kkostal@uoregon.edu

Embracing Change

Change. It can be exhilarating but painful. All too frequently if you want to achieve anything worthwhile you have to make the change yourself. For some, this means taking stock of where you are, where you want to go and determining what actions you must take to get there. It’s daunting. It’s new. It’s exactly what happens when considering changing something in your personal or professional life, and it might lead you to consider earning your MBA.

All of the current MBA candidates at Oregon decided to make a change, and it led us here. Our program is known for its intimate, small cohort with a unique approach to preparing us for our futures. Everyone made a personal decision by coming here, but we had a lot of information to help us make that choice.

Oregon MBA

Oregon’s MBA program is divided into four Centers of Excellence:

This division allows candidates to gain crucial business acumen while building a specialized skillset in small sub-cohorts. “We know our students more personally than we would be able to if we were a 100 student program,” said Michele Henney, Program Manager, Finance and Securities Analysis Center, Senior Instructor of Accounting. “In that situation (100+ students), there is no way we could provide the same services.” Each Center’s students are a part of the Oregon MBA program, meaning you know and collaborate with individuals working towards specialized skill sets unlike your own. Although different, each center provides valuable opportunities to its own sub-cohort and is continually looking to improve.

“Our green MBA is really strong. We’re in a region where sustainability and our connection to businesses is very strong. Not every region can say that,” said Dr. Laura Strohm, Program Manager, Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Industry expertise differs from center to center, but each emphasizes the need to prepare candidates to be leaders.

“I think the best thing we can do is prepare students to be comfortable taking leadership positions, analyzing the situations that they find themselves in, because usually MBAs will end up in places where someone looks to them for expertise even though they might not have it,” said Nathan Lillegard, Program Manager, Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, Instructor of Business.

One of the most compelling reasons to select an MBA program is the culture established by current students, faculty and staff. At Oregon, candidates are motivated by factors like entering a new industry, learning skills to use in a different job function and work locations. “A lot of times the people drawn to the University of Oregon are people who want to stay and work in the Pacific Northwest,” Henney said. These motivations, though not always focused on the highest possible salary, are used by faculty and staff to inspire candidates to think about their careers early, and often.

“You really spend your two years here either landing internships or landing jobs,” said John Hull, Executive Director, Business Innovation Institute, Assistant Dean for Centers of Excellence. Hull stresses the importance of hitting the ground running in that pursuit of change, something candidates might be apprehensive about. “’Wait a minute, I thought I was stepping away from my career for 2 years for education?…Well no, I’m actually supposed to be working on my career stuff from day 1.’”

With strong alumni connections and a growing office of individuals devoted to the career paths of OMBA candidates, Oregon is empowering graduates to aim not for jobs, but careers.

“What makes us different is that you can have a meaningful connection within the industry week in and week out if you want it,” said Paul Swangard, Managing Director, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, Woodard Family Foundation Fellow. “I think we are the only ones who have a standing international travel experience that is imbedded into the framework of the program, and we are trying to differentiate ourselves geographically.”

Swangard’s reference of the yearly Engaging Asia trip taken by second-year MBA candidates is just one of multiple experiential learning trips taken by the Oregon MBA. (Read about the Engaging Asia trip here) Centers travel as far away as Mumbai, India to gain a global perspective. Other domestic trips take MBA candidates to NYC, San Francisco, Seattle and, of course, Portland. These trips bridge the gap between where candidates once were to where they want to be, allowing them to see, taste, and smell what a particular industry is like.

Change can be challenging but also exhilarating, fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re thinking about making a change, consider how you’ll make it happen. The destination is the goal but the journey there can be equally important.

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.

Warsaw Heads to Singapore

The Warsaw Sports Marketing Center capped off a whirlwind trip to Asia with a few days in the cosmopolitan island nation of Singapore.  We knew it would be different than Mumbai, Shanghai and Beijing, but the physical differences were felt as soon as we stepped outside of the Changi airport. Singapore is only 85 miles from the equator making for a very hot few days in business casual attire as we attended conferences, visited golf courses and paid a visit to the Singapore Sports Institute before taking in an F1 Racing night practice.

The initial culture shock came as we transitioned from the confines of Beijing to the more Western feeling Singapore, but with a twist. Extreme cleanliness and order, along with the intersection of multiple cultures, differed greatly from the homogenous hustle of China’s capital city.

Our entire entourage was graciously admitted into the second annual Sports Matters Conference. We listened as leaders of sponsorship, leagues, development and large-scale events expounded upon the opportunities and challenges facing southeast Asia and the global community. For two days our group experienced small panel discussions with professionals from HSBC, Samsung, Manchester United, the Women’s Tennis Association and more. Holding true to the global theme of the event, we met another attending group of students from Australia, allowing us to engage a bit of Oceania as well! Lord Sebastian Coe delivered a thought-provoking speech on large scale, worldwide events and what innovative strategies need to be vetted for future success, saying “The old chestnut that sport and politics shouldn’t mix flies in the face of reality.”

The next stop came on the island of Sentosa, a short ride from the center of Singapore. Sentosa Golf Club’s General Manager Andy Johnston hosted us, explaining how the club serves its 1,557 international members. The mix of international membership illustrated just how interconnected business in Singapore is with other parts of Asia.  We closed with a guided tour of the Serapong course, experiencing a green that included a preserved footbridge from WWII and stunning views of the harbor.

Our final visit for the entire trip was with Sport Singapore (SS). Two of our classmates interned there for the entire summer, continuing to enhance the relationship between Oregon and SS. The day included a deep dive into the emergence of sport in the lives of Singapore’s youth. We worked in teams along with SS employees to brainstorm ways to overcome challenges they face working with disadvantaged youth and government red tape. Though we were halfway around the world some of the SS’s challenges felt quite familiar. A tour of the lavish facilities preceded a “Sporting Friday” activity – netball. Though we brought our A game the Warsaw Class of 2015 did not prevail; we cannot wait for the rematch.

On our final evening in Asia we took in the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix practice event with the skyline as our backdrop and two weeks of multicultural business experiences under our belts.  The invaluable experience provided not only exposure to diverse ways to approach the business of sport in southeast Asia but also a once in a lifetime bonding experience for the Warsaw Class of 2015.

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.

5 Stages

The start of a full-time MBA program is rough. You’re not exactly accustomed to the way things function and sometimes you wish your cohort was still wearing the nametags from Prologue. The workload is growing – exponentially. You have negative time and thus, negative energy. But how can you cope?

We’ve been told that citing our sources is of the utmost importance. This seems like a good place to start.

Thank Elisabeth Kübler-Ross for her 1969 book “On Death and Dying” for the inspiration for this post. You also have to give general frustration and an avalanche of new concepts in the first few weeks some of the credit. But the root cause, the catalyst, is actually quite common. Burn out. If you haven’t hit it yet, don’t worry. It’s coming for you. So thanks, burn out, for taking me through these steps right around my fourth week.

In her book Kübler-Ross was talking about the Stages of Loss and Grief. Anyone that remembers how well Homer Simpson coped with eating fugu has a basic understanding of what those stages are. Starting a boutique MBA program is an event, albeit not traumatic in the grief and loss sense for most – if not all of us.

Let’s walk through these steps based on my first few weeks in the program. You can self-diagnose your current position.

 

Denial and Isolation – MBA Manifestation Week 1: I am all that is power and intelligence.

I can do this all by myself!

Anger – MBA Manifestation Week 1.5: #%&!

It’s been 3 hours – WHY ISN’T THIS FINISHED YET!?

Bargaining – MBA Manifestation Week 2: How can I get out of this?

Hey, if you help me with these problems I’ll ______. (Common bargaining tools are help with stats, accounting or English, car rides, or a really big smile)

Depression – MBA Manifestation Week 3: There is no hope of getting out of this.

I’ll never understand strategic alliance/deferred income/the null hypothesis/that evil third “P”/dividend payout rates. I’ll never do well in this class. I’ll never get a job. It won’t stop raining.

Acceptance – MBA Manifestation Week 4

I’m moving to Whoville.

 

Don’t start packing your tent just yet – there are a few ways to cope no matter what stage you’re dealing with at the moment. Let’s call them the Stages of Coping and Succeeding.

  1. Prioritize
  2. Don’t waste potential group work time
  3. Actually sleep
  4. Use your resources (office hours, cohort)
  5. Get back on the horse tomorrow

 

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.

Don’t Call it A Comeback! (And Definitely Don’t Call it Underdog)

It’s been more than 6 years since I was a college student. In the words of LL Cool J don’t call it a comeback – the working world is a whole other animal compared to life as a grad student. However, David Bowie’s “Changes” might better reflect what it feels like to be a new student on campus a decade after “first college.”

As a first-time Duck and first-time grad student this time around the goals are different:

  • Don’t pull any all-nighters (Prologue’s mix of academia prep and discussing self-awareness put that to the test)
  • Eat like the adult that I’ve become (Yet trail mix and whatever food Becky, Sally, and Emily feed us in the Grad Lounge became my diet)
  • Soak up as much as possible from my instructors and peers (No more “finding yourself” with a few filler classes like wine appreciation and severe and unusual weather)

The U of O stresses quality over quantity in this boutique MBA program. With my family, yo-pro circles of friends, and boyfriend over 2,000 miles away I was wary of the type of MBA candidates I would meet. I’d be with them for two years.

Are they hyper-competitive? Hugging every tree they see? Still wearing their caps from undergrad? Would I be the oldest person here and yet somehow the most unprepared? A lot can happen in 10 years – remember when the United States Office of Homeland Security wasn’t even a thing? (Hi NSA!)

As effort would have it, I was partially wrong about everything I anticipated. I say “effort” because none of these candidates were here by luck – they all bring something of quality. I say partially because there’s a palpable feeling of competition, social responsibility, and youthful energy. We don’t have enough first-year students to make a football team, but we have a few other things…Too many Andrews to count…Macklemore’s doppelganger…more sports fanatics than you would ever care to watch argue over random stats…a glut of plaid, beards, and people who don’t speak Chinese…plenty of self-starters and accomplished business professionals (and a few people older than me).

A small program filled with underdogs? Hardly. Consider the most essential items you’d take with you in a lifeboat. You want a few incredibly important items, not a litany of things. We’re a collection of Ducks akin to a survival kit filled with a satellite phone, GPS positioning system, rations, and a sextet (with all the appropriate tables).

To put it plainly there were two main ways to be impressed with your classmate:

  • Read the resume of the person you had lunch with the day before and suddenly feel inadequate.
  • Grab lunch with the person you studied with yesterday and suddenly feel inadequate.

There is intelligence and aptitude. More importantly there is character.

Over the first two weeks we spent some time learning Chinese in the study rooms and belting out “My Baby Takes the Morning Train” during sing-alongs. We talked about the MBTI results and refuted the accuracy…until we realize the only people talking are Extroverts…We spent a soggy day rafting together and an even soggier end-of-prologue football game getting drenched. Everyone survived the first case competition. We finally had our first day of school, late nights and long hours of accounting, reading, and crossing our fingers that our scholarships come through before October 10. The MBA candidates on the Sports Marketing track went up to Portland for a Nike trip filled with information on snowboarding, UFC, golf and Carl Lewis – and lots of gear. So many pants.

I’ve had an entire group of new friends walk me home. I’ve also driven my new classmates home in heavy rain. Most of us are now adept at “Chi-nglish” and everyone knows that Ty brews his own beer. We have just a single term when the majority of us are in the same classes.

We’ve done all this in less than a month – looks like we’re fast out of the blocks.

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.