Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Holidays from Around the Globe

Sending a quick post from various trips and vacations, whether it is exploring new places or visiting our families. We are all enjoying a break from courses and taking advantage of the extending time away from campus. Recharged, we are all ready to go at it again in January!

Just a sampling of where the Wake Forest University Schools of Business bloggers are spending their free moments this winter break:

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Allison Discusses Economic Policy

BB&T Corp. chairman and Wake Forest professor John Allison recently sat down with BigThink.com for a lengthy Q&A on economic policy and other topics relevant to MBA students. We are including one of those thought-provoking clips, and the entire library of footage can be found here.

Bring back the gold standard
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Dawn with the Dean

~ I snagged this item off the University’s web site. I think this is a great tradition that facilitates physical and mental fitness.
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It’s 6:25 am in the Worrell parking lot. Soon the daily ritual of cars weaving up and down lanes, their drivers desperately hunting for a parking space, will begin. But right now, in the calm before the storm, a ritual of a different kind is taking place. Business students, faculty, and staff are milling around in exercise clothes, stretching their hamstrings, getting ready to take a three-mile journey with Dean Reinemund (right). Because this is a Thursday morning, and around here that means one thing: Dawn with the Dean, a weekly chance to rub shoulders, share ideas, and — depending on your pace — sweat a little with Steve Reinemund.
Sometimes there’s lively discussion about current events in business, or about the upcoming plans for the combined schools. Other times there’s just the rhythmic pattern of breathing and feet pounding the pavement in unison. Which is exactly how it’s supposed to be. These aren’t scripted moments. There is no syllabus. It’s about colleagues, students, friends, and mentors sharing time outside the confines of the classroom, building relationships that go beyond walls.
For Dean Reinemund, it’s also about instilling healthy habits in students and colleagues. He’s been a runner for years, and believes exercise leads not only to stronger, healthier bodies but also to sharper minds.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home Stretch


I’m proud to report that my peers and I have survived the first half of the MA program! When we started in July, I must admit we were all pretty nervous about the difficulty level of our classes. It is crazy how a group of Creative Writing, History, Music, and Religion majors just completed graduate level courses in Economics, Quantitative Business Modeling, Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting.
We’re speaking a different language now … the language of business! We can read financial statements, make confident stock investments, and do break-even analysis in our sleep!
The courses were more difficult than I predicted, but I honestly feel as if I gained tons of valuable skills. I was sitting at my father’s desk over Thanksgiving break and he peered over my shoulder, as I was balancing accounts for General Mills, and said, “Is my daughter voluntarily looking at numbers?” I’ve gained a new level of confidence because of the conversations I can now participate in, as well as the jobs for which I now qualify. Just last week I was interviewing for a position that historically is designed for MBA graduates.
The more I interview and participate in admission events, I am amazed by the level of excitement employers display once they understand the concept behind an MA degree: A graduate business education with a liberal arts foundation.
Although we finish classes tomorrow, I still have another week with my new Wake Forest family. With the assistance of Mike Crespi, I’m organizing a trip for the marketing club to go to NYC and visit with companies such as BBDO, PepsiCo, Nautica, American Express, and Bayer. We’re spending three days in the city, networking and attending information interviews with these companies. Our visit to AMEX includes a marketing case studies and a presentation from their CMO. I’m really excited about the trip, especially BBDO, which is my ultimate dream company!
To finish the semester, SGA organized an awesome holiday party — complete with band and bar. Everyone got dressed up really nice and took tons of photos (see some below). In just these few short months, we’ve made long-lasting friendships and learned a lot about ourselves as individuals and team contributors. I’m looking forward to January. I will begin my Corporate Fellowship project, which includes a marketing campaign utilizing social networking.
Happy Holidays everyone!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Less than 24 hours to go…

The title of this post is correct … the first year class for the Wake Forest University Schools of Business only has a final exam in quant standing between it and a well-deserved break! The last week has been frenetic: a lengthy paper and live presentation for Organizational Behavior along with a team case study and studying for the quant exam. It is hard to see how students can slip in any social networking, but we did. Last week we had our first gathering of the first- and second-year classes as part of the new Working Professionals Association. It was great to meet those who have gone before us, getting tips on professors and classes and having a few drinks at Foothills Brewery.

Here are a few pictures from the event, which is sure to be the first of several planned in the months to come. Okay, I have to get back to studying!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

21st Century CFO = Chief Reality Officer?

“Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” ~ Albert Einstein

Wake Forest University accounting professor Jonathan Duchac (right) led his talk at the CFO Alliance meeting in Charlotte by quoting the famous physicist, noting that such logic applies to risk management. With the financial crisis and recession, companies are under pressure to revert to the traditional ways of viewing risk, seeing it simply as a negative event that must be controlled.

Rather, Duchac encouraged the more than 60 executives in attendance Tuesday morning to seek opportunity when it comes to risk, albeit with an appropriate measure of caution. Rather than simply revert to the same methods that got us in trouble, companies must do a better job of understanding and identifying risk. “We need to change the paradigm,” he said. “Risk management is not about mitigating loss … it is about generating value.”

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How do you manage risk? Duchac gave a terrific illustration of how risk management should work. First, identify, quantify and model risk v. reward. That allows a financial officer to communicate risks, opportunities and actions, which in turn leads to risk-based management decisions. The optimal end result is the creation of a competitive advantage. Be warned – a financial officer must always be aware of how risk can also destroy value in much the same way as value is created.

“Risk management is everyone’s job,” Duchac said, stressing the fallacy of making it all the responsibility of the CFO or a dedicated risk officer.

What are the prevalent risks for today’s financial executives? The audience was divided into six groups and encouraged to discuss the risks they face, with a reminder that risk is not isolated to negative occurrences. Here is a list of the 10 most discussed areas of risks (in no particular order):

1) Funding: Venture capital, private equity, lending, and donations

2) Key personnel: How do you handle critical employees?

3) Legislation/regulation: Taxation and health care reform were the biggest concerns

4) What to do with any profits: Do you invest in marketing, return it to investors, or stash the cash?

5) Cost cutting: Where do you cut? R&D, marketing, training, travel, benefits? When do you decide to bring those expenses back?

6) Brand image/reputational risk: Many were concerned about the impact of social media such as Facebook and Twitter

7) Supply and demand: How do you manage both, and what is the right pricing to use?

8) Shared risk: Do joint ventures make sense right now?

9) How to handle the agenda of an overly ambitious CEO

And finally

10) Are we taking on enough risk? Many are shell-shocked by current conditions and are too timid to take chances … are they missing out on the recovery?

Never Overlook at Clean Classroom

Ever realize how spotless our facilities are? We owe it all to our wonderful maintenance staff who arrive every morning at 6:30 am to make sure that our classrooms are ready to go, study rooms are clean, and bathrooms are stocked with soap and paper towels. 

On Tues., Dec. 8,  let’s show the maintenance staff some love!  Before we leave for the holidays we’d like to provide the maintenance staff with some goodies during their break that morning from 9:00–9:30 am.  We’ve arranged for Salem Kitchen to provide a continental breakfast, complete with biscuits, juice, and coffee. In addition, each maintenance staff member will receive a small token of appreciation.

How can you help? It’s easy! Simply contribute $2 and the rest will be taken care of. If you would like to do more, we need four volunteers to help set-up and clean-up next Tuesday morning, and we also need volunteers to help stuff goodie bags. Please see your point of contact below if you are interested in helping.

You can submit your contribution in one of two ways: 1) give your money to one of the designated points of contact; or 2) place the money in the envelope located in Ahkesha Murray’s box in the mailroom. Donations will be accepted until the end of the day, Fri., Dec. 4.

Points of contact

MBA c/o 2010    Katharina Haynes, Neeta Kirpalani

MA c/o 2010      Lauren Collins, Evan Raleigh

MBA c/o 2011    Ahkesha Murray, Brooks Pollard

Evening MBA     Jamie Bourgeois