995 recipient of the Simon Distinguished Alumnus Award and 2014 recipient of the Simon Dean’s Medal, the School’s highest honor.

We wish all of our graduates the best of luck in their future endeavors! Come back to visit us as often as possible!

Seven Major Lessons Learned from Working with Simon Vision Consulting

The following blog post was written by Gilbert Bonsu ’18S (MBA)

My tenure on the leadership team of Simon Vision Consulting at Simon Business School ended in mid-May. The journey between beginning as a project manager and ending as the managing director was transformative and significant. Simon Vision Consulting (Vision) is a professionally managed, student-led organization at Simon that provides pro-bono consulting services to businesses and non-profits in the Greater Rochester area. My two years with Vision have been a great opportunity for me to work closely with over 16 organizations across multiple industries addressing critical business challenges. These firms ranged from solopreneur entities to publicly traded companies.

Below are seven business lessons that I learned and were reaffirmed during my time with Vision:

gilbert1.) It’s all about people.
Tactful people skills are foundational to your success in both personal and professional life. Matured interpersonal skills allow you to maneuver in your workplace with ease. You might be the most technically gifted person in the room, but if people hate working with you they will pass on you, even for a less experienced colleague. On the other hand, when people love working with you and you have the capabilities to deliver success, the sky is the limit. The people skills of our Vision team, from the president to consultants, in addition to our technical prowess, help us generate more business through referrals. When our clients talked about their experience with our teams, one of the first things they mentioned is how they loved working with us. People skills are crucial in life and they come in the forms of personality, empathy, verbal and non-verbal cues, and listening. Which leads to the next point:

2.) Actively listen and embrace learning.
Actively listen: We all have heard the saying “hearing someone and listening to them are two different things.” As a consultant, it is critical to actively listen to others. Don’t start formulating a response while the client is still talking. Not only may you need collateral information to truly understand and appreciate the situation, but also, good ideas take time to form. Listen without interruption and take time to formulate a response. You will learn a lot.

Embrace learning: The importance of learning cannot be overstated. Continuous learning is important in your professional life as it makes you more adaptable to change, builds self-esteem, and improves your skills. To embrace learning includes taking the time to experience even the same things multiple times. The same problems in a different environment present renewed and unique learning opportunities. Welcome these opportunities and the ambiguity that comes with them.

3.) Welcome ambiguity.
Ambiguity can be stressful and tiring. When we are faced with uncertainty, we can sometimes feel paralyzed. In these situations it is important to recognize that ambiguity is a path to knowledge. We can expand our horizon when we don’t back down from uncertainty. The unknown comprises many lessons waiting to be learned. Instead of meeting it with fear, recognize that you will come through it transformed. Following that unknown may result in outcomes that were beyond your frame of thinking and planning.

4.) Simplify.
Reality does not happen in a vacuum. There are many actions and reactions occurring simultaneously. Everything in this world is complex; thus, simplicity is sometimes thought of as unrealistic or naïve. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t neglect the power of simplicity. When faced with complex issues, try and strip it apart to simplify it. Then, only when it is completely understood, bring it all together with the nuanced pieces. At times when you simplify a problem and apply due diligence, you are able to understand the core value of the problem and plan accordingly. Indeed, things are not always black or white, but you need a starting palette to create a rainbow.

5.) You don’t need to be the expert.
Clients expect a know-it-all, but no one is truly the expert. It is okay to admit you don’t have all the answers. In fact, everyone has their expertise, and knowing whom to call on is just as valuable as knowing what to do. You may even be the subject matter expert and still not know the answer at the moment. We sometimes miss the process of discovery when we feel pressured to have all the answers right off the bat. Worst case, we end up giving the wrong answer or make up something completely useless.

6.) Be prepared and be ready.
Simply, poor preparation promotes poor performance. Whether it is a short meeting or a formal presentation, be prepared and ready to go. Train like it’s game time. Being unprepared is not only disrespectful to your teammates and clients, but also disrespectful to yourself.

7.) Not all clients know what they want.
Sometimes the clients just don’t know what they want. It can be frustrating, especially when the client thinks (s)he knows the answer but can’t readily articulate the problem. However, this is okay. You’re there to help. Here’s some advice when you find yourself in that situation:

  • Try and figure out how the client operates
  • Make them feel comfortable (don’t be intimidating or condescending), and build a rapport and a genuine working relationship
  • Engineer your questions appropriately
  • Guide them towards what they need, not what they want (they will be grateful later)

These seven business lessons are from my unique experience with Simon Vision and I wanted to share them with you; however, the lessons don’t end here. Above all, it is important to remain curious and passionate. Approach every situation as a showcase for your strengths and a test of your resolve.