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MBA@UNC New York City Immersion – Day Three
Offered four times per year, MBA@UNC Global Immersions are unique opportunities for students to meet in some of the business world’s most important cities, confer with top professors and industry leaders, and collaborate with their fellow students to apply what they have learned to real-life challenges. On day three of the New York Global Immersion, finance track students will spend their closing sessions considering the impact and implications of ethics in financial services with UNC Kenan-Flagler professor Stephen Arbogast and learning from the invaluable career experience of Sallie Krawcheck, founder of Ellevate (formerly 85 Broads). The media track’s closing sessions will examine modern media marketing from every angle, including a practitioner panel with marketing specialists from A&E Networks and American Express OPEN. Join us as we blog live from the final day in New York City.
FINANCE: Lessons of Experience
Sallie Krawcheck, Ellevate Network
About our speaker: Sallie Krawcheck is the former president of the Global Wealth & Investment Management division of Bank of America. Sally is credited with saving companies like Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., Smith Barney, and Merrill Lynch & Co. during some of their most tumultuous times. Often referred to as the most powerful woman on Wall Street, Sally currently serves as the Chair of Ellevate, which recently teamed up with Pax World Management to create the only women’s investment fund in the United States.
In the presence of greatness. That was what I felt today. Being a part of the NYC immersion has offered each of us unparalleled access to some of the most influential and greatest minds on Wall Street. We learned from hedge fund founders, C-level banking executives, venture capitalists and, today, from the woman frequently referred to as “The Most Powerful Woman on Wall Street”.
Learning from Sallie Krawcheck was an incredible opportunity. Not only did she give us insight into the behind the scenes negotiations among top executives during the banking crisis, she was accessible and interactive with our group, answering a broad range of questions. The unexpected aspect of her message to us was a theme of ethics in her life. From the beginning of her career as an analyst, all the way to the CEO’s office, she has remained true to herself and maintained a sense of integrity. On a broad scale she gave us her insider perspective on what she felt were the sources of the banking crisis. On a personal level she provided insight into what experience has taught her about how to be successful. And we learned about her newest initiative, the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (PXWEX), the “first and only mutual fund in the United States that focuses on investing in the highest rated companies in the world in advancing women’s leadership.”
I never imagined an online program could deliver the incredible speakers and experiences I had this weekend. Being in the epicenter of world finance and banking while hearing from heavyweights like Sallie Krawcheck, Gary Parr and Gil Caffray has had an enormous impact on everyone here. For anyone considering the MBA@UNC program, choosing UNC is a decision you won’t regret. Having the flexibility associated with online delivery while maintaining the quality of a top-20 program is the best of both worlds. This weekend in NYC was icing on the cake! -Lauri DeCicco
MEDIA: Marketing in the Digital Age
Penny Abernathy, UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication
About our speaker: Penny Abernathy is a journalism professional with more than 30 years of experience as a reporter, editor and senior media business executive. Penny is a former executive at the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and is currently a Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
For the Media Track, our first speaker was Penny Abernathy. Her experience spanned virtually all aspects of media from reporter, to editor, to executive – and from traditional print to launching multimedia enterprises. What I took away was never to be afraid to go after what you want, even if that means starting over, which is meaningful, given some of us in this program are debating a total career change. Penny’s message was clear: there are great experiences at all levels, one should never feel that starting over is not worth it.
Even on day three of the NYC Immersion, we are all invigorated and energized. I had my reservations about an online MBA program but time after time, MBA@UNC delivers! The friendships forged are sure to last a lifetime. The bond we all share is instant, but especially reaffirmed when we finally get to meet in person. I do not want the weekend to end! -Michelle Bates
FINANCE: Ethics in Financial Services
Stephen Arbogast, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
About our speaker: Stephen Arbogast served as the Treasurer of Exxon Chemical and ExxonMobil Chemical Company from 1997-2004. As Treasurer of Chemicals, Mr. Arbogast was responsible for the financing of Exxon’s $40 billion worldwide chemical business. Arbogast currently is an executive Professor and focuses on the subjects of International Finance, Project Finance and Business Ethics.
For the first session on Day 3 of the Finance track, we discussed ethics in business. Stephen Arbogast led us through 4 cases, using Goldman Sachs twice, Bear Stearns, and Citigroup as examples. Although these cases dealt specifically with examples from the financial services industry, they each presented relevant reminders and strategies that we could apply to any industry or scenario.
For me, there was one lesson that really jumped out: the best way to protect yourself from being exposed to consequences from an ethical or legal scandal is to understand your organization and how to navigate within the structure. As we talked about the cases and discussed the business solutions that were available to both the middle and senior management in each example, it became clear this is especially important for mid-level managers. In most of the cases, it was the mid-level managers who were fired and faced legal action, rather than the senior level leadership of the firm.
When we talked about the real outcomes of each case, a common theme was that by understanding the interplay between the various organizations with legal and risk control responsibility within a firm, an employee can use that structure to protect themselves and to gain a sponsor (i.e., legal or internal audit) in helping to raise a red flag to senior management. A little forecasting also never hurt! In one of the Goldman Sachs examples, senior leadership overlooked qualitative warnings of potential fraud and risk exposure. However, including a financial impact estimate of the exposure would likely have caught their attention quickly.
In the end, it all boils down to a simple question: would I want to see my actions written up on the front page of the Wall Street Journal? If the answer is no, then it’s time to figure out what to do differently. -Lindsay Konte
MEDIA: Growth Hacking: New Tools for Finding and Engaging Customers in the Digital Age
About our speaker: Mattan Griffel is the Founder and CEO at One Month, an online training course for teaching beginneres how to build web applications. He is also the NYC Ambassador to the Sandbox Network, a collection of young leaders under 30. Griffel advises companies like Pepsico, Bloomberg, GM, NYSE, and JPMorgan on topics including growth hacking, online education, and technology and his work has been featured in Forbes and BusinessWeek, among others.
It was day two of the immersion, and the upcoming speaker was Mattan Griffel. His topic? Growth hacking. Prior to Griffel’s presentation, I had no idea what growth hacking was, nor the impact it has on the way the modern world looks at marketing products and services.
Mattan Griffel is a wildly successful entrepreneur and a pioneer in this space. His company, GrowHack, was the world’s first growth hacking shop for startups based in New York, and has advised clients including Pepsico, Bloombeg, GMA JP Morgan, and NYSE. Given his extensive background and incredible success, I expected a forty-something entrepreneur to walk on stage in a well-pressed suit. To say I was taken aback when a twentysomething young man hopped on stage in sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt that read “MAKE MISTAKES”, is an understatement. Though Griffel was younger than most of his audience, that in no way diminished the amount of authority he garnered as soon as he began to speak.
Mattan Griffel’s presentation was riveting; the entire audience was engaged. It wasn’t just his ability to connect with the audience that drew us into his presentation, but also the interesting nature of this new “growth hacking” phenomenon. It turns out that growth hacking is the term used to describe attracting and keeping customers in the digital space. It’s really interesting, humorous and insightful stuff. At one point during the presentation, Mattan had us divide into teams and dicuss examples of how growth hacking can be used in our particular industry. He also got us thinking aboutthe importance of a highly optimized landing page (formerly known as a company’s homepage) s) is , because it is now responsible for calling customers to action. To Mattan’s point, “Your website is kind of like a first date. You don’t want to put everything out there . . . at least not if you want a second date.” That was a line that every person in the room could relate to, whether they were doctors, financial advisors, or engineers like myself.
It isn’t every day that you get the opportunity to learn about topics from the very people who are at the vanguard of these upcoming technologies and strategies, but that is what the MBA@UNC immersion weekends are all about. I’m learning from the best, working with the best, and developing personal and professional relationships with some of my very best friends. -Katrina Benishek