Students tour Santana Row in San Jose, California with GW Alumnus Jeff Berkes, Executive Vice President of Federal Realty Investment Trust.

Left to right:  Landon, Steven, David, Sonali, and Jake meet with Jeff Berkes.

Left to right: Landon, Steven, David, Sonali, and Jake meet with Jeff Berkes.

A bit overdue in posting – Career Trek Coordinator Catherine Lee works with the 21 students to organize the Trek’s activities for the next two days.

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Left to right: Anu, Alex, Catherine, Robert.

Left to right: Anu, Alex, Catherine, Robert.

On a short break between visits on Wednesday afternoon, first year MBA students Gian Piero and Anand enjoy a
bit of San Francisco culture in Yerba Buena Gardens.

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Our first day of the Career Trek was pretty busy.  We met at 7:30AM and didn’t stop until nearly midnight.  As a nice treat and opportunity to network, students met local San Francisco GW alumni from the Schools of Law, Arts and Sciences, and Business at the annual Student-Alumni Mixer at the W Hotel.

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Andy Ludwig, Co-President of the GWSB Net Impact Club, put together a panel of three experts in sustainable business Friday morning, March 6th at the Americania Best Western.

First year MBA students (left to right), Anand, David, Artur, and Sean.

First year MBA students (left to right), Anand, David, Artur, and Sean.

Munching on organic whole-oat cereal and fresh, organic breakfast calzones, 21 students assembled to learn from Samra Haider of REDF, Mike Hannigan CEO of Give Something Back, and the Vice President of Natural Logic.

Mike Hannigan, CEO of Give Something Back

Mike Hannigan, CEO of Give Something Back

Students discussed the rise of sustainable business, the role of business curriculum and training, metrics in measuring the effectiveness of social programs, triple bottom line accounting, and the culture of green business.

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Samra Haider of REDF

Samra Haider of REDF

First year MBA student Alexandra Chaikin asking a question to Natural Logic.

First year MBA student Alexandra Chaikin asking a question to Natural Logic.

I just attended my last alumni event of the week – lunch at Plouf with Business Researchers’ founder and Principal, John Wallace. We discussed data mining and analytics over mussels and frittes – not your typical lunch combination! John, abr quick talking data guy and accidental entrepreneur, spoke passionately about what it takes to build a successful brand in business consulting: your reputation is your most valuable asset; get your boss/client a job promotion and you will grow organically. John’s message was typical of what I received from each of the alums I met this week. The business world is in need of ethical leaders, with both hard and soft skill sets, who think systematically rather than just functionally.

What stuck out of the conversation with John, and one that I had earlier on the trek with Keith Patterson – a management consultant at Kaiser Permanente – was their emphasis on hard skills. The reoccuring theme was that learning about management and entrepreneurship, in general, may not provide you with a skill to fall back on, particularly in tough economic times.

Mark, Anu, Artur meeting with Keith Patterson of Kaiser Permanente

Mark, Anu, Artur meeting with Keith Patterson of Kaiser Permanente

The hard skill can set you apart from the crowd. Both John and Keith started their career progression by using a hard skill they learned at GW to solve a complex problem for a coworker. These solutions built their reputations as problem solvers and were the catalysts for their success. With that, I’m ready to get back to DC and tear into some quant…

Mark Schmidt

Readers, it’s been a while since  I posted… us Trekkers have been going non-stop!   While it’s Friday morning out here on the West Coast, I’d like to revisit some interesting moments from one team’s dinner with Neil Baquiran, Business Manager of Health & wmlogoWellness (Pharmacy, Optical & Clinics) at Walmart.com.

Six students met Neil at the Osha Thai Restaurant  – a mix of first year and second year Global MBA and part time Professional MBA students – Anand Vora, Sean Skulley, Morgan Ann Richard, Sonali Roy, Robert Joppa, and Catherine Lee.  Neil and his wife, Aileen Baquiran of Jazz Pharmaceuticals who previously worked with Johnson and Johnson, also joined us.    Neil shared with us his passion for working at Walmart.com, the rewarding challenges of his work, and the cross functional nature of his projects.  With health care and generic drugs at the top of the Obama Administration’s “to do” list, Walmart.com aims to rise in market share to become the most competitive online pharmaceutical outlet.  Needless to say, Neil’s industry is topical, relevant, and very interesting.

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Seated around a large cedar rectangular table, Neil kicked it off by asking each student to talk a little bit about themselves.  Anand, a first year MBA and international student from India with a background in electrical engineering and marketing, was the first MBA student to introduce himself.   Next, Neil heard from Sean – another first year MBA student with a significant background in environmental consulting.  Robert, a second year MBA student then spoke about his background at the Peace Corps and Department of Energy, and his professional goals in alternative wind energy.  Sonali was one of two part-time MBA students, already having earend a Masters in Tourism Administration with major experience at the Ritz Carlton and Mandarin Oriental, and also a 2006 San Francisco Career Trekker.  We then met our second part timer, Morgan – a professional with seven years of experience at EDS, newly acquired by Hewlett Packard, now working on business development.  Finally, Catherine introduced herself – the Chief Coordinator of the Career Trek with six years of federal government experience in foreign policy and defense.

Our 1.5 hour dinner led us to a variety of topics – from H1B Visas, to the “bullishness” of California’s biotech and clean tech industries, to Neil’s personal tips on how to become a successful manager. dscn1110

1 – Figure out your “brand” so you can distinguish yourself from others MBA students. What’s your niche, your specialty, your passion?

2 – Brand yourself well where people notice you.

3 – Take the hardest classes possible during your MBA program – finance, modeling, economics, decision sciences.

4 – Take human dynamics and understand networking, cultural fit, and emotional intelligence.

5 – Don’t be afraid to speak up.

Our students walked away from the dinner meeting considering and discussing Neil’s points.  We appreciated his candor and honesty.   For all your readers out there, here is Neil’s biosketch below – we hope to offer some more Wednesday night (although belated!) dinner insights…

More posting later…

Catherine

Biosketch on Neil Baquiran:

Neil Baquiran is a Business Manager at Walmart.com where he manages Walmart’s online Health & Wellness businesses.  He is responsible for all strategic, tactical and operational aspects of the online Pharmacy, Optical and Clinics businesses.  Recent projects Neil managed include launching a co-branded Optical website with Walmart’s new partner, 1-800 CONTACTS and securing a strategic partnership with internet service provider, NetZero, which includes distribution of ISP discs to Walmart’s 4000+ stores.

Prior to Walmart, Neil worked as an MBA intern at Intel Corporation in their Sales & Marketing Group and Retail Channel Group.  He also held management roles at GreenCitizen, a startup environmental venture and NESsT Consulting, a social and environmentally focused startup advisory.  Neil began his career at Barclays Global Investors, Barclays PLC’s investment management division.  There he was an associate in their Institutional Sales group and Global Index and Markets Group Securities Lending team where he was responsible for multi-billion dollar institutional client relationships including ExxonMobil, the State of Wisconsin and the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Neil received his BA in Economics and minor in Japanese from the University of San Francisco and his MBA in Decision Sciences Operations Management and Finance from the George Washington University School of Business.  At GW, he received both the distinguished Board of Advisors Graduate Student and the Masters of Business Administration Leadership Awards.  He was an active participant in the business school program where he served as the MBA Association VP of Alumni and Career Affairs and launched the annual San Francisco Career Trek and Golf Classic series.  As part of his undergraduate Japanese studies, he attended Sophia University in Tokyo and subsequently lived in Japan for three years.

Neil continues to be active in the GW community and serves as one of the steering committee members “rebuilding” the GW San Francisco Bay Area alumni chapter.  Neil also serves as an e-council member for the San Francisco chapter of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Well, the first cadre of students have finally arrived in San Francisco.

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For us first year MBAs, we just completed nearly 10 hours of final exams, finished at 5pm yesterday evening, and woke up at 4:30AM (after a few drinks at Tonic) to take the red eye to SFO.    Happy to finally be here, a few of us managed to trek through the airport and eco-consciously rode the BART to our temporary residence, the Good Hotel.  The Good Hotel is where we will be sponsoring the Net Impact breakfast on Friday morning featuring founders of companies in sustainable businesses in the San Francisco area.dscn1096

As our 21 students begin trickling in, we will kick off the 5th Annual San Francisco Career Trek with our first official event – the student-alumni dinners that begin at approximately 7pm.   We are honored to be able to meet with prestigious GW alumni representing firms like Neil Baquiran of Walmart.com, Logan Coker of Del Monte, Malenie Warrick of Slalom Consulting, and Scott Beeber of Craford Benefit Consultants.

Gian Piero, Mark, Jake, Anand, and Artur ride the BART downtown.

Gian Piero, Mark, Jake, Anand, and Artur ride the BART downtown.

Students have prepared for this trip for nearly three months, amidst internship searches, a 7-week module that accelerates six typical 14-week courses, preparing for the international residency, and case competitions.   Tonight kicks off the next 48 hours to come:  two in-office visits, and a series of informal lunch and dinner meetings throughout the city and as far away as San Jose.   More to come…

By Rachel Kottler

Despite the current economic climate, students at the GW School of Business remain focused and are connecting with alumni and companies on the West Coast. As part of the fifth annual MBA San Francisco Career Trek, a group of 21 GW students will attend corporate presentations and informal luncheon and dinner meetings with alumni from March 4-6. They will also network at an alumni mixer.

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Seven of 21 students attending this year's Trek. From left to right - Joe, Anand, Sean, Gian Piero, Morgan, Sonali, and Robert.

“Our students realize that in order to build a promising future, particularly in this uncertain market, they must take every opportunity possible. Traveling to San Francisco to meet and learn from experienced professionals is one of the most important steps,” said Catherine Lee, GWSB MBA student and trip coordinator.

Wells Fargo and Navigant Consulting are among the companies welcoming the students. Distinguished alumni will also meet in small groups with students. Those alumni represent companies such as Jacobs Associates, Solfocus, Visa, Sandler O’Neill and Partners, Kaiser Permanente, Marriott Corp., Adaptive Planning, Federal Realty Investment Trust, California Pacific Medical Center, Logitech, and Third Point LLC.

“Our connection with alumni is important to us. We want to demonstrate our commitment to them and let them know that we appreciate their contributions to the school,” said Karen Ancillai, director of programs at the GWSB Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

This year’s San Francisco Career Trek partners with the eco-minded GWSB Net Impact Club. Nearly half the students attending this year’s trek have an interest in environmental and sustainable business.

“San Francisco is the epicenter of the movement for more responsible, ethical, sustainable business practices. Net Impact seeks to add to the students’ Career Trek experience by exposing them to local industry experts and leaders,” said Andy Ludwig, president of Net Impact. Students will meet three sustainable-business leaders for breakfast at the San Francisco Good Hotel, the eco-conscious hotel where the students will stay.

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