It’s been a very busy Spring Term here in the Oregon MBA. First year students are reaching the halfway point in their MBA careers, and finding internships for the summer, while our second year and accelerated students rapidly approach graduation and their return to the work force. Here are a few highlights from each of the four centers this term:
- Center for Sustainable Business Practices: After a fantastic trip to the Bay Area to learn about sustainability at a variety of startups (including Facebook), CSBP students finished off the month of April with a series of great events and guest speakers during Earth Week. In the classroom, courses such as Impact Investing and Advanced Strategy (with Professor of Practice, Michael Crooke) have continued the dialogue about responsible business and continue to prepare students for the ever-evolving landscape of impact business.
- Finance and Securities Analysis: FSAC also enjoyed the opportunity to visit the Bay Area, and reaped the benefits of some really impactful meetings with Wells Fargo and Equilibrium Capital. A recent update of the Emerging Markets Fund has shown growth in the portfolio since last quarter, and the group continues to identify new investment opportunities as second-year students mentor first-years in the EMF process.
- Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship: Spring has been especially hectic for LCE students, as they have volunteered at the perennially successful New Venture Championship, visited San Francisco with their CSBP and FSAC classmates, and competed in a variety of venture-launch competitions. Of particular note is the (well documented) success of Red Duck Ketchup, who have entered production and launched a KickStarter campaign to help raise capital for future operations.
- Warsaw Sports Marketing Center: The Warsaw Center celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, and once again hosted an incredibly successful Women in Sports Business Symposium that focused on branding athletes in the digital age. First year students visited San Francisco during the first week of the term, and as we speak, the second year students are working to finalize their two-term Strategic Planning Projects for their clients.
Check back soon to see what else is going on within the program!
After a busy day of business meetings, we had the wonderful opportunity to spend the evening in great company with business leaders at the Century Club in San Francisco, hosted by Mark and Martha Greenough. The evening opened with drinks and appetizers providing ample opportunity to introduce ourselves to our hosts (and other guests) and begin learning more about their various business ventures. The variety of our guests gave us insight into small business management, financial advising, capital investment, entrepreneurial startups, and general business advice.
The evening continued to the dining room where our first course and main course were served over more intimate conversations between the students and our business guests. Topics of conversation ranged from football allegiances to work-life balance and entrepreneurial advice, to name a few. We students were then offered the opportunity to introduce the guests at the table to the entire group, giving everyone a chance to see the great talent, success, and achievements made by those in our company.
As we made our way upstairs for drinks and dessert, Mark Greenough prepared a networking activity to offer additional time for small groups to ask questions and glean as much as we could from our guests before the evening drew to a close. In small groups, we spoke with 2-3 guests about their great achievements, biggest challenges, and highest aspirations. The intimate setting provided for a honest discussion of the highs and lows of business, focusing on how the journey is the exciting part, not the destination.
To say the least, the evening was motivational as we had the honor to hear about real world business success from the mouths of those who achieved it. The variety of personalities and careers afforded us a myriad of examples of what success really looked like and how it could be achieved. As young men and women at the beginning of our career adventures, this dinner provided us a unique look at the paths taken of those who were once in our shoes. The Oregon MBA is grateful for the following guests, especially Mark and Martha for offering us their time, energy, and wisdom:
- Mark Greenough (Greenough Consulting Group)
- Martha Greenough (Independent Bookkeeper)
- Joshua Greenough (Capital One Innovation Center)
- Brian Connolly (Connolly Advisors)
- Ben Keighran (Chomp)
- Lauryn Agnew (Seal Cove Financial)
- Geoff Dolan (Makani Power)
- Claire Herminjard (Mindful Meats)
- Robert Simon (IDC Ventures)
- Ken Pearlman (Oceanshore Ventures)
- Eli Janin (Capital One Innovation Center)
- Bob Komin (TicketFly)
The second day of the combined FSAC/LCE/CSBP trip to the Bay Area began with chocolate. A factory FULL of chocolate. We visited the Guittard Chocolate Company at their HQ and manufacturing facility in Burlingame. After a great discussion about quality control and the importance of sustainable agriculture to their supply chain, we were fortunate to be able to take a tour of the factory and see exactly how chocolate is made. The production floor was hot and it didn’t always smell like fresh chocolate, but our perseverance paid off in the end as we were all sent home with a massive box containing a variety of amazingly delicious treats!
Next, we were off to visit 500 Startups, which is a business incubator/accelerator (with heavy focus on mobile applications) located in Mountain View. The laid back environment was completely open, and focused totally on allowing new ideas to flourish and develop into potential businesses. Everything seemed acceptable here, as evidenced by the sign on the front door that read “Warning: Ninjas and Pirates and Lasers and S[tuff]“. Unfortunately our time here was a bit limited by our schedule, so we asked a lot about the current tenants and the funding structure (the incubator provides seed funding and guidance, and maintains relationships with larger organizations in the area) before heading to our much anticipated meeting with Facebook.
Looking at the campus from afar, you’d barely be able to distinguish Facebook from a series apartment buildings, until you spotted the gigantic “Like” button right outside the driveway entry. At Facebook we met with Lyrica McTiernan. Lyrica is a Sustainability Program Manager at Facebook, which means that a great deal of her time is spent analyzing the performance and developing programs for the company’s data centers. Because of their massive energy demand, data centers make up very large portion of Facebook’s environmental impact, and have dedicated team that works tirelessly to balance maximum reliability and minimal energy usage. While the discussion of energy efficiency and green building practices was interesting, I think it’s safe to say that most of us were a bit preoccupied trying to get our names on the signature wall (Shaq’s autograph is obviously at the very top) and take in the beauty and eccentricity of our surroundings (complete with a mural of Yoda!).
After “checking in” at the Facebook HQ, we moved north again on US101 to visit Pinnacle Engines. This was another short visit, but allowed us the opportunity to observe an engine durability test in progress, and learn about a potentially massive upgrade in fuel efficiency for internal combustion engines. Using Pinnacle’s patented and innovative engine design, small vehicles (mopeds, motorcycles, cars) can experience over 50% more efficient use of fuel. Pinnacle’s VP of Marketing and Special Projects, Tom Covington, explained the importance of selecting the right markets for initial adoption, and outlined the company’s plans to build a strong customer base in emerging markets such as India and China, where sensitivity to fuel prices and an abundance of smaller vehicles combine to create favorable market conditions.
The last visit of our trip was at Stanford Hospital with the Executive Director of Emergency and Medicine Services, Janet Rimicci, and a panel of Stanford Hospital executives. Our discussion here was centered on the important role that logistics can play in a hospital that continually needs to move patients in and out of various services, as well as sustainability at a facility that requires redundant systems and constant access to electricity to support its systems. Overall it was a great visit that provided a nice finale to our busy trip to the Bay Area!
The following was written by FSAC Student, Ryan Strub, a member of the Class of 2014
The Finance and Securities Analysis Center’s trip to San Francisco began with a visit to one of the most influential banks in the country, Wells Fargo. There, Erik Bidenkap and Mike Niedermeyer, a University of Oregon alumnus, were kind enough to host our group for an informative discussion which touched on a variety of banking topics. Mr. Niedermeyer began with a brief overview of the company and detailed the different segments that the firm is comprised of. He also explained how they have grown since their acquisition of Wachovia, which doubled the size of Wells Fargo.
Perhaps even more interesting to a group of debt-stricken students was Mr. Bidenkap’s synopsis of internships and careers at Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo is an active recruiter of business students at the University of Oregon and has programs set up to train and develop employees so they can reach their maximum career potential. The list of prominent UO alumni also includes Mark Myers who leads over 1,000 employees in the bank’s real estate lending services group.
Mr. Niedermeyer then opened the floor up for students to ask any questions they had pertaining to investments and banking. With a diverse composition of industry backgrounds, the questions ranged from information on energy markets to impact investing and real estate finance. We also got an informative update on how Wells Fargo has adapted to a post-recession era, and light was shed on some common misassumptions related to lending in this new environment. A big thank you goes out to both Mike Niedermeyer and Erik Bidenkap, who proved to be excellent hosts for our program and started our journey through the Bay with a positive attitude!
Students from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Finance and Securities Analysis Center found common ground last Thursday in a visit to Dave Chen at Equilibrium Capital’s San Francisco office. Back in September, we visited Dave at his Portland office, and he has been a wonderful host on both occasions. He is full of wisdom and speaks eloquently on all matters of finance, something not easily accomplished.
Dave’s firm, Equilibrium Capital Group owns a platform of real asset managers focused on the areas of water, distributed and renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and integrated land management green real estate. It’s a mouthful but the concept was born from Dave boldly saying YES to the question, “Could finance be a solution for global issues such as famine, abuse of resources, and global warming?” Dave sets out solving these problems by channeling funds into real assets that are managed using sustainable practices, which results in growing value and consistent returns. After all, Dave says “Investing, no matter what word you put in front of it is still investing, even impact investing. Everybody in investing wants to get paid.” Often times sustainability gets criticized for being a fluffy concept that is difficult to define. But according to Dave there is nothing fluffy about sustainability. Through his experience he can see that it is an economic shift. With 4 billion humans entering the middle class “wanting to eat chicken and drive cars”, our methods for farming, development, and energy generation are going to have to change to be able to support the stresses put on the system. Sustainability is essential for our global economy moving forward.
Where do MBAs fit into all of this? Dave shared some knowledge and skills we must possess if we want to be in impact investing.
- Know your way around a spreadsheet (be able to trace benefits flows- dissecting benefits flows can lead to financial innovation)
- Risk management and assessment
- Valuing of externalities
- Willingness to roll up your sleeves and figure stuff out
Visiting firms like Equilibrium Capital gives students like us a first hand account of the skills desired by our future employers and adds significant value to the education we are receiving at the Oregon MBA.
Mr. Schaus visited the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business on February 7th to provide insight and guidance to students interested in careers in finance and insurance. His conversation with the students began by explaining his role within Metlife, and what Metlife provides to their clients. Additionally, Mr. Schaus dug into problems facing the insurance industry, specifically those that affect clients close to retirement. His examination of the problems facing recent retirees was particularly beneficial to students as they begin their transition from the classroom to the office, and start laying the foundation for their own retirement. Mr. Schaus not only discussed the problems with social security which have strained recent retirees, but also other effects including increased life span, which has resulted in a longer time to stretch out retirement savings, and the recent collapse of the stock market, which has depleted a substantial amount of retirement savings.
Aside from the insurance industry, Mr. Schaus was available to offer career advice to students who are searching for internships and potential employment upon graduation. As a contributor to the FSAC, Mr. Schaus was ready and willing to provide a look into what employers are looking for in candidates, and what students can do now to make themselves appealing to companies looking to hire recent graduates. At the end of Mr. Schaus’ discussion, he set aside time for a question and answer segment where students were provided the opportunity to pick his brain for fifteen minutes before a joint dinner with Mr. Schaus, faculty, and students. The University of Oregon and the FSAC are proud of the accomplishments Mr. Schaus has achieved in his career and are grateful that he is able to guide students at the U of O as they begin their career search.
Ryan Strub, Finance and Securities Analysis Center, Class of 2014
Throughout our time in the MBA program, we are often told that our fellow classmates are our best networking partners. While I definitely think there is truth in this statement, I also believe that sometimes you just need to do your networking and team-building outside of the classroom.
After a hard week of midterms, Emerging Market Fund presentations, and New Product Development papers, about 35 members of the OMBA headed to Sun River for a weekend in the mountains, away from campus. Mike Lyden, a second-year in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, handled the logistics of our trip and managed to find us a great deal on two houses right next door to each other, which provided the perfect setting for our time outside of Eugene. Whether we were on the slopes of Mount Bachelor skiing and snowboarding, biking around Circle 11 (a neighborhood development concept that still befuddles me), hiking to Benham Falls, visiting Bend, or just relaxing in the hot tub, we spent some not-so-serious quality time together this weekend.
It was great to get out of town and enjoy some snow-soaked recreation, but our trip was not wholly unrelated to business. For example, we were all participating in the Oregon ski/snowboard industry, which brings in nearly $500 million in economic impact to the State, not to mention the creation of nearly 7,000 jobs. One of the most interesting aspects of skiing and riding in Oregon is that there are almost no resorts at the actual mountains. Most other ski areas across the country have slope-side amenities, whereas Oregon generates significant local revenue for “gateway communities” near the mountains such as Bend, Sun River, and Hood River.
Additionally, while out to dinner at 10 Barrel on Saturday evening, recent stars of the Venture Startup Pathway were able to make some more progress towards their business goals. Red Duck Ketchup team-member and co-founder Shannon Oliver had the opportunity to speak with 10 Barrel management, and provide them with some ketchup samples in hopes of getting their product into the restaurant.
At the end of the day, no matter which way you slice it, a great weekend was had by all. Even though many were reluctant to leave the bright sunshine, blue skies, and fresh mountain air on Sunday morning, we all made our return to Eugene invigorated by our weekend away, and excited to continue onward with a great second half of winter term.
Here is a quick update for the FSAC’s Emerging Market Fund performance so far in Winter Term. We currently have 15 holdings in our fund, with 12 of these stocks are generating positive returns for us. Top 5 performance drivers are 1. Zhongpin, engaging in the processing and distribution of meat and food products primarily in the Peoples Republic of China. 2. Tencent, providing Internet value-added services, mobile and telecommunications value-added services, and online advertising services primarily in the Peoples Republic of China. 3. Copa, engaging in the air transportation of passengers, cargo, and mail in Latin America. 4. Indosat, a telecommunication service provider in Indonesia. 5. SK telecom, also a telecommunication service provider but based in South Korea.
One of our holdings, New Oriental Education and technology (EDU), has a negative 35.51% return. After some heated debate on whether or not we should sell the stock, and research into last quarter’s earnings, we decided to keep it in the portfolio. This decision was largely based on strong earnings, and a continued demand for learning centers in 2nd and 3rd tier cities in China. Ultimately, we took a long term perspective hoping that the solid earning will drive the equity value up, and external liabilities (an SEC investigation on the corporate structure) will quickly come to and end.
Overall, we are proud to say that the fund is performing really well (a 11.76% investment return), and it is really great to apply the financial skills we learned in classes to manage this fund. Please contact the portfolio managers: Mohammad Alkhamis and Mavis Yu if you’ would like to receive a more detailed weekly fund performance report.
Mohammad Alkhamis: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mavis Yu, FSAC, Class of 2013
FSAC Day Two Blog Post- Dominique Christiansen, Class of 2013
After a great first day in New York, as chronicled by Mavis Yu, we had another exciting day ahead of us for our second day. We had four meetings at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in midtown at One Bryant Park. We met with four Managing Directors from four very different sectors. The structure of each meeting consisted of each managing director giving us an overview of their personal career path and what their specific group was involved with at Merrill Lynch. Each Managing Director also touched upon the differences in the company culture and procedures since the merger with Bank of America.
First we met with Jonathan Yalmokas, Managing Director of Prime Brokerage. He gave us an overview of prime brokerage, which he viewed more or less as “hedge fund services”. They offer margin loans, lend stock for hedge funds to short, help them raise capital, and offer an array of consulting services. They also make money on the spread of financing. Since the merger with Merrill Lynch in 2009, Bank of America has been focused on gaining market share in prime brokerage services, which are dominated by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Jonathan Yalmokas believed that Bank of America was previously underexposed to hedge funds. He gave us a detailed background on different hedge fund strategies that include: multi-strat and co-mingle structure, equity (long and short), and event funds that bet on the spread of a merger or acquisition.
Scott Bacigalupo, the managing director of Cash Trading for the Americas joined us next. He began as an analyst in the Investment Banking program at Merrill Lynch in 1994. He revealed to us that 94 of 100 of his analyst classmates went into Fixed Income, which was very attractive at the time in 1994. He was one of the few who went into equities and reaped the benefits during that time out of his analyst class. His over-arching message of advice was to veer away from the hot trends and products. He also spoke of the difficulties in operations since the passing of the Dodd Frank Act. It was very clear that while he understood the necessity and importance of the Volker Rule, but its hindrance made his job increasingly more tedious in regards to operations.
Gerry Walker, the managing director of High Yield Sales met with us next. Bank of America is the largest underwriter of corporate bonds in the US, and Gerry walked us through the specifics of a deal he closed this past week with Jaguar and Tata Motors of India. It was great to get an inside look at a recent and real-time event like that, which really helped to illustrate the concepts at hand.
Our last meeting at Merrill Lynch was with Chip Montgomery, the Managing Director of Senior Relationship Management. He personally manages 80 global clients that include Fidelity and T-Rowe Price. Chip is a legacy employee, having been involved in research and sales (mortgage and fixed income, among other areas) since his start at Merrill Lynch in 1985. Chip was very candid with us and receptive to any questions we had about his career path. During our conversation, he provided us with some great soundbites such as: “Follow up and follow through meticulously with your clients.” And “The key to building successful relationships is trust, consistency, and performance.”
After our meetings with Merrill Lynch, we took the train from Grand Central Station to Stamford, Connecticut, in which the headquarters of Gartner, Inc. is located. We met with Oregon alumnus Darren Crook, the current head of Investor Relations. Darren began as a sell side analyst, covering large cap entertainment stocks such as Disney. Upon his layoff from Jeffries, the opportunity to work at Gartner presented itself, and Darren says the switch in careers turned out to be the best thing for his work-life balance. He was very candid in his description of the competitive nature of being a Wall Street analyst.
Gartner offers products and services for companies that have IT (which according to their total accessible market, over 100,000 companies spend over 100M on IT). They offer three main services: research, consulting, and events. 70% of their revenue comes from the predictable and recurring stream of subscription revenue. In addition to Darren, we also spoke with a member of Gartner’s HR department, who described their 2-year finance rotation program in depth. Gartner is looking to significantly expand their sales force annually, and it seems like the rotation program might be a great way for an MBA to get their foot in the door with a unique and competitive firm!