October 23, 2015

Going global (again): How a Weatherhead education leads to an exploration of East African healthcare

J. Michael Tasse is a current student in Weatherhead's Global MBA program. The following is an excerpt from articles he has written on his blog.

Weatherhead’s Global MBA does more than just give its candidates the opportunity to learn and work in China, India and the United States. My Global MBA experience forced me to learn how to work with, better understand, and build trust between the different cultures, ages and languages of the world. As a result, University Hospital’s Department of Innovation selected me to travel to, and conduct research in, Kampala, Uganda. It was because Weatherhead's Global MBA gave me the opportunity to prove that I was able to work in cultures and settings different than mine and effectively build trust between heterogeneous groups, that I found myself on my fifth content over the course of this MBA program.

I was in Africa to document the untold relationship between Case Western Reserve University, its teaching institution University Hospitals in Cleveland and a string of medical institutions throughout Uganda. The focus of my work concerns answering the question:

Why has Case Western Reserve been so successful in Uganda, and why was building a case for dealing with Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in Eastern Africa of extreme importance to the future of East African healthcare?

In short, RHD is a heart condition that results from multiple cases of untreated Streptococcal Throat Infection. It is easily treatable with benzene penicillin, but because it affects those living in extreme proximity without access to medical care, it is stereotyped as a disease of the poor. This brings with it a stigma by which parents may not seek medical attention for their young ones until the heart's valves (pipes that bring and expel blood from the heart) are too damaged for a child to live a long, healthy life. A simple series of low-cost, easily accessible penicillin injections can treat the disease.

Case Western Reserve and its teaching institution University Hospitals created a partnership in the 1980s to study HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Kampala, Uganda, in partnership with the country's premier institution, Makerere University. Over the years, and as a result of the partnership, HIV, TB and Malaria outcomes have improved tremendously. HIV among children is now as low as 6% (down from 30%). Transmission of HIV from parents to children is almost 100% preventable, even in rural areas. TB is treatable, though not eradicated. Malaria takes under 25% of the lives it did 30 years ago, and is now thought to be commonly understood throughout the public. These diseases have less and less stigma associated with them every year.

So why is Rheumatic Heart Disease such an issue in Uganda?

We must understand what RHD is, why it is so prevalent in developing nations like Uganda, how people interact with healthcare, and why the improvement of HIV outcomes in Uganda has opened up a channel by which treating RHD can lead to a more sophisticated primary healthcare system in Uganda.

Educational posters and community awareness campaigns have been a direct result of Case Western Reserve’s partnership. Research between the university and Uganda’s Mulago Hospital has led to a better understanding of RHD, and also to understanding the importance of the Ugandan government investing in such community awareness. Consequently, I was able to meet with the Ministry of Health of Uganda with several doctors from Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals. The goal was to continue building relationships with government officials in order to improve the understanding of a disease like RHD, and direct funding accordingly. I never would have met the Ugandan Ministry of Health without Weatherhead’s Global MBA.

I was also able to learn more about Case Western Reserve’s contribution to echo-cardiogram machines, provided as the result of work with Case Western Reserve and several foundations. Echo-cardiograms use transducer wands to create ultrasound waves (like sonar) that effectively make an image of an organ. The magic lies in the equipment, which costs at minimum $65,000 (USD). The computer seen here receives the waves and constructs an image that can be viewed from multiple angles.The echo-cardiogram is the most reliable way to detect RHD. The power of the echo-cardiogram is that nurses trained in a basic skill set can use it.

Why is this so unique? Part of the reason is that Case Western Reserve's relationship goes far beyond the money supplied in the 1990s and 2000s, The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the HIV donations that came during that time. Many organizations moved in because strategically there were opportunities for money, and opportunities for infectious disease research in the developing worlda very important set of populations to study.

Case Western Reserve has been connected to Makerere University, Mulago Hospital and other institutions throughout the country since 1986 when Dr. Robert Salata began engaging with his colleague and mentor, the world-famous Dr. Fred Robbins who essentially pioneered the eradication of polio via medicine, cultural understanding, community organizing and most importantly, sustainable training of medical staff in Africa, specifically in Uganda.

Some of the earlier facilities from the 1990s still exist to this day. They run research programs on Malaria, Teburcelosis, HIV/AIDS, RHD and more. This photo is the first research collaboration building operating at the top of a small hill above Mulago Hospital. Once, Case Western Reserve was merely a name; now it is almost completely integrated with Makerere University Medical School's teaching programs, the Heart Institutes work procedures, guideline creation and in shaping the business processes that account and raise money for future operations.

It may all look simple, but inside these walls innovation is taking place out of both necessity, and out of passion for the future. I had the background in international project work, training and study from Weatherhead. But it was not just theory that was at work; I was able to apply the learning that comes with doing business and training in other cultures, to interacting with doctors, patients, government officials and many citizens throughout Uganda. The case study will be published in 2016.

October 16, 2015

Weatherhead Fall Career Fair: Tips for Success

With the Weatherhead Career Fair just around the corner, first-year MBA student Lily Gao sat down with second-year MBA student Amy Chen to ask her advice on how to impress employers. Fellow MBA candidate Mark Sawaya documented their discussion.

The Weatherhead Career Fair will host 40 employers in PBL on Friday, October 23, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, check out the Fall 2015 Career Fair Employer Guide.

Lily: What questions should I be prepared to answer in a career fair setting?

Amy: In addition to your "30-second sales pitch" employers may ask a few additional questions to learn more about you. Some questions you may be asked are:

      1. What do you look for in a job?
      2. How would you describe yourself?
      3. What are your career goals?
      4.What experience do you have?

Lily: What is the dress code for the career fair?

Amy: Look professional, neat and clean. Dress as though you are going to a job interview. If you wear a suit, ensure that it fits properly and that you feel comfortable in it for a long period of time. For women, conservative (minimal) jewelry and makeup are suggested. Both men and women should not wear strong fragrances.

Lily: How should I prepare my resume? 

Amy: Use a more generic "networking" resume unless you are going to target a specific profession (e.g. consultant, program manager, etc.) or available position in the organization. If you choose the latter, use more focused job-specific resumes. You may consider bringing two or three versions of your resume and using the one you think most appropriate for each employer, and be sure to make several copies of each.

Lily: I hear body language is important—what are some tips I should keep in mind? 

Amy: Often it is the nonverbal communication that we are least aware of, yet speaks the loudest. The following are some of the most important nonverbals to consider.

1. Eye contact:  If you look away while listening, it shows lack of interest and a short attention span.       If you maintain eye contact while speaking, it shows confidence in what you are saying.
2. Facial expression: Eliminate any negative overall characteristics that might exist, then add a simple     feature that nearly every interviewee forgets to include—a smile! A true and genuine smile tells the     interviewer that you are a happy person and delighted to be speaking with the                
3. Posture: How you carry yourself sends out a signal of your confidence and power potential.
4. Gesture: Contrary to popular belief, gestures should be very limited during the interview. When           you do use gestures, make sure they are natural and meaningful.
5. Space: Recognize the boundaries of your personal space and that of others.

Lily: How can I find out more info about the companies attending the career fair? 

Amy: Research information about the participating companies and organizations prior to approaching the recruiters. Use the Internet, news sources and career fair materials to learn more about the companies you plan to visit.

October 13, 2015

HeadsUp: Weatherheadless Ball and Innovation Summit

Weatherheadless Ball Oct. 24: Tickets Now Available

Join fellow graduate and professional students and break out your best costume for Halloween at Weatherhead! Tickets for the biggest Halloween party on campus are now available.

Enjoy live music by The Jack Cameras and a costume contest with great prizes! The night will also include games, a photobooth, local food and a late-night dance party mixing international music and club favorites.

For more information and to register, visit Weatherheadless Ball online.

Case Western Reserve University Innovation Summit Oct. 26-28

Case Western Reserve University's Innovation Summit will take place October 26-28 and features thought leaders from across industry sectors and geographies. This unique summit will explore the impact of various models of innovation, including how they contribute to regional economies, cultures and education.

The event will also spotlight the first phase of the university's innovation and entrepreneurship center, think[box], in its new, 50,000-square-foot home.

The summit will feature faculty and leaders from the Weatherhead School of Management, including:

  • Chuck Fowler, former president and CEO of Fairmount Santrol and chairman of the Board of Trustees at Case Western Reserve University
  • Michael Goldberg, assistant professor of Design & Innovation
  • Sue Helper, Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Commerce and Carlton Professor of Economics

For more information, visit the Innovation Summit online.

October 9, 2015

Business School Minutia: Focus on the Trees, Step Back to Take in the Forest

Heather Frutig is a candidate in the full-time MBA program.

Business school is a two-year job search. Most things that we do have the end goal of a good job in mind. What a “good job” looks like is student specific. It can be high paying or meaningful or simply higher up the chain than what we were doing before. No matter what the end looks like, the means is the same for all of us. Lots and lots of minutia.

Like brushing our teeth every morning and evening to ward off cavities and rock a white smile, business school is a long series of small and seemingly insignificant actions. All the little decisions that we make on a small scale add up to create the people who we are. The small choices dictate the greater result. Business school is all about the details, the small decisions, the minutia that determines who we are. The weekly readings, meetings with professors, executive summaries, check-ins with the Career Management Office, coffees with contacts, information sessions and prepping for interviews. It’s these actions that seem to make the difference between being a successful student and and simply going to school.

We’re given a bunch of time to reflect on our vision, values, priorities and life goals and then use those parameters to tease out what an industry, position and career looks like. The next step is to dive into the details of club meetings and job interviews and professional organizations and believe that when we emerge, we’ve been true to ourselves and created the right framework.

From my current vantage point mired in the middle of my third semester, I think the trick is to focus on the trees but periodically step back and take in the forest. It’s the trees we have control over but it’s the forest that we’re living in.

October 5, 2015

Weatherhead Student Clubs: Multi-Cultural Club at the Asian Mid-Autumn Festival

Eeshan Srivastava is a candidate in the full-time MBA program.

According to Wikipedia, “The Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest festival celebrated by ethnic
Chinese and Vietnamese people. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese Han calendar and Vietnamese calendar (within 15 days of the autumnal equinox), on the night of the full moon between early September to early October of the Gregorian calendar.” It’s a thousand-year-old tradition celebrating the harvest, and as a matter of fact it also coincided with the sighting of the Blood Moon this year.

On September 28, our school’s Multi-Cultural club and the Graduate Business Student Association (GBSA) organized a booth at the Thwing Center next to Kelvin Smith Library. Second year MBA candidates Juhi Dubey (club president) and Tejas Choksi (club co-president) and MSM-Finance students Ruiyao Wei (GBSA) and Zhe Wen worked hard to set up the booth and interacted with Case Western Reserve students all evening. I was fortunate enough to view the action from up close. I would estimate that over 800 students attended the event as the Thwing Atrium was completely packed.

The club’s booth was colorful and lively, having a string of colored lanterns as a backdrop and the table full of painting materials, candies and thin strips of paper having riddles written on them in both English and Chinese. Students who visited the booth could win a colored lantern by correctly answering a riddle (I was able to answer two riddles!). They could also paint a white lantern and take that with them. One student amazed us with her artistic abilities by creating a beautiful painting on a white lantern. Students could also get their names written in Chinese, in a calligraphic style. Grads, undergrads and even kids visited the booth and had a fun time!

The festival itself had several such booths by different student groups and featured a variety of activities and games traditional to the Chinese and Vietnamese culture. The Thwing ballroom was set up to provide ethnic food and saw a massive queue of students line up to get a taste of those delicious cuisines. It was a great night of fun and togetherness for the students of Case Western Reserve and I hope we continue the tradition next year as well.

Check out all of Weatherhead's student clubs.