24 to 25 Minutes with… Dave Sedelnick

When we decided to sit down with a current student for 24 to 25 Minutes with…, we wanted to sit down with an individual who could give a unique and well informed perspective about what it’s like to be an MBA student in today’s world.  We wanted someone who could describe first hand the challenges graduate management students face in today’s market.  And, we wanted someone who could set a positive tone for those students who will follow in his/her footsteps.  The Zicklin School of Business is very fortunate to have many students who fit this description.  Dave Sedelnick is most certainly one of them.

A second-year Full-time Honors MBA student, Mr. Sedelnick came to Zicklin with a strong resume in real estate finance and development.  A year before starting his MBA, Mr. Sedelnick had an epiphany while on a trip to China.  In his own words, he was “awed by the rapidity at which the real estate industry is broadening, deepening, and globalizing.” He realized at that moment that his long-term goal would be to manage commercial real estate projects in the developing world.  In order to achieve that goal, Mr. Sedelnick identified the need to improve upon his analytical, technical, and managerial skills sets and chose the Zicklin School of Business to help him in doing so.  Mr. Sedelnick, as a result, left a very successful career in Massachusetts and headed to New York City for his MBA.  The following is his story….

Q. You started your MBA in the first week of September of 2008.  Within two weeks, the world as we knew it would change forever.  How have the events of September 2008 and the ensuing financial crisis/recession shaped your management education experience?

 A. For me, the biggest change was from a job search perspective.  I went to school to study finance and before classes were underway the financial world seemed to be in the midst of self-destruct. Massive layoffs, government bailouts and bankrupt financial institutions made finding an internship exceptionally challenging. Since the typical job search mediums were constrained a change in job-search strategy was required.

 The financial crisis also effected our MBA education, particularly for finance classes. Frequently, professors would diverge from a typical ‘scheduled’ lecture, to discuss significant events and provide explanations. We talked about what was happening in the financial markets and what that meant for us as MBA students.  We also discussed new opportunities (such as risk management) that were going to emerge from the financial crisis. 

 Q.  Let’s delve a little deeper into changes in your job search strategy.  How did it change as a result of the events?

 A. Coming into the Baruch MBA program, I thought that a job-search would be the least of my worries. I was in the real estate industry prior to coming to school and had several high-level contacts in the NYC area.  For example, my prior boss had referred me to one of his longstanding friends at a commercial mezzanine finance company. I had met with the CEO several times prior to attending grad school, and more-or-less had an open offer when I graduated. How that changed. Stressed by the real estate downturn, and just six months into my MBA education, his firm was forced to close its doors. All the contacts I thought I had either went sour or instituted a no-hiring policy.

 Essentially, I was at square zero. So, I had to reach out of the box and pursue a different strategy. That started with a lot of networking. Instead of relying on my existing database of names, I was forced to, in a good way, reach out to different people, including professors.  After a lot of hard work, my lucky break came along when I spoke to Professor Terry Martell, who, in a round about way, acquainted me with the CEO of the firm I’ll be working for after graduation; a mid-sized investment bank called Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW). I wasn’t really prepared for that.  I thought that a job out of school was going to be pretty much sealed up and it wasn’t.

 Q. In your admissions essay, you stated your ultimate long-term goal is to manage commercial real estate projects in the developing world.  How has that goal evolved over the last 18 months?

 A. Well, my ultimate long-term goal hasn’t changed — it’s still where I’d like to be down the road. Prior to grad school I had the experience of traveling to China. Seeing the changes taking place in this developing economy solidified my interest in emerging markets.  The pace at which the changes were happening was just amazing.  Buildings were going up over night.  There are night crews working on buildings. The sense of urgency was just incredible. My post-graduate career path in real estate banking will be immensely helpful in building a strong analytical skill set and laying a foundation in real estate capital markets.

 Q. What ideas, areas of interest, opportunities have you pursued over the last 18 months that you either did not consider prior to starting your MBA or did not know existed?

 A. One of the most beneficial parts of my education that I wasn’t expecting was the different types of case competitions that are available.  For example, I participated in the ACG Cup this year, which is a private equity M&A case competition. Fortunately, my team won the first round and we will be competing in the state-level competition in late April.  It’s been a fantastic experience in itself.  Competitions like this build on everything you learned in an MBA curriculum. It was a lot of work; but you get a lot out of it and it has been something I really enjoyed.

 Q. Let’s talk a bit more about your ACG Cup experience.  Your team won the campus based competition – congratulations.  Describe the overall experience, how you built your team, and what set your presentation apart from the competition.  And, secondly, what are your predictions for the next round?

 A. I’ll start with the second question.  The next round is state wide.  My team will be competing against six other business schools, including NYU, Fordham, Cornell, Hofstra and a few others.  I believe Baruch came in third place last year. This year I’m ready to raise the bar and I can definitely see a first place finish for us.  But if we place second, I won’t be horribly upset, but I’d really like to be at the top of the podium. We’ve done a lot to prepare for the second round.  We met with several of the judges after the first round to get advice as to how to change our presentation and what to focus on. We have gone through a couple of practice rounds since then. So, I think with this kind of preparation, we will be ready to take a shot at 1st place.

 

Dave Sedelnick (center) Celebrates ACG Cup Victory with His Team

Dave Sedelnick (center) Celebrates ACG Cup Victory with His Team

In regards to forming the group, as you are aware, the Zicklin School of Business is one of the most diverse schools of business in the country so it was a unique opportunity to build a team. No matter who you pick for teammates, you’ll be assured of not having two people who are alike or two with a similar set of experiences.

 I started the team by recruiting two of my classmates, both of whom I’ve built a close relationship with during my time at Zicklin. Oytun Sepin, a student from Turkey who is studying Finance and International Business and Yuri Prokhorov, a student who was born in Russia and is studying Finance. Our group was assigned two additional students from the Flextime MBA Program, however neither were able to participate in the competition.

 Once the case was assigned we had a week to prepare. We decided beforehand that we were going to give it 110% and that’s exactly what we did. I think we took first place in the competition because we drew on our diverse experiences, leveraged our MBA education, and gave 110%.

 Q. So, aside from preparation and effort, what do you feel set your presentation apart?  Give us a critique of your performance?

 A. As I mentioned before, the competition builds on just about everything one learns in business school.  We had to sit down, work together, and come up with a plan for a fictional private company that was looking to transition ownership.  First, we leveraged our finance classes to develop a strategic alternatives model for the firm that addressed all of the stakeholders’ interests. Once we developed that plan, we had to decide how we were going to present it to the panel of judges, who represented the board of directors and senior management of the private company. Building on our marketing and business communication classes, we crafted a presentation and communication plan that effectively addressed management’s concerns. We rehearsed the presentation until it was second nature.

 Overall, I think our performance was solid, though we did make one mistake in our analysis that nearly cost us the win. Somehow an Excel formula error slipped past all of us and as a result our valuation was too high. But our team compensated for that error in several ways. First, we were the only team, as far as I know, to propose a partial LBO for one of the owners of the firm. The case indicated that this particular owner was interested in retaining ownership and possibly running the company. We built out a model for that owner’s pro forma estimates and while we concluded that it wasn’t the best alternative for the company, I think the judges were impressed that we took the time to explore the avenue. Also, we were prepared for several of the judges’ questions. While a few questions tripped us up, overall, we anticipated the majority of questions that were posed. So when one of those questions popped up we were able to spout off an explanation and answer as if it was second nature.

 In the end, I think we were able to edge out the win because overall we had a solid presentation. We clearly explained and justified our methodology while presenting and were careful to address management’s concerns in a consultative manner.

 Q. You come to Zicklin from Massachusetts.  What advantages/disadvantages are there in doing your management education in New York City?  How have you personally taken advantage of the city?

 A. I don’t see any disadvantages to pursuing my MBA in New York. Of course my family and some close friends are further away then I would like; but from an academic standpoint, I think New York City is the best possible location for an MBA education.

 Unfortunately, I think sometimes students take for granted that they are in New York. We get many offers to attend national conferences that are being held in New York.  Students from all over the country and abroad make plans to attend these events. For us, it’s simply a matter of waking up in the morning and jumping on the subway. Also, the networking opportunities have been unbelievable here in New York. Being right in the heart of finance has opened so many opportunities for networking events, industry conferences, speaker series, etc.

 Q. What conferences/networking events have you personally taken advantage of?

 A. I have taken advantage of several. The first was a private equity/venture capital conference that I learned about through Professor Terry Martell. It was at this conference where I first met several employees of the company I will be working for when I finish my MBA. I was able to make a significant number of contacts at this conference – I walked out of there with at least a dozen business cards.

 A common consensus in Massachusetts is that New Yorkers are a bit more pretentious, and focused solely on pursuing their own livelihood. I’ve found the exact opposite. While there are always exceptions, for the most part, everyone I have encountered, including C-level executives, have been more than happy to entertain a phone call or an informational interview. Sure, sometimes business people are busy and you may not get on their schedule for two-to-three weeks, but usually they are more than happy to talk about how they got to where they are, discuss career goals and help shape a career strategy. In fact, out of the dozen business cards I walked away with from the private equity conference, I have kept in touch with three-to-four people and have had informational interviews with about six or seven. And that’s just one example. I’ve been to several other events and have had similar success at each, including the REIT Symposium.

 Q.  You are on the verge of graduating.  What recommendations would you give to an individual who is on the verge of starting his/her graduate management education?

 A. My first recommendation would be to have as much fun as you can right now.  You are five months away from a lot of work.  Especially the first term – it’s intensive and you’ll be forced to prioritize school seven days a week. That will be a big change from the ‘standard’ work week many are used to. There’s no doubt that it’s difficult to get back into the “school mode” and an MBA education is very competitive. Not just within classes but also with other schools. It’s collaborative too, but it is very competitive. If you have time, it can’t hurt to brush up on current events, and maybe get a head start on any topics you may not have had experience with.  But other than that, kick back, relax, take it easy and prepare yourself for the hard work ahead of you.

 Q. Looking back, what would you have done differently?

 A. One thing that I should have done differently is to take on a more active role in clubs.  I helped out with the Finance Club here and there but I think I should have branched out a little more and stepped out of the ‘real estate and finance’ box to look at more of the diverse number of clubs/events that Baruch offers.

 Q. So, what’s next?  What does your life look like after May 30th?

 A. After May 30th, unfortunately things do not end for me as I will still be studying for the CFA Level I on June 5th.  After the 5th, however, it’s party-hardy for about a month until work starts on July 7th.  I’ll be working in investment banking, so it’ll be a lot of hours, but I’m prepared. As I mentioned, I interned at the firm I’ll be working for over last summer and enjoyed the experience immensely. To me, investment banking is very similar to business school. I worked in a small entrepreneurial group, everyone was intelligent, the culture was very competitive yet collaborative and everyone was willing to put in the extra time/effort to get the job done. That’s exactly the kind of environment I want to work in, so I am very excited.

 Q. How would you say that internship experience affected your second year?

 A. There is a specific standard that investment banks expect and that standard is perfection.  If anything is wrong in what you submit, you are in a world of trouble.  You quickly learn to have an extraordinary attention to detail. That level of detail has helped me in my second year of school.  When I work on projects or valuations, I have a greater attention to detail. On a higher level, the internship also helped me to see that everything I was putting into my education would be realized ten-fold when I graduated.

 Q. Finally, tell us about your classmates.  What is it like doing an MBA in a close knit cohort like the Full-time Honors MBA?

 A. I wouldn’t trade the Full-time Honors cohort for anything; it’s been one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had in business school. The best things about the program are the caliber of student and the group diversity. Sometimes it can be difficult – it’s a love/hate relationship at times, especially when there are deadlines.  But getting a diverse group of viewpoints – things I would not otherwise have thought of myself – was key to what has made this experience so great. Many of the relationships that I’ve developed with fellow classmates will last well-beyond grad school. The cohort atmosphere in the Full-time Honors program completely met my expectations.

 Lightening Round 

1. Text Book that you will never depart with?  The Handbook of Fixed Income Securities; Frank Fabozzi

2. Most admired business person? Warren Buffet & George Soros. For different reasons; I can’t choose just one.

3. Daily/Weekly/Monthly you cannot live without?  The Economist

4. Spring Break destination? No Plans Yet; Hopefully Someplace Tropical

5. Course that challenged you the most?  Probability Theory

6. Last non-school related book you read?  A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel

7. Favorite Baruch-area eatery?  Latin Thing http://www.latinthingnyc.com/

8. Favorite Baruch-area watering hole? Copper Door http://copperdoortavern.com/

9. What is your golden rule? Give 110%; Always Keep Looking Forward; Believe What You Can Achieve and Go For It.

10.  Who will win the World Cup?  Brazil will make their comeback

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Zicklin Defines a Decade Part IV: People

The Zicklin Defines a Decade Series started by asking the Baruch College Zicklin School of Business community what are the top five business/organizations that defined the 2000s.  We end the series by asking the community to identify the top five people that define the decade in business.

As we entered the decade, many continued to be amazed at the incredible wealth that Bill Gates was continuing to amass.  As we leave the decade, we are amazed at how he is giving it away.  In 2000, we were two years removed from the repeal of Glass-Steagall and Sandy Weill was creating the great global banking supermarket in CitiGroup.  As we enter 2010, Citi has had multiple leaders since Mr. Weill and many are questioning the decision that created the banking supermarket.  In May of 2001, the BusinessWeek cover praised Dennis Kozlowski, then CEO of Tyco.  He is currently serving up to 24 years in prison. And then of course there are the two Stanford graduate students who created the preeminent search engine and a verb to go along with it.  Did anyone Google anything in 2000?

The 2000s were shaped by many people.  Some who dominated the headlines 10 years ago still do so today, albeit in a much different capacity.  And, there were others who were relatively unknown ten years ago, but who are now shaping the way we do business.  The following are proposed by members of the Zicklin community as the shapers of the decade in business.  The lists are both global and distinctive with only Steve Jobs on all four.

 John Elliott, Dean Zicklin School of Business

1. Warren Buffet
2. Steve Jobs
3. Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt
4. Lakshmi Mittal
5. Ratan Tata

Jason Cohen, Full-time Honors MBA Class of 2007

1.   The Consumer
2.   Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt
3.   Steve Jobs
4.   Jeff Bezos
5.   Hank Paulson

Kishore Tandon, Department Chair Economics/Finance

1. Sergey Brin, Larry Page
2. Steve Jobs
3. Warren Buffet
4. Richard Branson
5. Ambani Brothers (Reliance, India)

Ashok Kamal, Full-time Honors MBA Class of 2010

1) Bill Gates – advocate of capitalism 2.0 who transitioned from leading one of the world’s most successful companies to heading the world’s largest philanthropic foundation
2) Muhammad Yunus – micofinance pioneer and Nobel Peace Prize winner as the founder of Grameen Bank, Yunus is at the forefront of social business in the 21st century
3) Steve Jobs – the king of innovative consumer products and cult hero for one of the world’s most revered brands
4) Ratan Tata - engineered the Tata Group’s growth from India’s most storied industrial company to one of the world’s most diversified conglomerates
5) Dr. Shi Zhengrong – visionary founder and CEO of Suntech, the world’s largest solar energy company

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Global Zicklin: Ashok Kamal @ IIM Part II

In November, we introduced you to Ashok Kamal, a second-year Full-time Honors MBA student who travelled to Kolkata India to study at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) for a semester.  Ashok returned from that trip about two weeks ago.  And, as promised, he has provided us with an update from the second half of his journey. 

During a recent talk with Baruch students, finance maven William Macaulay predicted that “the 21st century would belong to India.” 

India’s ascent as a global economic powerhouse was never more apparent to me than during recruiting season at IIMC.  My semester abroad overlapped with summer job placements for 1st-year MBA students.  The process and outcome I witnessed would impress any business school in the world. 

The IIMC community doesn’t strive for 100% placement of its students – that’s a given.  The career development team, which is supported by the administration but led by 2nd-year students, measures its success in the number of days it takes to place every student, as well as the quality of its placements.  In 2009, IIMC’s batch of nearly 400 1st-year students was placed in under one week.  On the first day of recruiting, blue chip firms such as McKinsey, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan hired nearly 100 interns – by lunch time.  The successful placement season at IIMC, even in the midst of a worldwide economic contraction, is an illustration of India’s greatest resource – human capital.  The intelligence, creativity and ambition of its people are astounding. 

Ashok Kamal (left in blue shirt) with classmates and administrators at IIMC

Ashok Kamal (left in blue shirt) with classmates and administrators at IIMC

Following my studies, I was fortunate to spend three weeks traveling throughout India.  Along with seeing the magnificent Taj Mahal and traversing the business hub of Mumbai, I visited a sustainable agriculture farm in Goa that gets all its water from recycled rain and all its nutrients from organic waste.  Each experience was a reminder that a great education extends beyond the classroom.

Most striking to me was the diversity, within India, of the population.  In fact, the variation across states was so pronounced, that India often seems more like a continent rather than a country.  Like business school, it is the diversity — of culture, experience and thought — that makes India great.   

Ashok participated in the study abroad program by working with the Weissman Center for International Business.  For more information regarding the services offered at WCIB, including the study abroad program at IIM-Kolkata and other schools, please go to :

http://zicklin.baruch.cuny.edu/centers/weissman/

We will hear more from Ashok tomorrow when the long-awaited list of the people that defined a decade is published. 

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Zicklin Defines a Decade… Part III

On Tuesday, October 3, 2000, I took the Number 1 Train, using a subway token that cost $1.50, to Tower Records on 66th and Broadway. The purpose of this journey was to purchase Radiohead’s newest studio release Kid A. When I arrived, I noticed the line was fairly long. So I rummaged around my pockets for a quarter and set off for the nearest pay phone to call a friend, who was to meet me at Tower Records, and warn him that the line would take at least an hour. I went back to Tower Records, stood in that line, talked to some fellow fans about their expectations for the album, finally got to the register, paid for my Radiohead CD (and one for my friend) and headed back home on the subway, listening to the album from front to back on my CD Walkman.

Our grandparents proudly recount their five-mile treks in three feet of snow to get to their one-room schoolhouses. In 2009, my journey of only 10 years ago to get that Radiohead CD seems equally as absurd as my grandparents’ daily trips to school.  The subway token was phased out in favor of the Metrocard in 2003.  While mobile phones have been around for years, I, and many there are many like me, was a bit of a laggard in this regard and didn’t get one until 2001.  The Tower Records would close its doors in late 2006; it would be the last of the Tower Records in Manhattan as many of its former customers would use I-Tunes, Amazon.com or one of the many other on-line venues to purchase their music from the comforts of their couch.  The clunky CD Walkmans would be replaced by the ubiquitous MP-3 player, most notably the I-Pod.  Conversations about your favorite musicians would no longer take place while waiting to purchase the product, but in on-line chat rooms and ultimately through Facebook fan pages or other social media.

The three-four hour process it would take to buy your favorite music is now instantaneous.  You have probably heard each track before you purchased it.  You no longer need to actually purchase the entire album for the sake of one song or a group of songs.  In fact, in some cases, you no longer even need to purchase the album; the artists are just giving it away.  Radiohead did just that in 2007 when they released their most recent studio album for free through their website and asked their fans to pay what they felt the album was worth.  When the album was released through more traditional channels the following year, it would reach number 1 in both the U.S. and the UK and sell over 3 million copies by the end of 2008.  Another innovation of the 2000′s: free drives revenue.

The decade has given us many new tools with which to work and play. Hybrid cars, hybrid debt instruments, outsourcing, crowdsourcing, web 2.0, 140 characters: there are many ideas and innovations that shaped the past decade.   We asked the Zicklin community to give us their list.  Here it is.

Bill Ferns, Professor of Computer Information Systems

1. The Institutionalization of ‘Moral Hazard’ as a Business Model:
‘Moral Hazard’ means, in essence, that one party of a transaction will take more risks or be less careful because he knows the other party will cover the losses. The Savings & Loan crisis of the 1980s, which followed the de-regulation of the S&L industry, gave us a whiff of this problem; de-regulation allowed the S&Ls to profit from more risky investments, but the US taxpayer had to cover them when the investments went bad. The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 iced the deal, setting the stage for the federal government’s acceptance of moral hazard as a business model—banks could acquire high-risk financial ventures, and the FDIC would back the risk. Moral hazard as a business practice spread through the first decade of this millenium:

  • The collapse of Fannie Mae because of high-risk loans made by mortgage companies such as Countrywide;
  • The student loan scandal in which lenders would bribe college loan officers to direct students to the lender, the lender would give high-interest loans to students with funds guaranteed by the US Department of Education, and then have the risk covered by the US taxpayer;
  • The entire collateralized debt obligation meltdown and the bailout of Wall Street.

As long as we allow ‘Too Big to Fail’ situations to exist, we will be promoting moral hazard in our business practices, and along the way, undermining the validity of “the markets”.

2. The Election of Barack Obama
By electing Baruch Obama, the United States has crossed a racial Rubicon. No, we’re not post-racial, and we are nowhere close to repaying the ‘sweat equity’ that slaves contributed to America’s quick rise as a wealthy young nation; in 2002, median net worth of white households was over 15 times greater than that for black Americans (US Census Bureau, 2008). Still, every step in the direction of justice—the ending of ‘Jim Crow’ laws, Brown v. Board of Education, and the Civil Rights movement culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964—brings slightly increased opportunities for Blacks to accumulate wealth, brings a change in society, and hence, brings a change to business. Just view a couple of early episodes of Mad Men to get a hint of what white society and business was like in the 1960s, and then watch for the targeted marketing during Black History Month in February to see how business has changed its view of its markets (if not the people actually running the business).

3. The Divergence of Content from Carrier
Marshall McLuhan update–the medium is not the message, the message is the message. We are no longer dependent on a specific medium for our informational needs: one hears music either on analog media (tape, CD, vinyl), from files residing on digital devices in various data formats, or through streamed data that comes to us on wires or on waves. Same with video. We read newspapers on our computers, our phones, our Kindles, and in paper. Now our big problem is that the message is often meaningless (The Real Housewives of New Jersey? Really?!?).

4. The Ubiquity of Technology in Our Work Processes:
How we work has been changed radically by technology. The list of examples would be exhaustive and tedious, but those of us who have been in the workforce for more than 10 years can vouch for how differently we did our work processes back in 1999. I am still waiting for the online ‘change of grade’ form, however.

5. The ‘Green’ Market:
Twenty-five years ago, the environment was an issue left for hippies and tree-huggers, and “sustainable development” wasn’t even in our lexicon yet. Now, it is a top strategic issue for many countries and businesses, and a major bone of contention within our Congress and other governments. Who knew?

What Didn’t Make My List:

  • “The War on Terror”: 9/11 was horrendous, but in the long term, the war on terror is business as usual for the US—politicians make their bones on rattling sabres, the working stiffs go fight the wars and come home scarred forever, the defense industry rakes in oodles of bucks, and the government forgets all fiscal principles to make it all happen. This is not a new development for this decade; war profiteers (see ‘Blackwater’ and ‘Halliburton’) are the third oldest profession (politicians hold the #2 spot);
  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: SOX would have made my list, but it looks like it is on its way to being gutted, just in time to make it irrelevant;
  • Hurricane Katrina: Like 9/11, the impact of Katrina was enormous, but the US government’s race-based callousness and the insurance companies’ scramble to not honor policies was nothing new in the two-thousand-aughts. Both poxes have been around for decades, and unfortunately, will probably stick around for some time longer.
  • Healthcare Reform: It’s not here yet, so it will have to go into the next decade’s retrospective.

John Albanese, Director of the Full-time Honors MBA Program

Most of what I considered centered on the global financial crisis, and some of the unscrupulous activities that got us here.  Also, I continue to see students and prospective students reflecting the greater society’s interest in and desire for a corporate sector more responsive to social and environmental needs.  To that end, it seems that the most inspiring answer to the question “What are the five innovations/ideas that define the decade in business?” is to refer to the six principles of PRME (Principles of Responsible Management Education), for therein lies the radical innovation to business that we need:

http://www.unprme.org/the-6-principles/index.php

Jay Dahya, Faculty of Economics and Finance

Concepts:

1. GPS (U.S. government allows civilian use in 2000)

2. Text Messaging (AT&T introduces texting for mass appeal in the U.S. in 2000)

3. File Sharing, digital music devices and the rise of MP3 (after Napster was sued in 2001, a number of companies offered pay-to-share services, such as Hulu and iTunes)

4. Social Networking and Blogging: Friendster, Facebook, Twitter (from 2004 onward)

5. Smart Phones (Apple introduced the iphone in 2007 to much frenzy. The market had been previously dominated by Blackberry and confined to business use.)

(In general, a reduction in the production costs associated with the manufacture of electronic products, such as cell phones, digital cameras, computers and peripherals)

6. On-line bill payment

Products:

1. iPod (introduced in the U.S. in 2001)

2. Prius (Toyota introduces hybrid in the U.S. for mass market appeal in 2000)

3. Wikipedia (introduced in the U.S. in 2001)

4. Youtube (launched in 2005)

5. Nintendo Wii (launched in 2006)

6. Google search

7. Craigslist

Two items that you might not yet have come across

1. Camera Pill (Camera pill is swallowed by the patient. A physician can move the camera pill by remote control. The camera pill comprises a camera, a transmitter that sends images to the receiver, a battery and several light diodes which flare every time a photo is taken.)

2. Bionic Lens (A contact lens embedded with solar-powered LEDs and a radio-frequency receiver. Applications include medical use and virtual displays. For example, drivers or pilots could see a vehicle’s.

Shaun So, MBA Student

1. ITunes: When media companies sued and fought the public against downloading illegal music, Apple fully embraced the digital world and opened the door for a new model in media distribution.

2. Online Social Networking: Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Digg… these have all changed how we communicate, network and socialize.

3. Hybrid Cars: The 2000′s saw the mass commercialization of the hybrid car with Toyota’s Prius. The public had long been waiting for a means of transportation using alternative forms of energy.

4. Digital Video Recorder (DVR): Television viewers have long obsessed about fast-forwarding through commercials. This has revolutionized how we watch television, and more importantly in the marketing industry, how we now receive our advertisements.

5. “Texting”: Introduced by AT&T in 2000. Where would we be without it?

Sharon Belden Castonguay, Director of the Graduate Career Management Center

1. Career education in business schools
After the dotcom bust at the start of the decade, business schools realized that their role was not just to educate students and provide them access to companies, but to teach students to manage their careers in an ever-changing employment environment. Savvy programs realized that while hiring would eventually rebound, their alumni were more than likely to face another downturn before their careers were through (hello, 2008!). Campus career centers at many business schools are now seen as educational departments, tasked with teaching students what they need to know not just to get a job today, but to stay employed tomorrow. Savvy students do not wait for employers to find them through traditional routes, and smart schools use their resources to train students to handle their own searches. Neither wait for companies to show up with PowerPoint slides.

2. The rise of behavioral economics
Once a backwoods “soft” specialization of a quantitative discipline, behavioral economics has emerged as the homecoming queen of social science, influencing our understanding of everything from spending behavior to voting habits.

One phenomenon experts in the field have identified is herd behavior. One example well known to business schools is the career decision making of students. Former Harvard Business School professor Mark Albion has estimated that upwards of 95% of MBA students enter their programs with little or no idea of what they want to do when they graduate. Yet career services offices know that by their second year the majority end up applying to jobs in finance and consulting—regardless of their personal interests or professional preparation.

3. The use of social networking web sites in job hunting
CareerBuilder recently reported that of 2,600 hiring managers surveyed, 45% used social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to screen potential employees—up from only 22% last year. But only 16% of workers have used such resources for their job searches. Job seekers would do well to clean up their online presence, and only have available online content about themselves that support their employment candidacy: detailed, accurate, up-to-date professional profiles, positive references from reliable sources, and a demonstration of impeccable communication skills. Job hunters can also use these sites proactively by seeking out others who may be able to provide information about their fields or companies of interest, such as through alumni or professional interest groups. The greater New York area has the largest LinkedIn membership rate in the US, and the top ten industries represented include financial services, marketing/advertising, banking, accounting, and real estate.

4. The increasing importance of emotional intelligence at work
While the concept can be traced all the way back to Darwin, the past decade saw the rise of the idea that emotional intelligence, not just IQ or “hard” skills, was necessary for success in management. First published in 1995, Daniel’s Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ (his follow-up Working with Emotional Intelligence followed in 2000) changed the way managers thought about hiring. No longer satisfied with high GPAs, employers now want to know how potential employees handle difficult situations on the job, what motivates them to succeed, and how well they will work with others and fit their corporate culture.

5. The complexity of compensation packages
Many job seekers are so concerned with finding a position that they find themselves unprepared to evaluate an offer when they finally receive one. Over the last decade, increases in health costs, shifting bonus structures, and changes in legislation have made compensation packages increasingly complex. Some companies also require the signing of non-compete and confidentiality agreements. When job seekers are successful in their searches, they must take the time to understand what they are offered and seek advice about how to negotiate their compensation.

Don Schepers, Professor of Management

1. The shrinking of personal computing devices (ipod, iphone, netbooks, Kindle, etc.).

2. The rise of financial engineering and quants, bringing with them derivatives, CDOs, etc.

3. Social networking.

4. DNA sequencing and the Human Genome project.

5. The rise of voluntary self-regulatory systems.

Again, we thank all those in the Zicklin community who shared with us their lists of what innovations and ideas define the decade.  Tomorrow, the final edition of Zicklin Defines… will look at the people who shaped the decade.

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Zicklin Defines a Decade… Part II

Looking back, didn’t the 1990s seem so boring in comparison to the 2000s? Ok, the 1990s had the fall of the Soviet Union, the emergence of the World Wide Web, the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the impeachment of a U.S. President, and, of course, O.J. Simpson. But, let’s face it, some of those stories would have trouble competing for front page real estate with the news events of this past decade. It would be difficult to find a decade that has been filled with stories with such wide sweeping global impact. Perhaps, the only one to come close in the last 100 years is the 1930′s, a decade that has been compared repeatedly to the 2000s.

Over 6,200 military personnel hailing from 33 nations, including 5,306 from the U.S., have lost their lives fighting in military operations on two separate fronts in the last 10 years. Terrorism has rocked major cities like New York, London, Washington DC, Madrid, and Mumbai. Tsunamis, of different sorts, have swept away small coastal towns and major global financial markets. No wonder Time Magazine calls the 2000s the Decade from Hell.

When we asked the Zicklin community to list the five most significant news events that define the decade in business, some responded with, “Are you kidding…five?” We knew it would be a daunting task. So, we decided not to be sticklers.

The following are the lists of five (plus) stories that members of the Zicklin community believe define the decade in business.

Seth Lipner, Faculty of Law

1. The Credit Mess: Wall Street brought us to near collapse of the economy in 2008.
2. The Tech Wreck: Corrupt auditors, money-hungry executives and phony Wall Street analysts crash stock market
3. The Madoff Ponzi Scheme: The rich got fleeced as the SEC ignored the signs of fraud
4. The Rise of Wireless Internet: Everyone gets a blackberry
5. The End of the Tiger Woods brand

Hugo Nurnberg, Faculty of Accountancy and Taxation
1. The pay czar restricting executive compensation
2. Obama’s election
3. Pending passage of health care legislation
4. General Motors’ bankruptcy
5. Madoff Ponzi scheme
6. SEC moves toward International Financial Reporting Standards
7. Europe adopts the Euro
8. U.S. dollar falls in half relative to the Euro
9. Hi-tech bubble bursts
10. Subprime mortgage market crashes
11. China emerges as the third largest economy
12. World Trade Center attack
13. U.S. topples Taliban regime in Afghanistan
14. U.S topples Iraqi regime

Regine Goldberg, Director of Student Life

1. The Euro becomes legal tender in twelve European Union countries in 2002. It is the largest monetary union in history. The Euro eases trade in the Eurozone. By 2009, four more countries join the Euro, Slovenia in 2007, Malta and Cyprus in 2008 and Slovakia in 2009.
2. Bernie Madoff… One man’s powerful scheme has ruined the lives of thousands. Where were the regulators? Who was watching?
3. Major downturn in the value of dot-com shares, with occasional exceptions (Google’s IPO on August 13, 2004). The Internet itself continues to grow as a business and advertising medium, with steady increases in online shopping and banking activities. Other successful firms include Amazon.com and eBay.
4. Enron and other major accounting and corporate governance scandals prompt reviews of corporate government legislation worldwide (eg Sarbanes-Oxley Act)
5. The collapse of the American housing market caused difficulty for the two mortgage brokers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have been subject to fears of collapse.

Donald Vredenburgh, Professor of Management

1. The 2008-2009 recession has wrought major societal impact. The securitization of subprime mortgages into collateral debt obligations and the extensive use of swap derivatives led to the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and the TARP bailout. The recession necessitated a large government stimulus bill and included a substantial housing market downturn and rise in unemployment. Consumer financial protection government regulation will likely ensue, as will more extensive regulation of large financial institutions deemed too big to fail, and increased deficits and accumulated debt will bring long run fiscal policy consequences.
2. The Bush 2000 election and 9-11 defined the decade to a considerable extent. Tax decreases and lessened governmental regulation shaped the economic culture, while the Iraq and Afghanistan wars largely determined international affairs for the US. The unfunded Medicare prescription drug plan constituted a major social policy change with fiscal policy implications. A healthy economy falling into a recession and international disapprobation brought in Obama a marked change in government policy orientation.
3. Constituting one sixth of the US economy, health care significantly affects growth and employment. The health care reform that unfolds will influence business decisions and fiscal policy for many years, particularly given increasing life spans and the baby boom generation size.
4. The Enron et al. scandals, followed by the Madoff Ponzi scheme, fostered perceptions of egregiously poor business ethics. The Sarbanes – Oxley law resulted.
5. At the risk of exaggerating the importance of current events, business observers cannot fail to note the enlarged scope of an environmental sensibility. International concern has spread beyond activists to business persons, and economic opportunities are emerging.

Robert Blau, Faculty of Statistics

1. 9/11 was a world-changing event. Its impact was far reaching in lots of areas (e.g. political, economic, social,).
2. Sarbanes-Oxley had subtle impacts. (E.g. some business went overseas, fear of over-regulation led to lack of regulation elsewhere,)
3. The rise of China may be the most significant of them all from a long-term perspective; it is just too difficult to know at this time.
4. Nothing need be said about the near-collapse of the world-wide financial system. But it is possible that this will have predominantly a short-term impact (and then fade away into history).
5. A similar comment can be made about the GM debacle; perhaps it is just short-term.

Fran Murphy, Director of Graduate Admissions

1. 9 – 11 – World Trade Center Disaster
2. Collapse of Lehman Brothers
3. Dow loses 50% from it’s all time high (10/07 – 13930; 2/09 – 7062)
4. Enron
5. Rise of technology & social media

Thank you to those in the Zicklin community who participated in today’s survey. Tomorrow, we will be looking at the five innovations/ideas that define the decade.

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Zicklin Defines a Decade… Part I

As we approach the end of the third millennium’s first decade, it is the perfect time to reflect on the events of the past ten years.  Before the world could recover from the Y2K hangover, it was treated to one of the most notorious mergers ever.  The decade was not even two weeks old when AOL and Time Warner announced their marriage.  That merger set the tone for the decade ahead for as tumultuous as that relationship would turn out, so too has been the decade in business.  It has been a decade that has endured two recessions, accounting scandals, credit crunches, and bubble bursts.  It is also a decade that marveled at the emergence of China, new peaks in the stock market, and the power of You.

The Zicklin Defines a Decade series will look at the organizations, the stories, the ideas, and the people that defined the 2000s.  Each day, members of the Zicklin community will help define the decade by creating their Top 5 list for that day’s category.  Today’s topic will be the companies, the non-profits, the NGOs, and other organizations that made the 2000s what they were.  Tomorrow, we will look at the top business stories that monopolized the headlines over the last 10 years.  Then on Thursday, we will identify some of the most important ideas and innovations that emerged.  And, finally, on Friday, we will talk about the people that shaped the decade in business.

While today’s question asks our community to extend their list beyond publicly traded companies, we thought it would be fun to reflect back on the Fortune 500 list published in 2000.  That year, General Motors stood proudly on top of the list, boasting six billion in profits on 189 billion in revenue.  CitiGroup reported nine billion in profits that year; Ford reported seven and AIG five.  Enron and MCI Worldcom were in the top 25.  Fannie Mae trailed only slightly coming in 26th with nearly four billion in profits on 36 billion in revenue.  

Total profits reported by the Fortune 500 in 2000 was $409 billion.  Only nine percent of the Fortune 500 reported losses in 2000, with the largest reported loss coming from Nextel ($1.3 billion).  In 2009, the Fortune 500 are reporting in total only $98 billion in profit; 26% of the companies on the list are reporting losses, 48 of whom are reporting losses larger than Nextel did in 2000. Of course, AIG is leading the pack in that regard, knocking them from 19th in 2000 to 245th in 2009.          

But, it hasn’t been all bad news.  Apple has seen its profits increase $4.2 billion between 2009 and 2000.  Other tech companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Hewlett-Packard are also reporting significantly stronger profits than they did in 2000.  But, none of them compare to Exxon Mobil, who is reporting $37 billion more in profit than in 2000 on $279 billion more in revenue.  And, of course, there are the companies that were not even on the list in 2000: Google, Amazon.com, Starbucks, DirecTV Group, EBay, and NewsCorp.

The following are the lists of companies that various members of the Zicklin community believe define the decade.  After their lists, a study of the Fortune 100 from 2000 and where they are today follows.

Ozgur Demirtas, Professor of Finance and Economics
1.) Google
2.) Apple
3.) Facebook
4.) Cisco Systems
5.) Goldman Sachs

Tom Lo, Associate Director of Zicklin Graduate Admissions
1.) Walmart
2.) CNN
3.) Apple
4.) Facebook/other social networking sites
5.) Microsoft

Paquita Friday, Professor of Accountancy and Taxation
1.) Arthur Andersen
2.) AFLAC
3.) Google
4.) KPMG
5.) General Motors

Myung-Soo Lee, Associate Dean and Professor of Marketing
1.) Google
2.) Enron
3.) European Union
4.) UN
5.) Microfinance Institutions

Marios Koufaris, Faculty of Computer Information Systems
1.) Google
2.) Apple
3.) Facebook
4.) U.S. Government
5.) U.S. Financial Industry

Frank Fletcher, Executive Director of Graduate Programs
1.) Walmart
2.) Enron
3.) AIG
4.) Google
5.) Halliburton

Raj Nahata, Faculty of Finance and Economics
1.) Google
2.) Apple
3.) Toyota
4.) Walmart
5.) US Government

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Zicklin Community Defines Copenhagen Success

As we approach week two of the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen and anxiously await the arrival of the world’s heavy hitters, Lexington 24:25 asked the Zicklin community, “How do you define success in Copenhagen?”  The following are the responses we received.

 

Don Vredenburgh

Don Vredenburgh

Donald Vredenburgh, Professor of Management
While the conference participants will likely successfully enjoy the interesting city of Copenhagen, they and the rest of us should focus on the conference’s outcomes.
This conference represents an event in a process of social change, and in the geopolitical realm change carries considerable complexity.   Developed and lesser developed countries must address an uncertain, long run health condition whose treatment includes economic, technological, and moral implications. 
With the effects of Kyoto having proven disappointing, the objectives for Copenhagen should focus on acquiring some measure of consensus about the nature of the problems and the alternative opportunities for confronting them.  The conference’s audience sits all over the world, and this audience needs evidence based education about the issues.  Influential leaders demonstrating readiness for change based on acceptance of well formulated problems as well as plans for establishing an international research and policy structure would constitute realistic, meaningful outcomes.  It’s too early in the process to expect concrete actions in cooperative pursuit of costly, specific objectives, but articulating a vision for change would be contributory.

Kevin Ng, MBA Student
If leaders of all the major industrialized nations can personally attend the conference and fully commit to developing a universal environmental policy, incorporating a specific action plan that encompasses responsibility and accountability, the summit will leave a lasting impression for a global movement toward sustainability. Furthermore, BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, & China) other and developing nation leaders should be invited to participate because of their significant influence in the global economy. If at all possible, decisions should be made to support developing nations’ efforts in the form of subsidies and in-kind assistance. The policy should set discrete and measurable goals to strive toward by a specific date, which would also act as a catalyst for legislation in each country.

 Myung-Soo Lee, Associate Dean and Professor of Marketing
“To consider the Copenhagen Conference a success,” I think that a concrete agreement should be reached among the nations to fairly share the burden of making climate change under control. Given political pressure to create more jobs (including green jobs, of course) in their home countries, many developed countries are reluctant to agree with any immediate measures to curb carbon emissions by a huge magnitude. President Obama will commit significant contribution in our standard (17% down in greenhouse gas emission) but that may not be enough from the perspectives of other countries since the United States emit the largest amount of greenhouse gas. Based on the principles agreed upon at the conclusion of the Copenhagen Conference, the UN member countries should be able to sign a legally binding treaty as an ultimate outcome. If that happens, the Conference in 2009 may be recorded as a historic moment when the global warming trend has reversed.

Varun Kumar Vummidi, Full-time Honors MBA Class of 2010
In the last week India, a nation under pressure to reduce greenhouse emissions, had issued a statement saying that it will take steps to reduce emission levels over the next decade but, like China, was against developed nations imposing a strict guideline on its emissions. This is seen as a set back to the outcome of the summit but there is some truth to India’s & China’s stance to the growing concern of climate change.
In the backdrop of such a stance from India & China, I hope that developed countries, who already possess technology that can help factories emit lower levels of pollutants, must pledge to facilitate the flow of such technology to developing nations quickly. This would rapidly reduce the learning curve for factories among these nations and help reduce the growth in greenhouse gas emissions and cause them to fall from around 2015 to 2020. The COP15 will most keenly be watched by politicians, businesses and world citizens as it also takes place in the light of the controversy surrounding the revelations of “climategate.”

John Elliott, Dean Zicklin School of Business and Professor of Accountancy
When I think about Copenhagen, success takes many forms.  The USA has already succeeded because we changed our approach and are treating climate change as a real problem for which the science is compelling and concerted effort is required.  I hope we commit the US fully to reducing greenhouse gases consistent with existing and expanding efforts by other developed nations.  Equally important is an agreement by developing nations to slow their emmission growth rates.  A great outcome of this conference would be to validate and add momentum to President Obama’s agenda for green technology as a spoke in our wheel of economic growth.

 

Barry Rosen

Barry Rosen

Barry Rosen, Professor of Marketing
Of all the major developed western economies, the U.S., through both the Clinton and the Bush years was the lone holdout in making any serious moves towards CO 2 reduction. Although we led the way on ozone layer protection, we have done very little in terms of CO2 and methane which are the leading climate change factors right now along with tropical deforestation.
As unfortunate as it was, the recession and high gas prices last year did some of the job but I believe that if gas prices went down we would see a return to the old situation. Thus I think that the US has to commit to a binding carbon reduction plan, preferably based on carbon taxes, at Copenhagen in return for the developing countries agreeing to work more aggressively on deforestation questions. The Europeans will fall in behind on this.
 The Chinese have already committed to green development and green exports although they have a huge amount of work to do.  The Indians will follow them so as not to be marginalized in future international trade patters.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that any of this can happen right now beyond broad generalized statements as Obama is now engaged in the health care fight. However, next year, if Obama is successful in getting health care through and reducing unemployment, he may have the political capital to do something forceful about climate change. We’ll see.

Ryan O’Connor, Full-time Honors MBA Class of 2010
The law needs to change in favor of innovation over the status quo. The COP15 is not just an opportunity to implement social responsibility on a global scale, it’s a window for the United States to lead the development of policies that will position our country to take advantage of lucrative business ventures in rapidly developing alternative technologies. We are, and must remain, a beacon for the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurship is the main cylinder driving our economic engine; it is the cornerstone of our capitalistic ideals and through the vicissitudes of our economy, it is what will guarantee our prosperity.

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24 to 25 Minutes With… Professor Don Schepers

For the second installment of Lexington 24:25′s series “24-to-25 Minutes with…” we sit down with Professor Don Schepers.  When we met with Professor Schepers,  whose areas of expertise include Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Ethical Decision Making, it was our intention to discuss the changing graduate management education landscape, his role as Director of the Zicklin Center for Corporate Accountability, and his efforts in developing a new MBA in Sustainability.  However, as our conversation took place on the eve of the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, we couldn’t help but throw a question in about that as well. 
The following is the transcript from Lexington 24:25′s 24-to-25 Minutes with… Professor Don Schepers.

Q. Graduate management education, and the MBA in particular, has been criticized widely during the financial crisis.  What, if anything, should business schools be doing differently?

A. That’s a very difficult question to answer.  On the one hand, many business schools have instituted programs in ethics. As one of the miscreants said – this is Walt Pavlo who was indicted for embezzling $6million from WorldCom –he said that MBA schools tend to train little terriers.  When students come out of MBA schools they are like little terriers.  They just nip and nip away; they are tenacious.  We want good, aggressive, tenacious students.  At the same time we also need students who have a really strong moral fiber and say this wrong, or this needs to be fixed or this is something I can’t do. There is a program I started using this year called Giving Voice to Values.  It hits at some of those issues.  The assumption is that most of the students who go to business school want to do the right thing.  What they often don’t know when they are confronted with something other than the right thing is how do you answer.  How do you raise objections without getting fired? This program is intended to help students learn and practice a bit.  Specifically, how do I say something when I really need to object on an ethical basis?  I think those are the kinds of programs that we are going to see more of in business schools today.  They really address some of those core issues.  You are never going to stop having people like Bernie Madoff or any of the other Ponzi schemes and insider trading or any of those things.  What we can do is give the more tools to those people who want to do the right thing. That’s the tack that business schools really need to focus on.

Q. You have been at Baruch College Zicklin School of Business for over ten years now.  How would you describe the change in MBA students you have witnessed over that ten-year period?

A. I think there was a big kick point when Enron happened.  For the first couple of years I was here – from 1999 to 2001 – it was almost an apology for teaching ethics.  Once Enron happened, I didn’t need to apologize for teaching it any more.  Students needed to know it, they knew they needed to know it.  So, we got about the business of what we really needed to learn and what we needed to do in the business community. I think in the last three years, there has been another turn and that is in the area of sustainability. Students are much more focused on what needs to be done in order to make the business community a more sustainable community, to make business a more sustainable enterprise.  The immediate focus is about our environment, but the deeper focus is about social issues.  Those are much more difficult issues to get a hold of and to put into a sustainable business plan. 

Q. Many schools are adopting curriculum with a focus in sustainability.  Students have demonstrated an increased interest in the area. Clubs like Net Impact have become incredibly popular.  Students participate in sustainable case competitions and sustainable entrepreneurial ventures.  For students who are devoting such a great deal of their curricular and co-curricular attention to sustainability, what career opportunities do you see as becoming available?

A. What we at Zicklin are trying to do with the MBA in Sustainable Business is to provide opportunity for a double major.  I think the career opportunities are not yet there for somebody who is solely focused on sustainability and I don’t know that they ever will get there.  I don’t have that crystal ball.  We do now have people who are corporate responsibility officers, who are corporate ethics officers.  Nobody 10 years ago – actually 15 years ago because 10 years ago those positions started coming into existence – but in a 15-year span those specializations have grown.  So, will there be sustainability officers?  I don’t know.  My guess is at this point that the entry point for most of our students is going to be an accounting major who knows how to deal with sustainability on the accounting balance sheet; that’s going to get somebody a job.  It’s the same for finance; it’s the same for marketing; it’s the same for operations.  Operations managers who have supply chain responsibilities, if they come out with a sustainability side to their degree, they are going to be a prized commodity because business today is very much looking at the question of how it is we push these values down the supply chain.  I can’t buy something and say its carbon foot print is “this” if the carbon foot print of my subcontractor is twice what mine is.  All of that has to get wrapped into a product.  When we look at the carbon footprint of a product, we have to look at the whole thing. 

Q.  You have an incredibly diverse background (please see bio below).  How does your background affect your teaching and scholarship?

A. For one, I have always valued teaching.  That is at the core.  And, I think the theology and the divinity degree, there has been a lot of philosophy in my background.  That gives me a basis to talk about the ethical issues, to deal with the ethical issues on a substantive level.  So, that informs my work with the Business & Society materials. 

In regards to scholarship, I have done a little bit of work with the philosophy side of my background.  I really have not gone too much into that.  It was a part of my original research when I was looking at individual decision making.  That was very much based on philosophy.  Now that I look more at the corporate side, there’s a little less philosophy at that level.  There is more of a strategic orientation.

Q.  The Mission Statement of the Zicklin Center for Corporate Accountability reads, “resolving conflicting corporate stakeholder interests.”  What does the Center mean by that exactly, and what does it do in that regard?

A. Conflicting stakeholder interest occurs anytime that you have two people looking at the same pile of money.  Employees want to get paid more; board members don’t want to give, they want to take care of shareholders.  You need to balance out all of the needs of all of the stakeholders.  Customers want quality for their money.  So, everybody has a piece of the pie here.  What we do, and this is actually occurring today, we are having an audit conference for the practitioners in the area and there is a great deal of conversation about Fair Value Accounting.  That’s a core issue for protecting the shareholders.  So, making sure that those kinds of events take place, educating our students on the different issues, that is what our core mission is.  We have an event on Monday night about scandals.  We had an event about campaign contributions.  What we do is try to run events that typically can’t be run in the classroom, but that give our students and others an exposure to a broader set of materials and broader discussion about the current events in the business community.  That’s what really needs to take place.  We need to get more people involved, more discussion going and when we have these discussions, we need to point people in specific directions that we can do some research on and that we can make some policy around – so that the next generation, who will still have problems, won’t have the same problems. 

Q.  What is your vision for the future of the Center?

A. I think there is going to be a couple of things.  We are certainly planning on continuing the level of activity that we currently have going at this point in time.  I think the expansion that we are going to see is two-fold.  One, I think we will look much more heavily at the corporate governance area.   We are looking very seriously at how we do that and how we can do it better. We are discovering the real issues we need to deal with there, perhaps even going into the area of corporate governance education for directors.  The second area is beginning a more structured research program.  There are a number of people in the school who are starting to look at the different sides of sustainability and how that impacts finance, how it impacts accounting.  We want to start doing research programs that address those issues.  If that demand really builds, we would want to be the place for them to come and discuss those kinds of research programs. 

 

Professor Don Schepers

Professor Don Schepers

Q.

  The leaders of the world are about to converge on Copenhagen to tackle climate change?  In your opinion, what needs to take place in Copenhagen for the conference to be considered a success? 

A. I think that is a very hard question because in the minds of many people it is just not going to be successful.  Success would have been predicated on reaching some sort of binding agreements.  And at this point I think what we are seeing is a discussion that is at best agreeing to what will be further discussed.  That is about as good as it’s going to get I think.  Some people are talking about reducing carbon emissions  – the total amount of carbon emissions.  Others are talking about – and this is particularly from the developing countries – emission intensity, which is the amount of emissions per GDP.  So as their GDP ramps up, they can actually emit much, much more carbon.  That is not the same set of goals as saying, “let’s reduce carbon emissions, period.”  Europe is very much in favor of the absolute reduction; the U.S. wavers back and forth; China is very much in favor of talking about emission intensity.  Even to just continue having the discussion is going to be one of the major outcomes of that meeting.  For many people it’s a very disappointing set of outcomes.  But given the nature of the discussion and the real complexity of what’s being discussed, that’s probably as good as it’s going to get. 

One of the more interesting issues will be the politics of it.  President Obama shows up at the beginning of the conference but most of the other heavyweights show up at the end because that’s when the agreement starts to get hammered out.[editor’s note: the day following our interview, President Obama announced he would be showing up towards the end of the conference]  What he leaves in his wake will be very important and whether those representing the U.S. at that point have the power to do anything is going to be an interesting set of issues.  It’s not so much a science issue at this point as it is a political issue.  That will be one of the most interesting perspectives at this point: what will the politics look like at the end of the day. 

Lightning Round

Time Person of the Year?  Teddy Kennedy

Company that best represents corporate accountability? Johnson & Johnson

Best case study used to demonstrate corporate accountability? Heineken in Africa

Daily/weekly/monthly you cannot live without?  The Economist

Favorite vacation destination? Florence

Carbon Trading or Carbon Tax?  Carbon Trading

Highland/Lowland/Speyside/Islay? Single Malt is really good enough

Book on your bedside stand?  Justice by Michael Sandel

If you weren’t a professor at Baruch, what would you be?  Working as an ethics officer

World Cup 2010 Champion? I don’t follow the World Cup.  I’ll have to ask my brother-in-law

Professor Don Schepers Biography

Professor Schepers was appointed Director of the Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity in July 2009.  He is Associate Professor in the Department of Management at Baruch College, City University of New York.  Professor Schepers has taught business strategy at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and social and governmental environment of business at the undergraduate, graduate, and executive education levels.  His field of specialization is business ethics, and the intersection of business, government, and society.

Prior to his Ph.D., he taught high school science and mathematics, and was President of the Marianist Retreat and Conference Center, a small non-profit conference center outside St. Louis, Missouri.  He holds an M.B.A. from Tulane University, a Masters of Divinity from St. Michael’s Faculty of Theology, University of Toronto, and a Masters of Science in Business Administration and a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Arizona.

Professor Schepers has published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Business and Society Review, Business and Society, Journal of Business Ethics, Human Resource Management Review, and Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management.  He also has numerous cases and book chapters to his credit.  He is a member of the Society of Business Ethics, the Academy of Management, the Eastern Academy of Management, the International Society for Business, Economics and Ethics, and the International Association of Business and Society. 

Important Links:

Zicklin Center for Corporate Accountability: http://zicklin.baruch.cuny.edu/centers/cci/

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Zicklin Student Finalist in Wal-Mart QuickPitch Challenge @ 2009 Net Impact Conference

 The Zicklin School of Business is turning a deeper shade of green as countless initiatives grow across the campus with issues of sustainability at the forefront. At the graduate level, Zicklin’s chapter of Net Impact (herein known as the Sustainable Business Club (SBC)) lies at the helm. Recently, the leadership of the SBC attended the national 2009 Net Impact conference at Cornell University along with 2,683 other participants and exhibitors representing numerous Fortune 500 companies, NGOs, professionals and academic institutions.

 Prior to the conference, Wal-Mart, an event sponsor, opened applications for their QuickPitch Challenge, giving a select group of entrepreneurs 90 seconds to pitch their sustainable product to a panel of Wal-Mart executives while at the conference. Ryan O’Connor, a Full-Time Honors student and Co-President of the Sustainable Business Club was among the few invited to enter the semi-final round, and was ultimately awarded status as a top-five finalist amongst prestigious competitors from top competing business schools. This is Ryan’s first-hand account of his experience during the challenge.

Looking at the list of corporate sponsors at this year’s Net Impact conference, I was pretty blown away. Free fair trade coffee and t-shirts from Starbucks and GAP, all the Honest Tea you could handle and a career expo that hosted the likes of Accenture, KPMG, Intel, FedEx, Microsoft and Morgan Stanley. All of these companies came to eye the future leaders of the business world because of a single commonality- we knew sustainability. We understood the triple bottom line and that put our talents at a premium.

Ryan O'Connor Semifinalist @ 2009 Net Impact Conference

Ryan O'Connor Semifinalist @ 2009 Net Impact Conference

Prior to the conference, I was preselected to participate in the Wal-Mart QuickPitch Challenge. I had spent the summer working for BagtheHabit.com, an amazing startup making chic-o-friendly tote and produce bags.  Their target market was unique and their value proposition was solid. I had worked with the two founders getting their house in order as a general management consultant focusing on pipelining wholesale deals. I knew if anyone was going to be receptive to the product, it would be Wal-Mart. So when they opened the call for entrants, you can bet your hybrid that I was going to take full advantage of the opportunity.

 90 seconds was all we were given. 90 seconds to tell them why they should invest in us. Think about every filler word you’ve ever used in a sentence. Every “like,” “uh,” or “um,” was now taking up prime real estate in the 90-second landscape that is known traditionally as the “elevator pitch.” These judges weren’t soft either. The nature of this competition was clear as the room filled with tension as the participants were picked out of a hat at random to make their case.

 The judges followed every initial pitch with 60 seconds of questions. They were fast and they were loaded. They had no time for hypothetical or half-baked ideas. This was not an “everyone gets a ribbon” kind of game and it showed after the first participant was cut off and excused. 

 I came prepared. I had the value proposition set, the competitive landscape down, and the market research fully analyzed. The best part?  It showed. I was forwarded on to the final round that consisted of five more minutes of the same rapid fire questioning. Finally, out of the initial 100 applicants, I was awarded a position in the top five. Not too shabby considering I was the only one representing a public institution and my performance outranked many others from top tier programs.

The experience reinforced a philosophy that I’ve carried with me since my first day here at Baruch. Business is not a question of what you know, but the practical application of what you can do. It’s a subtlety that all too often gets lost in translation. Put another way, if you graduate with a 4.0 but committed yourself to nothing else, you’re limiting your knowledge to academic exercises that are sterile at best. Business is messy. Deals are complicated and relationships drive success. Get out there and get involved. The dividends will come.

Ryan O’Connor
Co-President
Sustainable Business Club

Important Links

Zicklin Sustainable Business Club: www.sustainablebusinessclub.com
Net Impact: http://www.netimpact.org/

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World Cup Draw – Baruch Representation

It has been said that the only building in New York in which you may hear more languages spoken at any given time than the Newman Vertical Campus is the UN.  Baruch College is frequently noted as one of the most diverse campuses in the country.  So, as the soccer elite converge on Cape Town for the World Cup Draw today, it is the perfect time to reflect upon how truly diverse Baruch College is.

There are over 16,000 students currently enrolled at Baruch College.  There are 32 countries represented in FIFA’s 2010 World Cup.  The following are those countries, broken down by their recently determined grouping, and the number of students currently enrolled at Baruch College (undergraduate and graduate) who were born in those countries.

Group A
South Africa – 4
Mexico - 58
Uruguay - 4
France – 30

Group B
Argentina - 18
Nigeria - 39
South Korea – 442 
Greece – 9

Group C
England – 26
United States – 10,203
Algeria – 2
Slovenia - 0

Group D
Germany – 23
Australia – 4
Serbia – 10
Ghana – 31

Group E
Netherlands – 1
Denmark – 3
Japan – 105
Cameroon – 7

Group F
Italy – 16
Paraguay – 6
New Zealand – 2
Slovakia – 13

Group G
Brazil - 51
North Korea – 1 
Ivory Coast - 17
Portugal - 1

Group H
Spain - 9
Switzerland – 5
Honduras - 11
Chile – 5

The World Cup starts on June 11th with a match between South Africa and Mexico.  The month that follows is one of the most exciting in sports.  Clearly, it will also be a very exciting time on the Baruch campus.  And, come July 11th, it is almost certain somebody at Baruch will be celebrating, unless of course Slovenia shocks the world.

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