April 29, 2013

Anything but finals

We asked current Weatherhead School of Management students, "What would you rather be doing than preparing for final exams/projects?"
  • I'd rather be spending quality time with members of my cohort before we graduate and move on to our futures.  -Sarah Palagyi, MBA '13
  • I enjoy the opportunity to prove myself academically, but I would be lying if I didn't say that I would rather be playing golf or laying on the beach with a cold drink!  -Dale Stewart, MBA '13
  • I would rather be sleeping, eating, or drinking instead of preparing for finals.  -Noelle Frazier, MBA '14
  • I'd rather be looking for jobs or watching Game of Thrones.  -Josh Lee, MBA '14
  • I'd rather be visiting with my friends - especially those who are moving after graduation. It's hard to predict when we will all be together again.  -Laurajeanne Cerniglia, MBA '13
  • Things are hectic now. I'm in the final push of the semester with homework due and one last test to prepare for. It's more stressful because I am abroad at a conference but the pain is almost over. I would much rather be enjoying London, UK and focusing on the conference but there will be time or that ... Prioritizing correctly is a must these days. I don't have time for things falling through the cracks!  -Julius Korley, Part-time MBA '13
  • I tell myself every 30 minutes that I need a job. These final projects are great- but I'd rather be interviewing for jobs, or convincing people that they should be interviewing me, or taking over the world!  -Jamile Karout, MBA '13
  • Exercise. A lot of it. Yoga, weights, running. I guess I'm fairly predictable!  -Josh Marx, MBA '13
Current students, want to add your "What would you rather be doing?" comment to this list? Email caseweatherhead@gmail.com.

April 26, 2013

Advice for a stress free finals week

Final exams are coming up. 
Hang in there, everybody!

From the heavy backpacks to the heavy eyelids, it’s clear that the end of the semester is upon us at Weatherhead. And with the end of the semester comes Stress Free Week! As a member of the Student Affairs team for nearly two years, I’ve witnessed 4 final exam periods, dozens of requests for a stapler that will work on 2-inch-thick projects, endless pleas for more coffee, and a handful of suggestions that we add showers and beds to the student lounge. Now, showers and beds are not on the list of up-coming projects, but each semester our team puts together a series of events meant to make this time of year a little less painful. During finals week students can stop in for a 10 minute massage, a slice of pizza, a stash of healthy snacks, a cup of Starbucks coffee, a scoop of ice cream, and then sail away at the end of the week on a dinner cruise aboard the Nautica Queen. Our own Graduate Assistant, Xi Chen MS Finance '14, has been hard at work finalizing the plans for finals week while managing her own assignments, projects, and studying for exams. So how does one balance their academics, job and extracurricular commitments, and personal life during the busiest time of the year? My advice: you have to sleep! (I learned that lesson the hard way in graduate school.)  –Jessica Landis, Student Affairs

Read more student and staff recommendations to lessen your stress:
  • Singing your way out of stress would be a fun way to feel fresh and stress free.  –Soumya Nair, MBA '13
  • I deal with finals stress by taking a run on the treadmill and watching Real Housewives.  –Sarah Palagyi, MBA '13
  • Don't miss the exercise during the finals week. Exercise = feeling like an angel walking out of heaven. No exercise = no good.  –Thu Ra, ORSC '14
  • I start my day with coffee and end it with a cocktail.  –Laurajeanne Cerniglia, MBA '13
  • Candles. Harsh light stresses me out after a while. I set aside two hours in the evening to read a book, or just be with my thoughts.  –Alisha Minter, Admissions
  • Exercise. A lot of it. Yoga, weights, running. I'll do anything to keep sanity during finals time!  –Josh Marx, MBA '13
  • Working out works stress away.  –Xi Chen, MS Finance '14
  • I like to listen to music, like pop, dance, or light music.  –Xuefeng Zhou, ORSC '13
  • Don’t forget your body’s basic need to sleep and breathe.  –Katherine Gullett, Part-time MBA '13
  • I figured out that studying with a group releases stress. Additionally, studying as early as possible will help lessen stress during the final since you can have a plan for each class.  –Olivia Chen, ORSC '14
  • Dealing with finals stress? What finals? I'm still trying to tie off loose ends on the gargantuan projects.  –Josh Lee, MBA '14
  • I don't deal with finals I put up with them since we have to do them.  –Noelle Frazier, MBA '14
  • During exams, stock up on granola bars, fruits, popcorn etc., and have it handy to munch on. You will feel less stress while studying.  –Jayesh Potdar, MBA '13
  • Exercise!  –Adam Kassir, MBA '14
  • Be confident in what you've learned during the semester.  –Jessica Lehmann, MBA '14
  • I’m a big fan of making to-do lists. When you cross something out, it’s the most awesome thing ever. Taking one thing at a time is the most effective and efficient way for me to work and it helps me to prioritize.  –Amanda Li, Undergraduate Accounting Major '15
  • It's really awesome being a second year- I have no finals! Now, if I can just get past these final projects and papers, I can graduate!!!!!  –Jamile Karout, MBA '13
  • Work out.  –Shannon Greybar Milliken, Student Affairs
  • Take a walk. Make sure you take an occasional break and enjoy the outdoors.  –Al DiFranco, Admissions

April 19, 2013

Graduate student life: planning for casino night, theater outings and MLB games

I currently serve as a graduate student assistant in the student affairs office at Weatherhead, and it is my first job since I came to Weatherhead for school. I think it is totally amazing that I get to do what I love outside of the classroom through this position. In my role, I have helped plan many of the activities that we have had already this semester, as well as those still to come.

Casino night
Graduate school is the entrance to other career connections, and Casino Night exemplifies what you can do after your school work is completed. Casino Night is a relief from work load-related stress and gives students the opportunity to enjoy a fun night. This year, the event was held at MOCA in University Circle, and everyone had a blast. Students had a chance to socialize with friends, network with alumni, faculty and staff over a couple of drinks, all while sharing a few tricks with each other by the game tables. All guests received play money to gamble with for a chance to win raffle prizes like box seats for graduation and iPad mini’s.

Tickets to fun Cleveland events
Other than helping to organize Casino Night, I am also in charge of ticket sales for various events happening around Cleveland. The Office of Student Affairs offers discounted tickets to students, faculty and staff to local events like plays (War Horse) and musicals (Fela!) (both featured by Playhouse Square) and NBA and MLB games. Although it often takes me a great deal of time to properly schedule the ticket sales, all of them have turned out to be successful. The NBA Cavaliers versus the Miami Heat game sold out in less than 2 hours!

Stress Free Days and the Nautica Queen Dinner Cruise
As finals week is approaching, Stress Free Days is my most pressing activity to plan. Potential services included in this year’s event will be: free breakfasts, Starbucks coffee, ice cream, chair massages and snacks. The goal of Stress Free Days is to make students feel less stressed and more supported about upcoming exams.

The perk of being a graduate student assistant in Student Affairs is that there is always an upcoming to be excited about. Stress Free Days during finals is not the last event our office is putting on this semester. Actually – our annual Nautica Queen Dinner Cruise is right around the corner. Our Nautica Queen event in May includes dinner and dancing while coasting on Lake Erie with staff, faculty and friends/classmates.

Working in the department of Student Affairs as a graduate assistant gives me the opportunity to get involved with student activities and the chance to brainstorm about fun events that students will find interesting.

Xi Chen, MS Finance '13
Check our Weatherhead Facebook page and Twitter feed for  updates about current student activities.

April 12, 2013

What to expect from your first case competition

Undergoing your first case competition is a unique experience and surely the most educational. You aren't really sure what to expect. There are times you think you can win, and other times when you’re sure you will be at the bottom of the pack. Last November, Deborah Bibb, Senior Admissions Director at Weatherhead (center of image), sent out an email recruiting students to participate in KeyBank’s Minority Case Competition. Three of us first-year MBA students ultimately formed a team: Larremy Gray, Dominique Vargas, and me, Jessica Lehmann.

Beginning the case
We first received the case in January and had a month to work on it before the February competition. J.B. Silvers, a Weatherhead professor who researches financial management and health services, kindly agreed to come on as our faculty adviser. After receiving the case, we sat down on a Friday night to go through it…four hours later, we felt like we had been in an intense class: we learned about the economic state of multifamily housing in the US; we learned about Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities (CMBS); we learned about the challenges facing retail banking; and we learned about the never-ending regulations that face banks. We left with a divide-and-conquer strategy. The following week, we met with Professor Silvers and proceeded to ask the many questions we had devised from our marathon session: “What is the financial model of a hospital?” “What is your gut feeling on the future of the multifamily housing market?” “What do you think will happen with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae?” “What is an approved third party with respect to the Dodd-Frank Act?” In his generous fashion, Professor Silvers proceeded to answer our questions for about two straight hours.

Finishing the case...at the last minute

We decided to pitch healthcare as an area KeyBank should consider expanding its commercial mortgage offerings to. Deb Bibb continued to be her amazing self and set up a practice presentation for us with herself, J.B. Silvers and a Weatherhead alum from the healthcare industry. After the practice presentation, it was pretty scarily clear that we had not impressed them. Key indicators were questions like: “This isn’t the final presentation, right?” and “Are you sure you've done enough research on economic trends?” We left the meeting feeling like we would definitely be placing 20 out of 20 the next week. In true MBA fashion (with a seven-course workload), we polished and revised our presentation the day before it was due. It was due at 5 pm, and we finished the last version at 3 pm!

The competition

Once a final presentation is submitted you can’t revise it. So after we submitted our case, we decided to enjoy the onset of perks of competing in case competition: we checked into our complimentary hotel rooms; picked up some schwag including bags, shirts, etc.; we enjoyed appetizers and networked with KeyBank higher-ups and employees; and we enjoyed three free meals a day. That night we pulled a token for our presentation slot time, and thankfully, I pulled the 10:30 am presentation time for the next morning. (The earliest one was 7:45 am!!) When we practiced that night, it was not very smooth…we stumbled over our words and omitted key pieces of information. We're not all natural public speakers, and we realized that presenting would be a struggle for a couple of us. We went back to our hotel rooms and practiced until around midnight before deciding it would be more fruitful for us to sleep for a bit, then wake up at 6 am and practice more. By 6:30 am, we were back in the swing of it and tried to stay calm. We each had our own spiel and went through it together just a couple of times before actually going down to the conference room to present.

There were five judges in the room and someone keeping time. We went through our presentation and overall, it went pretty well. Dominique performed especially well during the Q&A round, giving well-spoken and comprehensive answers to the judges. Around noon, we convened for lunch and the announcement of each bracket’s winner. We were slightly surprised to find that we were the winner of our bracket and would advance to the final round!

It is truly amazing how your expectations of yourself change (the Pygmalion effect is real) as soon as others’ expectations of you change. While we had begun the competition stating that we were expecting not to do very well, all of a sudden, we found ourselves stating things like, “You know, I think we have a chance at second at least!” We were first to present in the final round, and there was an audience of about sixty people in addition to five new judges and a time keeper. The presentation also went pretty well, but not as well as the first time around. We later found out that the judges actually disapproved of us not using the full amount of time allotted, whereas we thought we had simply been succinct. We stayed in the hotel bar until around 4 pm, interacting with other teams that did not make it to the final round, waiting for the final announcements. Deb joined us at dinner to hear the winners announced. We took 4th place and won $1,000 for our entire team, and Dominique won an award for best Q&A presenter from our bracket (we totally called it!).

Will we do it again?
Overall, we had a pretty great first case competition experience: to actually place, to do better than we thought we were going to do, to all be first-years and still have it go well…we left pretty happy. Sine this first experience, Dominique has already competed in other case competitions and Larremy and I assuredly will in the future, likely repeating the same team for KeyBank’s case competition next year.

Jessica Lehmann, with Larremy Gray and Dominique Vargas
KeyBank Minority Case Competition team 2013
Weatherhead School of Management
Case Western Reserve University
Find more student case competition achievements on our Facebook page

April 5, 2013

Our trip to India: Graduate Business Conference 2013


In February, we (Ranjith Ramachandran and Jessica Lehmann) were elected Executive Vice President and President, respectively, of the Graduate Business Student Association at Weatherhead School of Management. Soon after, we were informed that we would have the opportunity to participate in the 2013 Graduate Business Conference being hosted by the Indian School of Business, in Hyderabad, India. This annual conference brings together outgoing and incoming student government representatives from across the globe to discuss best practices and hear from keynote speakers on prevalent issues in the global business community. This year, delegates from every continent, except Antarctica, were present, and many of the keynote talks discussed conducting business in emerging markets.

The experience was unforgettable, and the opportunity to network with MBA students from all over the world was a great privilege. We made a lot of new friends and became particularly close with students from: University of Washington, the Norwegian School of Economics, Manchester Business School, McGill University in Japan, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Rochester. Each of the five days of the conference consisted of a best practices discussion among delegates, a keynote speaker, a panel discussion and an Indian-themed dinner and event in the evening.

Best practices discussions were quite fruitful, with many other student governments facing similar issues as ours, some of which were: how to create a culture of leadership at school; how to implement institutional memory; how to breakdown silos among departments; and how to use social media to engage the student body. We would brainstorm with other delegates who had similar issues as us, then discuss our ideas with the entire group. If other delegates’ institutions had already developed working solutions for these issues, they would then offer their advice. Ultimately, we developed a living document to share best practices and ideas throughout our terms of service.

The keynote speakers were world-renowned, including: Harish Manwani, the COO of Unilever; Dr. Mohan Reddy of Reddy Laboratories; and Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, a leadership consultant and mythologist. Dr. Pattanaik discussed the necessity of understanding cultures different than one’s own when trying to do business within them: “The easiest way to understand human beings is to understand the stories they tell.” He also deliberated on how trust affects business interactions: “In business, we’re constantly wondering: ‘Is he genuine, or is he strategic?’ You never know if a person is good.” All keynote speakers were very thought-provoking.

Panel discussion topics included “Surviving and Growing in Emerging Markets” and “Affordable Innovations”. In the first discussion, panelists discussed India’s emerging market, and that business leaders in these economies need to understand that consumers are not aggregates. In the second discussion, Dr. Harish Iver (seated far left) relayed that the consumer base that businesses should gear their product developments toward are those of underdeveloped, emerging markets, e.g., Africa, India and China—in that order. He further conveyed that innovations geared toward emerging markets should focus on the needs and wants of the people, rather than the desires and aspirations of the people.

The evening dinners and celebrations put on by ISB were second-to-none and so fun! One evening, there was an outdoor setup mirroring an Indian bazaar, where one could get Mehndi put on her hand, watch a puppet show, have a fortune read or smoke a hookah. Another night had the delegates attending an outdoor comedy show featuring Indian comedian Sorabh Pant. This was followed by an outdoor Bollywood Night with billboards from Bollywood films surrounding a dance floor and Bollywood DJ. One night, an Indian dance troupe performed an amazing routine where they played brass plates with their feet.

Ranjith Ramachandran, MBA '14
Jessica Lehmann, MBA '14


The traffic in India is the epitome of organized chaos. There are very few traffic lights, and any semblance of lane designations is ignored. People honk almost non-stop. I have never seen anything like it. I ask Ranjith “How do you know when it’s your turn?” “Instinct,” he replies. After thirty-six hours of travel, we finally arrive in Hyderabad and ride in a Tata car to ISB. It is spring, almost summer, here, and I smell fresh flowers lining the road as we leave the airport. ISB is the most securitized university I have ever been to. Our cab is stopped at the gate, and it’s a good fifteen minutes of Ranjith speaking with two uniformed officers, and them making multiple calls before we are told that we need to go to the Infosys campus, and not ISB, for our check-in.

Infosys is a software engineering company with a beautiful campus just down the road from ISB. Infosys’s security is even tighter than ISB’s. Once in, the dorms are beautiful, and I go to bed (at 8 am local time!). When we wake up, I tell Ranjith that I want the real Indian experience. Previously, Ranjith had worked in Hyderabad for eight months and knows the city. We proceed to take three different autos (tuk tuk’s/tiny tiny cabs/rickshaws, etc.) to a nearby mall. The auto rides are amazing fun with up to six people cramming into one little vehicle that should, engineering-wise, probably not hold more than four people at a time. Legs and arms stick out of the sides of the auto, and at times, I wondered if the over-weighted car would make it up even a slight incline. Over the next few days, jet lag is a real issue: I’m waking up at 3 am, midnight, 4 pm, etc.

ISB has a beautiful, sprawling campus with large patches of green, various locations to have outdoor assemblies and buildings with impressive architecture. Peacocks, cobras and bats are all common sightings there. The ISB students are extremely hospitable and invite our large group of about one hundred back to their dorms for after-parties almost every night. Hyderabad itself is full of tech companies: Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Tata Consulting, Infosys, Deloitte, etc. all have their Indian headquarters based in Hyderabad. The food is phenomenal, and I eat vegetarian, authentic Indian cuisine daily (good for me that I love Indian food). Ranjith takes me to Paradise, an infamous restaurant with the best Biryani in the country. Yes, it’s amazing! Hyderabad is very rich in its culture and architecture. We tour Golkonda Fort (built ~1,200 A.D.) and Hussain Sagar Lake, home to the second largest statue of Buddha in the world.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed India and its culture. I am applying for an internship there this summer, so if all goes well, I may have more stories to relay!

Jessica Lehmann, MBA '14