Ding! Ding! Ding! Round two! First week of spring semester is underway, and I’m coming out of my corner with both arms swinging and one leg kicking. The next four months are filled to the brim with coursework, student organization activity, career info interviews, internship searching, and of course the occasional turn in the Rockies. With the momentum from a successful first semester behind me, I’m ready to roll.
I want to get some word out on all the great endeavors here at Leeds. However, right now I am in the midst of getting more students involved and am reaching out to professors, faculty, and alum. So, for the meantime, I’ll write about one of my favorite topics…me. Besides getting to write about stuff that I find interesting, I can share a bit about the life of a CU MBA candidate from a pretty credible source. While I am only one student out of my cohort of 77, my experiences represent what one could expect to encounter if enrolled in this esteemed program.
Coming into Boulder in August, I donned the typical suit and tie and introduced myself to faculty and fellow students. I was excited to be starting this journey through academia. Orientation included the typical administrative rundown and brief on what to expect while in school. By day two, we all ditched the monkey suits and everyone’s personalities began to show. Originating from many different US states as well as Kuwait, China, Monterrey, Bangkok, Japan, and Taiwan, the student population is very ethnically diverse. On top of that, we are just as professionally diverse. This multi-faceted community is one of the greatest parts of the school. So much is learned outside of the lectures and the brick and mortar. Most of which is a contribution from the different perspectives in the group. Opposite the “buttoned-down” top tier schools, a free flowing, no-ego/no-agenda, fluid sharing of ideas and experiences is pervasive. Less stuffiness and more casual cooperation.
Class work started about a month before we stepped foot on campus. The accelerated schedule of taking typically semester long courses in half a semester proved a good challenge. I’d like to say that it’s all fun and games in this beautiful setting thought of by many as a vacation destination. The reality is that I entered an MBA program. MBA programs are tough. Long nights meticulously analyzing Harvard Business School and INSEAD case studies as a team, creating countless financial models in excel, and burning through the pages of overpriced industry leading text books is still the norm.
Considering extra-curricular endeavors, I found myself torn between what organizations I wanted to get involved. Eventually, I discerned that I would learn my business fundamentals through study, network through the Graduate Real Estate Association (GREA), make positive changes in the community through the Net Impact chapter and Net Impact Case Competition, and finally rejuvenate the Leeds MBA blog!
Graduate Real Estate Association:GREA has brought in guest speakers from Prologis, UDR, W.W. Reynolds, and several other industry leaders. We’ve toured several news headlining projects and are scheduled for a trip out west to visit some resort developments.
Net Impact Graduate Chapter:The Net Impact chapter has always had a high standing among chapters. This year, we’re refocusing the mission to give the students applicable skills to impart positive social, environmental, and economic impact in any line of business. So far several speaker panels have opened up this discussion. B-Corporation Certified businesses, lawyers, B-Lab Colorado, micro-lending institutions, and other impact focused organizations have all added to this dialogue. Over the next year we expect to bring in impact analysis workshops for the students and local professionals. For more information on the Net Impact chapter, click the following links: http://leeds.colorado.edu/club/netimpact#overview, https://www.facebook.com/groups/CULeedsNetImpact/
Net Impact – Case CompetitionThe Net Impact Case Competition is a spin off from the Net Impact chapter. The competition challenges participants to use business skills to develop positive social, environmental, and economic impact while maintaining an attractive profit. This event attracts around 50-60 MBA teams from all over the US and always includes several international teams. I partnered with a fellow MBA candidate to perform the market research, develop case strategy, and write the virtual round and final round cases. Doing so, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Chief Sustainability Officer and the Chief of R&D for a multi-billion dollar company, Johns Manville. This has been an intense process but very rewarding. Click the links below for more information on the Competition: http://leeds.colorado.edu/event/nicomp#overview, https://www.facebook.com/NicCompetition
Leeds School of Business – MBA BlogFinally, I’ve begun to breathe a little bit of life into the Leeds School of Business blog. I wanted to give something back to the program itself and provide prospective students detail on the life of a Leeds MBA. Currently, I am the only one adding fresh content. Behind the scenes, I have been working with the Production/Product Manager, Erik Jeffries, and Director of Marketing and Outreach, Helen Zucchini, to recruit more writers. Our vision is more content from multiple perspectives. Events and experiences will be shared from our evening MBA’s, part-time MBA’s, and first and second year MBA’s. Long-term we may be able to tie in some brief posts from faculty, professors, and alumni. We look forward to sharing all the ground-breaking work, unbelievable quality of life, and intricacies of our fabulous community.
With the meager amount of spare time left in the day, I’ve enjoyed the typical social life of a student with access to one of the greatest outdoor playgrounds in the country. Happy hours were sponsored through some of the MBA organizations at the beginning of the semester. Boulder has an amazing choice of bars and restaurants to choose from. Later on in the semester, after big exams, happy hours were in high demand and coordinated by the test takers. The plethora of breweries in the area has made it difficult to choose a location to de-stress. The football tailgates during fall semester had really good turnout from both students and alumni. Home basketball games have been a thrill this season, as the Buffs have faced several ranked opponents. Long weekends (and some day trips) have allowed us to get into the mountains. With 53 mountains toping the coveted 14,000 ft elevation, hiking/mountaineering has been a favorite activity of mine. In the winter, I’ve taken advantage of the Vail Resorts Epic Local Pass to get out to Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge. I’m looking forward to a couple of days in Vail and Keystone in the coming months as well. I may even hop in a ride with some other students and suit up at Winter Park or Eldora even though I don’t have a season pass to those resorts. Although I haven’t taken advantage of how close Denver is (only 30 miles on a direct bus line), the city-boy in me is constantly wanting to return to the urban jungle for some sushi, a Colorado Avalanche hockey game, and to check out some of the city watering holes. All in all, it’s pretty easy to find something fun to fill up the rest of my time that is not spent in the business school.
While I’d like to simply relax the rest of the day typing away and tooting the Leeds horn, as you can see I’ve got quite a lot to attend to. With the rest of our candidates, faculty, and community partners, it’s time for me to tape down my gloves, strap up my boots, and knock out another exhilarating year. Watch out 2014, here we come!