From the monthly archives:

February 2012

In my Microeconomics class way back at the beginning of my part-time MBA program at GW School of Business I came across a fascinating case on the topic of competitive firms and markets. The case was in my textbook – Microeconomics (5th Edition),by Jeffrey M. Perloff .

We are all very familiar with outsourcing, offshoring and other implications of globalization. There is no question that labor cost arbitrage is a significant factor for companies to stay competitive in the new realities of global markets. And unless you are a victim of layoffs caused by outsourcing, you can fully appreciate “every day low prices” at your nearby big-box store or even not so big local vendor.

However, this particular case from the textbook got my attention because it was not about outsourcing of production of textiles or electronics and everything in between – the usual suspects. It was about the fine art, namely the paintings. The case was titled “Enter the Dragon: Masses Producing Art for the Masses”.

The general premise in the case is that due to falling communication and shipping costs Chinese firms entered the world market for “fine arts”. As everything with China manufacturing for the global markets, this process is highly industrialized. There are actually multiple factories, not just small shops, that produce paintings of all sorts (from oil-painted renditions of classic Western artist to “original” paintings of puppies, still life and landscapes) on mass production scale.

One of the companies mentioned in the case has two factories employing 10 original designers, 250 painters and over 500 assistant and supportive workers, like framers. There was one such painter quoted in the case who at the age of 26 has already painted about 20,000 copies of van Gogh’s works.

Apparently, this mass production industry is driving out of business many independent artists around the world.

For me this case is especially interesting, because it hits very close to home. I am not an artist, but this talent runs in the family. Here is the press release I would like to share:

Maryland resident and local high school student, 17 year old artist Margarita will present her recent paintings and drawings at the Yellow Barn Gallery in Glen Echo Park on February 25th and 26th from 12-5pm both days. This is her third time presenting work at the Yellow Barn, but it is her first individual gallery exhibition. The show is an exposition of her body of work from the last four years, some of which has been previously shown at the Yellow Barn, and ranges from oil paintings to drawings, from portraits and figure studies to still lives and landscapes.

Tanner - Picture of the Horse, oil painting

Tanner - Picture of the Horse, oil painting by Margarita

Despite the range of work, there is a clear exploration of color and technique, and a maturity to the work that belies the age of the artist. Dedicated to technique, and extremely passionate about painting and drawing, Margarita has painted for almost 6 years, and had her first collective show at the age of 15 with the Yellow Barn High School Scholarship Class. She has had artwork included in “The Students of Glen Kessler” exhibition, as well as most recently, “The First Annual Yellow Barn Drawing Exhibition” alongside the works of Gavin Glakas, J. J. Bruns, and Walter Bartman last August.

This artist is remarkable not only because she is one of the thousands who withstand the Chinese competition around the world, but she also happens to be my daughter. Follow this link for a preview of some works that will be exhibited at the show. And if you happen to be around the area on those days, stop by at the Yellow Barn Gallery to enjoy the original fine art of the young and talented local artist.

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Written by Angela Wolf, GWSB MBA alumna 2010. This is Part 2 of the post. Continued from Get the Most from Part-time MBA in 16 Months.

Now down to what’s important… what did I get out of the program. One of the biggest lessons from the program is that and MBA doesn’t necessarily teach you what to think, it teaches you HOW to think. I loved most of my classes (except Finance, wow), but what I really learned from the courses was how to take a problem, analyze it quickly and comprehensively, and create a creative and effective plan to solve it.I was sick of “cases” by the time I finished, but I can appreciate now how all the case studies improved my problem-solving skills. I use those skills and lessons every day.

I was also surrounded by very intelligent and ambitious people who knew what was going on in the world (esp in politics, a benefit of going to school two blocks from the White House). Many of them made incredibly insightful comments and asked excellent questions in class, which pushed me to better understand how the cases we were studying fit into the real world of politics, business, and the craziness that is real life. I still remember some of those questions and try to apply them to problems I face at work and in life these days.

One of the other things I loved about GW especially was the diversity of the student body. Not only were there people from many other countries, but I was able to interact with people with jobs I never thought I’d encounter at business school. Many people worked on the hill or for government agencies; there were also military veterans, tv producers, physicians, and of course a slew of consultants.

I loved hearing peoples’ stories and learning about their backgrounds. And one thing we all had in common– the bond that kept us emphetic towards one another throughout each class and each group project– was that we all wanted to be there so badly that we dragged ourselves to evening classes after long, hard days at work. We knew there were several more hours of thinking and studying ahead, but we were determined to be there and get our business degree even while holding a full-time job. That’s what I loved about my part-time MBAers. They had so much weight on their shoulders by going to work and school at the same time, but they were dead set on making it happen.

I could write much more about my experience as a part-time GW MBA student, but instead I’ll wrap up with a few suggestions for anyone considering a part-time MBA program at GW or at any school for that matter.

1. Know your priorities. Is it program reputation, scholarships, flexibility, international travel opportunities, social opportunities? Pick the top one or two, and as you research programs, make sure your application choices support those priorities.

2. Set clear expectations before beginning. Yes, you’ll have to sacrifice a lot of your social life, and you’ll want to set that expectation with significant others, friends and family as well. Yes, you’ll have late nights with little sleep and have to go to work in the morning. Be sure you understand WHY you want an MBA before you begin, and keep that in mind during the rough times.

3. Take time to enjoy yourself. At orientation, a few of the alumni told us they actually had to schedule social time into their week. I thought they were crazy. Couldn’t they grab dinner on a Friday night and not feel bad about it? In fact, depending on your work situation and your courseload, you will probably have to put social time on your calendar. It’s not as easy to get out and have fun as one might think, especially when you have three papers, two tests, and a group project due next week. But it’s critical that you DO put it on your calendar or else you’ll burn out after a while, and that’s no good for you, your groupmates, or the ROI you want to receive on your investment.

4. Take advantage of the study abroad programs and the other ways to spice up the program. I loved how easy GW made the study abroad process. I never thought I’d go to Dubai, but I was able not only to go but to offer marketing advice to some billion dollar corporations during an international marketing residency. Such a cool experience. Don’t let your program end without trying at least one cool experience you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to try if you weren’t getting your MBA.

5. Finally, be proactive in making connections with your MBA peers. Networking is such a huge part of the MBA process and a major piece of the ROI you’ll receive.  Even as a sales rep, I don’t love networking; I’m not gonna lie. But I did make a commitment to myself to reach out and meet new people while I was there and not get too isolated in my studies. By doing so, I met some of the coolest, smartest, and most diverse people I’ve ever met or ever thought I’d meet. I went to Saudi Arabia with one a year ago, and I’m going to Columbia next month with another (both locals of those countries).

MBA was a cool experience that taught me a lot and certainly gave me the boost on my resume that helped me move to the next level in my career (Marketing & Business Development Manager), but the relationships I made throughout the program are what made the program far exceed my expectations. The ROI was absolutely worth the investment, and I’d do it over (the same way) in a heartbeat.

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Written by Angela Wolf, GWSB MBA alumna 2010

I had the pleasure of taking several GW MBA classes with Vitali throughout 2009 and 2010. And I was happy to see him in a lounge in the MBA building between classes one day in December 2010, completely out of the blue. I hadn’t seen him for a while, and he asked how things are going and how much longer I had before graduating.

Graduation was top of mind at the time because I had a week left and only a couple more finals standing in my way. When I told him about my week countdown, he was very surprised, I could tell. Then I explained how I did it. If you’re wondering, yes, I am the girl he spoke to in the December 2010 post “Part-time MBA – Turbocharged!”  The following is the story of how I chose GW’s part-time MBA program and how (and why) I did it in 16 months.

I’d known for about 5 years before starting at GW that I wanted to get my MBA. In fact, I took the GMAT 3 years before applying. It was always one of those things I wanted to do but never pushed myself to actually start the application process.

The year I decided to apply was possibly the worst year I could have chosen- the year after the economic collapse when there were ten times as many unemployed candidates applying for MBAs. Back then it was very frustrating, but looking back I know it all happened the way it did for a reason.

I had been living in DC for almost 4 years, and I was more than ready to move. I was burnt out at work and not happy in the dating department (if you know DC, you know that’s not uncommon for a single 20-something female). All I wanted to do was quit my job, move to a different city, and get a full-time MBA at the top-tier school. But things didn’t line up the way I’d always planned, and I’m actually happy they didn’t.

At the time my sister was already a year into her part-time term at Kellogg, and half of her classmates had lost their jobs. I realized I should hold on to mine as long as possible. So, part-time programs became my focus, and I knew I had to make it quick if I was going to do it with a job I wasn’t happy with and a city I wanted to leave.

Given my situation, I had two choices, George Washington and Georgetown. The reason I chose GW over G-town was two-fold. For starters, Georgetown didn’t give merit scholarships to part-timers. 1 point for GW. Georgetown also had a rigid 3-year program with very little flexibility, whereas GW had options for taking international residencies worth 9 credits, online courses, doubling up on courseloads if you wanted, etc. My goal was to finish in 2 years (all I thought I could handle at my job), and Georgetown couldn’t offer that. Point 2 for GW, and that’s the game.

Now don’t get me wrong, I had several good friends and a roommate who went to Georgetown and loved it. It’s a great program; it just didn’t fit my biggest need: flexibility. I had also heard some great things about the professors at GW, which turned out to be true in most cases. In the end, I may not have gotten the very best school name on my diploma (although I am very proud to have gone to GW), but I am 100% happy with the education I received and the opportunities afforded to me throughout my time at GW.

I started the program expecting to maintain a rigid focus to study as much as possible and finish quickly. I didn’t expect to have much of a social life, but I was happy to find some very cool classmates that enjoyed forming study groups and going out after class. In the end, while I had to sacrifice a lot of my social life, I still had a great time with GW and non-GW friends, which is a balance I learned is critical to maintain if you want to keep your sanity throughout the program.

I also had a really good advisor who helped me figure out what courses I needed to take to finish in 24 months. And if you’re wondering, one of reasons I was able to finish in such a short time was the job I had at the time.

At the time, I sold medical equipment to physicians, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. Although I drove throughout a five-state radius throughout the day, I took time to read chapters and complete assignments between calls. I soon learned how to organize my days to be efficient in selling and offer at least an hour or two for studying. I also worked from home sometimes on Fridays, which really gave me a lot of flexibility. Looking back, if I would have had the office job I have today (where I am tied to a desk 10-18 hours a day and don’t even have time to go to lunch), I would never have been able to finish in two years.

One of the things I knew I wanted to do while at GW was to take advantage of at least one of the really cool international residencies that I’d heard about during my pre-application research.

Just two months into my time at GW, I applied for an international marketing residency in Dubai during the two weeks between the fall and spring “semesters.” Because I was a marketing undergrad and had worked in marketing off and on during the 6 years since college, I was able to test out of the marketing pre-req’s for the international marketing residency. That meant I could earn 6 credits between the first and second semesters at GW, and by the end of spring 2010, I was more than halfway done with my course load.

I took a TON of classes in the summer, and I mean a ton. I think it was something like 12 or 15 credits. I was constantly stressed, but I did manage to get out a couple times a week. I also took a Chile/Argentina international residency in the fall of 2010, which helped accelerate my program faster than I’d expected and allowed me to graduate in December 2010 after only 16 months. That’s how I did it.

Speed is certainly not the most important goal of an MBA program, but it was one of my priorities given the situation I was in. Did I sacrifice any of my MBA experience by cutting it short? Yes, I probably did. But, I still managed to meet a lot of incredible people who helped me really enjoy DC during my last year and half, and I still keep in touch with most of them today even though I now live in Chicago.

Continued:-Part-time MBA in 16 Months – 5 Lessons Learned.

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