Intersecting Minds: Education, Business and Technology at the North Carolina State Jenkins Graduate School of Management

Study Abroad Discussion

February 22, 2010
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On Friday, I had an opportunity to sit down with two first-year MBA’s who are planning to study abroad this fall. The conversation is in the YouTube below:

Listening to Derek and Emily talk about their excitement and what they hope to get out of the program was nice for me, too. Their thoughts reminded me again why I was so excited to go to Denmark and what I gained out of the trip on the other end. Cross-cultural immersion is a powerful experience, one that opens your eyes to just how big the world is, and how relativistic expectations and happiness can be. I’m a better, more thoughtful person for having gone through it, and I’m sure that while those two will have their own unique experiences, they will report similar conclusions when they return.

Derek and Emily are in for an amazing trip, and I wish them both the best.


The Krispy Kreme Challenge

February 13, 2010
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North Carolina State is home to many amazing athletic events ranging from football and basketball to soccer and baseball. But none may quite top the Krispy Kreme Challenge. If you haven’t heard of this incredible road race, it more than lives up to its name. To boil it down, participants start at the NC State Belltower, run 2.2 miles to the local Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, eat 1 dozen doughnuts, then turn around and race 2.2 miles back to the finish line. If it sounds disgusting, that’s because it is.

This year, a small group of MBA students decided to participate in the challenge. I was fortunate enough to grab some footage of them before they began:

Unfortunately, I could not pick them out of the 6,000+ participants at the finish line to videotape some of the carnage. But perhaps it’s better that way since many many racers are unable to keep the doughnuts down as they make their way back.

Time Management

February 10, 2010
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This semester so far has been quite different from my first three at NC State and Copenhagen Business School. My class schedule features three purely evening classes from 6:00 pm to 8:45 pm, Monday through Wednesday night. I also have a fourth class, Practicum, which feels more like a part-time job requiring 10-15 hours of work each week.

As a result, my schedule is more haywire this semester than it ever has been, and as a result, my time management and organizational skills have been pushed to the forefront. With evening classes, it always feels like there is so much time during the day to get everything done, but then the homework and projects start creeping up and draining time away. Combine that with making time to search for jobs, working part-time for my Graduate Assistantship (namely this blog), and volunteering when available, and all of a sudden those hours aren’t so plentiful anymore.

But I suppose that’s one of the best habits business school has bred. Don’t procrastinate! There will be interruptions and delays on projects, assignments will get dropped on you at the last minute, and you have to be able to adjust and adapt without getting overwhelmed. In that sense, I think business school, both at NCSU and CBS has done a nice job preparing me for what I will face out in the real world. Speaking of which, I have some research I need to do for an assignment due later this week!

Friday Quick Links

February 5, 2010
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Today’s focus remains on jobs:

– The unemployment situation in this country is slightly worse or slightly better depending on how you look at it. First, the jobless rate fell to 9.7%, which is good news.

– But the bad news is that the economy shed another 20,000 jobs in January, deepening the number of unemployed in this country. By some estimates, almost 18% of the country’s workforce is out of a job or can’t find full-time employment. That is a scary number.

– While the numbers indicate that the US economy is poised to start adding jobs again, this graph from Calculated Risk shows just how far we have to go to climb out of the hole (click link for larger version):

– Meanwhile, the US Senate has reached an “impasse” on financial regulation. Reforming the financial system will be a key ingredient to sustaining a long-term economic recovery for the United States.

All in all a rough week, and more signs pointing to the fact that any type of economic recovery will take an extended amount of time to unfold.

Thursday Quick Links

February 4, 2010
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Today is all about jobs, jobs, and the complete lack of jobs:

– The Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the number of jobs lost during the recession up by 824,000 bringing the total job losses to nearly 8 million people. Mike Shedlock has a nice analysis of the BLS’ Birth-Death model and why this happened over at his website, Global Economic Analysis.

Jobless claims also rose to 480,000 in January, another sign that the employment situation is not improving. Employment will be the biggest drag on any type of economic recovery America hopes to experience. If employers don’t start hiring soon, expect this miraculous bull run in equities to end soon enough.

Royal Dutch Shell announced it will cut 1,000 more jobs on slightly disappointing 4th quarter numbers.

Greece’s debt troubles are continuing to worsen, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday Quick Links

February 3, 2010
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The US economy shed approximately 20,000 jobs in January, just beating forecasts for the month. Following the 5.7% growth in GDP last quarter, many economists expect employers to start adding jobs over the next few months.

– In a separate, but related item, Bloomberg reports that the economy most likely added service jobs over the same time period. This is an important development because services are now the vast majority of the US economy.

– From bad to worse for Toyota. The automaker suffered another blow with more than 100 complaints about the brake pedal in its Hybrid Prius model. Needless to say, the company’s sterling quality reputation will take another hit.

– The situation in Greece becomes more interesting by the day. The EU has approved a plan from the debt-ridden country to get its fiscal situation under control, but the plan demands heavy cuts from public sector employees. As a result, government workers are preparing to strike next week.

– Both Time Warner and Pfizer announced strong fourth quarter numbers, with each company posting higher profits than the same quarter last year.

Tuesday Quick Links

February 2, 2010
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– The Obama Administration is set to make $30B available to community banks for small business lending. The proposal comes as part of a broader package of ideas to boost job creation amongst small businesses.

– Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson explains the necessity of TARP and other government bail-outs in the wake of Lehman collapsing: “We easily could have had unemployment of 20 percent,” he said. “That would have meant millions of additional jobs lost, millions of additional homes lost, trillions more lost in savings. It would have been terrible.” I know I supported the stimulus on this blog, and this is precisely why I did. The alternative was too terrible to contemplate.

– As the global economy improves, more focus will shift to rising oil prices.

McKinsey agrees with me that deleveraging has the potential to be both a very painful process and a long-term drag on our economy.

A Word on the iPad

February 2, 2010
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Before I write this relatively brief post, I should disclose that I am an Apple junkie. I’m on my second MacBook Pro, I have been an iPhone user for over a year, and I have two other legacy iPods that I use when I exercise. I pay a premium for their products because they are high value-add, high performance and very aesthetically pleasing.

And so it is with the iPad, with one major exception: the product just doesn’t really add any value to what I already do. I’m not the only one who feels that way either. CNET describes the iPad:

…the iPad is hampered by a well-documented string of missing features: a camera, 16:9 support, Flash support (seriously?), multitasking, SD card slot, HDMI or high-res video output support, USB ports, GPS, and so on. Plus, it’s exclusive to the AT&T network…

Needless to say, as a graduate student without much money, the $600 price tag is a bit steep for me to get a cross between my iPhone and MacBook with an e-reader. Fortunately, Apple will be pushed to improve the iPad by none other than Google. TechCrunch reports the internet giant is producing its own Tablet operating system, Chrome OS. Hopefully, Google and Apple can push each other to improve and evolve these touch-screen computers into something more useful and less expensive than their current form. At that point, I’m sure I’ll run out and get my Apple fix once again.

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Monday Quick Links

February 1, 2010
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Onto another week of business, economic and tech-related happenings:

Barack Obama introduced his federal budget today, which included a record $1.56 T deficit. Most of the added debt resulted from stimulus spending last year to boost the economic recovery.

– More good news for the US economy as manufacturing expanded faster than at any point since 2004. Here’s hoping the jobs situation begins to recover next.

Citigroup is planning to sell off its private equity investment division. President Obama has begun to apply pressure on the financial industry to separate depository institutions from proprietary trading units to blunt risk in the system.

– Exxon Mobil reported a 23% slide in quarterly profit compared to last year. However, the energy giant still topped analysts expectations.

And Toyota has outlined a fix for the faulty gas pedals that caused them to recall millions of cars around the world.