Orientation… kind of

Greenspan, Robin 913544828

By: Robin Greenspan

Orientation. The word evokes many images. A couple of tours. A free hat or bag. A couple pamphlets. Those ‘hi, my names is…’ stickers that never stay on your shirt. Maybe even a cup of coffee or two.  Get those images out of your head.  They are based upon assumptions. And, as future MBA’ers, you will be doing plenty of assuming. Just not now.

Perhaps it’s the terminology that’s confusing.  Orientation isn’t quite the right word.  Perhaps a different word would better paint the picture. Some terms suggested by my classmates were boot camp, indoctrination, and immersion training.  Don’t be scared, just don’t assume you know what’s coming. Except for the coffee, that will be there. And name tags (nice ones too). Regardless of what you want to call it, this is going to be a unique opportunity for you and your classmates to get a first rate education.  Not an education on statistics, marketing, or finance (there will be time for that later) but in the so called soft skills.  If you haven’t heard this term, google it. Many of these soft skills, communication, networking, interviewing, will help you get a job.  Some of them, grit, team building, feedback skills, will make you better at the job you get.  But know this, they are all valuable skills.

Some of you may already have extensive experience at using these soft skills. And you may think that three weeks on these skills may be excessive.  If this is the case, I ask you to consider a couple things.  It can never hurt to improve these skills. Practicing them at this level, with a group of your peers, all whom have significant skills and motivation of their own, can only make you better. Second; the most valuable part of business school is the network, the students. And, helping your classmates get better helps strengthen that network. Thus making your education more valuable.  It’s also a great opportunity for you to bond with your cohort.

You will also have the opportunity to meet, and present in front of, several multinational companies right away.  Which is all but unheard of. So come ready to work.

Thus endeth the orientation sermon.

I hope this will help you have the the proper mind set coming in to orientation.  Oh, and if you can help it, don’t make the mistake I did of agreeing to work at your old job during orientation.  Don’t assume the workload during orientation is lighter than it is when classes start. than when you start classes.  It isn’t.  Just different.

My experience at UC Davis Graduate School of Management


I was recently asked this question by a prospective student “how has your experience been so far at UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM)?”

As a student Ambassador for UC Davis, I have been asked this question many times. So I thought of writing about it. Well, one of the things that you need to remember about a quarter system is that time just flies. I was warned about it when I enrolled into the program but only just realized its pace when I am in the middle of the third quarter. My experience so far has been absolutely remarkable and some of the things that have contributed to this are:

My fellow GSM students: Even before I applied to the MBA program, I had the opportunity to interact with students and alumni from UC Davis GSM. It was through these interactions that I learnt about the sense of community and the collaborative culture that exists at GSM. However, experiencing it was something else…it is like being a part of the family where everyone is keen to help you succeed in your goals. Peers at the GSM have been generous with their time and support. I have been on late night Skype calls trying to understand difficult topics before an exam, practicing for interviews over lunch breaks as well as spent countless hours in discussion about the question on every MBAs mind … what’s next? It has been a privilege to be able to both accept and offer support within such a close community.

 World-class faculty:  The Graduate School of Management’s faculty quality is ranked No. 15 globally as per The Economist, 2014 ranking of Full-time MBAs. The professors are not only experts in their field but they are also committed to helping us excel in our career paths. They are always available to provide extra help with understanding difficult topics and encourage in-class interactions to make it a great learning experience for all of us.   My experience of interacting with them and learning from them has been amazing.

 Clubs and activities: The campus is always abuzz with activities, events and workshops. There are student club led activities such as monthly barbeques, peer workshops and celebrations as well as networking mixers, career fairs, speaker series and other professional workshops. There are numerous opportunities available to the students at GSM for personal and professional development.

 Career Development team: The career development team at GSM is committed to helping the students land their dream jobs and internships. Chris Ditto and Elizabeth Moon are always there to encourage students, offer advice and address any issues that we may have regarding our career paths. They helped us prepare and rehearse our elevator pitches, write resume and cover letters, tackle case interviews and build and improve our LinkedIn profiles. And all these things happened even before we started school…yes you heard it right… before school started! The career management team also held workshops for international students on communication and networking in the United States.  Being an international student, these were particularly helpful to me.

At GSM, a small class size implies that everyone knows everyone, and every single person at the school is there to help us become all that we can be.  Because that is what business school is, an opportunity to find and develop the best version of you. I feel privileged to be a part of this culture at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

Blogpost by Ruchi Bali – Class of 2016

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!

First week of my Internship: Done! 11 more to go…

Whew! I just finished the first week of my internship at Agilent Technologies. What a great experience so far. Before coming to school, I worked for a small commercial real estate investment firm with 12 employees. Now I am interning at a multi-national, publicly traded company with thousands of employees across the world. What a difference a year makes.

This summer I will be producing a pricing model to be used in one of Agilent’s high-growth divisions. The division generates $100 million a year in profit across four profit centers. Currently, each division prices one-off, custom deals on an ad-hoc basis. So my goal is to create a single, standardized pricing model to be used across all four businesses. The goal is prevent the analysts from re-inventing the wheel each time a deal comes up. Like I learned in Corporate Finance… does it have a positive Net Present Value (NPV), does it have a reasonable Internal Rate of Return (IRR), etc.

So, what in the crazy world of MBA speak did I just describe? Essentially, I will be creating a tool for management to easily decide whether or not a project is worth the investment for Agilent.

Although it’s only been a week, it amazes me how all the theory and concepts I learned in the classroom are immediately applicable to my internship. Organizational behavior taught us how to work in teams, recognize the different cultures within organizations and how to navigate around them. On my first day on the job, I was assigned as the team-lead on my project this summer where I will be working closely with members from marketing, legal and operations to survey current methods in deal valuations. I won’t actually be meeting my team in person because they are spread out across the world from New Jersey to Malaysia and the Netherlands. wow!

I remember our final assignment in Management Accounting was learning about the the concept of transfer pricing within an organization. How do you incentive and motivate a manager to maximize profits for their division but not at the expense of profits for the company as a whole? This is one challenge I will face this summer as I will need to create a pricing model that captures this data. This will ensure that a particular deal generates profits for both the division AND the company.

This internship will also be a great opportunity to network and meet other MBA’s at Agilent to learn about their career paths and how best to position myself in this economy. Also, as a testament to the strength of the UC Davis network, many UC Davis alums at Agilent have already welcomed me in the first week. There’s been a steady stream of fellow Aggies introducing themselves to me. Don’t they know I have to work! Just kidding. I’ve already set up individual coffee/lunch meetings with them over the next couple of weeks. It’s great to know that I can rely on them as a resource during my internship this summer. I know I will need all the help I can get!

My project swings into full gear this week and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s weird not having to “work” on the weekends. No papers, no studying or homework assignments due. This is a nice change of pace.

I don’t have any other plans this summer other than a few mini-trips here and there. Next weekend, I’m planning to meet a few of my classmates for a barbeque and a hike which should be a nice mini-reunion (I know, I know, I just saw them a few weeks ago!). Once Labor day arrives, I will be done with my internship. I have a few weeks to relax before school starts. I will be in Davis welcoming the first year newbies at orientation. It should be a lot of fun. Matt, the Director of Orientation, has been working hard the whole year to plan everything. He has a lot of great activities lined up. I can’t believe MY business school orientation was only 9 months ago. Now I’m going to be a second year MBA student! Time flies… Have a great summer everyone!