Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kellogg Student Videos - Prof Cameos Part 2

This is a brief follow up to an earlier post about how great I think it is that professors are willing to be in student videos.  It really speaks to the culture at Kellogg, which involves learning a lot (from professors, activities, and each other) while having a good time.

Furthermore, the professors are really easy to to get a hold of, and they seem to genuinely care about making time to talk with and help students.  Just last week, I spent 2 hours chatting with Prof. Arjmand, a retired Accenture partner, about his career in consulting.  This week, Professor Van Camp, told the class that we could always reach out to her and ask for advice on any presentation/public-speaking topics, even after we've left Kellogg.  I'm certain that I'll take her up on the offer at some point.

In this video, which was just "released," there are a number of cameos, including Interim Dean Chopra, Professor Mazzeo, and Professor Allon, who just received the Professor of the Year award.

Poker Night with the Professors from Kellogg DSC on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

I was reading through some Harvard Business Review articles in the QSR at Kellogg when I decided to do a quick Google search of "kellogg mba" to see where this little ole' blog of mine falls.  It's been moving off and on the first page of results for quite some time, presumably as a result of my increased/decreased posting and Google's tweaking of their search algorithm.  Much to my delight, today I found it nestled in between the #3 result from and the #5 result from Wikipedia; that's right, I was #4!

I'm a big fan of setting goals for myself, since it keeps me focused and motivated, and getting "to the point where my blog is one of the top 5 results that pops up when you search for "kellogg mba" on Google" was one of them.

HUGE thanks to all of you that drop by and read my posts, add your perspective and insights (via comments), and provide invaluable advice for my public speaking (it is all much appreciated).  

The biggest benefit that I derive from maintaining this blog is the opportunity to interact with people that I otherwise might not have come across.  Seriously, how cool is it that we can so easily form friendships and interact with people that are thousands of miles away?

BTW, here is a taste of the articles that I'm reading this week for MORS-441, Managing People for Competitive Advantage.
I'm looking forward to discussing them in class tonight.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A follow up on Deloitte's Social Media Presence

Two weeks ago I wrote about Deloitte's innovative and industry-leading social media presence (go ahead...see for yourself).

I just learned that this was no accident; it was part of an orchestrated recruiting campaign that Deloitte recently announced.  I learned about the campaign via this story that their Twitter account, @lifeatdeloitte, linked to today.  The article describes the different components of their campaign, including a Facebook and LinkedIn element.  Here is a brief excerpt from the story:
Deloitte has launched an innovative recruiting campaign aimed at showcasing the organization's culture and people to attract the next wave of high-potential talent.  "It's your future.  How far will you take it?" is the theme of the new campaign.  It integrates several interactive social media channels, including a new recruiting micro-site and Twitter feed that feature profiles of Deloitte employees and offer potential recruits a glimpse of what it is like to pursue a career with Deloitte.
All I can say is "bravo."  Social media is utilized everyday by my b-school classmates (mainly Facebook, though LinkedIn and Foursquare are picking up steam, and there are even a few brave souls on Twitter), and I imagine that it will continue to grow even more ubiquitous.  As a company, if you aren't fully utilizing these tools, which provide free, highly effective marketing opportunities, I think you are putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage going forward.

I wonder how long until the other consulting firms follow Deloitte's lead...

BTW, if you don't have a LinkedIn account, get one. Seriously, do it now.

A few trends and updates

It turns out that the workload in my 2 MORS classes was heavily backloaded, so I haven't had much time to think about blog posts, let alone write one, lately. Instead, I've been trying to keep up with the increasing workload, especially in light of the fact that I'll be out of town this weekend. Bidding for spring classes is wrapping up this week, and I was mildly successful; I'll write more about that in my next post (hopefully).

That wraps up the updates portion of our program, now on to a few trends that have recently been bolstered by my interactions with classmates and some visiting speakers. These trends are:
  1. Energy
  2. Emerging Markets
I just noticed that they both start with the letter E, but I can't think of anything witty to tie that to; darn!

On the energy front, I was surprised by the interest in the energy industry amongst my classmates, particularly given the fact that it is not the "sexiest" industry and that many of them come from non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.  The reason that I was blindsided is that I kept thinking of old-world energy (coal, gas, Shell, etc) instead of the emerging, innovative energy solutions that have lots of potential to transform the industry.

I started to notice the interest when I kept hearing from classmates that they were recruiting for consulting in Dallas and Houston because of the area's focus on energy.  This is actually a very smart move based on some great advice that I picked up from an uber-successful tech entrepreneur who said that regardless of the industry you are working in, it is always best to be in the heart of that industry (New York for finance, West Coast for hi-tech, etc).  I don't know if Texas is the focal point for the energy industry, but there is a definitely a large presence there and some cool projects, like the Pecan Street Project.

Regarding emerging markets, that is where all of the fastest growth is at right now.  The President of Sony Electronics, Stan Glasgow came to speak to my MORS-441 class last week.  I was stoked about his visit because back in undergrad Sony was one of my "dream" jobs; I even took Japanese classes for 2 years to improve my chances of landing a job with them.  He was a great speaker, with some interesting insights on the challenge of empowering employees and inspiring creativity within Sony, but his key piece of advice for us was to go work in one of the rapidly developing economies, like China, because that is where he sees the most opportunity for motivated business folks.

I was reading through this BCG report on succeeding in the new global reality when I came across the chart below that echoes Stan's point.  I hope they don't mind me using it...

Anyways, I have to get back to my marketing case on Apple.  Happy trails!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Masculine Itching? Boy Howdy!

We wrapped up a case that my professor wrote on TiVo in Marketing Management today by looking at some of their advertising early on and their results, which have not been phenomenal. This ad was very well received in class, i.e. it made everyone laugh.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kindle Strategy Same-day Redux

I was reading through this week's articles for my Marketing Management class, when I came across a paragraph that I think gets to the heart of what I wrote in my last post about the Kindle.
In developing a position for a new product, management first discovers the range of benefits or attributes consumers use to make choices in the product category. Second, it identifies key consumer segments within the overall market for the product. Third, management evaluates, on the basis of experience and/or market research data, the relative importance of each benefit to each segment.
Although the Kindle is not a new product, I think its success will ultimately be determined by the decisions that Amazon makes on how to position it in response to the iPad.  If they position it to compete directly with the iPad, I think they lose.  If they position it carefully to offer the most value to a niche (though large) segment, enthusiastic readers, I think they can do well.

Unfortunately, I don't think that Amazon's announced plans to launch a Kindle App Store bode well for the device.  The press release even mentions two planned Kindle apps that I think are better left to smartphones and dedicated devices: EA mobile games and a Zagat guide.

P.S. Marketing is a lot more interesting than I expected.

Kindle vs iPad - My Sample Ad

When the iPad was announced at the end of last month, it caused a bit of a stir at Kellogg. On Twitter, we immediately started poking fun at the name. A few professors got on their blogs to discuss or deride the new product. After moving past the "iPad" jokes, we started to discuss how popular the product would be and who would actually use it. The discussion seemed to focus around who Apple was (or wasn't) targeting with the iPad.

Although the jury is still out, it is exciting to know that we'll probably be able to judge the success (or failure) of the iPad before we graduate; by the same time next year, Apple should already be ramping up to release version 2 of the iPad, and there should be some info on adoption rates.

Another issue that the iPad announcement raised was how Amazon would respond with the next version of their Kindle. Again, we had a few brief discussions about it via Twitter. Personally, I think that Amazon should avoid trying to move the Kindle in the direction of a general computing device, a la iPad. I'm pretty certain that they won't be able to provide a better user experience, and in the process, they would just move themselves further into the iPad's shadow (to await a quiet death). Instead, I think they should make the Kindle into the best e-book device on the market and focus on that segment.

For example, they could highlight the Kindle's 1-week battery life, which is due in part to e-Ink's low power consumption, versus the iPad's 10-hour battery life.  The battery life for both products is probably overly optimistic (my cell phone is supposed to have something like 5 hours of talk time, but it dies after something closer to 2.5 hours), but nonetheless, X% of 1 week is still a lot better than X% of 10 hours.

The idea above, coupled with my desire to procrastinate right now, led me to put together a very cheesy sample commercial showing one way that Amazon might flaunt this advantage.  Fair warning, I'm a pretty crummy actor, but hopefully, you'll get the point.

Sample Kindle vs iPad Concept from Orlando O'Neill on Vimeo.

Yes....that was an aluminum-foil tablet PC; very high tech, I know!  Anyone recognize the song at the end?

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Last month I decided to apply for Kellogg's Student Exchange Program, which allows you to spend either the fall or winter quarter of your 2nd year at an international partner school.  The list of schools is pretty impressive, so it should be possible to find a program that meets your needs.  In my hastily concocted opinion, the exchange program is the best way to gain international experience at Kellogg.  There are other opportunities, like Global Initiatives in Management, where you spend a semester learning about a country before visiting for 2 weeks in March, but in my opinion, that will mainly provide you with insights.  I think that in order to truly broaden your perspective you have to spend a prolonged amount of time immersed in a different culture.

My main objective was to gain a better international perspective without sacrificing on the quality of the MBA program;  inevitably, that led me to the London Business School, which has a student body that is 90% international and a good set of MORS-type leadership and finance electives that fit into my curriculum.  Unfortunately, this program is one of the most competitive, with only 5 slots available to Kellogg students for next year (there is a whole market for exchange slots I 1 Kellogg slot might go for .5 LBS slots out on the market).  Yesterday, I got an email with the dreaded DING!

Needless to say, I was bummed for a little while about not getting in, but honestly, it's hard for me to complain.  Not getting in means that I'll spend another quarter at Kellogg, which is itself an amazing program.  Now, I'll just have to find another way to eventually live abroad (consulting career...I'm looking at you).  I'm also hoping to spend the summer after I graduate traveling.  

I did everything that was in my power to put together what I think was a strong application.  I spent some time reflecting, researched some target schools, finally got around to updating my resume, and then spent an exorbitant amount of time writing my essays, which went through a few rounds of edits/reviews with  my friend.

I gambled on the fact that the review committee would appreciate the fact that outside of my KWEST trip to Hong Kong, I have absolutely no international experience, meaning that I stood to gain a lot from the program.  I wrote my first essay around that core theme. I'll never actually know what the right approach was because we don't get any feedback.  They do give you an opportunity to apply for any open programs after getting gently rejected, but after putting so much thought into why LBS worked for me, it seemed too disingenuous to turn around and write about why another school fits.  Ultimately, I chalked up my ding to the fact that there were limited spots and selection factors that were outside of my control.  I have no regrets about what I submitted, because I tried (not applying and knowing would have been worse). 

This is a bit like recruiting during grad school.  It is easy to forget that only about 40% of students get their internships from on-campus recruiting (see page 35 of the Kellogg 2009 Employment PDF).  Assuming that rate holds across industries, it means that less than half of the students that apply for consulting spots will get them; furthermore, if you look at just the "top" firms, I'm sure that percentage becomes smaller.  In the end, you are able to control for some factors (fit and case performance), but there are a lot of things that are out of your control (interviewer, the cases you get, what they are looking for, the number of available spots, etc).  That said, I'll close with a quote that came from a 2nd-year student's professor:
"Relax.  The worst thing that can happen is that you eventually get a job after Kellogg only making $100K a year."
I hope that all of the exchange students have an amazing time next year! We'll hold down the fort back home.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Deloitte's Social Media Presence

I'm really impressed with how Deloitte has integrated Twitter and Facebook into their recruiting strategy.  The @lifeatdeloitte Twitter account, which is used by a different Deloitte professional every week, is a particularly novel approach.  Not only does rotating the user keep the feed interesting, it also capitalizes on the intrinsic value that people attach to personal viewpoints, which have made Yelp so popular, by allowing people within the company to describe their experience.  I'm sure that they have guidelines and restrictions on what they can post, but just knowing that it is coming from an individual makes it more valuable than a generic Deloitte PR attempt.

In a blog post last month, Stephen pointed out that "VCs are all over Twitter," and it sounds like they see it as a valuable way to develop their brand.  Although a lot of the major Management Consulting firms have a social media presence, I don't think that they are utilizing it as well as Deloitte.

Most firms use their various accounts as RSS feeds; mainly to push out articles and documents that the company has produced.  Unfortunately, this strategy fails to utilize social media's potential for connecting individuals and building relationships; something that I think could go a long way in giving applicants a better sense of the culture at the firm.  In talking to classmates, it is apparent that a lot of people value the culture and "fit" of particular firms and use them as differentiators, which is also true for peer grad schools, given that they all offer similar features.  Their impressions of a firm are generally based on interactions with a small set of company representatives, which may not be representative of the company as a whole, but in the end, perceptions, whether accurate or not, have a big impact. 

I'm hopeful that as the firms begin to accept the value in social media, more people at all levels of the firms will be encouraged to use these channels in order to communicate their experiences, which in turn will build up the brand.  Instead of hearing about a firm's new white paper on "How Green Energy Is Driving Innovation," I'd rather hear first-hand accounts from the consultants that are experiencing this everyday.

BTW, here is a video from where their CEO briefly discusses how to distinguish yourself from others in consulting recruiting.  According to him, it is all about building a unique "brand" for yourself, and clearly, Deloitte is doing the same thing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Frozen Lake and Northwestern's Twitter Prototype

This is a particularly busy week for us.  We have to juggle midterms, bidding for Spring classes, and recruiting (most students) in addition to any extracurricular responsibilities.

Earlier this week, I took a break from studying and decided to explore the campus a bit.  In particular, I wanted to check out Lake Michigan, which sits right next to Northwestern University's campus, because I've heard that it freezes during the winter.

View Larger Map

The scene that I found on the beach next to the Norris Student Center did not disappoint.  The surface of the lake was almost completely frozen.  It was the first time I've ever seen anything like that, and it blew my mind.  I spoke to a local that I met at the beach, and she told me that this was the least frozen she has seen the lake in years.  At this point, I imagined past Northwestern students throwing on skates and playing ice hockey out there.  Of course, I grabbed a quick video of the scene with my trusty camera, which I now carry at all times.

As awesome as the lake looked, what really drew my attention was Northwestern University's "Twitter prototype" that sits right next to the lake.  There, you'll find a lot of rocks (possibly hundreds) that have short messages painted on them for everyone to see; some of the ones that I read were 6 years old and others were from last year.  The messages combined with the frozen lake create an eerie feeling that you are standing in a frozen moment of time. I am extremely grateful that the university has left the messages in place.

I loved the fact that given this unique communication channel, the majority of people chose to write love letters, marriage proposals, farewells, and other positive messages; it made the optimist in me smile.  Sure, there were a few ugly messages thrown in, but the positive ones absolutely overwhelmed them.  If you ever visit Kellogg or Northwestern University, I recommend that you try and check it out. All of my pictures of the rocks are available here.  Here are just a few of them.

Practicing For MORS450 Week6

In this speech, we can choose to focus either on the intro or conclusion of a presentation. We have 2 minutes, which is actually plenty of time, and we can select any topic.

After next week, we have one more small speech, and then our two final speeches, which are both ~6 minutes long and have to be delivered in front of the entire class. I'm guessing that it is going to take me a long time to prep for those speeches.