MBA@UNC New York City Immersion - Day One

MBA@UNC’s immersions are one of our program’s most unique features. Four times each year, MBA@UNC students gather in cities around the world for three days to connect and collaborate with classmates, top UNC faculty, and renowned business leaders. With over 323 student participants, this event in New York City is our largest immersion to date. Our students have the option to focus on one of two important industries: finance and media. The financial track of the immersion will explore the causes, repercussions and ramifications of the 2008 financial crisis, whereas the media portion will focus on the media industry’s response to the technological advancements of the Digital Age. We’re live-blogging from both the finance and media track all weekend to give you a front-row seat at the MBA@UNC immersion experience.

FINANCE: Financial Crisis of 2008

Gary Parr, Vice Chairman, Lazard

About our speaker: Gary W. Parr has served as a director of Lazard Ltd and Lazard Group since March 2010. Mr. Parr is a Vice Chairman and a Managing Director of Lazard, having previously served as Deputy Chairman of Lazard from April 2003 until November 2009. For 30 years, he has focused on providing strategic advice to financial institutions worldwide. Prior to joining Lazard, Mr. Parr was with Morgan Stanley serving in numerous capacities. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Mr. Parr was with a group from The First Boston Corporation that formed Wasserstein Perella & Co., where he rose to become Co-President. Mr. Parr graduated with honors Phi Beta Kappa, and Beta Gamma Sigma from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received an M.B.A. from Northwestern University.

It was truly an honor to hear Gary Parr’s insight into the 2008 financial crisis. Parr explained that any financial crisis boils down to one essential element: a lack of confidence in the market. Parr discussed the ethical issue his company, Lazard, faced as it worked with Bear Stearns through the crisis. “It was like going to a funeral day, after day, after day…. A lot of people believed the crisis was over when Bear Stearns was rescued due to our work, but it was just the beginning”, said Parr. Though the crisis was very lucrative for Lazard, Parr said that he would never want to relive one moment of it again. Gary explained he and his team were proud of the work they did to help Bear Stearns, yet they also felt genuine despair as they recognized that a lot of people would lose their jobs and a lot of people would lose their retirement savings as a result. Gary Parr's discussion was engaging and incredibly valuable- there isn't anyone else who could provide better insight into the crisis than Parr himself. -Jon Morgan, January 2014 Cohort

MEDIA: New York Times Company Visit

To kick off to the New York City Immersion, the media track embarked on a company visit. After a short walk through the bustling streets of midtown Manhattan, we arrived at the headquarters of the New York Times. We began with a brief tour of the building, designed by famous Italian architect Renzo Piano, and a stroll through the Pulitzer Prize galleries. Note: there are a lot of them! Then began an hour long Q&A with Ray Pearce, VP of Consumer Marketing. Mr. Pearce discussed in depth how the shift toward digital media has affected the NYT and what strategy the firm is using to turn this challenge into opportunity. Not only was he a great speaker, but the back and forth with students became pretty engaging as people challenged him with facts and statistics that they were googling on their phones. How appropriate! It's experiences like these that made me choose UNC in the first place. I have been to three immersion weekends and they get better every time. -Mark Hampel, October 2012 Cohort

FINANCE: Financial Crisis of 2008 -- Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Merger Case

Anil Shivdasani, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

About our speaker: Anil Shivdasani is the Wells Fargo Distinguished Professor, director of the Wells Fargo Center for Corporate Finance, and a Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Scholar. He is an award-winning teacher of mergers and acquisitions and corporate financial strategy. His areas of expertise include corporate valuation, capital structure, financing strategies, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance. Dr. Shivdasani took academic leave to work as a managing director in the investment banking division at Citigroup Global Markets Inc. He has advised leading companies across the globe on strategic financial issues including valuation, capital structure, capital requirements, credit ratings, financial policy, M&A issues, liquidity management, acquisition financing, convertible instruments, pensions and corporate governance. Anil led an engaging discussion about M&A transactions for the students in the finance track. Using Bank of America and Merrill Lynch’s merger to guide the discussion, Shivdasani addressed short-term and long-term risks and benefits of an M&A, how to mitigate risk, the profound impact that the government and other regulators can have on these M&A transactions, and the importance of aligning company cultures during a merger.

The NYC immersion featured prominent speakers in the financial industry, as well as UNC professors who experienced the financial crisis firsthand. Anil's talk on Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch was fascinating. He not only addressed the tactical strategy behind the acquisition, but also the human element that was so crucial to its success. Anil explained that one of the most important elements to any M&A is the alignment of culture- really making sure that you have one company all working toward the same goal. The insight and perspective from Anil (who witnessed the crisis firsthand) was invaluable. -Michelle Cheslek, October 2013 Cohort

MEDIA: The Future of Media Through the Eyes of Bloomberg

Justin Smith, CEO, Bloomberg Media Group

About our speaker: Mr. Justin B. Smith has been Chief Executive Officer of Bloomberg Media Group at Bloomberg L.P. since September 16, 2013. Mr. Smith is also a founder of Breaking Media, the Bali Purnati Center for the Arts, and the Ouagadougou Education Project. He served as President of Atlantic Media Company of National Journal Group Inc. from January 2010 to 2013. While at Atlantic Media, he spearheaded The Atlantic's dramatic transformation from a largely print-centric magazine to a digitally-led multi-platform franchise. Under his leadership, Atlantic Media also launched several new critically acclaimed disruptive digital platforms such as Quartz and Defense One. He also worked for the U.S. Department of State in West Africa and Washington, D.C. and graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

Today, the CEO of Bloomberg Media Group, Justin Smith, came to discuss the future of media with MBA@UNC students. To paraphrase Justin's message, 'we can't be afraid of the changing landscape of the future; we must choose to see the opportunities and embrace them with excitement. To succeed, we need a combination of the right talent, possession of a new skill set, and the right culture almost as an alchemy for success'. Justin's concept can be observed in the MBA@UNC program and immersions. The pool of talent, engagement, and desire to network among the students are proof the alchemy exists. The immersions are truly a unique and vital aspect of MBA@UNC; the concepts I am learning and friendships I have made will stay with me forever. -Bryce Bruner, January 2013 Cohort