We Are Group!

Li Meng Blog

Group projects are the worst aren’t they? Remember back in undergrad when you always got put with the worst teammates? There was always one person that was only able to meet at 6:00am every other Saturday. Then there was the member who wanted the entire financial analysis project to be about cats and would argue if you disagreed in the slightest. And lastly, my favorite, the one who never showed up. Ever. Fortunately, I can tell you that has not even been close to my experience at the GSM.

Even before classes start, bright eyed GSMers are assigned to teams in order to participate in real, live case competitions organized by Fortune 500 companies. This is the first opportunity to get to know our classmates and how they perform in group situations. From the first day of most core classes in the fall, groups are either assigned or selected by students here in the Davis MBA program. Whether matched up with random teammates or ones you decide, the experience will always be a positive one. With a random group in Articulation and Critical Thinking, I was matched up with classmates I had not worked with before and very much enjoyed learning about their past experiences and varied viewpoints on the topics at hand.



For Statistics, we were allowed to form our own groups and I managed to join an all-star team of 4 eclectic individuals. Though we all came from different backgrounds and industries, we all came together and contributed equally to the challenging projects we were faced with. From the beginning, we spent much time given each other nicknames and pasting funny pictures into a shared Google doc. However, every member’s drive and own brand of humor propelled us to do great work for the projects and the class in general. The food we brought for each meeting certainly did not dampen our spirits.

I hope you are as excited as I am to be working with peers here at the UC Davis MBA and hope that this blurb eased your doubts about group projects at the MBA level a bit. Just remember to bring snacks!



Blog by Li Meng – Class of 2016

New Year, New Ambassadors

UC Davis MBA Ambassador

As 2015 begins, I want to introduce myself as the new Director of the Ambassadors for the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. My team and I are excited to take the reins for the next year and are ready to represent the GSM to the next wave of applicants and future students.

I also want to take this opportunity to connect with those considering applying to attend the GSM. I welcome everyone looking to apply and am excited to meet everyone face to face when you come for class visits. I also want to challenge you to ask what business school is worth to you. A higher paycheck? A better career? A brighter future? The outcome is the goal, but shouldn’t the experience be a holistically beneficial one?

The GSM will give you the tools needed to take on the future of business dilemmas and solve management problems. However, what makes the GSM different, what sets it apart from the herd of Top Tier Business Schools, is its small, personal, and dedicated approach to every student’s experience and development. If admitted, you will know everyone in your class, every staff member, have access to every faculty member, and tailor an experience in your graduate education that is right for you. Every class has a diverse mix of students and career industries. No other school can offer the level of specified education at the same quality as the GSM. No other school can offer the personalized, warm, and welcoming atmosphere of the GSM.

That is what a MBA should be worth. That should be the goal of everyone’s business school experience. By reading this blog, you are already showing some nominal interest in applying. I’ve been in your place, trying to figure out which of the Best Schools was right for me. The deciding factor was that I wanted my 2 years in school to be as worthwhile and positive an experience as the career I was looking to enter. I chose the only school that could offer me the best future while allowing me to enjoy the journey. So, take the challenge, apply today.

A Note on Competition–By Christine


This week wraps up my first year of business school. As my classmates and I have been getting ready to disperse for summer internships, I’ve been reflecting on how supportive we have all been for each other.

When I entered business school, I expected to come across at least a few sharp-elbowed, hyper-competitive, grade-grubbing classmates. You know, the kind that only care about their own progress and self-image. With such a small class size, it would be easy to have a culture of over-achievers who are stepping over each other, hoarding contacts and information to snap up the best internships for themselves. Much to my relief, this hasn’t been the case at all!

In fact, our tight knit community as a small class size was one of the main reasons I chose to attend UC Davis, and this aspect of the GSM has proven itself priceless day after day. Particularly in our hunt for summer internships, I have had so much support from classmates. The generosity and willingness to help each other succeed really is something to be proud of. My friends at school have been there for me every step of the way – sharing a contact here, a recommendation there, a link to a job posting, and even a shoulder to cry on.


UC Davis–MBA

I think at the end of the day, we all know that any one person’s success is all of our success. It behooves us to collaborate, to build and strengthen bonds, and to support each other. This is something I’ll be feeling thankful for and truly missing all summer long.

See you in the Fall!

–          Christine

Buffett Trip—-By Erin Ford


Omaha! Omaha!

The last week of January, 20 lucky UC Davis Graduate School of Management students jetted off to Omaha, Nebraska to meet the Oracle himself.  It all started unassumingly enough with an email solicitation sent to all GSM students to enter a lottery to meet and have lunch with Warren Buffett.  Well, of course I would sign up, right?  With over 200 entrants, 20 students from among the Davis, Sacramento, and San Ramon programs were selected to represent the school for the GSM’s seventh visit to Omaha.

Amidst the finals of Fall Quarter and the looming holidays, we all attended a planning session to discuss the logistics of the trip and lay out what must happen before our big day.  Questions needed to be prepared for our Q&A with Mr. Buffett, travel plans made, and gift ideas vetted.  Through the magic of the internet, Google groups, and online surveys, we made it all happen.

While the members of our group traveled circuitous routes from Northern California to converge on Nebraska, some of us more successfully than others, the early arrivals started their trip volunteering at an Omaha institution: Girls, Inc.  A fantastic organization, Girls, Inc., is a national non-profit aimed at providing low-cost supplemental education programs to girls.  Their efforts in Omaha are truly inspiring, and we were thrilled to be able to give back during our stay in the Cornhusker State.

The next day, with an agenda in hand, we made our way through the snowy streets of Omaha.  Not sure what to expect, the day began with a trip to Nebraska Furniture Mart.  Armed with coffee, we met up with seven other schools: UCLA Anderson School of Business, IBMEC, University of Tennessee, Holy Cross, University of Houston, University of Western Ontario, and MIT Sloan School of Management.  With such a humble name, we certainly were not expecting the monstrous complex of warehouses and well-appointed showrooms that awaited us.

As we walked through the showrooms, we were introduced to the history of the Omaha institution, a Berkshire Hathaway-owned subsidiary.  Despite their incredible scale, they prided themselves on their ability to beat anyone’s price – replete with updated-by-the-minute electronic price tags hanging from each item.

The Q&A session was up next.  For over two hours, Mr. Buffett held the group’s rapt attention as each of the eight schools took turns asking questions.  His ability to make each person, each school, feel welcome was a pleasure to behold.  His biggest take-aways centered on making sure we each knew the importance of the people in our lives.  Through his family and friends, he says that he has been able to succeed in the manner that he has.

Of course, he spoke about investment analyses in a matter-of-fact manner that made it seem as though it were the easiest thing in the world, but he made his preference for investing in mature companies with products that he understood quite clear.  Quoting Mark Twain, he stated that “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” referring to the fact that markets fluctuate and underscoring the necessity to read the signs that the market gives you.

When asked about his philanthropic work in pairing with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he stated, “in business, you look at small problems to solve.  In philanthropy, it’s the big problems that have the biggest reach.” Mr. Buffett indicated that he was interested in specifically pursuing issues pertaining to the security of the food and water supplies, but also in increasing access to medicine around the world. He said, “it is a difficult thing to decide whether to work on something which others are also working on, or to swing for the fences and expect that failure is likely.”

The highlight of the trip to Omaha was in the lunch at Piccolo Pete’s, an Omaha institution.  For most of his guests to the city, Mr. Buffett hosts them at this, his favorite restaurant in town.  Fortunate enough to share his lunch table, a number of GSM students held a captive audience and he gamely answered questions throughout lunch.  As he sipped on Cherry Coke and munched away, finishing with an enormous root beer float, the conversation lightened and talk turned to the only email he ever sent, texting and Twitter, Netflix or DVDs, Breaking Bad and Desperate Housewives, and what antics are planned for the upcoming annual shareholders’ meeting.  It was clear to all who interacted with him that his complete joy, graciousness, and gusto for life radiated forth.  A book recommendation and a group picture later, and we bid Mr. Buffett adieu.

The afternoon wrapped up with a visit to Borsheims, another impressive Omaha institution, and to Oriental Trading Company, a newly acquired subsidiary.  A luminous space with light reflecting off of every surface, Borsheims echoed NFM’s commitment to competitively price all of their products.  Possibly a brilliant marketing ploy, the writer of the agenda must have banked on the earning potential of business students, and the memory that would be seared in our brains by their understatedly opulent store.  The visit to Oriental Trading Company revealed one of the most state-of-the-art, technologically-advanced supply chain processes in the business.

Ending our trip with a group dinner at Marks Bistro, and a second assembly of volunteers at Girls, Inc, we said farewell to Omaha.  A truly unforgettable experience, we looked forward to heading back to Northern California to implement Mr. Buffett’s wise words in our own lives.



Guest Blogger Series—ROY: Return on You–By Amber Lewis

timeAmber Lewis is currently a 1st year at the GSM. She holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology from UC Berkeley, and was a CORO Fellow in Public Affairs.   Her professional background is in political campaigns and healthcare policy.  Amber is a native Californian and loves exploring its great outdoors by land, sea, and snow.

Last week my roommate (and fellow GSM student) and I were debriefing a rather heated group discussion that happened earlier in the day.  I was confiding in her about some new realizations that I had about myself, and the way that I work in groups, when she said: “business school is like living seven years of life in two.”  She had put into a sentence what I had been struggling to articulate all quarter.  Yes, business school is an investment in your career, your future financial security, and your knowledge base.  However, you will not maximize your new skills unless you are also willing to take on the ultimate, and exceptionally harder, challenge of getting to know yourself.

Before coming to the GSM I had a challenging and rewarding career full of responsibility, creativity, and opportunity.  Today, I can honestly say that I have grown more in the last four months in this program than I did in the last two years at my job.  While I now know how to balance a cash flow statement and do a regression analysis, I also have identified some key leadership strengths and weaknesses to work on and have been challenged to think about what I truly want in life.

It is par for the course when applying to college or looking for a job to be asked about your strengths and weaknesses, your life goals, and where you see yourself in five years.  Whether I was asked those questions in an interview or at Thanksgiving dinner, I always had an acceptable, polished… and if we are being honest, somewhat BS answer.  To truly answer these questions, with any level of authenticity, takes some serious self-reflection.  However, it also requires time, space, and support.  To my surprise, that is what I found in business school.

These two years are like hitting pause on your life.  You are granted the gift of time to reflect, have personal insights, and develop your inner strengths and talents.  The best part is that you get to spend that time with other people who are equally engaged in the process.  Stepping into the classroom at the GSM you are surrounded by talented, amazing, driven people, and I continue to be humbled and honored by the caliber of my classmates.  Contrary to the stereotype of business school, our class feels like a team, and mutual support and respect is a foundation in our class culture.  While your fellow classmates are committed to investing in themselves for these two years, they are also equally committed to their investment in you.

No matter where you end up, or if you even choose to go to business school, I would encourage you to take the time to cultivate relationships with people who will support you in becoming the best version of yourself.  While I am learning the importance of investing in my personal development, I have also come to realize that it is equally important to be part of a community that values this level of learning.  I found that community at the GSM.  Trust me, in the end, the ROY makes it worth the time and effort.

8 Realities Facing Every First Year MBA—-By Christine

In the tradition of BuzzFeed and other funny list sites (my personal favorite being Whilst in SF), I present to you a list of the first-year MBA experience!










…what you THINK you sound like:


…what you ACTUALLY sound like:





(all images via giphy.com)

Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity

photo 1

Last Friday, a bunch of us had a fun day out volunteering at Habitat for Humanity in Sacramento!

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, faith-based housing organization established in 1993.  Habitat for Humanity works with people from all walks of life to build decent, affordable homes for families in need. Their goal is to eliminate poverty housing world-wide and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience.

We got the opportunity to sort through piles and piles of clay tiles, re-arrange their stock of doors and door frames, dismantle rows of lighting fixtures, price and display various merchandise for sale at their ReStore outlet, and just be of help to the staff.  Not only did we had a great time hanging out, but we also got a good work-out lifting and moving heavy items!


Thanks for making this happen, C4C!  Can’t wait until the next volunteering activity!

WiL. I AM by Yoyo Wu

(Left to Right) Onyeka Enwerem, Vice President and Director of Finance; Yoyo Wu, President of WiL; Kanupriya Verma, Director of Marketing

(Left to Right) Onyeka Enwerem, Vice President and Director of Finance; Yoyo Wu, President of WiL; Kanupriya Verma, Director of Marketing

If you are a fan of the Black Eye Peas or Will.I.am, please don’t be disappointed that I am not highlighting your musical idol or think I made a typo. That being said, I am glad to introduce to you the WiL in GSM: the Women in Leadership Club.

WiL club is one of the smallest clubs operated through the Associated Students of Management (ASM), but also one of the clubs with the longest reach. Why? Because our goal is to effect and enhance the experience of every woman and everyone who works or will someday work with a woman. Our mission is to serve UC Davis Daytime MBA students and alumni through professional and social activities geared towards the development of future women business leaders.

WiL club is active in organizing activities to bring in benefits to future women business leaders. For example, we have a tradition of great activities like the annual “Mock-Tails with the Dean” during every fall quarter, providing an opportunity to all students to communicate with Dean Currall face-to-face. We also work to sponsor students to attend the annual Women in Leadership Conference in Haas, UC Berkeley. Lastly, we innovate new activities such as “Speed Mentoring”, inspired by Speed Dating, which connects second-year and first-year students in one-on-one mentoring sessions sharing interview skills and lessons.

This year’s board of WiL club comes from very diverse backgrounds. I, Yoyo, am the WiL President. I am a Chinese student with 5-years of auditing experience and the proud mother with a 15-month little girl. I realize the subtle balance women in business have to maintain as they have more social identities to handle, that was why I decided to lead the WiL club and try to help women leaders find out the balance to ensure success both in career and family life. Onyeka, our Vice President and Director of Finance, is from Nigeria where she worked as an engineer. She is very versatile, just to name some of her many talents: dancing, photo-shopping, and engineering. Kanu, our Director of Marketing, is from India and was also a mechanical engineer before she came to GSM. She plans to pursue marketing, using her instincts and skills to help WiL club with innovation and new ideas.

In our nearest upcoming event, WiL club will introduce some successful business women leaders to GSM students, sharing stories of their successes and failures. Then, WiL club will co-host another guest speaker event with Entrepreneurship and Innovation Society club. Looking forward to those exciting and inspiring events in May!

The Dumpling House



This quarter, I am taking a Strategic Cost Management course with Professor Shannon Anderson. Professor Anderson is an expert in performance management and cost accounting, as well as an excellent teacher. Our course is taught through case studies, which gives us the opportunity to understand several industries through cost accounting concepts.

Our first team project is to analyze the cost strategy of a local restaurant. In addition to learning how a restaurant can sustain abnormal returns, the project gave my team an excuse to try delicious new cuisine together. Our team analyzed The Dumpling House, a tasty Chinese dumpling shop walking distance from the GSM. We learned a lot about the inner-workings of a restaurant, and had fun together!

Interview with a Veteran: Michael Van Derwood, JD/MBA Candidate ’15


Former Marine Corps Captain Michael Van Derwood shares his experiences transitioning from the military to student life at UC Davis. He is currently enrolled in his first year of business school after completing one year of law school.

  • How has your background prepared you for current student life?
    • It’s given me perspective regarding my current situation, understanding what’s critical versus what’s just important. The military helped me grasp how to manage myself in terms of time and efficiency. I think I have more experience than most when it comes to leading teams. Group work is a big part of business school and working in groups is not something I find difficult or frustrating.
  • Can you describe your transition from the military to civilian life?
    • The biggest transition challenge other vets and I have experienced is understanding that the military system we lived in, although efficient, is not directly translatable to the student environment. The established leadership structure we experienced in the military doesn’t necessarily apply to the classroom. You’re among your peers and no longer formally in charge of anything. It makes life easier in some ways because I’m allowed to experiment with different leadership styles. But not being in a true leadership position means I don’t have the same responsibility as I had before. On a lot of levels, I just have to worry about myself. This setting grants a much greater deal of autonomy than the military does.
  • How has UC Davis welcomed its veterans?
    • Both the law school and the GSM are very receptive to veterans. In today’s society, people value vet’s experiences and are more willing to listen to how we can contribute. Both schools are interested in my experience and have been very welcoming; I’m happy with the overall reception. But I also think universities are still in the process of determining how much value veterans add because people don’t necessarily understand the nature and type of experiences that we come from. For example, people know what it means when you say you’re a  district manager in a retail chain. But that same understanding is lost when you say you’re a company commander in the Marines. It can be difficult to translate prior experiences and make people understand what it means. We’re not often looked at as belonging to the diversity pie but I really think we do. I don’t think the diversity definition should stop at socioeconomic status, gender, or race. Prior work experience plays a huge role as well. I think the military adds value because it contributes people with different types of reasoning skills and life experiences.
  • How do you plan to leverage your education for future success?
    • I think there are a lot of parallels between military and management instruction. The military taught me how to do a job and how to lead. Business school teaches a similar type of overall management skill. But vets need to realize that the civilian job market is very different from what we’ve experienced. The MBA is valuable because I’m leveraging my prior experience while filling out a skill set that’s translatable to the civilian world. I think that’s why so many vets decide to pursue business school after the military.
  • Is there anything you miss about your time in the Marines?
    • The intensity of the experience creates a different kind of bond among peers, coworkers and colleagues. It’s a tighter community in some ways by virtue of shared experience. Even though law and business school is strenuous and stressful, that kind of bond I experienced in the military is difficult to duplicate.
  • Any last words why a veteran should consider graduate school at UC Davis?
    • Because there aren’t a lot of veterans at the GSM or law school, we do have an opportunity to stand out. Other schools might have thirty vets per class. Veterans are valued here; faculty and staff want to include us in the community and see us succeed. I think that because there aren’t a lot of veterans at the GSM or law school, we do have an opportunity stand out. I’ve landed interviews at companies based solely on my military background. The GSM career staff is learning quickly how to leverage and take advantage of that.

Michael Van Derwood

Founder & President of Veteran’s Association at UC Davis Law School

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=32749064&locale=en_US&trk=tyah