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The Anderson Exchange

BY DAN BROWN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Dan Brown

Dan Brown

When Mike Hirshman and Zubin Davar revived the Anderson Exchange from its brief hiatus last year, their mission was to provide a forum for thoughtful opinion and considered commentary for the Anderson community. Our hardworking staff is excited to bring you another year of meaningful content via both this newspaper as well as TheAndersonExchange.org.

 

We would also like to hear from you. We are always looking for contributors to the publication, on both the writing and the production side of the organization. Please send any questions, comments, or letters to the editor to me at daniel.brown.2015@anderson.ucla.edu.

We are looking forward to a great – and newsworthy – year ahead!

Sincerely,
Dan Brown
Editor-in-Chief

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Class of 2014 Superlatives

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Dear Class of 2014: A Heartfelt ‘Thank You’

BY ZUBIN DAVAR - MANAGING DIRECTOR

Zubin Davar

Zubin Davar

With graduation just a few weeks away, the unsettling thought of losing our beloved second-year classmates has begun to sink in. This is followed by an even scarier thought: We first-year students are about to become second-years ourselves. But before the annual “changing of the guards,” I’d like to reflect on what this year’s graduating class has imparted on the Anderson legacy.

Anderson’s differentiating feature is its collaborative culture and sense of community. However, Anderson’s culture as we know it would be entirely different if it weren’t for the Class of 2014. Their ambition to continue the class of 2013’s legacy – added to their frustrations with what they wished they’d received from the class above them – fueled their selfless drive to take an active role in shaping our experiences. It’s our duty to now step into those shoes and provide an unparalleled experience for the incoming class. But first, here are a few nuggets of wisdom we should keep in mind during the coming year:

Motivation and Tenacity Go a Long Way
If you have a big vision, the broader community will do everything it can to help you reach that goal. Anderson students, staff, and faculty are personally invested in helping you succeed – whether it’s coordinating alumni from around the world in order to host a major conference, or renovating our student lounge. We’re In This Together Take an active role in the happiness of others. If even five of us haven’t landed jobs by graduation, it affects all of us. It’s important to keep tabs on one another, open doors for one another and find ways to share our successes so that we all benefit. Seemingly “little things”– an introduction over email, a Sunday evening phone call to check in on a friend, or just a big bear hug – can make someone’s day and motivate a classmate to maximize every minute at Anderson.

Do Not Let “Good Enough” be the Enemy of “Great” 
While the “80/20” rule is important when juggling priorities in business school, mediocrity is unacceptable. Pushing boundaries, exceeding expectations and challenging the status quo are qualities that have defined Anderson’s culture. When the school’s Wi-Fi was not up to par, for  example, students demanded state-of-the-art functionality and facilities. The same goes for faculty, career preparation, and student programming; we must continue to expect the best from our school.

Be Yourself
Whether you’re gearing up for a Goldman Sachs interview or dressing up for Anderprom (perhaps in full drag), staying true to who you are is essential. Sure, it can be difficult to stay grounded through two years of transformational change. But if we deviate drastically, we do our classmates a disservice by not bringing to the table our unique personalities, talents and perspectives.

It would be an understatement to say that the second-years have made a lasting impact, and living up to them will be no easy task. Let’s raise our blue mugs to the Class of 2014 and send them off in all the pomp and circumstance they deserve. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for everything you have given us.

 

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M.B.A. Shades of Grey

BY JOHN RHOADS – STAFF WRITER

By now, most of us have taken a course or two on ethics. But can ethics really be taught in a classroom setting? The role of management is to make hard decisions, and all decisions depend on context. I believe that there are ethics and morals in theory and ethics and morals in practice. The problem is that dilemmas change from black-and-white to grey depending on the circumstances we encounter them in. Anderson lecturer Derek Alderton notes that when managers cross ethical lines, it isn’t usually due to a lack of morals or to conscious criminal intention. “Managers provide value by making the hard decision when alternatives aren’t perceived as between right and wrong, but as between varying degrees of right,” he explains. “You can suddenly find yourself in a very hard place.” Maryland’s Smith School of  Business has taken students to a real prison to reinforce the implications of lapses in ethics. Here at Anderson, Associate Dean Rob Weiler says morals and ethics “are a community issue.” “Too often, we don’t fully understand the repercussions of actions. Until you attach the outcome – who it’s harming and who it’s affecting – it’s not real,” Weiler says. But one challenge is how to empower students to actively engage in dilemmas. “One downside of the great [culture] is that sometimes we aren’t courageous enough,” Weiler says. “We don’t take short term pain for long term growth. Now, how do we teach that?” Effective management means making the hard calls. Without simulating the high-pressure environments that M.B.A.s will inevitably encounter after graduation, classes focused on decisions and negotiations will surely miss out on an opportunity to help students learn critical skills.

Professor Keyvan Kashkooli teaching Organizational Behavior

Professor Keyvan Kashkooli teaching Organizational Behavior

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Diversity: Everybody’s Business

BY LIN YANG – SECTION EDITOR

Lin Yang

Lin Yang

Those who watch Mad Men will remember a scene from Season 3, where Pete Campbell, an advertising executive, corners an unsuspecting African American elevator operator to ask him why he purchased his RCA-brand television. In the 1960s, Black men and women were all but banned from the ranks of management, and those institutional barriers forced awkward confrontations, like that of Pete Campbell’s, for the sake of “market research.” Diversity at Anderson is experiencing a similarly awkward phase. A workshop at orientation and a couple of Organizational Behavior classes barely scratch the surface of the issue. Most students know discrimination is bad, but do not know what it means to celebrate and harness diversity. Often, the lesson is about avoiding lawsuits, rather than building an environment that allows those of a different race, gender, or sexual orientation to thrive.

This is precisely why Anderson students ought to participate in identity clubs and the events they sponsor. Anderson’s identity clubs, which include Out@Anderson, Latin American Business Association, and Asian Management Students Association, to name a few, play a critical role in building a community that is inclusive to all. These clubs host events that allow students to experience a different perspective. They educate and share everything from local business knowledge to cultural nuances. They help us understand those who are different from us. And they show us how to have a whole new level of fun. Not only is it enriching to participate, but it makes business sense. The fact is, our world is changing. There are now more women than men who go to college, which means the spending power of women will rise. China will become the world’s largest economy by the end of this year. Even conservative politicians, such as those in Arizona, bow to the economic power of the LGBT community. “You need people with cultural competency in these areas, who have a facility with diversity, and understand whatever market they’re trying to enter,” said Kim Freeman, the assistant dean for diversity initiatives. Understanding these markets starts now, and involves not only clubbing in Japan, but getting to know diverse communities right here in Los Angeles. However, the reality is, diversity is usually not the first priority for many business school students. Perhaps many of us want to believe that business is inherently meritocratic and market driven. Or maybe due to the fact that board rooms do not reflect the racial and gender makeup of our society, diversity’s importance is not emphasized. Many identity clubs have trouble attracting even members of their own group to join. For instance, the 2015 full-time MBA class has 17 students who checked the Latino box on their applications, but only five joined the club, according to Mayra Munguia-Herrera, the president of the Latino Management Students Association. “Those who go into businesstend not to be vocal,” said Munguia-Herrera. “They are more internally focused on doing what they need to do to accomplish their professional goals, but not so much their community goals.” This problem has been compounded from the admissions side, where it has been an uphill battle to find enough qualified minority and women candidates to apply. Dean Judy Olian, speaking at the White House in April, called it “a major, national performance issue” that women are still underutilized and underappreciated in the US professional workforce. Assistant Dean of Admissions Alex Lawrence, in a February blog post, lamented that “the pipeline is limited” for African Americans and Latinos on the MBA track. Many were the first in their families to go to college, and have no idea that an MBA is even an option, nor what careers they lead to.

So far, the push for embracing diversity through identity clubs at Anderson has been done in silos. Recently, ASA added the VP of Diversity and Inclusion position to try to tie all these efforts together. “There are so many individual efforts going on, including Parker, Women’s Business Connection, and Admissions,” said Jessica Kimball, who current serves in the diversity VP role. “But from the student side, there hasn’t been one cohesive effort to move all of this together.” That will change next year. Even though many clubs are small, they are striving to make a big impact in 2014-15, banding together to host a “Diversity Series,” a succession of events aimed at getting discussions of race, gender, and sexual orientation out in the open. These clubs will also work closely with both the Admissions Office and Parker CMC to build a pipeline of students from underrepresented groups coming in, and graduates going out.

The hope is that all students at Anderson will support this effort by either joining clubs, participating actively in these events, or helping the administration with its diversity recruitment and career initiatives. If all of us give diversity a second look, we will be closer to our classmates, and ready to take on a diverse and changing world.

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John Kapteyn

Julia Hsu_2

Julia Hsu

BY JOHN KAPTEYN – SECTION EDITOR

Two years in business school can pass by very quickly. Just ask Julia Hsu, a second year student who came to Anderson in order to broaden her professional skill set and explore whether a career in human resources aligned with her personal goals. In the process, she also made a conscious effort to meet classmates outside of her normal social circles. “I pushed myself to take advantage of a free pass to meet a ton of people,” Hsu says. “I’d never had friends outside of people who were very similar to me.” She says these new friends and contacts led to some of her favorite b-school experiences. Hsu advises other students to push outside of their comfort zones and meet with people from different backgrounds. The payoff will be a transformative experience, and one that will create friendships for years to come.

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Dan Brown

BY DAN BROWN – INCOMING EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Dan Brown

Dan Brown

As we say goodbye to an exceptional academic year and begin to look ahead, I wanted to say that I am really excited to be the next Editor-in-Chief of the Anderson Exchange. Mike Hirshman has done incredible work bringing people together and driving this program forward, but he will now be moving on to serve as president of the Graduate Student Association. He and I have been working on the transition this quarter and we are eager to take the Exchange to the next level in the coming year.

Our team’s biggest challenges this past year were to resurrect this celebrated publication, figure out the logistics behind bringing your voices to print, build out an exceptional team, and finalize our operations. In entrepreneurial parlance, this would be our beta. For the 2014-2015 academic year, we look forward to rolling out a more refined, impactful product and will work on being more consistent on a monthly basis, sourcing monthly content that brings together both first and second year perspectives, along with those from the FEMBA program and the entirety of the Anderson world. We are fortunate to have an outstanding team that is prepared to continue to put in the time and effort that make this paper possible.

We also look forward to hearing your feedback, because our goal is to put out the best and most relevant product possible – and most importantly, one that you want to read. The team relaunched The Exchange to provide a forum for thoughtful discussion of topics here at Anderson and to spotlight peers who are doing phenomenal things. We have done that over the last year, and in many ways the Exchange has done that over the last forty years. We look forward to continuing that legacy next year.

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Brian Schoelkopf

BY BRIAN SCHOELKOPF – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Brian Schoelkopf

Brian Schoelkopf

Reflecting midstream is difficult. The currents that carry you forward create a noisy, tumultuous state where clear mindedness is not easily attained.Both the classes of 2015 and 2014 are presently midstream. The 2015ers are in shock that one half of their time at Anderson has nearly eclipsed. While it feels like the 80’s party was last month, within three weeks we will be the second years and transition to the role of MBA upperclassmen.

Second years find themselves in an even more turbulent situation: forced to leave the enclave of Anderson and return to the world of the working. One can only imagine the horrified faces the 2014ers will don in the coming months as they rediscover a world in which the work week does not end at 4PM on Thursday, nor is the weekend heralded by frothy beer and a buffet of warm(ish) pizza! Of course, the pain of change is simply a sign that we are making progress, becoming stronger and better. Both classes are taking the next step on their path to doing great things and changing the world.

What reflections can be made at this point of transition? What is it that the Class of 2014 will take with them from Anderson to transform the landscape of the corporate  world and the public sector? What is it that the Class of 2015 will carry with them from their first year to their second as they become the leaders of this institution? The answers are as varied as our class is diverse. Some will find that mastering discounted cash flows has been of momentous importance, while others will discover that the confidence they found within themselves while “taking a stand” to have been utterly transformative. Yet even with this diversity of experience, there is one thing that every student here will take with them that will irreversibly change and improve the course of their life – the Anderson family. Family is a word used excessively in corporate and institutional rhetoric. It is used to imply an absent feeling of connection and loyalty that few businesses or organizations truly achieve. The word is made cheap. Here, I use the word family deliberately – it expresses a reality that is at the core of our school’s DNA.

Where would an outsider see the strength of the Anderson family? Last Monday, Parker released a list of 74 students (20% of the class of 2015) who will be dedicating upwards of ten hours a week as ACT Coaches to help the incoming class of 2016 find success in recruiting. Without pay. Adding a position to their resumes that 0% of recruiters value. Three weeks ago a group of over 80 students dedicated their weekend to execute A Days, with the goal of giving admitted students a taste of the Anderson experience. Those involved committed countless hours before the weekend to planning. Zero dollars were paid to these students. Zero recognition was sought by them. Walk into Il Tram right now. At least one table, there will be two students who barley know each other having a coffee chat in which one, with nothing to gain, is spilling every secret and tip that they have to help advance the other’s career and ambitions. In return, they might have a cup of coffee bought for them.

Where does a member of Anderson feel the strength of the Anderson family? Every time someone who was impossibly busy took twenty minutes to explain an econ concept to you. Every time your classmate who was still buried in recruiting took time to introduce you to someone in their network. These efforts happen everywhere at Anderson.

Reflecting on the year so far, I would say that we cannot take this blessing for granted. If you assume that our counterparts in other programs enjoy a similar strength of family, you are wrong. What we have here at UCLA, and what we take with us when we leave, is special. It is unique. It is Anderson. While we are MBA students for less than 24 months, we are members of the Anderson family until the day we die. Be proud of your family. Be loyal to your family. Do what you can to make your family strong, because its strength becomes your own.

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‘Crushing’ AMR: The Secret to Success

BY ZACH GOLDMAN – GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

AMR will be a major part of your second year at Anderson; it will have a significant impact, not only on your GPA, but on your overall experience here and your future relationships with your teammates. A little bit of forethought and discipline can ensure that you have a pleasant and successful experience. 

Why Should I Care? AMR gives you the chance to solve a real ‘MBA-level’ problem backed by the resources of UCLA. Succeeding here prepares you to succeed outside of school. 

Why does AMR matter? It’s a legitimate question as some students view Anderson’s thesis program as a collection of unimportant assignments, creating busywork in a second year that would otherwise be either a stress-free time on the beach or a marathon of recruiting. Beyond the fact that a thesis is required to graduate in the UC system and that AMR is worth 10 units (and, BTW, grades are individual, so your individual contributions matter), I suggest viewing the program as a chance to practice MBA level project management skills while making an impact that will benefit both you and your client. AMR projects can be messy, stressful and ambiguous; just like problems in the real business world. Regardless of whether you plan to go into consulting, marketing, renting surfboards on the beach in Bali, or whatever, practice with structuring an approach to a problem, executing on that approach, managing the challenges along the way and ultimately putting together a convincing deliverable will help you to succeed in your chosen field. Your AMR experience should produce real results, not only for your client, but for you as well. In addition to building relationships with your team, advisor and client, a strong performance has helped alums land jobs. For example, when 2013er Aspan Dahmubed interviewed at Amgen, the recruiter noticed that he had done research in China through AMR. Not only did Aspan have the opportunity to share a story and take control of the conversation, but he was also offered the job and now works for the company in a post that involves international projects. In short, AMR is worth caring about.

Positioning ‘FTW’ MBAs generally like to succeed; some planning related to AMR can ensure an enjoyable experience and reduce the stress level during your second year. 

Level with your teammates. Those of you currently in OB are likely learning about the importance of mutually aligned incentives. In forming or getting to know your team for what will be the largest academic component of your Anderson experience, be sure to ask some important up-front questions about where your teammates are coming from and what they want out of AMR. For example:

  • What do you want out of the AMR experience?
  •  How important is it to you to “wow” the client and/or get an A?
  • A re you anticipating any life events (like a wedding/baby) that might affect your project availability?
  •  What resources or skills do you bring to the table?
  •  What are you really interested in working on?

Asking these sometimes difficult questions at the front end of your AMR experience helps to set you up for success and can prevent some unpleasant surprises down the road.

Aaron Lee interviews Ugandan shopkeepers to discuss the feasibility and practicality of implementing their client Mercy Corps’ distribution concept.

Aaron Lee interviews Ugandan shopkeepers to discuss the feasibility and
practicality of implementing their client Mercy Corps’ distribution concept.

Prepare for three types of pressure. AMR teams commonly describe feeling three sources of pressure: i) client, ii) advisor and iii) team dynamics. In going through the process, you might sometimes feel like you have multiple bosses, but this is reflective of what many of us will experience in our postschool professions. While issues and stress in these areas are sometimes unavoidable, you can take steps to minimize friction. Client-related pressure can be minimized by clearly defining your project’s scope up front, keeping the client updated regularly as you make progress against the scope and knowing when to politely push back on out-of-scope or scope-change requests (your advisor and the program office can help with this). Friction with your advisor can be minimized by keeping your advisor updated weekly on your team’s issues and communicating candidly about project-related challenges. Finally, team-related challenges can be minimized by clearly setting expectations up front, equitably dividing roles and assignments to speak to people’s strengths and politely but honestly discussing issues as they arise.

Know there will be bumps in the road. Parts of AMR will be difficult or annoying, just like parts of projects in the outside world. If solving business problems were easy, post-MBA jobs wouldn’t pay too well. However, anticipating some of these pitfalls can be useful. Below are a few examples I observed going through the program:

Don’t half-@$$ the first six weeks — As a TA for the program, I saw some teams that really ‘phoned in’ the scoping and research planning phases of their projects. This left them exposed to major scope changes when their client or advisor pushed back on their early work and often resulted in a lot of painful scrambling toward the end, which could have been avoided by pushing a bit more on the front end.

Prepare to deal with paperwork — Because AMR is, ultimately, your thesis, some paperwork is a fact of life. You’ll need to do things like an NDA, primary research report and final written paper. The office really does try to minimize this and is always open to suggestions on streamlining deliverables. However, at the end of the day, this is an academic exercise intertwined with external businesses, so expect a few academic assignments.
Keep your advisor in the loop — Yes, I did mention this above, but keeping your advisor updated on your team’s progress, as well as any individual concerns you may have, is to your advantage. Team dynamics and individual contributions matter in grading and, since your advisor can’t see what goes on in your team meetings, it’s important to reach out to him/her with any issues worth discussing.

Your Friendly Neighborhood AMR Office. The AMR office exists to help you through the AMR process. Getting to know your team positions them to better help you. From helping your individual team with project-related issues to hearing your suggestions on improving the program overall, the AMR Office’s job is to make your life better (assuming, in this case, that your life primarily revolves around AMR). Dropping by their offices (in Student Affairs, off the D-Atrium) to say hi to Chelsea, Sendy and Yixin puts a face to your name and will help these intrepid staffers with some of the following functions:

Project-related issues — From helping you to pitch a selfsourced client to getting you a room for a client call, the AMR Office is willing and able to help you with a wide range of project issues.
• Helping you avoid nasty surprises — If you have a question like “can I get reimbursed for X?” or “how can I resolve my issue with person Y?” dropping in and asking the AMR team (or program TAs) can save you from an unpleasant “whoopsie.” Don’t worry; asking questions doesn’t affect your grade…
Improving the program overall — The AMR team cares a lot about student satisfaction. Student suggestions thus far have resulted in everything
from lunchtime sessions on project-related issues to establishing Wednesday mornings as a class-free time for AMR activities.

Picture 2If you have ideas on improving the program, let them know. Finally, beyond the AMR staff , UCLA has a whole range of resources available to help you with the AMR process. See above for a quick reference of who can help you with what: As a final note, feel free to reach out to me (as the outgoing program TA) with any AMR questions I can help with; otherwise, Andersonians, go forth and crush it.

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Korn/Ferry: A look at the Past and Present

The Exchange editors sat down with Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry International, during his April 28 visit to Anderson. Korn/Ferry was founded in 1969 by Lester Korn (MBA ’60) and it is today the world’s largest executive search company. In 1988, the Anderson School’s main convocation hall was named after Lester Korn and his wife Carolbeth.

The Exchange: Here at Anderson, most students know of Lester Korn as the namesake of Korn Hall. Can you tell us about the history of the business that Lester Korn founded?

Gary Burnison

Gary Burnison

Gary Burnison: [We] were founded about 45 years ago. And Lester [Korn] and Richard Ferry both were at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co., and they had a vision about creating a global executive recruiting company, and they got together and started here in Los Angeles. And, you know, one thing led to another. From a very humble beginning and small office until today, a company that has a market cap of a billion and a half dollars, and we’re in 40 countries…

The Exchange: In your book, The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership, you talked about leaders having blind spots that stemmed from a lack of soft skills. What does Korn/Ferry do to measure those soft skills? Is there a methodology that you have within the firm?

Gary Burnison: We’ve both developed and acquired a tremendous amount of intellectual property around really what separates great from good. A lot of it anchors around one’s leadership style, thinking style, emotional competency. All of which we believe is really trying to get at the notion of learning agility and whether people really continue to have an appetite to learn and to grow. We think that that’s the number one predictor of executive success today.

The Exchange: Do you think that can be taught? In other words, is that a skill that can be imparted in a business school setting?

Gary Burnison: Well, it can be taught, but the person has to have a willingness to grow and to learn, so it absolutely can be taught. But there’s also a piece of it that comes down to insatiable appetite to listen to music, to read all sorts of different things. One has to have the desire to do that.

The Exchange: What are the challenges of leading a public company? How has the experience been for Korn/Ferry as a public company?

Gary Burnison: It really comes down to your strategy that you have for your business. If you believe that you need access to capital, to financing, then each business owner needs to make the decision on how best to do that. So you can find friends and family, you could go to venture capital, you could go to private equity, you could go to your bank, or you could tap the public market. I really think it first starts with where you’re trying to take your business and what kind of capital do you need to foster that growth. Then, you need to make a decision on what avenues [are] going to be the best [ones] for your company. For us, we do need access to capital to make our brand more lasting and to get into other types of businesses that reinforce the flagship recruiting business, so we need access to capital for acquisitions as an example. So we’ve done almost 10 acquisitions over the last few years. If we were not public that would be very difficult for us to do.

The Exchange: You mentioned in your talk [at the Anderson Speaker Series] that your business has moved beyond just search and that now only 60% is the core recruiting business. Do you expect this percentage to change over the next few years?

Gary Burnison: Well, I think that it’s always going to be the foundation of the business. There’s no doubt about that, but I see that there’s a huge opportunity to continue to build solutions and services for what the board or CEO really thinks about it. It’s great to get really good people in the organization but it’s a whole other thing to get them to work together and move in the same direction. So we’re trying to anchor our organization not only in finding great people but finding out who they are and then getting them to work together towards the organization’s, the client’s common purpose.

 

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