Monday, March 21, 2005

Spring Break

Keith Rust is first year MBA student.

Spring Break….images of sun drenched beaches, outrageous parties and road trips….oh, wait, I’m way past the age of 20….how did I spend my Spring Break? Since I am a Dallas transplant and have been pretty busy since we hit the books last fall, I chose to spend my vacation in the Metroplex and be somewhat productive (?!?). Over the first weekend, I treated my Aunt and Uncle to a lovely tour of Dallas and Fort Worth on pavement, foot and atop Reunion Tower. Dallas definitely did not have beach weather, but my relatives from near Seattle weren’t complaining. The rest of the week went something like this: Monday – attended my first Dallas Mavericks game (and first NBA game) at the AAC with platinum seats courtesy of my mentor. Tuesday and Wednesday – compiled some market research for a business plan I have written up for my course “Starting a Business”. I visited competing stores, suppliers and conducted demographic surveys. Thursday – finally got my car in for service and went motorcycle shopping with a classmate. We ended the day with a trip to Cowboy’s Red River to hang out with the big belt buckle crowd. Friday – 2 mock interviews with senior executives at my mentor’s company capped off with an evening on lower Greenville. Saturday – put on my boots and rode my horse out to Fort Worth for MBA honkey tonk night at Billy Bob’s Texas…good times…good times…

Yes, I miss the beach and care free week of relaxation, but after some of the busy weeks we have had this first year, being productive still felt like a vacation. Did I mention I was not out of bed before 10 on any given day?

Monday, February 07, 2005

Business Leadership Center Seminars

Erin Morgan is a first year MBA student originally from Oklahoma.

We all know how much leisure time MBA students have during the duration of the program. Cramming 16 weeks worth of information into seven three-hour sessions, numerous networking events with mandatory attendance, trying to figure out life and career goals, and the occasional (okay, frequent) happy hour excursion leaves little time for sleep, much less optional seminars. Needless to say, a three-hour block of time set aside to sit through a lecture, without the added incentive of a grade, seems like quite a sacrifice. It is a sacrifice, but it’s well worth the effort.

I have attended over half a dozen BLC seminars, and I plan on attending just as many this semester. The information covered is what many consider “soft skills” but I think the “soft skills” are as difficult to master, if not more so, than the “hard skills.” Most of the seminars are held on campus on weekday evenings.

I have gained invaluable insight from these lectures: tips like who to trust in business and when, an overview of mergers and acquisitions, and putting ethics into practice. Each time I attend a seminar, I leave feeling I have a grasp, or at least a basic understanding, of the topic and concepts presented. I’ve also found I can justify these seminars as “study time” to alleviate the guilt of not reading the numerous cases and literature assigned for class discussion.

Well, if the above-mentioned reasons don’t persuade you to attend some seminars, I have two words for you. FREE FOOD. Not only free, but quality food. The BLC is known for making the best cookies around campus. They also provide the usual snacks that are available in the MBA office as well as soda and water. If nothing else, go for the food and stay for the education…it’s well worth the sleep sacrifice.


Heath Hendricks is a third year JD/MBA student originally from Amarillo, Texas

SMU offers a unique experience for someone pursuing a career that encompasses business and law in that it is located in the center of a metropolitan area that has a significant legal and business presence. Both programs seek to be involved in the neighboring professional communities and often invite guests to join us here on campus. In addition to frequently hosting prominent lawyers, the law school regularly provides its students with the opportunity to meet judges and view legal proceedings on campus. Also, Cox promotes a mentoring program and sponsors a variety of events that afford students the chance to meet influential figures from prominent local companies. With the upcoming completion of the Collins Center, students will see an increasing number of business faces here at SMU.

This year, the business and law schools both agreed to decrease the required number of hours so that a JD/MBA student can now complete the program in four years and still have all three summers free for vacations, clerkships, etc. For me, the trade off of an additional year of school is proving to be worth the opportunity of receiving a formal business education here at Cox. Although I have some practical experience of working in a business environment, I had no formal business education before coming to SMU. I can already see how a business perspective will be a benefit to me as I try and meet the increasing legal needs of sophisticated business clients.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sabre Case Competition

Nathan Pride is a first year student originally from Sturgis, Kentucky.

Sabre Holdings recently sponsored a case competition at SMU for 1st year full-time MBA students. The case involved a real-life business issue that Sabre faced and our job was to provide a recommended course of action for the company to pursue. Unlike most case competitions, Sabre made the request to allow teams to use outside research sources for preparing the case. This gave all teams an opportunity to learn more about the travel industry, Sabre’s competitors, and the various travel product offerings in the marketplace. The competition was intense and all of the work was done on top of a busy school week. This translated into many late nights working with the team and cramming for class preparation for the next day. The case was distributed to teams on Monday and presentations were Friday. A total of twelve teams participated in the competition.

During the presentations on Friday, we were honored to have senior-executives from Sabre come to SMU to judge the teams. In addition, the internship recruiter and other Sabre staff members attended. At the end of the competition, the senior-executives hosted a reception and awards ceremony. What was really neat is that they took the time to walk us through the actual business opportunity and what Sabre did as a company. Sabre funded prize money for the top three teams, but at the end of the day, it was the experiences of working with a team, researching the industry, utilizing problem solving skills, and practicing presentations that were most important. In addition, the competition provided an excellent opportunity for 1st year full-time students to have exposure to Sabre because they recruit on-campus for both internships and full-time jobs. I encourage all new 1st year full-time students to participate in any case competition given the opportunity. The experience is invaluable.

Looking Forward to the Global Leadership Program

Sarah Tartt is a first year student originally from Meridan, Mississippi.

The global leadership program is something that sets Cox apart from other schools. There is no better way to study business in other countries than actually going to those countries and seeing the business firsthand!

I chose to go to Latin America on my GLP trip, although I am sure I would have enjoyed the Asia or Europe trip just as much. I must admit I was a bit nervous to venture to Latin America as it is such a different culture and I don’t speak the language. However, I find comfort in the fact that we’ll be taking classes in history and culture, as well as some language intensive classes this spring semester which should help ease the transition. I am excited to spend some time in a new place and environment, tour plants and companies, and meet with executives. I am also excited about traveling with my classmates and getting to know them even better.

As we prepare for our second GLP orientation session, I have to keep reminding myself that there is a lot of work going into this trip. As students, we are lucky enough to have someone else do all the planning for us (hotels, company visits, meals, etc…); however, we have some preparation work ourselves! A research paper, group presentations, and a final symposium may be requirements for the school-side of our trip, but I am easily lost in thoughts of travel! I am sure another orientation session will help me get focused on what is important…hmm, how am I going to fit all of my stuff into one suitcase?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Exceeding My Expectations

Juia Hochberg is a first-year student originally from San Angelo, TX.

Orientation seems like yesterday but then I think about all the things we have done since Orientation and I’m not really sure how we fit it all in the last five months. An exhausting orientation, two class modules, eight classes, eight professors, seven final exams (!), case competitions, networking, a ropes course, lectures with CEO’s, personality testing, networking, study group projects, club meetings, club projects, resume writing, networking, mentors, internships. I am sure there are another dozen things I am forgetting. I never expected to meet so many fascinating people or to enjoy hearing everyone’s different opinions. I never expected to feel like we are all in this together for the long haul. I never expected to get to know my professors or to actually like accounting. I never expected having so many unique opportunities outside of class to fill my spare time. I never expected to be pushed personally as well as academically and to like it. It has been a great five months and we are only a quarter done!

The Core Classes

Ryan Matiyow is a first-year student originally from Lebanon, OH.

The core classes were a great mix to start off an MBA program. They gave me a taste of many different areas that I could pursue and really helped me narrow down where I wanted to concentrate. From each of the classes outside of my concentration, I learned some very important tools or a way of thinking that I will need going forward in the program.

The exams in each of the core classes were very challenging in a good way. Each exam forced me to think well beyond simple regurgitation and apply the ideas we learned to complex problems, often current business scenarios.

The core classes and exams gave me a good foundation to work with, giving me the tools and ideas necessary to bring together everything I will be studying and doing through the rest of the program.

What SMU has to offer

Lincoln Torrey is a first-year student originally from Richmond, VA.

I chose SMU for several reasons, the primary one being its ties to the Dallas business community. Mark Twain said, 'I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.' I look to my professors here at the Cox School of Business as guides to point out the gaps in my knowledge and abilities, but I am eager to get some hands-on experience in the 'real world.' Much to my great happiness, everyone at the Cox School has been eager to help out. I have met numerous C-level and VP-level execs and I have had meaningful one-on-one conversations with many of them.One of the things that I was most surprised by at Cox is the Business Leadership Center (BLC). The BLC gets executives from varied fields to give 3-hour seminars on their topics of expertise. Wonderful learning to supplement my classes, a great chance to get face-time with successful business leaders, and, best of all, the seminars are free (well, included in the regular tuition at least). I can't stress what a great opportunity these seminars are. Oh, and Mr. Cox and the BLC also fund an annual trip to Orlando to receive classes in customer service at the Disney Institute (Walt Disney World's management consulting team). Attendance to this multi-day seminar is decided by leadership efforts, seminar attendance and an interview process. I'm proud to say that I was one of three first-year students to go this year and I had a fantastic time.

First Semester Reflections

Thomas Mitchell is a first-year student originally from Brentwood, TN.

It’s hard to believe that it was a year ago that I was applying to schools; it has gone by so fast. During that time there have been a lot of changes: leaving work, moving, becoming a student again. It has been quite a lot to deal with, but it has been very rewarding.

The thing that left the biggest impression on me after completing my first semester was the differences been the MBA program at SMU and my undergraduate business school experience. The predominant thing that stands out really has to be my classmates. The diversity and quality of my classmates and their backgrounds has been impressive. This in turn leads to a much more insightful class discussions. We also have the opportunity to do considerable group work, so everybody gets a chance to interact on a more personal level with our talented and experienced classmates. I think it is a rare environment that you get investment bankers, engineers, and law students sitting around discussing new marketing initiatives for major companies. As a side note, it is also nice that everybody seems willing to work collaboratively; this is something I was concerned with after hearing my older sister’s stories about the competitiveness of law school.

In addition to the quality of my peers, I have also been pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere at SMU. Having come from a large public university, I was curious how I would enjoy the small, private university experience. I find myself really appreciating the more personalized environment available at the Cox school. It is rare to be able to walk through the halls a few weeks in and know most of your classmates and the faculty by name. I also considered that there might be more limited opportunities at a smaller program, but boy was I wrong. The SMU MBA program has no problem filling every waking minute of the day with club and extracurricular activities; ranging from distinguished speakers, workshops hosted by community business leaders, and dinner etiquette classes to flag football and happy hours. Truly the opportunities for learning and networking only begin in the classroom, and you can get as much out of the experience as you put into it.

As my second semester starts, I am looking forward to getting into some of my elective courses and beginning the internship hunt. Good luck to everyone finishing up your applications. I would encourage everyone to visit the information sessions for the schools they are applying to; I found it to be quite helpful in the decision making process.

Life as an International Student

Shulei Wang is a first-year student originally from Tianjin, China.

I feel excited and lucky to be a member of the Cox community. In my point of view, Cox offers a welcoming environment for people from all backgrounds. Students are treated equally and offered the same opportunities no matter which part of the world you come from. The faculties are knowledgeable and outstanding. The students not only work hard individually, but also do great teamwork with their group members. They are always available to help one another. We also have a lot of opportunities to join different clubs, such as Finance Club, Marketing Club, Buyside Club, Women in Business Club, etc. It is a good opportunity to build the networking with my classmates and learn from their real life experiences. Although the MBA studies at Cox keep me busy, I love to study in such a challenging and inspiring atmosphere.

For international students, we are offered a language class sponsored by the Career Management Center (CMC). It helps us to improve our spoken and written English skills. It’s absolutely a great benefit for us. I also value the Associate Board Mentoring program. My mentor is helpful to give me precious advice on my future career path. I had an enjoyable experience the first semester at Cox.

Case Competitions

Robbie Thomas is a first-year MBA student originally from Irving, TX.

Having not yet actually won a case competition, I may not be the world’s foremost authority on the matter. However, to that end, I do know how to come in 2nd Place and how to not place at all, so if you pay very close attention to my advice and outlook on case competitions at Cox, you will be very well positioned to almost win the next competition that you get a chance to enter.

Now that I have established myself as an authority on the matter, like a bird just hatched from its egg, let me help you learn to fly through the world of MBA case competitions.

What is a case competition? From the basic hatchling’s point of view, an MBA Case is a stapled, packet full of paper (10 to 30+ pages of text, charts, and exhibits, sometimes yellow) that gives you a business situation that some company is facing. Often, a large company will sponsor the competition and will be giving us students a real-time problem to hash through. The situation in the case leads to a set of decisions that the company’s management must face. You, the case competitor, get to make the hypothetical decision for the company, supporting your decision with facts and figures that are only given in the case.

Using your masterful skills as a grade-A ,Cox MBA student, you must craft your solution to the problem, fit it neatly into a Power Point presentation, and present your entire response in front of a group of judges (usually in less than 10 minutes – the current competition is giving us 5 minutes). After your 5-minute display of case acumen, the judges will drill you with crazy questions (like “is that actually possible to finance?” or “are you sure lettuce grows on bushes?”) and will choose the best case based on a number of unique criteria. The judges for an upcoming case are from the management team of Sabre (you’ve heard of Travelocity). If you win, there are prizes and money involved which is good for those of us without jobs and in need of food and drink. Generally, you have less than 5 days to put everything together and may be working with one or more other students who will be on your case competition team.

If you’re up for the thrill of competition and the rush of late night Power Pointing, it’s hard to beat a good Case Competition. Most of the clubs will organize a competition specific to the discipline that interests you. We recently had a competition that involved the Marketing and Strategy/Entrepreneurship Clubs and another with the Finance Club.

Part of the Cox core curriculum includes a “practice” case competition, so the MBA students are prepared when the real case comes. The competitions at SMU are great because we have so many company headquarters located nearby. The business community loves getting involved with Cox and hearing the feedback that we provide them through these competitions. We love getting involved with the business community because we need jobs.

My First Semester

Joey Lazarus is a first-year MBA student originally from New Orleans, LA.

Recently, I completed my first semester of business school. I am happy to say I survived without too many bumps and bruises. In reflecting back on the first semester, I am very pleased with how things turned out.

I was nervous to return to school after working for several years. As an undergraduate, I never truly enjoyed school and was much more excited to have a job and go to work over attending class. I have a much different perspective now after working. It makes it easier to focus and take certain subjects seriously (like accounting) when I have seen how they are important in the “real” world.

After keeping a work schedule, it is no big deal to get to school early and stay there for several hours during the day to get work done. As an undergrad, no one in their right mind would take an 8am class, but now it is a preferable time slot to leave the afternoon open for catching up on studying and homework.

I look forward to the second semester now that I feel more adjusted. Time management is still an issue and it will become more and more important to set priorities. I’ve also noticed that I can’t survive on the same sleep schedule I had as an undergraduate student.

All in all, I am extremely pleased with the decision to attend graduate school. I have already gotten so much out of it in just one semester.

I can’t wait to finish this semester and travel to Asia on the Global Leadership Program.

Networking at Cox

David Resnick is a first-year MBA student originally from Dallas, TX.

Cox provides an excellent opportunity to network and help you find a job. These two can work independently or together; regardless, they both are an important part of your graduate school experience.

Networking involves a lot of different aspects. It can be as simple as getting to know your classmates and their backgrounds to as far as generating real relationships with leaders in the business community. The most important thing to remember about networking is that you are the only one who can network for you. Cox provides the opportunities through our mentor program, speakers, and clubs. I will also tell you as a former sales manager, that being a student opens doors that you couldn’t get into as a professional. People are always willing and eager to help develop future business leaders. But these people are not going to call you - you will need to introduce yourself, send e-mails, and set up meetings with these people to learn from them. Networking can not only help you get a job, but it can also help you gain knowledge and wisdom from people who have walked the path before.

As for career development, this is also something the school will guide you through, but like networking, for you to get the most out of the career center and your education, you will need to do some work on your own. At Cox, we will take you through how to improve your resume, write a cover letter, improve your interviewing skills, etc. We also have a career center and counselors that will help you with everything from “I don’t know what I want to do after school” to ‘I want to work at XYZ Co., can you help me get an interview?” But not every company is going to come to campus to interview. You will need to get involved with the clubs, attend career fairs, and do some work on your own to land the internship and job that you want. Use the career center for guidance, maybe we have alumni that work at that company, you never know. This is when your networking skills and contacts can come into play.

Social Life at SMU

Chris Boyd is a first-year student originally from Sweetwater, TX.

As a first year full-time MBA student, social events are a much-needed and much appreciated aspect of the MBA experience. Yes, the classes and libraries are intriguing, but maintaining a balanced lifestyle is of equal importance. Thankfully, Cox schedules weekly happy hours and periodic gatherings for students, spouses and faculty to gather outside of the normal curriculum.

Becoming more popular every year around the college football scene, SMU has enjoyed a thriving community spirit with The Boulevard Tailgate held before each home game. Since football moved from the Cotton Bowl and SMU built the Gerald J. Ford stadium on campus a few years ago, The Boulevard has enjoyed lively crowds complete with bands, current students and alums. Not to be outdone, Cox participates by partnering with local businesses to sponsor each tailgate held in front of the business school. This year, Cox enjoyed well-attended (200+ in attendance) tailgates with Citibank, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs to name a few. As a first year, I have enjoyed mixing and mingling with my professors and fellow MBA students outside of the classroom while also having the opportunity to meet and/or reacquaint myself with Cox alums and business leaders from the Dallas community. Although SMU has somewhat struggled on the field, the Mustangs are UNDEFEATED in pre-game festivities!


Brian Stevens is a first-year student originally from Little Rock, AR.

The guest speakers at the Cox School of Business provide the unique opportunity to gain insight from highly regarded executives in the Dallas business community. While classroom knowledge is valuable, the experiences shared by these executives and revelations about their paths to success prepare us for the real world encounters that await us. We hear their stories. How did they weather the difficult times? What mistakes did they make that they can help us to avoid? What qualities do they look for when hiring? They are informative, engaging, and entertaining. You smile as you walk away because you enjoyed the time invested and gained confidence in the individual you will be when the MBA experience is completed.

Extracurricular Activities

Brooks Radighieri is a first-year student originally from Sudbury, MA.

Coming back to grad school has reminded me why I felt a lot busier in school than when I was working. I forgot about all of the extracurricular activities that I was involved in. So, true to form, I am involved in many clubs on campus now that I’m in grad school. In particular, I’m involved in the Strategy and Entrepreneurship club. Eventually, I’d like to be my own boss so this club seemed like the perfect club for me. I am one of the co-leaders for the Business Plan Competition. This has really been a challenge with all of the scheduling of seminars for participants and contacting people to be judges, but it has also been a great networking opportunity. In addition, I was able to look at all of the entries for the competition as they came in, the ideas that people have for businesses are amazing and really interesting. I’m looking forward to the judges’ responses to the summaries and their comments.

I highly recommend club participation and have enjoyed every minute, even the stressful ones. The time management aspect has been a challenge and one that I’m continually working to balance. Hopefully, with one semester down and three to go, I’ll have it down by the time I graduate.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

New Cox MBA Blog

This blog has been created for current full time students to write about their ongoing experiences at SMU's business school. It's an opportunity to talk about a day at school, tell about recent speakers or events you've attended on campus, and your overall feelings about the Cox MBA program.

This is a great way to get a true feel for the student experience.