Wharton Stories

From Technologist to Business Operations Leader: How This EMBA Alum Used Wharton’s Executive Coaching and Feedback Program to Make the Transition

Shivaraman (Shiva) Ramachandran, WG’18, used the Wharton MBA Program for Executives to hone his leadership skills and transition into hardware business operations at payment processing and point-of-sale solutions company Square.

One of the hottest industries in the U.S., fintech is reshaping the finance sector — and Shivaraman (Shiva) Ramachandran, WG’18, is helping shape this industry. A new graduate of Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives, Shiva recently took on a program management role in hardware business operations, closely tying in with company strategy, at payment processing and point-of-sale solutions company Square in San Francisco.

“It is a newly created strategy role, which integrates several functions like program management, logistics, product management, and metrics with strategy and innovation,” he explained. It’s also exactly the type of role Shiva had his eye on when he came to Wharton’s EMBA program.

His long-term goal was to transition from technologist to corporate strategy leader. Taking advantage of the Executive Career Coaching offered in the EMBA program and the Executive Coaching and Feedback Program (ECFP) in Wharton’s McNulty Leadership Program helped him accelerate his success.

“All of the concepts I worked on with my coach helped me to transition into my current position. It’s never one thing that gets you to the next point on your career path, but this program was integral to moving forward on my path,” Shiva said.

Available — and free — for all Wharton MBA students, the ECFP is modeled after executive coaching programs at leading corporations and shaped by scholarship and best practices in the field. The program provides students with one-on-one coaching from a seasoned executive coach through Wharton’s Leadership Program to build self-awareness and identify leadership strengths and opportunities for development.

“Going into the EMBA program, I assumed I could get coaching just by talking to other students. It’s true that you can get a lot of valuable feedback that way, but this program connects you with a trained coach. It’s the like the difference between  learning about finance from a friend in finance versus a Wharton finance professor,” Shiva said.

“Most EMBA students are in roles where we make tough decisions, and I wanted to learn from a coach how to make better decisions as a leader. I wanted a coach to teach me the process of decision-making, which I knew would benefit me for the rest of my career.”

4 Lessons He Learned from the Executive Coaching and Feedback Program

The first step in the coaching process was to obtain peer feedback. Shiva selected a friend as well as a few classmates he had worked with on projects and some who only knew him through class interactions or outside of class. “I wanted a mix of perspectives to provide a range of data for my coach,” he said.

Throughout his sessions with the coach, Shiva came away with several important lessons:

Have Open Conversations

From the start, Shiva learned the importance of opening up to people and proactively seeking feedback about challenges in the workplace. “At our first session, we talked about how to improve an unsatisfactory situation whether it’s a team deliverable or feeling stuck in a particular function in your career.” he said. “I learned how to be more comfortable talking about these kinds of issues to get feedback and ultimately make decisions that would serve long-term career goals.”

Reframe Problems as Opportunities

Shiva and his coach also talked about how to approach a problem or issue from a different angle. They discussed Shiva’s desire to change his career path as an example. Instead of looking at it as a problem to solve, Shiva’s coach encouraged him to reframe it as a question about how he could make a bigger or different impact. Reframing it that way made it easier for Shiva to discuss his interests and obtain feedback.

“Most people in the EMBA program want to do more than what they’re currently doing and make a bigger impact. That isn’t a negative, but rather a positive. After all, we are spending time and money to improve ourselves so that we can do more,” Shiva said.

Create an Action Plan

Next, Shiva and his coach came up with an action plan. “We talked about who I should speak with at my company and how to have those conversations, and then we analyzed those discussions,” he said. As a result of his conversations at work, Shiva had the opportunity to help different groups with strategy projects. “My coach helped me navigate this process, which was great for my long-term career growth,” Shiva said.

Build Your EQ

Throughout the program, Shiva discovered the importance of developing emotional intelligence (EQ) as a key leadership skill. “As we move up in our careers, we need more than technical knowledge. We also need to be able to work with people and be part of a team, which is where having a strong EQ comes into play. It’s an easy thing to say you need, but not necessarily easy to have. This coaching program develops your EQ and makes it stronger, which is important because EQ is what separates high-level leaders from mid-level leaders. EQ is something everyone can learn and improve.”

Posted: September 21, 2018

Wharton Stories

Inaugural Moelis Fellows Share Why They Will Be Returning To Wharton For Their MBAs

Image: The Moelis Advance Access Cohort of 2018
From creative writing to agriculture, these five Penn grads in the new Moelis Advance Access Program are using the security of a future Wharton MBA to explore their business passions.
As the class of 2018 prepared for graduation in May, a reception welcomed the first-ever Moelis Advance Access Cohort of 2018, a selective group of undergraduate seniors from various Penn Schools who have secured their spots ahead of time in the Wharton MBA program. The cohort will be venturing into the workforce for the next few years to pursue diverse passions during the deferment period — but before they left, five Fellows shared why they chose the Moelis program and what they most anticipate in the future.

Moelis Advance Access Program

Devesh Dayal

M&T Program

Major
Computer Science, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and Business Analytics; MSE in Computer & Information Science

Current Job
Facebook, Software Engineer

Tech Leadership On Campus
President of Penn Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality, President of Computer Science Society, Exec Board of PennApps, and Course Instructor for credit-bearing lecture CIS 197

Why Moelis
I believe that in order to drive technical innovation, you need to have first-hand experience developing with and studying the state of the art in technology itself. The Moelis Advance Access Program allows me to do exactly that — spend the next few years of my life really getting my hands dirty solving some of the world’s hardest unsolved problems and then bringing that perspective back to the Wharton MBA classroom, when I’m ready to take the next step forward in my career. I am excited to venture deep into new areas in virtual and augmented reality. Looking forward to researching & prototyping, working in unfamiliar environments and collaborating with people from all walks of life to build something the world has never experienced before!

Moelis Advance Access Program
Devesh (right)

Jesse Liu

College of Arts & Sciences

Major
Economics, French & Francophone Studies, and International Relations

Current Job
Associate Consultant, Bain & Company

Entering the Seafood Industry
Goal to improve supply chain transparency in fishing industry and become CEO of family seafood company

Why Moelis
I applied to the Moelis Advance Access Program because I have always seen the power of a Wharton MBA as an undergraduate with a liberal arts background. The program gives me the comfort of knowing that in just a few years, I will be coming to my first-choice business school (in the city that I love!), while gaining access to crucial mentoring and professional development programs during the deferment period. Furthermore, I get the added flexibility to pursue unique dual-degree programs at Penn that other schools do not have to offer. Currently, I am particularly interested in consumer products, and media and entertainment, but knowing that I have been admitted into the Moelis Program, I want to broaden my industry exposure because I know that at Wharton I will be meeting people from a variety of professional backgrounds.

Howard Kaufold
MBA Vice Dean Howard Kaufold speaking to students and families at the reception

Robert Harrison

Wharton School

Major
Finance, Social Impact & Responsibility

Current Job
Teach For America, TFA Corps Member ’18

Passion for Social Impact
Spent a summer in Agona, Ghana as a Business Analyst helping to plan for the building of school

Why Moelis
The Moelis Advance Access Program gave me the opportunity to secure a spot in a world class MBA program while pursuing professional opportunities immediately after graduation. In the next two to four years, I plan on finishing my two years as a TFA Corps Member, and then either working in a school leadership position or joining an educational startup that focuses on educational technology. The Moelis Program’s flexibility gives me enough time to develop professionally, but also gives me the security of bringing my experiences to the Wharton program and taking my education to the next level. The opportunity to join and network cohort of future Wharton students was also attractive to me because I can get to know my future classmates years in advance.

Moelis Advance Access Program

Anissa Lee

College of Arts & Sciences

Major
English

Current Job
Google, Associate Product Marketing Manager

Creative Writing and Business
Explored engineering entrepreneurship coursework while thinking about how a creative writing concentration informs a career in product marketing

Why Moelis
I was instantly intrigued by the Moelis Advance Access Program when I stumbled upon the Wall Street Journal article titled, “Wharton School to Attract Poets to Business.” As an English major at Penn, I loved my liberal arts undergraduate education, but knew I wanted to get an MBA after enjoying the several business internships and courses I did. I am excited to explore the school’s strong alumni and professor network in addition to the in-depth retail and entrepreneurship coursework. Knowing that I have been admitted to the Wharton MBA allows me to take professional risks and pursue creative, unconventional opportunities that arise. I look forward to pushing myself out of my comfort zone, gaining international experience, and learning interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving.

Moelis Advance Access Program
Billy (center left), speaking with Danielle DeShields (center), the director of the Moelis Advance Access Program.

Billy Kacyem

The Huntsman Program

Major
Economics and International Studies

Current Job
J.P. Morgan, Investor Services Analyst

Agriculture in Africa
Interest in starting agribusiness company in home country of Cameroon

Why Moelis
Ever since my sophomore year, I have had the privilege of working with and getting close to Wharton MBA students through the Wharton Africa Business Forum. From students telling me about their various experiences during their Leadership Ventures and the renown Global Immersion Program, to them discussing the strong bonds formed through their cohorts, in-class groups, and numerous organizations, I knew that having the opportunity to continue my business education at Wharton would be a dream come true. When I heard of the new Moelis Advance Access Program, I saw it as a chance to make this dream a reality.I can now devote attention towards honing in on skills which may seem foreign to me and truly developing myself in order to be a more well-rounded asset to the team(s) with which I work.

The Moelis Advance Access Program is designed for highly qualified Penn seniors who aspire to set the stage early for their advanced education and highly successful careers. Attend an information session. 

Posted: September 19, 2018

Wharton Stories

Highlights from an Evening in Beijing with Penn President Amy Gutmann

Image: Penn President Amy Gutmann at the all-alumni event in Beijing on September 7, 2018.
The Penn Wharton China Center welcomed President Amy Gutmann to Beijing, where she discussed the growing connection between Penn, China, and the world.

Read this article in Chinese.

The Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) once again welcomed President Amy Gutmann to China this month. Many alumni, students, faculty members, and partners attended a reception in Beijing on September 7, where Dr. Gutmann presented. Here are some highlights from her speech.

Penn and China: Two Centuries of Collaborative Engagement

I want to give you a vision for Penn and China. This started with and is built on our more than two centuries of collaboration. Penn has enjoyed a truly long and rich history of engagement with China.

According to University records, the very first China-based Penn Alumni Club was started in the late 1800s, and Penn has nurtured many well-known experts in China, including Liang Ssu-ch’eng, the “Father of Modern Chinese Architecture,” and Phyllis Whei-Yin Lin, the first female architect in modern China.

In 1980, Penn and Shanghai Jiao Tong University joined together for educational exchange – a partnership that continues to this day.

Penn in the 21st Century: Bringing China to Penn and Penn to China

As of today, all of Penn’s 12 schools have partnerships and engagements in China, and we currently have more than 20 agreements with more than a dozen Chinese partner institutions. These broad partnerships have benefitted both Chinese institutions as well as Penn students, alumni and faculty.

To further support knowledge sharing and exchanges with China, in 2015, we established the Penn Wharton China Center. This not only represents a milestone in Penn’s two centuries of engagement with China, but the Center is also an important hub through which Penn students and faculty can further grow exchanges with China.

Dr. Gutmann at the all-alumni event in Beijing thanking Penn’s Alumni Clubs in China for their phenomenal levels of engagement
Dr. Gutmann at the all-alumni event in Beijing thanking Penn’s alumni clubs in China for their phenomenal levels of engagement.

As of Fall 2017, the Penn campus was home to 1,916 undergraduate and graduate students who are citizens of China, accounting for nearly one third of all international students. China has contributed the largest number of students to Penn outside of the United States, and China is one of the top five destination countries for Penn graduates. All of Penn’s 12 schools have at least one partnership with a Chinese institution or have China-focused activities underway.

Penn Compact: Grow Inclusion, Spark Innovation, and Accelerate Impact

Growing Inclusion

At Penn, our approach and commitment to inclusion equalizes opportunity and enriches the experience of all members of Penn’s community.

Inclusion is exceptionally important as it allows us to bring the best and the brightest to Penn. There are disruptions in the world, which makes our mission as a U.S. university with a global perspective of bringing people together even more important.

Since becoming president in 2004, Penn has significantly improved diversity within the undergraduate student body, with steady growth in underrepresented minority enrollment and growth in international student representation, particularly among students from China.

Penn has also taken huge strides in enabling students from all walks of life to join and enrich the Penn community through our extensive financial aid program. Financial aid plays a key role in supporting diversity and we are extremely proud to have financially enabled a significant proportion of the student population since our all-grant program launched in 2008.

This means that, on average, one-quarter of first-year students are either First Gen or from low-income families and Penn has met all demonstrated need with grants. We understand the financial burden that university studies place on families and students and are proud that more than half of Penn students graduate with no debt whatsoever.

We are so pleased to financially support students — this results in a huge ripple effect for students, their families, and society.

Spark Innovation

At Penn, innovation is much more than traditional patenting and technology transfer. It is about intersecting creative thinking with deep understanding to bring about better approaches to solving the challenges of the world.

Importantly, it is about creating an innovation ecosystem that fosters a fluid exchange of ideas and expertise across a broad spectrum of new and established knowledge. Penn’s world-renowned multidisciplinary professorships are unique in higher education and Penn remains the destination for interdisciplinary inquiry with 12 schools on a single, continuous campus.

To help drive innovation, we launched the Penn Center for Innovation, which fast-tracks Penn technologies to meet social and environmental needs, and the Pennovation Center, which serves as a flagship business incubator and laboratory where researchers, entrepreneurs, and industry partners collaborate to solve pressing real-world problems.

To date, 40 undergraduate-founded startup companies are associated with the Penn Center for Innovation, and undergraduate students remain core to Penn’s interdisciplinarity and innovation, with 71% of our students pursuing interdisciplinary studies.

Accelerate Impact

All over the world, Penn students, alumni, and partners continue to change the world through research and collaboration.

Through the President’s Engagement & Innovation Prizes, Penn graduates have had a significant impact in Chicago, Mexico, India, China and around the world.

Meanwhile, at the 2018 Silfen Forum, Penn faculty and invited guests tackled the pressing global issues of refugees and immigration, while in early 2018, we launched the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C., to advance the much-needed dialogue on globalization and to engage a new generation.

In Asia, Penn’s impact continues to grow. Since 1990, we have seen a huge increase in Penn students from Asia and as of spring 2018, we now have 15,200 Penn alumni living in Asia of which 3,466 live in China. Our faculty presence has also grown with hundreds of Penn faculty actively working in Asia and many University or school-based programs in Asia, while annually Penn commits $35 million for Asia-based sponsored research.

To conclude, while the world may change, Penn’s commitment to global engagement and world-class academic pre-eminence is as stead fast as ever, and we are even more excited about our future here as we expand and enhance our initiatives. I would like to thank you all for your continued support as we work toward delivering the Power of Penn and to advancing knowledge for good for future generations to come.

This story was adapted from an article that was originally shared on WeChat. Connect to PWCC’s WeChat account by scanning the QR code below.

PWCC WeChat QR code

Posted: September 14, 2018

Wharton Stories

These Three EMBA Alumnae Founded a Startup to Rewrite Gender Stereotypes — and Children’s Classics

Image: (From left) Kali Bhandari, WG’18, Camila Noordeloos, WG’18, and Autumn Huiatt, WG’18, at Wharton San Francisco. Photography credit: Sarah Swanson of SJ Life Photography,
How Wharton’s EMBA Program helped Kali Bhandari, WG’18, Camila Noordeloos, WG’18, and Autumn Huiatt, WG’18, launch a venture dedicated to solving gender inequality.

Imaginare Studios began with a question: Why aren’t women as represented as men in C-suites, boards, and STEM fields? Working together in an elective called Implementation of Ventures, Kali Bhandari, WG’18, Camila Noordeloos, WG’18, and Autumn Huiatt, WG’18, decided to use this question as the basis for their class project.

The question was framed because of their own experience as women. Kali grew up in the Middle East, where she says that “girls are almost automatically taught to be more risk-conservative and to be less aggressive, which results in this underrepresentation.”

Camila grew up in Brazil, where the Brazilian Academy of Science is comprised of only 14 percent women. And Autumn, who grew up in the U.S., noted that women hold fewer than a quarter of senior executive titles in this country and less than 10 percent of venture-backed companies have a female founder in San Francisco.

“We asked ourselves, ‘When do girls lose confidence and how can we change that?’” said Kali.

In their class project, they began seeking feedback from potential customers and developing a pitch for a business targeted at gender confidence. They sent out surveys to classmates, friends, and family.

“We were excited by the support we received, especially from women classmates and alumnae who wanted to make sure their daughters grow up with confidence. We had great feedback and advice on how to proceed,” said Camila.

The next step was to come up with a name for their venture. Their first idea was to call it Imagine A Girl. However, in class they learned the importance of picking a name that would not limit the venture’s future vision. While they intended to start out with a focus on the gender confidence gap, they knew their interest could expand to other social issues. So, the name of the venture became Imaginare Studios.

Not Your Traditional Story

When the class ended, they thought about putting things on pause until graduation – but quickly changed their minds. Kali explained, “We knew we needed to take advantage of the momentum we had created during the class, the resources we had around us at school, and the network we had with our classmates who served as crucial sources of ideas, feedback, and support.”

Moving forward, they started to develop a minimum viable product – a concept they learned in the course. “We wanted a way to test our idea quickly and cheaply to get customer feedback. We thought the best way to do that would be with a book,” said Camila.

Autumn Huiatt, WG’18, Camila Noordeloos, WG’18, and Kali Bhandari, WG’18
Using the Cinderella story as inspiration, Kali came up with a story concept where Cinderella solves her own problems – without a prince.

After drafting the story, the classmates sent it out to their Wharton network to get feedback. “It was a huge challenge because we did everything from scratch, but we talked to other illustrators and authors as well as publishers to get tips,” said Camila.

The Wharton network was extremely helpful in this process. They talked to a teaching assistant who worked in the publishing industry, an attorney classmate who walked them through the issues associated with revising a well-known story, a classmate’s friend who is a children’s author, and investors from Sand Hill Angels who were guest speakers in the elective.

In the process of conducting research, Autumn connected with a Penn alumna who has written about raising confident daughters. They also talked with faculty in other departments at Penn, particularly experts in psychology and child development.

As they took more electives in their second year, they applied what they learned to the startup. In Innovation, Change & Entrepreneurship, they learned how to avoid problems with cofounders and avoid common startup mistakes. In Strategic Brand Management, they learned how to define demographics and evaluate their brand, and in Venture Capital and Entrepreneurial Management, they learned about the legal and business formation aspects to forming a venture.

Now, the alumnae have published their first book, Cinderella: Revised Classics for Modern Children, and are focusing on the core business. “We are growing awareness of the product, collecting feedback, and planning our next book,” said Camila, noting that future products may involve videos and other types of media.

“This venture wouldn’t have been possible without Wharton. We met in the program, developed the idea in class, and took advantage of the resources and network, which were invaluable. We’re excited to take this venture to the next step and beyond,” said Autumn.

— Meghan Laska

Posted: September 13, 2018

Wharton Stories

How a Personal Journey to Nutritional Balance Led This MBA to the Food Industry

Gayatri Karandikar, WG’19, spent a summer at PepsiCo as a global strategy intern, reflecting on oats, healthy food innovation, and cultural awareness as she combines her passion for nutrition with global business knowledge.

Gayatri Karandikar, WG’19, was eager to adopt a healthier lifestyle when she left her hometown of Hong Kong to attend university in California. Healthy food and nutritional balance became a part of her daily routine, and as a full-time management consultant, she prepared healthy snacks for her weekly flights. When Gayatri wanted to integrate her personal and professional passions, she turned to the Wharton MBA program to gain a strategic business education and exposure to the packaged healthy food industry.

Since every person defines health differently, Gayatri believes that a successful formula of food science research, consumer education, and product innovation  what she calls the “three legs” that build the foundation of a nutritious product — can connect consumers to foods that work for both their taste buds and their bodies.

Now, she’s incorporating nutrition into her curriculum. Last semester, she consulted a local food startup for an Innovation and Product Design course, and this semester, she will be creating a healthy food product campaign in Entrepreneurial Marketing. By accessing electives at other Penn schools, Gayatri was the only MBA in Nursing 112, “Nutrition Science and Application,” where she deepened her prior understanding of the field and learned how to optimize her own diet.

“Healthy food innovation, if I’m being truly inclusive, means showing people that they don’t have to compromise flavor in order to be healthy,” Gayatri said. “For me, that means simple ingredients and no added or artificial sweeteners. But that’s my personal definition.”

Intersecting Lessons

Last fall, Gayatri represented Wharton in PepsiCo’s 2017 Invitational Marketing and Finance Case Competition, collaborating on a snack and beverage business innovation idea with students from other B-schools. She then pursued a global strategy internship at PepsiCo, and spent the past few months with the nutrition team examining ways to grow Quaker Oats in global markets, where oats are not a part of the local breakfast culture.

While her consulting skills came in useful in crafting compelling stories and financial models, lessons from her business classes were an important supplement.

“My Wharton education was pretty invaluable,” Gayatri said. Her core macroeconomics course, for example, proved indispensable during her summer internship. “The amount of time we spent talking about macroeconomic food consumption trends, oat production vs. actual consumption, import vs. export and how that guides the market entry strategy — I didn’t think I’d be using macro in real life, but here, it was so relevant.”

Gayatri once considered becoming a nutritionist, before realizing she loves the business side of nutrition as much as she does delving into scientific research papers. In addition to thinking about products, branding, and marketing, she’s particularly invested in women’s health and making nutrition more accessible.

Empathy Through Cultural Awareness

Born in Wisconsin to parents from Pune, India, Gayatri spent part of her childhood living on the container ship where her father worked as a merchant navy captain, before her family relocated to Hong Kong. She identifies as a “third culture kid” and finds the experience has made it easier for her to empathize with the global consumer and their divergent needs.

“My family has always done the big American breakfast, but I recognized growing up in Hong Kong that we don’t eat oatmeal for breakfast there. Congee is the closest equivalent,” she explained. “In India, we don’t do oatmeal for breakfast either. There’s something similar called ‘dalia,’ but it’s not made of oats. So how do you enter a market and get traction where the ritual or the culture is very different to the product you offer?”

Gayatri draws on her personal background to bring cultural awareness to her work, but her interest in bridging different perspectives extends to her extracurriculars. In Dance Studio, for example, she nurtures a passion for dancing that came from loving Bollywood and engaging with her Indian heritage.

As a Diversity Admissions Fellow, Communications Fellow, and Leadership Fellow, Gayatri is also dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion on campus, keeping the Wharton community a welcoming place for all kinds of students. She’s happy to have had the opportunity to lead pre-term for first-year MBAs, serving as a teaching assistant for Prof. Adam Grant’s teamwork and leadership course through the McNulty Leadership Program.

“I believe in bringing your whole self to everything,” Gayatri said. “I always strive to create a safe space for people to do that, whether that’s through the teams I build or through the products or strategies that I deliver.”

Gloria Yuen

Posted:

Wharton Stories

Wharton Research Data Services Makes Big Data Digestible

The award-winning WRDS platform continues to expand its offerings, deepening researcher engagement and expanding resources for students and instructors around the world.

On Sunday, August 19, Classroom by WRDS was introduced to invited scholars from China-based institutions as part of the inaugural WRDS Advanced Research Scholar Program, a six-day series of sessions on Wharton’s campus exploring big data led by the WRDS doctoral-level research directors, Wharton faculty, and guest presenters. The program was designed for scholars who are interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of empirical research practices and insight into the latest innovations in academic research.

A wide range of topics were presented during the sessions, including advanced research trends, analytics, and presentations from Best Paper Award winners. During the Sunday session, Mukund Rao, financial solutions architect on the WRDS Advanced Initiatives team, reviewed their ongoing process to democratize data use cases, and how those fit into their university’s classroom.

The inaugural class of invited scholars from China-based institutions who participated in the WRDS Advanced Research Scholar Program.
The inaugural class of invited scholars from China-based institutions who participated in the WRDS Advanced Research Scholar Program.

WRDS is a globally recognized data research platform with more than 50,000 commercial, academic, and government users across 35+ countries. Among the thousands of users are faculty and PhD students from institutions who, through WRDS, have access to leading and specialized databases, including S&P Global Market Intelligence, CRSP, NYSE, and Thomson Reuters.

Classroom by WRDS launched in the summer of 2016 with the goal of helping faculty introduce finance and business concepts. It started by offering a few basic tools in the investments and accounting spaces. By the end of this year, 50 different tools will be accessible through the WRDS website, ranging from how-to’s on using the service, to simplified queries for learning, to interactive apps and simulations — including resource, OTIS, Wharton’s Online Trading and Investment Simulator.

Simplifying the Teaching Process

WRDS classroom tools offer both longer-term engagement (OTIS) as well as stand-alone lessons with teaching notes and slide decks that can help instructors erase the hassle of crafting teaching aids themselves.

The WRDS team created three interactive web applications with John B. Neff Professor of Finance Donald Keim to integrate into his Wharton investment lectures. “I worked very closely with Don to replace spreadsheets he was showing in class,” Rao said.

WRDS users download teaching tools from the site, with accounting and investments, macroeconomics, and text analysis being the most popular. To make their data more classroom-friendly, the initiative has developed tools that simplify complex research queries while still keeping numbers authentic.

The Linking Financial Statements tool is one example. “For students that are just getting a sense for what is a balance sheet, what is a statement of cash flows, what is an income statement — there might be a tendency to learn about what they are in isolation,” Rao said. “The Linking Financial Statements teaching tool walks the student through an exercise where they download 10-K data for a particular company, [and] helps link the values in each of the statements.”

Learning with Real World Data

For more active student engagement, there is OTIS, a simulator created by Marshall E. Blume, the Howard Butcher III Professor Emeritus of Financial Management at Wharton, that runs on real-time market data and fosters healthy competition through financial portfolio rankings. A part of the WRDS subscription, OTIS has also been serving as a foundation for the global Knowledge@Wharton High School Investment Competition.

According to Rao, it’s useful in the classroom as more than just a stock market simulator.

“What it actually is, is an asset trading and portfolio management simulator,” he explained. “In addition to U.S. and international stocks, you can trade mutual funds, you can trade ETFs. On the fixed income side, you can trade U.S. treasuries and municipal bonds. You can trade options, you can trade futures, and you can trade options on futures.”

Chinese instructors, for example, can have their students trade in the Shenzhen or Shanghai exchanges, and choose to turn off options like short selling and margin trading to restrict what their students can do. In the new version of OTIS to be released next year, trading will be instantaneous.

“We like to engage with both the students and instructors. It’s very helpful for us to get feedback,” said Rao, who encouraged instructors to reach out to WRDS with suggestions and concerns. “That doesn’t just apply to OTIS — that applies to the whole classroom initiative.” New tools for bonds and fixed income, marketing, and corporate finance, he added, are currently in progress.

— Gloria Yuen

Posted: September 11, 2018

Wharton Stories

How Wharton Is Helping This Orthopedic Surgeon Explore New Career Paths

Dr. Michael Milne, WG’19, is using EMBA classes and resources to move into the next phase of his career.

Since graduating from medical school, Dr. Michael Milne has built an impressive career as an orthopedic surgeon in St. Louis, MO. A former head team physician for the St. Louis Cardinals, Michael formed his own practice in 2013, later launching an MRI business, surgery centers, and a management and billing company. Although an MBA wasn’t required for his practice, earning one was a lifelong dream and he knew it would help him run his businesses better.

Michael also had one more motivation to get an MBA. He was considering a relocation and career change. He explained, “I wanted to figure out what mountain to climb next. I came here explore the business of health care and immerse myself in the Bay Area ecosystem of entrepreneurship and technology. I believe that when the technology people are done disrupting fintech, they will go after health care and there will be a need for physician leadership to help with those changes.”

Now a second-year student and almost 50, Michael has achieved part of his goal by relocating his family. He still manages his business entities in Missouri, but he and his wife and five children call Jackson, WY, home. “In this new area, I’m looking into medical entrepreneurship and the health care side of private equity. I was recently invited to serve on my first health care company board of directors, which is exciting.”

Michael is taking advantage of several resources at Wharton to determine the next phase of his career:

Career Coaching

Michael is working with Career Director Steve Hernandez, who provides EMBA students with one-on-one coaching on the San Francisco campus. “I came to Wharton with a 15-page physician resume, and Steve is helping me revise that into a business-oriented resume. He has a breadth of experience working with physicians and is helping me identify possible career paths that would be a good fit with my experience,” said Michael, who has attended many of Steve’s career workshops and events.

Executive Coaching and Feedback Program (ECFP)

The ECFP is run by Wharton’s McNulty Leadership Program and offers support for every MBA student in the pursuit of deeper self-awareness and improved leadership skills. “As a founder and CEO of my businesses, it’s challenging to get honest feedback, so this is a chance to learn a lot about myself as a leader that I would never get outside of this program,” he said.

Entrepreneurship Club and Speaker Series

This student club organizes frequent speakers as well as opportunities for students to invest in each other’s startups. “It’s interesting to hear founders talk about their experiences building businesses. They are helping me to explore my interests and think about what works and what doesn’t. It’s also encouraging to see that not all entrepreneurs are younger. In fact, many of the successful ones are my age,” he said.

Classes

As a second-year student, Michael can choose from a large number of electives. He explained, “I’m taking several classes that will help me in this next phase of my career like Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Taxation, and Leadership.”

Faculty and Students

“I’m bouncing ideas off faculty and students all the time. The faculty are very approachable and I can talk to them about how to pursue my goals and my current businesses. They have meals with us and often come to the Wharton Pub in the evenings – that residential aspect of the program is great because it provides time for everyone to get to know each other and connect,” he said.

The Wharton Brand

“I’ve had a few meetings with private equity firms and I am 100% sure that I was able to get those meetings because of the Wharton name. This program gets you a foot in the door.”

While Michael hasn’t decided which mountain he wants to climb next, he says that Wharton is helping with this transition. “This program helps you disrupt the status quo and gives you the credentials to make a change. For me, this is a stepping off point to transition out of clinical practice and move into a different phase of my career,” he said.

— Meghan Laska

Posted: September 6, 2018

Wharton Stories

How This Kleinman Birol Fellow Spent Her Summer Working for the International Energy Agency

Khushboo Goel, WG’19, channeled her knowledge in clean energy to uncover decarbonization strategies in the U.S. and India.

When Wharton MBA student Khushboo Goel, WG’19, received two competing summer offers — one at the United Nations and the other at the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris — the decision was “surprisingly easy,” she said.

“This is an opportunity you don’t get often. The opportunity to access all of the top knowledge in world energy. The opportunity to work with people from around the world. The opportunity to learn and work on something you are interested in — while at the same time coming home with an international publication,” Khushboo said.

“While I knew that I wanted to work in an intergovernmental organization, the IEA fellowship also offered specific experience in the field of energy,” she said. “And this is where I wanted my career to go.”

As this year’s Kleinman Birol Fellow, Khushboo spent her summer researching deep decarbonization strategies in India and the United States. This research will culminate in an insight paper that will be published on the IEA website.

Established in 2016 by the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, this fellowship enables graduate students to spend the summer working on energy policy-related issues at the IEA.

Khushboo became interested in energy while working at a large consulting firm in India. She worked on an array of projects, but particularly enjoyed the public sector and all things energy. She worked on a port development project focused on optimizing operations at India’s twelve major ports. Later, she worked on identifying and developing the bilateral trade strategy focused on energy investments between India and Spain.

“I picked this project because I’m invested in what’s happening in India and the U.S. And I see myself working in one of these countries.” Khushboo is originally from Delhi and is currently president of the Wharton India Economic Forum.

Getting Connected to the Global Energy Network

With a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Delhi University and a wealth of work experience, Khushboo entered Wharton’s MBA program. Her interest in energy continued at Wharton, where she served as the team leader on a project in Kenya to help women in clean energy. She also worked on a school project with the Philadelphia Energy Authority, to help develop financial instruments for attracting funding for the city’s distributed solar program.

This summer at the IEA, Khushboo was assigned to the gas, coal, and power team. Because of the cross-disciplinary nature of her research, she interfaced with other teams, including those in technology, renewables, and energy efficiency.

Khushboo said her experience at the IEA has been “above and beyond” what she hoped for. Unlike a typical internship, Kleinman Birol fellows get to select and design their own projects, she explained. Because of this, she is connected to internal experts who mentor and direct her.

Kleinman Birol Fellow Khushboo Goel, WG'19, with Vinay Mohan Kwatra, the Indian Ambassador to France
Kleinman Birol Fellow Khushboo Goel, WG’19, with Vinay Mohan Kwatra, the Indian Ambassador to France

And these types of connections go beyond the walls of the IEA. Recently, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol arranged a meeting to introduce Khushboo to India’s ambassador to France. She was able to personally share her research with the ambassador — one of the highlights of her summer experience.

— This story was adapted from an article that originally appeared on the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy website. 

Posted: September 5, 2018

Wharton Stories

Introducing Finance and Business Classroom Tools by Wharton Research Data Services

The award-winning platform is diversifying its toolkit of supplements and simulations, deepening student engagement and expanding resources for instructors around the world.

On Sunday, August 19, classroom tools designed by Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) were introduced to China-based scholars as part of the very first WRDS Advanced Research Scholar Program, a six-day series of sessions exploring big data potential led by the platform’s research directors and other Wharton faculty and guest presenters. During the Sunday session, Mukund Rao, financial solutions architect on the WRDS Advanced Initiatives team, reviewed their ongoing process to democratize data use cases, and how those fit into the Chinese classroom.

WRDS is a globally-recognized data research platform with more than 50,000 commercial, academic, government, and nonprofit users. Among them are course instructors from hundreds of institutions who, through WRDS, have benefited from access to major databases like S&P Capital IQ, CRSP, NYSE, Thomson Reuters, Bureau van Dijk, Global Insight, and OptionMetrics.

The Classroom by WRDS toolkit launched in the summer of 2016 with the goal of helping teaching faculty. It started by offering a few basic tools in the investments and accounting spaces. By the end of this year, almost 50 different tools will be available on the website, ranging from how-to’s on using the service, to simplified queries for learning, to interactive apps and simulations — including adopted resource OTIS, Wharton’s Online Trading and Investment Simulator.

Simplifying the Teaching Process

WRDS classroom tools offer both longer-term engagement (like OTIS) as well as shorter-term (like slide decks) that can help instructors erase the hassle of crafting teaching aids themselves.

The WRDS team created three interactive web applications with John B. Neff Professor of Finance Donald Keim to integrate into his Wharton investment lectures. “I worked very closely with Don to replace spreadsheets he was showing in class and replace having to go to the whiteboard to make drawings,” Rao said.

WRDS users have downloaded teaching data from the site over 20,000 times to date, with tools for accounting and investments, macroeconomics, and text analysis being the most popular. To make their data more classroom-friendly, the initiative has developed tools that simplify complex research queries while still keeping numbers authentic.

The Linking Financial Statements tool is one example. “For students that are just getting a sense for what is a balance sheet, what is a statement of cash flows, what is an income statement — there might be a tendency to learn about what they are in isolation,” Rao said. “The Linking Financial Statements teaching tool walks the student through an exercise where they download 10-K data for a particular company, [and] helps link the values in each of the statements.”

Learning with Real World Data

For more active student engagement, there is OTIS, a simulator created by Marshall E. Blume, the Howard Butcher III Professor Emeritus of Financial Management at Wharton, that runs on real-time market data and fosters healthy competition through financial portfolio rankings. While OTIS has been serving as a foundation for the global Knowledge@Wharton High School Investment Competition, the service is now available free of charge to any instructors who are WRDS customers.

According to Rao, it’s useful in the classroom as more than just a stock market simulator.

“What it actually is, is an asset trading and portfolio management simulator,” he explained. “In addition to U.S. and international stocks, you can trade mutual funds, you can trade ETFs. On the fixed income side, you can trade U.S. treasuries and municipal bonds. You can trade options, you can trade futures, and you can trade options on futures.”

Wharton Research Data Services

Chinese instructors, for example, can have their students trade in the Shenzhen or Shanghai exchanges, and choose to turn off options like short selling and margin trading to restrict what their students can do. In the new version of OTIS to be released next year, trading will be instantaneous.

“We like to engage with both the students and instructors. It’s very helpful for us to get feedback,” said Rao, who encouraged instructors to reach out to WRDS with suggestions and concerns. “That doesn’t just apply to OTIS — that applies to the whole classroom initiative.” New tools for bonds and fixed income, marketing, and corporate finance, he added, are currently in progress.

Posted: September 4, 2018

Wharton Stories

Why These Students Say the Value of Wharton’s EMBA Program Starts in Week One

Five new EMBA students share the highlights, takeaways, and their biggest concerns and surprises from their Orientation Week in Philadelphia.

Dr. Ibrahim (Pete) Hanna, WG’20, describes Orientation Week in Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives as “a perfect orchestration of serious learning, community building, excitement, networking, and fun activities.”

This first introduction to the EMBA program combines both the East and West Coast cohorts and occurs on the Philadelphia campus. Students dive right into their required coursework, moving full speed ahead with accounting, economics, and management.

“You hit the ground running and you don’t stop. But you look around, and see that everyone is running with you, supporting one another and enjoying every minute. I knew that I was in for an amazing two years,” he said.

We asked Pete and several of his classmates to tell us more about Orientation Week. Here is what they said:

Dr. Ibrahim (Pete) Hanna, WG’20

Pete Hanna

Campus
Philadelphia

Current Job
Chairman of Surgery, Bon Secours Hospital and SABA University

Current Location
Baltimore, MD

Prior Education
Damascus University (Syria), MD; Marshall University, General Surgical Residency Program

Overview of the Week

“After the first day, classes start full throttle. In between classes, we were introduced to team building programs that addressed our diversity and helped us get to know each other. We also had speakers come in to talk about time management. They gave us every possible tool needed to support us. In the evenings, we had group dinners and social activities.”

Highlight of the Week

“The most exciting day was when we went to the stadium to build bikes for underprivileged kids. Some of us were even brave enough to race on the bikes while others cheered.”

EMBA bike build
Pete Hanna, WG’20, (front right) with his learning teammates after a successful bike build.
Biggest Concern

“As a physician who has been out of school for almost 20 years, I was concerned about the difference between me and my classmates. By the end of the first day, I realized that everybody is going to be supportive and that was no longer a concern. My classmates are awesome.”

Takeaway

“I’m looking forward to the next two years, which I know will be intense, but fun. It’s not an easy decision to go back to school, but after that week I could say with confidence that I made the right decision.”

Laura Parke, WG’20

Laura Parke
Campus
San Francisco

Current Job
Senior Merchant, Sephora

Current Location
San Francisco, CA

Prior Education
Duke University, BA in Psychology and Economics

Highlight of the Week

The degree to which we all opened up to each other. I knew we would have academic rigor and the excitement of meeting new people, but I didn’t expect how much I would be emotionally and intellectually challenged. We all come from different experiences and backgrounds, and we opened up to self-evaluate and adopt a macro-view of what we are doing in life and what we want to achieve both professionally and personally — that brought us together on a rewarding level that I did not anticipate.

Biggest Surprise

The fascinating range of conversation topics, particularly during the down times — those moments where you go from talking about morning workouts to flying cars and global strategy. The richness and diversity of conversations was great. Orientation was a jam-packed experience with classes, team building and bonding time. I felt like I hit the reset button in life.

Biggest Concern

At a basic level, I wondered if we would all really like each other. But before I even boarded the plane for Philadelphia, I found classmates at the airport and started to make friends. By the end of the week, we had bonded over a shared experience and those relationships continue to grow. I also was concerned about the time commitment and how to complete the work, but sharing this experience with my classmates makes the world of difference. The support of classmates makes it doable.

Takeaway

At the end of the week, I had never felt more exhausted, but also energized. I went home thinking what an amazing journey this will be and lucky to be surrounded by inspiring faculty and classmates. I’m excited to see who I will be when I graduate from this program.

Eric Roe, WG’20

Eric Roe

Campus
San Francisco

Current Job
Program Manager, Geostrategy, Microsoft

Prior Job
Submarine Warfare Officer, U.S. Navy

Current Location
Redmond, WA

Prior Education
U.S. Naval Academy, B.S. Physics; Naval Postgraduate School, Master’s Engineering Acoustics

Overview of the Week

“I saw that this is the full Wharton MBA in an executive format. We covered a lot of ground in a short period of time. I also saw that almost every minute of our schedule would be full, which means that the more school work you can get done ahead of time, the more time you can devote to engaging with classmates.”

Highlight of the Week

“Getting to know my study team and classmates was a highlight. Through team building sessions, you start to talk about why you’re here. I saw that my classmates are committed to learning, and we will learn a lot from each other.”

Eric Roe, WG'20, (center) with his learning team.
Eric Roe, WG’20, (center) with his learning team.
Biggest Concern

“I was slightly skeptical coming in about the diversity. I thought the students in San Francisco would all be from technology backgrounds, but that was proven wrong. There is real diversity among the students and getting to know their backgrounds has been of the biggest values so far in terms of expanding my network.”

Takeaway

“Coming out of that week, I was confident that I had made the right choice. And in the weeks since Orientation, I have been able to apply what I’m learning at work. I’m already adding more value at work because of this program and it’s only just begun.”

Christine Hwong, WG’20

Christine Hwong2

Campus
Philadelphia

Current Job
Principal, Apollo Global Management

Current Location
Houston, TX

Prior Education
Rice University, B.S. Mathematical Economic Analysis

Overview of the Week

“Orientation Week truly provided a snapshot of what our next two years at Wharton would be like: boundless opportunities to learn new topics from professors, to refresh ourselves on subject matters learned in college but not applied in our current occupations, and to adapt new perspectives from fellow classmates. You realize immediately that your experience at Wharton will be challenging given the schedule of coursework, but will also be rewarding given the diversity and the varied experiences of your classmates.”

Highlight of the Week

“The highlight of the week was meeting my classmates, who were not only as excited as I was to start exchanging ideas, but who also brought a wide array of knowledge and experience. Upon being assigned learning groups, immediate synergies began to form. It has also been helpful and empowering to establish a network of like-minded individuals early in the program, who are dealing with the same challenges as you.”

Christine Hwong, WG’20, (front center) with members of her learning team.
Biggest Surprise

“I was pleasantly surprised at the level of support from the program directors and faculty members. The program is thoughtfully structured with students in mind. The coursework is rigorous to provide a full learning experience, but with enough flexibility for working professionals.”

Takeaway

“Orientation Week was a well-organized, introductory boot camp for students. In addition to providing a re-introduction for full-time professionals to school, it also helped us begin to build bonds with fellow classmates, who will not only be our teammates, but also our support system over the next two years.”

Prashanthi Sudhakar, WG’20

Prashanthi Sudhakar

Campus
San Francisco

Current Job
Senior Manager of Innovation and Business Incubation, Schneider Electric

Current Location
San Francisco

Prior Education
R.V. College of Engineering (Bangalore), B.E. Electrical and Electronics Engineering

Highlight of the Week

“The team building sessions helped us let our guards down to talk about our journey and why we are here. You start forming bonds when you realize how diverse everyone is, but that you share the same reasons for being in this program. We are all here to improve ourselves. After that, you open the floodgates to start building relationships and learning together.”

Biggest Surprise

“I had heard that Wharton’s curriculum is very quant heavy, so I thought most students would be from quant backgrounds. There is a lot of application of math in the classes, but my classmates come from a broad range of backgrounds. We have people from healthcare, the military, finance, marketing, and more. You can learn a lot about other industries that help you get out of your own silos.”

Biggest Concern

“I knew this would be a lot of work, but at Orientation the reality hits you. It feels like you are thrown into the deep end of the pool and have to figure out how to swim – or in this case you have to figure out time management. But you look around and see that everyone is juggling a lot. We are in this together and will support each other.”

Takeaway

“You arrive with apprehension and excitement and leave knowing that this program is going to be worth the time and effort. I learned a lot in that first week of classes and started building relationships with classmates.”

— Meghan Laska

Posted:

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