Monthly Archives: September 2007

B School – Is it Worth It?

Most people who knew Gabriel Hammond at Johns Hopkins in the late 1990s could have predicted he would rise quickly on Wall Street. As a freshman, he traded stocks from his dorm room, making a $1,000 bet on Caterpillar. Soon after, he abandoned his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer and, upon graduation, joined Goldman Sachs as a stock analyst.Three years into his new job, Mr. Hammond noticed something. Very few of his young co-workers were taking a hiatus from Wall Street to go to business school, long considered an essential rung on the way to the top of the corporate ladder.

So he, too, decided to forgo an M.B.A.. Instead, he raised $5 million and started his own hedge fund, Alerian Capital Management, in 2004. The fund now manages $300 million out of offices in New York and Dallas, and Mr. Hammond, 28, enjoys seven-figure payouts.

Like other young people on the fast track, Mr. Hammond has run the numbers and figures that an M.B.A. is a waste of money and time – time that could be spent making money. “There’s no way that I would consider it,” he says.

So begins a recent New York Times article, “Bye Bye, B-School”, which addresses the current state of business schools, long seen as the key gateway to successful careers on Wall Street and beyond. Costs of attending school are up, attending is as competitive as ever…but is B school worth it?

The fact is, as the article points out, B school is increasingly losing its cache. The fast paced world of business today no longer grants the luxury of taking two years off and losing industry experience, nor is what is taught in the schools necessarily valued by employers.

“If you want to make the most money in the shortest period of time, you can’t be away from work for two years,” says Vitaly Dukhon, 30, who recently left the Fortress Investment Group in New York to join another hedge fund.
While in college at Harvard, Mr. Dukhon thought he would go to business school in his mid-20s, but in his first job on the Treasury desk at Deutsche Bank, he realized that the smartest people just a few years his senior were staying put. “I saw that people that had been working for 20 years did have M.B.A.’s, but people five to six years older than me were not going,” he says. “Going to business school is a way for people to try to open the door, to try to get into a company or hedge fund. But if you’re already there, it doesn’t make sense to go.”
Mr. Hammond of Alerian noticed the same trend while he was an analyst at Goldman Sachs. His co-workers who went to business school either wanted to change careers, or they were not doing well in their current jobs, he says.

In other words, business school is a place to change careers, not enhance them. This is a sobering message being sent out to elite insitututions that pride themselves on on their influence. But both recruiters and even the professors themselves are claiming that the primary mission of the schools, education, is too often passed over for the goal of placing those few in lucrative career fields:

Next month, Prof. Khurana of Harvard is publishing a critique of business schools’ evolution over the past 50 years. His book, “From Higher Aims to Hired Hands,” argues that famous B-schools, including Harvard, have lost track of their original mission to produce far-sighted leaders who can help the economy run better….”The logic of stewardship has disappeared,” he says. Panoramic, long-term thinking has given way to an almost grotesque obsession with maximizing shareholder value over increasingly brief spans.
As a result, he declares, getting an advanced degree in business no longer amounts to entry into a full-fledged profession, like law or medicine. It’s just a badge that lets graduates latch onto situations where they can jostle the actual managers of companies and make a lot of money for themselves in the process.
For his part, Prof. Khurana would like to see business schools take much more aggressive steps to mend their ways. He is impressed by the ways that law and medical schools certify graduates’ knowledge and require lifelong continuing education. Perhaps business schools should do something similar, he suggests.
Yet Prof. Khurana has identified an important imbalance. In the current environment, many brilliant young M.B.A.s don’t aspire to be corporate chief executive officers, who struggle to uphold their agendas against pressure from all sides. These students would rather be consultants who earn big money fomenting change. Better yet, they want to be the powerful investors who hire and fire CEOs.
Until those dynamics change, it will be hard for top business schools to resume their traditional – and vital – role as training grounds for the next generation of corporate leaders.

This is reiterated by a recent WSJ report on recruiter’s picks for business schools. University of Michigan’s Business School, Ross, fell from the number one ranking in recruiters’ eyes. Why? Students had too much a sense of entitlement versus experience and education, they say. It seems as if the schools are building up expecations, rather than provide industry ready graduates. In the New York Times article, one student from Tepper is hired upon receiving his MBA – not because of his degree, but his computer background from his previous years of study and work.

The one value business schools unequivocally offer is a network of graduates who are established in their fields and can provide meaningful connections for entry. However, as the NYT article pointed out above, this point is mute if the candidate already should have proven themselves in their field, and truly is most helpful to those who truly have reverted from one career path to the other.

Two personal experiences shed light on the MBA for me.
I attended a MBA session attended by representatives by all the major B school players (Stanford, MIT, Penn, etc.) several months ago. It was a crowded room, with many eager 20 somethings looking for hints on getting in and how to differentiate the different schools. My question for the day was, “How come B Schools universally claim to develop great leaders, when in fact 90% of those I personally know attending are only going because their 80 hr week jobs require them to after 2 years?” Their answer, in effect, was: “If you don’t have extracurriculars to put in your leadership section, that’s fine. We can’t expect you to do a lot if you are working a busy job.” So…those earning high pay, whose jobs sponsor their MBA, and are mostly lackeys for their high finance bosses, get a pass at this? I suppose it is hard for them to do different, but in truth I feel this is one reason why many entrepreneurs and movers and shakers don’t come out of Wharton – B School can be very self selective in this way. On the other hand, the B Schools were desperate for career changers as well, maybe because of the discussed trend, noting that GREs are as acceptable as GMATs. One attendee asked what distinguished each program from the next, which absolutely killed the panel. They didn’t want to bash the other schools, and didn’t want to claim their superiority in one field at risk of demoting another. Most pandered and said the people. Someone else asked why the shoudn’t just go to Europe, and in a global world, why they should stay in the U.S. .The answer here was that schools were creating global campuses…but really, this is not the same thing, just playing catch up, and may be another way to score dough from those MBA bound.  This left me with the conclusion that business schools, unlike undergraduate studies, may attract certin individuals, but don’t create great businessmen.  More Fortune 500 CEOs come from state schools than anywhere else, those that were in high finance are back after a mandatory MBA, and those looking to enter business may just end up with a more advanced network depending how high up the B school ladder they go.  But come recruiting time, great leaders will have been great leaders before B school, and quant whizzes could probably have saved themselves two years.

I once interviewed at a startup and ended up being passed over for someone with an MBA.  Barely out of school, and I was seriously considered for the role.  I lost out not because the other candidate had an MBA, because, as the CEO said, “those mean nothing these days,” but because the other person had startup experience.

Nevertheless, I admit B School will still be seen as a requirement in certain industries, and for this reason for the foreseeable future they will still be holding the cards in their hand.  My brother, who started his own successful company abroad and has never been to B school, found a position at qualification-obsessed Google only after he could convince them a high GMAT score taken years ago and excellent experience was just as good as any MBA.  He was hired, but remains one of few without that extra certification.  Even if Google covered the cost now, would it be worth it?  The trend apparently says no.

Will I go to B school?  Someday maybe, with a clear purpose.  And I may richer for it, but certainly not much smarter.

Free Reading…

Interesting links/articles…

A Yale sex scandal…

If it’s not on Facebook, it doesn’t count…

Dress Julia Allison…

Now that she is single…

Mac Vs. PC parody…

The Ten Worst Apple Commercials…

What if Google controlled our lives?…

A 12 year old with $6.5 million…

Microsoft buying Facebook?…

Why High School football isn’t worth watching anymore…

Defining the Alpha Male…

Job references you can’t control…

If Gore wins the Nobel Peace Prize, will he run?…

Greed is bad…

The Iraq Position locator…

Down time from murder…

Everyday is Talk Like A Pirate Day…

Fifty years after Kinsey…

A rising 24 Year old CEO…

The Return of Family Guy…

Social Networking and the New Narcissism…

Outsourcing takes a whole new level…

 I spy where you fly…

Girlfriend or Fling?…

No fat chicks at the prom…

DNA Unraveled

 It turns out our lives aren’t necessarily always dictated by our genes.  Scientists are now discovering that the murky material inbetween our genes – non coding DNA, or ‘junk DNA’ – is in fact more vital than we ever realized. 

 Whereas many traits have been attributed to our genetic code, from diseases to our psychosis, research teams have determined that diabetes and even cancer stem from more than a muted gene.  Instead, they result from processes occuring in these areas once referred to as genomic wastelands.

If this doesn’t make you believe we have only scratched the surface of human disovery, nothing will…

Article here.

Metro Story

My coworkers and I frequently shared Metro stories with each other, because life is never boring on the Red and Orange lines during rush hour. That it is, until she moved close to the office, and I was the only one left with the strange Metro encounter stories.

Here is my most awkward commute ever, on the way back from work yesterday.

1) I enter into the Orange Line Metro car, and look around for a seat. The handicap seat is open, with a short but stocky man occupying the adjoining seat. I turn around to sit down, suddenly feeling a hand underneath my ass. It was the man next to me. I kinda of jumped up, and he too looked surprised. Apparently he was half asleep, not awake as it seemed, and while I assumed his hand, which was resting next to him, would be withdrawn as poeple were sitting down, he did not, resulting in a very uncomfortable situation.

2) As we are nearing Metro Center, the train slows down (as it, and every other Metro car, normally does). Yet some woman dressed in a power suit goes flying literally five yards down the aisle and lands in my lap. I was too stunned to react, but others helped her to her feet, but it took a while to get her up, as I could do little but have my body serve as a seat cushion for about ten seconds until the momentum of the train slowed.

3) Finally free of the Metro, I make my way home. Near the Soviet Safeway, a mom is walking with a kid ahead of her. The kid, barely higher than my knee, is running towards me down the sidewalk yelling with glee, and as he comes close to me, raises his left hand in the air. Confused, but certainly not wanting to leave him hanging, I stick out my left hand in a friendly manner to slap him high five.

The kid nears me, hand still raised, and runs smack into my hand.

With his face.

Fuck, I guess he wasn’t going for a high five…What the hell else was that?  A sieg heil?  The momentum from running into my hand wheels him to the side and knocks him down. I was staring ahead at this time still, walking forward, so I could see the mother’s reaction. She just had this look of utter shock on her face, as if I had just smit her firstborn. Which I might well have done, but I wasn’t sticking around to find out. The kid seemed ok, and not wanting to make this more awkward than it was, continued on, The Killers playing in my IPod.


From Overheard In New York…

Tourist lady: Where’s the ladies’ room?
Waiter: Top of the stairs on the left.
Tourist lady: I was just up there. It’s not marked for ladies, so I was afraid to use it.
Waiter: It’s a unisex.
Tourist lady: Excuse me?
Waiter: It’s for everyone. Men and women.
Tourist lady: You’re all going to hell. Do you know that?

–Bar 89, Mercer St
Girl: So, do you know anything about the Holocaust?
Roommate: Like what?
Girl: I don’t know — like, fun facts or something?

–Dorm, Columbia
Coworker #1: Is it just me, or are the rats in New York getting smaller? Seriously!
Coworker #2: Maybe you’re just getting bigger.

–D train platform, Rockefeller Center
Asian mom to child in stroller: You feel trapped? Well, so do I. Now you know how I feel.

–51st & 3rd
JAP on cell: I mean, the one thing I hate more than communism is arts and crafts!

Yuppie to toddler sitting on friend’s lap: … And the benefit of wearing Nike clothing is that it’s made by children not much older than you.

–Central Park
Teen: So, this one time I got kicked out of Barnes and Noble for moving all the Bibles to the ‘Fiction’ section…

–74th & Columbus
Customer to cashier: Can I have a job application, please?
Cashier to manager: I need a job application for this guy.
Manager: Why in the hell would you want to work here? I’m trying to quit!

–McDonald’s, Queens College
Woman on cell: I mean, my God — do I look like I’ve had children?
Suit passerby: Yes.

–53rd & Lex
Sketchy dude #1: So, what you do is you buy crack, and then you tell the cops where you got the crack, and then you get to keep the crack!
Sketchy dude #2: And what’s that called again?
Sketchy dude #1: Court informer.
Sketchy dude #2: Yeah, court informer. I’m gonna be that!

–A train
Office woman: So, what is Matt up to these days?
Delivery man: He just got a job as a fudge packer.
Office woman: Oh, that sounds exciting! Tell him I said hello!

–23rd & Park
Hobo yelling to college couple: Hey, bro! Hit that pussy tonight, bro!
Another male passerby: Yeah — better do what the man says!

–114th & Broadway
Lawyer at deposition: What is your native language?
West Indian woman, offended: English!
Lawyer: Lady, you must speak some other language, because I’ve been questioning you for an hour and I haven’t understood a goddamn word you said.

–Supreme Court, 360 Adams St, Brooklyn
Chick #1 on cell: I mean, have you ever shaved your pussy and then a couple of nights later you can’t sleep because it itches so bad?
Chick #2: Um, hello, we can all hear you.
Chick #1 to #2: Well, has it ever happened to you?
Chick #2: Well, yeah, but I don’t tell the whole subway.

–F train
Guy #1: I’ve been playing the guitar for years.
Guy #2: You play guitar like Bette Midler has sex.
Guy #1: Fuck you.

–86th & Lex platform
45-year-old man: … And since I’m on my way to a business meeting, this drink I just bought you is tax deductible.
College girl: Well, that’s nice, I guess.
45-year-old man: Yeah, you’ve got a big butt and you’re tax deductible. That’s how I like them.

–Coffee Shop Bar, 14th St
Smoker chick: I lose lighters like I lose men.

–Central Park

Boy staring at dinosaur fossil: Dude, these animals died a lot.
Friend: Word.

–Museum of Natural History
Hipster girl #1: I was blowing him and it was taking, like, 20 minutes, so I finally told him to hurry up since my jaw was hurting.
Hipster girl #2: I hate that! How can they take that long to just finish?
Suit nearby: If you would do it right, it would only take two minutes.

–2 train
Hoochie #1: Wait, he has a kid?
Hoochie #2: Yeah! Crazy, right?
Hoochie #1: So, are you going to be a step-mommy?
Hoochie #2: No, no, no… Not a step-mommy. I’m the slutty, hot, 25-year-old that fucks Daddy.

–Astor Pl
Chick: So, today I went to the doctor, and in the waiting room there was this gay guy who told me he liked my Steve Maddens. [Three guys across from her stare blankly.] Oh my god, I’m eating dinner with three straight men.

–Restaurant, 6th Ave
Woman passerby: Come on, you fucking tourists! Get a life! It’s only a fucking cupcake!
Girl in line, mockingly: Oh my god, you’re making such an important social statement!
Old lady in line: Seriously, it’s not our fault she’s a fat bitch.

–Magnolia Bakery, Bleecker St
D.A.R.E. volunteer: Sir, before you leave, would you please–
Rushing guy, interrupting: –Do I look like I just say no to drugs?
D.A.R.E. volunteer: We don’t pre-judge people.

–Outside Marshalls, Atlantic Center, Brooklyn
Chick #1: Hey, you ever been with a guy and then his mom calls, and he, like, picks up?
Chick #2: You mean during sex?!
Chick #1: Yeah.
Chick #2: Hell no!
Chick #1: So, you’ve never been with a Jewish guy, then?
Girl #1: So, now I’m going to need a new roommate, I think.
Girl #2: Wait… Let me get this straight — you walk in, she’s on the bed, nude, rolling around on a bunch of pearls?
Girl #1: Yeah. Our jewelry had just arrived from ShangBy, and I guess she got excited… Want a pearl necklace?

–58th & 5th
Girl #1: Are any of our friends not in therapy?
Girl #2: Yeah, Jeanie isn’t.
Girl #1: But that’s ’cause she can’t afford it.
Girl #3: Jeanie’s not rich?
Girl #1: No.

–Cupcake Café, 9th Ave
Hobo: Hey, kids, read a book, stay in school, and don’t do drugs!
Woman: Come on, kids, don’t talk to strange, crazy people. What did I tell you about that?! [To hobo, who looks insulted] It’s nothing personal — I just don’t want them to, like, get kidnapped or something, you know?
Hobo: Oh… Oh, um, yeah, I understand… [When woman’s out of earshot] Bitch.

–7th Ave & Garfield, Park Slope

Making It Rain…

Hmmm…my Dad should have gotten a nice car and summer home rather than four bumper stickers:

My bros and I:

Tuition Fees Total Room Board Total Total Cost
Cornell $77,852
1988-89 13,100 40 13,140 2,480 1,840 4,320 17,460
1989-90 14,000 40 14,040 2,660 1,970 4,630 18,670
1990-91 15,120 44 15,164 2,852 2,148 5,000 20,164
1991-92 16,170 44 16,214 3,060 2,284 5,344 21,558
Amherst $99,106
 1992-93    17,900    277   18,177    2,400    2,400    4,800    22,977  
 1993-94    18,880    272   19,152    2,500    2,500    5,000    24,152  
 1994-95    19,760    292   20,052    2,650    2,650    5,300    25,352  
 1995-96    20,710    355   21,065    2,780    2,780    5,560    26,625  
Wesleyan $147,060
 2001-02    26,290    810   27,100    3,450    2,800    6,250    33,350  
 2002-03    27,474    846   28,320    4,400    2,940    7,340    35,660  
 2003-04    29,784    214   29,998    4,840    3,088    7,928    37,926  
 2004-05    31,436    214   31,650    5,122    3,352    8,474    40,124  
Georgetown $149,951
 2001-02    25,152    273   25,425    —  —  9,422    34,847  
 2002-03    26,544    309   26,853    —  —  9,692    36,545  
 2003-04    27,864    345   28,209    —  — 10,033    38,242  
 2004-05    29,808    355   30,163    —  — 10,154    40,317  
1988-2005 $473,969


Sorting through the maze that is the internet can be quite daunting, and every so often tools pop up that make finding the latest news, videos, or articles that much easier.  So I was very grateful to discover Popurls, which is a great central hub and dashboard for what is moving the internet at any given moment.  I definitely recommend checking it out…