Category Archives: MBA

1st Year Trek Recap – MIT Sloan Trek to Iceland

There’s a reason they call it “Ice” Land

 

Going back in time to the first two months at Sloan – the annual Trek to Iceland during the 3 day Columbus day weekend. Often, it’s the first big trek of Sloan. [For other MIT Sloan treks see here ]

In 2009, a group of 30 of us, decided to follow tradition and head to Iceland for quick whirlwind tour of the country. A few highlights below.

1. Iceland Central Bank – The timing of this trek wasn’t too far from the global financial meltdown. Michael Lewis has a great explanation of what Iceland was like in after math of the crisis in Vanity Fair a few months earlier. With the audience of the central bank economists, we had a very interesting dialogue. Coming from their own Central Bank economists “We had no business doing the things we were doing.” Definitely puts a perspective on what was going on in the world at that time.

2. World Biggest Geothermal Power Plant – The engineer inside of me loved this tour. Learning about their processes in harnessing this abundant source of energy was amazing. We spoke in depth with one of their engineers (an intern!) about how efficient the process is and how it powers most all of Iceland. It was interesting to hear that one of their biggest and most tedious challenges was cleaning the tubes themselves. I wonder how much more expanded this form of power generation can be applied to other volcanic type areas in the world…Hawaii, perhaps? It would be interesting for the US Govt to at least experiment, so that when/if it becomes an option they too can have some expertise.

 

3. Hot Dogs – Yes, they are awesome. In the most “happening” area of town (downtown is a full 3 blocks), this famous hot dog stand was amazing. There you’ll find a nice picture of President Clinton chowing one down. They taste excellent at 2am.

 

4. Sightseeing – A variety of things to see, from glaciers, to geysers, to hot springs, in the few days we were there we got a view of Iceland. Not only is Iceland abundant in geothermal energy, but as a result, they also have amazing natural hot springs. One of the largest is the famous “Blue Lagoon.”

Overall, it was a blast. A great way to get to know my classmates, learn about Iceland, and have a gerat time. I would love to come back and see the Northern Lights (unfortunately we weren’t able to see it on this trip).

School –> DONE!

 

After 22 total years of one way or another of being in school (from Kindergarten to now), it’s relieving to have finished my last class at MIT Sloan. I’ve learned a lot…and will probably be one of those life-long curious learners as I stop going to “school.” But perhaps that’s one of the purposes of education…to pursue more.

Before reflecting on my entire Sloan experience, I still want to finish the goal of sharing the most interesting, worthwhile, and fun times at Sloan…In the coming weeks, hopefully I can load pictures and stories of all the other things I’ve been privileged to be a part of…hopefully all before graduation =).

 

MBA Conference Pricing – An Analysis

I shared a little bit about one of my favorite classes at Sloan, Pricing, taught by Prof Catherine Tucker. I’ve also shared on how grateful I was to receive so much help on my pricing project. Hopefully I can follow up and share some interesting information on the results of that pricing project.

 

Background

In November 2010, the first ever MIT Asia Business Conference was held on the MIT Campus with the goal of highlighting trends and opportunities in Asia. The selection of the 2010 ticket prices was loosely based on individual observations of conferences such as the HBS Asia Conference and the Latin Business Conference.  As ticket sales directly impacted the amount of fund-raising required each year, maximizing the revenues for next year’s Asia Conference would help tremendously.

Hypothesis:

  1. Students would be more price elastic than professionals, and that MBAs in particular would be less price elastic than their other fellow students.
  2. Given their previous experience, past attendees would be less sensitive to price.
  3. Those with the most expected exposure to Asia in the next 5 years would be most interested in attending the conference and also be less price elastic to ticket prices for the conference.

Methodology:

(1) We gathered data from last year’s ticket sales as well as other MBA conferences – MIT Latin Business Conference, Africa Business Club, Sports Analytics, MIT VC Conference, MIT PE Symposium, and HBS Asia Conference.

(2) We sent out a monadic pricing survey to last year’s MIT Asia Conference attendees, waitlistees, and student and professional lists.

Results:

Based on our survey data, we were able to calculate the price elasticity for various segments:

Next, based on our historical pricing data we were able to determine some trends on MBA conference pricing:

Conclusions:

  • Contrary to hypothesis, MBAs are the most price sensitive when considering everyone
  • Oddly, differences in Asia expected exposure are minor related to the Asia Business Conference
  • Previous attendance matters
  • Industry conferences have lower elasticities than regional conferences
  • MBA Conference Pricing in general is TOO low
  • Maybe useful to consider a change from a pure “regional” conference to instead focus on a region AND industry.

 

Again, hopefully this is useful to someone in the future. In case, the presentation for this project is below in SlideShare.

 

The Power of the Last Minute

 

“If it weren’t for the last minute, I wouldn’t get anything done”

48 hours, the power of social networking, and insights into MBA conference pricing.

I have been pleasantly overwhelmed the past couple days. For a project for my pricing class, which I think is one of the best classes at MIT Sloan, my group and I decided to do it on MBA conference pricing. There’s almost an infinite amount of conferences at B-schools, I, myself have been a part of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, MIT Sloan Business in Gaming Conference, and the MIT Sloan Asia Business Conference. And every time there’s always difficulty in right-pricing the conference.

Without going into the details of the project (I will try to do that in a later post), I instead want to share the method in getting there. This project presentation and write up was due Wednesday, our team ended up finishing our survey to send out on Monday…that gave us one day to get the results back in time for analysis and report compilation.

Using Facebook, Twitter, spamming our friends, emailing past attendees, emailing to the MIT Sloan mailing list (for the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 classes), we were able to compile 272 responses for our analysis…in one day (~30 hours)! [NOTE:  I prefaced my messages with “HELP ME pass my class”] This was amazing, to me it helped me realize the power of social networking, the willingness of my friends to help, and again helped me to understand the power of procrastination =).

So for all those survey participants…thank you!

MIT Sloan MBA Coursework Recap

 

I had an opportunity to share my favorite classes my first year, and those I took my second year. But when I summarize all the classes I’ve taken I can split it into 5 main categories, of which I will only explain the best ones that I took (if the class is starred, it means that I’ve mentioned it before and is listed it as one of my “must-takes” at MIT Sloan):

 

Marketing:

***1) 15.810 Marketing Management – Mark Ritson. I’ve already spoke about this class here. It was excellent, and taught by one of the best educators ever. Unfortunately, he was only a visiting professor…hopefully MIT Sloan can get him to come back.

***2) 15.818 Pricing - Catherine Tucker. I’ve written about this one here. Again, it’s only a quarter class (H2), but packed with useful knowledge.

Finance:

3) 15.401 Finance IJiang Wang. I know there were mixed reviews from my classmates, but obviously taking Finance I is a must for most all MBAs (in my opinion). It teaches you the fundamentals of finance, which is necessary for whatever leadership role you might take at company. For me, I was lucky have taken it with Prof. Wang, a member of the Financial Advisory Roundtable at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY. Maybe the teaching was a little more on the theoretical side, but the style fit to my engineering background.

***4) 15.402 Finance II (Corporate Finance) - Paul Asquith. I wrote about it here. Prof. Asquith is a legend, and unfortunately it looks like 2011 will be his last year teaching.

5) 15.431 Entrepreneurial FinanceAntoinette Schoar. This class may not be for everyone, but it’s one of the best taught. It dives into the financial world involving venture capital and entrepreneurship. Going forward for me, I know it will be one of the most useful classes I will have taken.

Economics:

***6) 15.012 Applied Macro and International Economics - Roberto Rigobon + Tavneet Suri. I also wrote about this class here. One of the most exciting (yes I put exciting and Macro in the same thought) classes at MIT Sloan.

***7) 15.014 Global Economic Challenges – Kristin Forbes. Also in my favorite class list. Gives you a truly global perspective and framework on how to analyze countries.

***8) 15.013 Industrial Economics – Robert S. Pindyck. My favorite class at MIT Sloan.

9) 15.567 Information of Economics -Erik Brynjolfssohn. A great class for anyone interested in Tech. Explores multiple subjects, trends, research, and thoughts. You’ll have an opportunity to meet many great pioneers, as they are often invited to speak in the class (such as Google Chief Economist Hal Varian, CEO Harrah’s Gary Loveman, IBM’s Watson Project Lead David Ferrucci,  and many more). Prof. Brynjolfssohn also runs a blog about teachings/topics from the class, which my team did a guest post (an expanded post is here) .

Analytical Tools:

10) 15.068 Statistical Consulting - Arnold Barnett. Very funny professor, and good class to learn how to apply statistics to management problems. Barnett will be cracking jokes all day, with a very applicable teaching style.

11) 15.840 Customer Analytics using Probability Models – Michael Braun. This class is NOT for everyone. But if you can get a chance to truly grasp the power of these probability models, and learn how to apply it to business analytics, no doubt you can be very successful.

12) 15.871 and 15.872 System Dynamics I+II – Nelson Repenning + John Sterman. Many of my classmates will tell you this is a “must-take” at MIT Sloan. The field was invented here and it teaches you to look at business problems in a much different framework. Many of the fundamentals (for the engineers out there) are very related (in my opinion) to classic control theory. Prof. Repenning is great, and Prof. Sterman is another legend at MIT Sloan.

Soft Skills:

***13) 15.398 Corporations at the Crossroads: The CEO Perspective. This class is moderated by Howard Anderson and Peter Kurzina. Also wrote about it here. A class where you meet high-powered CEOs for every class. It’s a very unique opportunity.

14) 15.389B Global Entreprenership Lab. This class was taught by Simon Johnson, awesome professor and author of BaselineScenario.com. The class content by itself, honestly I didn’t learn that much but the experience of it was amazing. It gave me the opportunity to spend 50 days in South America, with 3 amazing weeks working with a great company.

 

Over my two years at MIT Sloan, I listed the 14 classes which I thought were some of the most interesting, useful, best taught, and/or fun (specifically for me) at MIT Sloan. 7 of which, I personally feel are “must-takes,” given that the same professor is teaching.

I made sure to list the instructors for each class, because ultimately I believe that the professor 9 times of 10, makes the class worthwhile – through inspiration, challenging the way you think, and making a last impression on you. If these professors were to teach a different class, I would try to take that class as well.

In summary, in terms of classwork at MIT Sloan, look at the professors. A great professor, no matter the topic, will teach you something amazing.

MBA MIT Sloan Second Year – Favorite Classes

Having made a list of my favorite classes my first year, I wanted to do the same for this second year. For my second year, my general philosophy is very simple. Go after classes with great professors, you’ll almost never regret it afterwards. Too often, I’ve taken a class based on the subject matter, but did not get much out of it because of the teaching.

Favorite Second Year Classes:

15.013 Industrial Economics – Robert S. Pindyck. This is my favorite class that I’ve taken at MIT Sloan. I feel that this is the way that strategy should be taught – looking at the fundamental economics behind sound (or unsound) business decisions. How Prof. Pindyck taught was very engaging, interesting, and a lot fun. This is the most highly recommended class at MIT Sloan.

15.818 PricingCatherine Tucker. An excellent marketing class, one of the best ones at MIT Sloan. It does a rigorous deep dive into one of the 4Ps. From case to lecture to simulations, it does an excellent job teaching you how one should look at and do pricing. Prof. Tucker has been teaching this class for years, and makes our class and discussions very lively.

15.398 Corporations at the Crossroads: The CEO Perspective. This class is moderated by Howard Anderson and Peter Kurzina. Both whom have done so much for MIT and MIT Sloan. Their classes are very applicable, bringing in CEOs and other industry leaders to help MIT Sloan MBAs get real-world exposure. This class in particular is famous, brings in CEOs from all different industries every year, and together we examine the biggest challenges to the company and what it means to be a leader. Though we don’t “do” much, besides memos, it really gives a unique experience and perspective of being a top business leader, including getting an opportunity to learn the personal side (development, family, etc).

 

The second year are classes are definitely much more interesting overall than the first year ones. There were a lot  that were very useful for those with specific interests. The ones I listed were merely “must-takes” at MIT Sloan. I will try to share about the other ones in a future post.

#SSAC News and More News

In years past, we could count and gather up all the links of media mentions about the sports conference. This year, it’s literally impossible. And it was amazing. We got so much attention, there was so much discussion, some criticisms, and some praise…it was great to get all the perspectives.

To list everything would be impossible, but I wanted to share a few notable things:

First off, a fun video, about the stats hall of fame, produced and edited entirely by my classmates.

Second, listed on this link is a compilation of ALL the media mentions that we could possible gather so far. I’m sure there is more out there, but using our school system, this is the best compilation I could come up with.

Last, amongst all the media mentions, wanted to list a few of my favorites:

Israel: The Land of Milk and Hummus

With 70 of my classmates, 5 of them (Israelis) showed us the “real” Israel. It so amazing to experience the country from an “insider’s perspective” and see it with my two eyes and not just what I see on TV or read in the news.

The 10 days there was extreme…jam packed to see the entire country. Here’s a brief highlight of our itinerary.

One story. During our time in Jerusalem, there was a bombing. And the odd thing (to me) was that nothing stopped. The country just kept running like any other day. Days after, we even passed by the spot on our bus on the way to the next stop. This experience showed me a lot about the people there. The resilience that IF they were to change the way the live, even for  a moment, then they will be giving in. This just says so much about the mentality of the people, and the how the country, despite everything heard on the news, is one of the most innovative in the world.

One thing I learned. Falafels are delicious. Never had falafels taste so good in my life.

Below are a few pictures to share, but overall, an eye-opening experience and would recommend it to anybody.

 

The beach in Tel-Aviv

Riding camels in the desert

An oasis in the desert

Yes, we are on top of tanks

The Hanging Gardens of Haifa

Sunrise at Masada

Larry Chiang: The Event

 

Ran into Larry Chiang on a bus at SXSW. On that bus, I learned some neat “hacks” – some street smart ways to doing typical things. Listening to that, I thought it would be great if he came and shared some of his lessons with us at MIT Sloan. After one email, he agreed and the talk turned out to into a full classroom.

My classmate Kiran has a good summary of the talk here.

For me, it confirmed the power of asking. Sometimes all it takes is a little guts to ask someone to help you out, do an event, or give you a few million dollars (ahem…VCs *cough*)…and, especially learning from Larry’s experience, it works!

 

 

The Best Part of Being at SXSW

 

[A follow-up post on my SXSW experience]

One of the best parts of SXSW (for me) was being able to explore Austin (food). In the short time here I loved this city – the food is amazing, the people are so nice, and the weather is perfect (less the summer). Some key points.

 

  1. When I came into the airport, I saw T-shirts that read “Keep Austin Weird.” Funny because Portland has very similar T-shirts at the airport there, that say “ Keep Portland weird.” Doesn’t matter which one came first, but the fact that people care to keep it unique – I think they share similar DNA. And from the environment there, I felt the same Portland-like vibes. Very refreshing, I liked the Austin-vibe a lot.
  2.  

  3. Food – Like Portland they have TONS of food trucks, BBQ-ones, taco-ones, and just plain awesome-ones. Here are some of my favs of the week.
  • Best Wurst – “The First, The Best, The Wurst.” Super delicious bratwurst. I ate it two days in a row because it was so good.
  • Rudy’s Barbeque – It’s a gas station. Yes, the BBQ restaurant is a gas station that somehow got turned into a BBQ area as well. Best brisket I’ve ever had in my entire life. I will return if/when I come back to Austin. It’s a MUST go.
  • Salt Lick – Crazy awesome ribs.
  • Torchy’s Tacos – They taste great at 1am. I’m craving the Fried Avocado Taco right now.

The food amazing, people awesome, weather great…can’t wait to come back.