2nd Edition – 1/6/2013

The Parker Series: A Series of Iterations


Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

I can hardly believe there’s only one class left in this year’s Parker Series. However, I’m already “Thinking in the Next.”

Many of you may not know it, but the Series has come a long way. Anderson launched the series in 2010, initially as a case-based course, to create standardized career preparation. While students found the class beneficial, they craved content tailored to their own job searches. That’s when Deans Andrew Ainslie, Rob Weiler and Susan Judkins proposed creating a new role at Parker and approached me for the position due to my experience both as a practitioner, overseeing a recruiting and HR team for a fast growth company, and as an assistant professor.

During my first year in 2011, I treated the Parker Series like an internal consulting project: I observed, assessed and devised a new strategy.  My goal: to create a class that I myself would have enjoyed and benefited from as a student.

Previously, each section’s weekly session was taught by a different mix of Parker advisors. I took over the lecturing in 2012 to streamline teaching, reduce lecture time and introduce new topics – for example, personal branding and navigating the “Circle of Death” at networking events. I was happy with the progress, but there was still a lot of work to be done.

I got some unexpected help along the way. Last December, Breeana Garrett Bey (MBA ’14) asked to meet as part of preparing her “Take a Stand” presentation for the Introductory Communications Course. The topic: “Why the Parker Series should be moved to Orientation.”  The concept wasn’t logistically feasible, but her suggestions – paired with the school initiative to embrace hybrid learning – did trigger some major strategic changes.

Graph for Website

Note 22% of the lecture time was online video

We adopted a “flipped classroom” by introducing online lectures for resume, cover letters and personal branding. Students learned new content through videos at home so that class time could be devoted to activities. We cut lecture time in half (with 25% occurring online) and doubled paired exercises like peer informationals, mock interviews, resume reviews, and cover letter editing. This strengthened connections across the first-year class and provided each student with the hiring manager’s perspective.

Assistant Dean of Career Services Regina Regazzi (MBA ’97) recently told me she has seen “a remarkable improvement” in the quality of resumes. “The students may not realize this when they’re sitting in class, but when I think about the quality of the resumes now versus a few years ago at this point, I am amazed at the progress. That is transformative for on-campus recruiting,” she added.

In 2012, we introduced advisor-led roundtables to give students exposure to the entire Parker team. Students told me they appreciated the instant feedback and learning from their peers, so we tripled the number of roundtables this year. This was an arrangement made feasible due to the logistical finesse of our new Communications Manager Sandra Nguyen. In addition, we brought our case interview workshops in-house, and they are now being taught by Parker advisors (and former consultants) Jennifer Bevan and Chris Weber (MBA ’09).


MBA Class of ‘15 class practices their 30-second pitches for the first time (Photo courtesy of Parker)

I also have some of your classmates to thank. Kyle Forrest ’14 and I had regular discussions on how to better align content and deliverables with the flow of the first-year recruiting process. To address previous concerns about the overlap between the Parker Series and Anderson Career Teams (ACT), I met weekly during the spring with Parker TA and ACT Coach Chris Hatfield ‘14.  We identified redundancies and best practices across ACT groups and created a weekly curriculum that could be used by all industries and functions.

Due to my years working in startups, I know firsthand the importance of iteration, and will continue to refine the class each year based on feedback and market need(and no, not because I’m looking for “Situation-Action-Result” statements to bolster my resume).I want to make this course best in class and do my part to help get Anderson ranked where it should be, back in the top 10.


The Key to Success: A Balanced Diet



Photo by Yoojin Koh

In business school, we’re pulled in many directions. We attempt to juggle academics, networking and recruiting while maintaining some semblance of a social life.

Amid all the stress, it’s easy to fall into bad habits, like noshing on fast food, indulging in alcohol and energy drinks, and skipping out on exercise, says Zhaoping Li, M.D., a professor of clinical nutrition at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

No damage done, right? Wrong. Carbohydrates and starch have been shown to curb mental alertness and trigger drowsiness. That means we should be steering clear of pastries, juices and sodas during exams.

Another negative outcome is that when we skimp on protein, our bodies begin to break down muscle tissue, which is what helps us burn fat. Poor nutrition can also lead to deficiencies in Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and folic acid, resulting in a variety of health issues.

The frightening news is that these effects can be permanent. New research indicates that nutrition is a cumulative process; damage caused to your digestive system by fast food can be repaired by proper nutrition, but only if the unhealthy habits don’t persist.

The takeaway: Don’t take a two-year break from nutrition. Even your post-M.B.A. salary won’t be worth it if you’re not in good health.

Sure, we’re all feeling overextended with deadlines, informational interviews and resume drops – but remember to break the cycle and take some time for yourself.

Your mind and body will thank you for it later.


Let’s Talk About Stress: Lessons from Jonathan Guerrero (MBA ’15)


Jonathan Guerrero

Jonathan Guerrero

On any given day, you’re probably fielding dozens of emails, finishing your economics homework or meeting with your learning team to put the final touches on a marketing project.

Stressful, right? But managing your stress level is critical to staying healthy. Studies show that stress can contribute to a wide range of health problems, like anxiety and depression in the short-term and a greater susceptibility to catching the common cold.

So what’s an M.B.A. student to do?

As impossible as it may sound, the secret to managing stress may be to avoid multitasking, according to Jonathan Guerrero (MBA ’15). When he first moved to Los Angeles, Guerrero says he developed “crazy road rage.” He was doing too much at once in the car: navigating traffic, making phone calls, checking e-mail, listening to music. “My family and friends were telling me I had changed,” he says. “I was angry.”

Then, before coming to Anderson, Guerrero spent a week with a renowned Zen Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh at a monastery in Pine Bush, N.Y. A peace and human rights activist, Nhat Hanh has dedicated his life to helping people to be passionately present in the here and now. Guerrero’s takeaway from the retreat with Nhat Hanh was simple: he needed to stop multi-tasking.


Photo by Yoojin Koh

It’s worked. Now, when Guerrero drives, he focuses solely on the road. “I don’t try to be anywhere else,” he says, adding that he even turns off the radio sometimes.

“It sounds silly at first,” he says, but being present is easier said than done. It takes mindfulness and awareness to stick to the task at hand. “You can’t do two things at the same time effectively,” he says.


Soda Wars


Romain Wacziarg

Romain Wacziarg

A battle is brewing over one of my favorite staples: soft drinks.
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently tried to ban restaurants from selling large-sized sodas, citing the public health risk of the sugary drinks. Meanwhile, the Mexican government is considering a tax on soft drinks to discourage their consumption.
As the prevalence of obesity rises in many countries, public policy is intervening to stem the tide. But should we be regulating the consumption of soft drinks? If an individual wants to risk obesity and diabetes by drinking massive amounts of soda, why should policymakers govern that personal choice?
Too often, we as a society seek to intervene against a behavior we dislike – but in doing so, we may run roughshod over individual rights. A free and informed person presumably weighs the personal costs and benefits when deciding to gulp down a gallon of Coca-Cola. So, perhaps we should end the argument here and let folks like me enjoy our soda in peace.
But it’s not that simple. In principle, public-policy intervention can be justified if leaving the free market to its own devices leads to broad social harm: a negative externality. Perhaps soda drinkers do not make well-informed decisions because they aren’t aware of the obesity costs that occur later in life, and consumers may discount the future too aggressively. Parents. Suppose that parents who consume lots of soda influence their kids to do the same, and that these beverages are addictive.
What social consequences could then result from allowing people to freely choose their level of soda consumption? An obvious one is public-health externality. To the extent that people do not bear the cost of their health expenditures, because they rely on private or public insurance, their private actions affect the premiums that the rest of us pay to insurers and the taxes we pay into public-health schemes. In recent decades, health costs like these have comprised a rising share of total health expenditures. The bottom line is that you and I are footing the bill for the health care costs being incurred by the obese. Soda drinkers are essentially free-riding on insurance pools and taxpayers.
On the other hand, obesity can also bring certain economic benefits. As unpleasant as it may sound, obesity can cause premature death – from diabetes, heart disease or other ailments– which can result in savings for publicly-funded retirement programs like Social Security. We must carefully weigh the health costs of obesity against the savings that an early death affords to retirement programs.
Let’s assume we determine that health costs still win out and we decide to regulate soda consumption. What is the best way to go about doing this?
Economists offer a clear answer here: A tax is much better than a ban. A ban is too heavy-handed and discourages consumption from people who receive a net benefit from drinking soda. Moreover, bans can be rife with loopholes, rendering them ineffective. Soda-drinkers in New York, for example, can easily circumvent the new ban by crossing the Hudson River to get their soda fix in New Jersey.
Instead, a tax should be levied at a level that discourages consumption among people who only receive a small net benefit from drinking soda – a benefit smaller than the social harm they cause. Consumers who really enjoy large sodas, and are willing to pay a high price for it, are free to keep enjoying it. A tax is less intrusive in this manner, and offers the advantage of producing revenue that can be spent on socially beneficial endeavors.
Following this rationale, I give Mexico an “A” and New York an “F” for their efforts. But I doubt Mayor Bloomberg truly believed his initiative was an effective public-policy measure anyway. Rather, he saw an opportunity to raise awareness about an important health issue and to encourage people to make better choices for themselves.
And from that standpoint, the soda ban was wildly successful. After all, you and I are still talking about it, and the next time I feel tempted to buy a Coke at Northern Lights, I may just reach for an Odwalla instead.


Lindsay Shaffer


Lindsay Shaffer

Lindsay Shaffer

Lindsay Shaffer’s (MBA ’15) education and career have been guided by a passion for wellness, sport, nutrition, and personal development. Lindsay played Lacrosse while studying pre-med as an undergraduate at Notre Dame. After working for IBM, she sought to return to the world of sport, so she came USC where she pursued graduate study and worked two years as a learning specialist with the football team. She then spent three years as an Academic Advisor for Student-Athletes at Stanford. She advised 250 student athletes and designed two undergraduate classes.

Shaffer came to Anderson looking to take the benefit of sport to a wider population beyond elite athletes. She is also making an effort here at Anderson to make healthy food available and accessible to the Anderson community. She is looking to identify a company to bring a truly healthy vending machine to the student lounge.



Tina Ramos


Eaten at ShopHouse yet?

Tina Ramos

Tina Ramos

It’s probably only a matter of time. Chipotle’s new Asian fast-casual chain just opened a second location in Los Angeles – and second-year Anderson student Tina Ramos can take some credit for its success.

A summer marketing intern at Chipotle, she was tasked with building recognition and customer loyalty for the chain. It was a bold pursuit for Ramos, who previously worked as a researcher at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based progressive think-tank.

ShopHouse was her first foray into marketing, Ramos says, adding that her time at Anderson helped her find the “courage of conviction” to pursue an internship outside her comfort zone. She hopes her experience will inspire other students to do the same.

“There is a big world out there,” Ramos says. “Follow your gut, and don’t be afraid to beat to your own drum.”