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A Little Slice of…

Get Low

Savannah — Ripe with history, gorgeous town squares, a historic riverfront and a surprisingly huge St. Patrick’s Day Celebration. If you look, close you’ll notice that the water in this fountain (and every other fountain in town) is green…Chicago, eat your heart out;)

It’s hard to believe that the Class of 2014 has officially completed Darden’s Core Curriculum and are moving on to electives next week. After spending a phenomenal spring break exploring the Coastal South– I highly recommend spending some time in Savannah and Charleston–Low Country is a MUST-DO experience– I returned to Darden for two weeks of condensed, intensive curriculum focused on a marketing simulation and leadership development.

In small teams, we competed using a computer simulation that placed students as car manufacturers. Whether your team was saddled with a value-oriented “toyota-esque” brand or a luxury “BMW-type” portfolio, it was a great learning experience that integrated our coursework, thus far,  within the context of  market, economic and consumer behavior.

Our Leading Organizations (LO) intensive revolved around formulating business vision, strategy and organizational design that drives towards result through effective leadership, culture development and, of course, evaluation metrics. Interestingly, in our final deliverable, I found myself  revisiting Social Network Analysis and continue to be fascinated by the emerging trend that allows organizations to better understand how professional “relationships can either facilitate or impede knowledge creation and transfer” and to provide tangible evidence of the boons reaped from actively engaged employees.[i] SNA software packages such as UCINET (which you can download for a free trial) allows firms to visualize the flow of information and processes through informal networks and identify bottlenecks, experts, isolated parties, and allegiances.

Below is a very, very simplistic example of formal vs informal information networks:

UCINET output

Appropriately enough, Section B officially ended class-oriented activities by rewarding our fearless, section representative with a pie in the face !

Section Norms

Pie Cartoon

Pie in the Face

Outside of section, clubs at Darden officially passed the torch! I’m excited to be representing GMO as the VP of Global Career Development. Having spent several years as a recruiter at a niche practice representing alternative investment firms, I really enjoy helping people figure out what they want to do!
low clearance

Excited to take advantage of my travel blogging hobby and was able to review some B&Bs on the trip. Exploring new places and staying for free is never a bad thing!


[i] Cross, Rob, Andrew Parker and Stephen P. Borgatti.  AnalyticTech.com – IBM INstitute for Business Value. May 2002. White Paper. 2 April 2013. http://www.analytictech.com/borgatti/papers/cross,%20parker%20and%20borgatti%20-%20A_birds_eye_view.pdf

Pep Talk

With a mix of wintry weather and shockingly -read: AMAZINGLY- warm days, Charlottesville has served as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of the so-called “temperate” mid-Atlantic. As Darden and the UVA community were blanketed with snow earlier this month, I found myself daydreaming about snowboard and ski trips on more than one occasion.  I’m really hoping to find some time to make a weekend trip out to Snowshoe or the Homestead before the season ends. Fingers-crossed that time permits!

Overall, my January at Darden flew by with a mix of recruiting activity, casework and interesting lectures.  I particularly enjoyed a lecture from Dr. Tom Massaro on the “Business of Healthcare.” It was fascinating to see how the industry is approached from an international perspective as well as many of the hurdles that we will face domestically in the coming decades.

As a sidebar in the digital realm, chances are good that if you’ve been online in the past week or so, you’ve probably already received a pep talk from Kid President. If not, it’s a cute yet offbeat reminder to stay motivated and never lose the energy, enthusiasm and aspirations that drive us in our youth.

Congratulations to my classmates with internship offers and good luck to those still on the hunt!

Back in the Ville

After a phenomenal winter break, I’m back at Darden and ready to tackle Term 4. I’m also eager to explore more of Charlottesville and enjoy some of my favorite spots (old and new).

Below are some restaurants that I really enjoy (in no particular order):

Biltmore Blue Moon Diner Bodo's Bagels Christian's Pizza Feast

Mellow Mushroom

MAS Maya Michael's Bistro Mono Loco Shenandoah Joe's Take It Away The Local The Virginian The White Spot ZoColo

The Whiskey Jar

Beer Run Bel Air Market

Orzo

Commonwealth

And a few I’d love to try:

Crozet Pizza

Duner's_v2

Fossetts The Ivy Inn

c-and-o-charlottesville

THXgiving in the OBX

To switch things up a bit this year, my family and a group of friends decided to spend Thanksgiving in the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina. For IMG_0235those that aren’t familiar with the outer banks, it’s a stretch of land along the coast of North Carolina. From Cville, it’s about a 5 hour drive (although you can definitely get to Virginia beaches in under 3 hours if you need a quick fix of sun & surf).

outerbanks

Unlike many beach areas in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, it hasn’t been overrun with high-rise hotels and has managed to maintain the charm of beach towns of years gone by. Okay, to be fair, it’s changed a lot since my last visit in 2004, but the development has revolved around building more beach houses and strip malls anchored by the likes of Harris Teeter. In my book, that’s a much better scenario than a boardwalk dotted with seedy hotels.

While the temperature ranged from the 40s to the 60s -quite a bit chillier than my summertime trips down there-, it was so nice to get a change of scene and explore the laid back beach towns.

One day, we ventured south to Hatteras. Luckily, we had a 4×4 since the area had been hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. The storm had washed away sand underneath many of the roads which had relied on it as support. To be fair, we had expected to see a little carnage. The area juts off the east coast into the jet stream and is a beyond fragile target for most storms.

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On the drive back north to Duck, we passed Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, which covers 400+ acres and is one of the tallest active sand dune systems on the East Coast. I’ve always loved this place. I can remember sledding down the dunes at break neck speeds as a kid. While you can no longer sled down the giant dunes, the park is famous for kite flying and hang gliding. In fact, one of my more adventurous friends in college spent a summer as a hang gliding instructor down here. (The outer banks at large are famous for great winds. In fact, the Wright Bros. made their first flight in Kill Devil Hills and the area is marked by a memorial and museum.)

Even though it was dark, we weren’t disappointed. As we passed the dunes, the night sky was lit by strings of LED lights! What a great surprise:)

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After returning from Thanksgiving, the next two weeks will be devoted to wrapping up classes, writing cover letters and prepping for our third round of exams!

If you’re stumped and can’t figure out what to watch on TV (which doesn’t happen a lot at Darden during your first year since there’s not a ton of free time;) I would absolutely recommend checking out a Ted Talk or two. When I saw Pranav Mistry’s first talk on sixth sense technology a few years ago, I was hooked and surprisingly not “blown away” when Google launched the  Google Glass idea. Don’t even get me started on the fascinating topics that VS Ramachandran, a neuroscientist, brings to the “Ted Table.”

With such high esteem for the Ted conferences, I was excited to learn that one of our professors, Yael Grushka-Cockayne, invited three students to join her at the 2012 TEDxWomen event in Washington D.C.  Together they’ll learn and listen to role models from different parts of society.

One area up for discussion is the gender divide in both the world of business and science and how to address the gap.

I, wholeheartedly, believe that in order to inspire more women business leaders, we must focus our efforts on influencing girls on a foundational level by showcasing strong mentors and, most importantly, helping them to develop strategic thinking skills that lend towards engineering and mathematics. This must involve more than packaging erector sets in pink or providing plans to a Barbie Dream House. We as a society must embrace the differences between how boys and girls learn in developmental stages. Toy companies like Mattel and Pleasant Company have the ability to develop accessory toys oriented around stories and problem solving. Leapfrog and start-ups can create story based apps and activities to appeal to girls while encouraging them to solve math, science and spatial problems.

Below is a great first step:

One Friday evening in mid-November, the Darden community came together for the Brand Challenge event (sponsored by General Mills). Each year the marketing club puts on this event where student groups are paired with companies interested to obtain market research on new or existing products.  This year, the turnout was spectacular with over 300 students, faculty, and Cville community members ready to sample and survey.

Brand Challenge Guide

While the event was sponsored by General Mills, each team was paired with a company ranging from start-ups to the likes of Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson. While many teams had tangible products like skincare creams and coffee, our team had the interesting challenge of working with an app. Specifically, we worked with Cardagin, a loyalty and rewards app.  While all teams get to participate in several calls with their assigned company, it was really neat to work with a growing business with a national presence based in Charlottesville.

What is Cardagin

I, of course, loved working to help design the booth. Inspired by the Cardagin’s use of a storefront with an awning to represent their customer target of small businesses, we decided that our booth should simulate a small cafe  serving local favorites like Eppie’s Pumpkin Bread and Take It Away Sandwiches where customers can check out using Cardagin. It was a great opportunity for our team to get our “craft” on;) Building the 9 foot framework made of 2x4s, 1X2s, dowels and brackets was a nice reminder of just how much I enjoy interior architecture and small household projects.

At the end of the night, students were judged on booth design, best spirit and best overall (booth design + survey design).

Cardagin Booth

Got an idea…start a business

Since I love hearing about how people start businesses from the idea spark to implementation and overcoming growth challenges, I couldn’t resist attending the Entrepreneurship Conference. It started off with a bang (the student concept competition) on Thursday afternoon and ran through a series of panels on Friday.

 

Entrepreneurship Thurs

Friday sessions

Entrepreneurship Friday morningEntrepreneurship Friday afternoon

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