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Get Career Ready: Stop and Smell the Roses

By Angela Guido

August 28, 2016

If you’ve been following along these 27 weeks, you’ve gotten some actionable tips, some timeless wisdom, and some bright ideas for your career. If the ideas inspired you, your to-do list is probably overflowing. So our last tip for you is a very very important one:
Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

In his inspiring commencement speech to the Stanford class of 2005, Steve Jobs talks about the calligraphy class that fascinated him during his own brief college experience but that at the time seemed completely useless. “What I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on,” he claimed. The Mac was the first computer with beautiful typography. We all have that class to thank for the variety of ways we can now express ourselves through fonts in the digital world.

So as you patiently and hungrily make your way to the top, don’t forget to slow down sometimes, pay attention to what calls to you, and then heed that calling. Even if it means being late to a class once in a while, if the scent of roses from that nearby courtyard beckons you, stop and smell them.

Our career tips are brought to you by Angela Guido. For more timeless wisdom and bright ideas for your career, check out her website, Career Protocol.

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Driving Forces: Be An Innovative Leader

Danae Ringelmann came to business school with the inkling of an idea to shake up the world of finance—and came out with a startup that ushered in the crowdfunding revolution.

Content courtesy of University of California - Berkeley (Haas School of Business).

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Get Career Ready: Just Ask

By Angela Guido

August 21, 2016

In any job, you need sales skills – whether that means selling a product, convincing others of your ideas, or simply proving your own value to a project. It’s important you be able to “get to yes,” and bring others into alignment with what you want. But sometimes, the fear of hearing “no” stops us from asking.

Consider prolific author Stephen King’s experience: “By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”
Comfort with rejection is an essential component of influence and impact. To cultivate your rejection resilience, start with no-stakes asks. Try asking…

  • A classmate to give you a piece of gum, a pen, a piece of paper
  • Friends, family, and strangers to donate to a club or cause you care about
  • Salespeople to give you a discount when there is no sale happening

See how comfortable you can get hearing “no,” when the stakes are very low, and then work your way up to more important requests, like asking…

  • A professor to improve your grade on a paper if you do some additional research,
  • A manager to give you a little extra training, or
  • A club member to step up and lead a project.

Our career tips are brought to you by Angela Guido. For more timeless wisdom and bright ideas for your career, check out her website, Career Protocol.

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Driving Forces: A New Way to Think

August 21, 2016

Artificial intelligence used to be the stuff of science fiction. Today, an IBM supercomputer named Watson is actually learning how to think, analyze unstructured data, translate, and react to natural language.

Zoe Hillenmeyer, BFA ’09, MBA ’13, says, “cognitive computing” is the term IBM prefers for this new era of intelligent technology. She is IBM’s innovation and design lead for Watson’s Cross Industry Value Team. In Hillenmeyer’s words, “We’re a tiger team of solution-focused technology geeks, with an eye to the future and the possibilities for cognitive computing to drastically transform complexity into context and confusion into well-informed decisions.”

Ironically, Hillenmeyer would be the first to admit that she is not your typical technology geek. She grew up in rural Indiana, where barely half of her senior class graduated from high school and she was one of a few to go out of state for college. After arriving at WashU, she discovered her passion for art and pursued a degree in sculpture. Hillenmeyer worked for a startup in India and an auction house in Boston, and organized cultural festivals before returning to St. Louis and Olin’s MBA program. She sums up her insatiable curiosity to learn as “a relentless pursuit of the unknown.”

“Zoe is a force of nature,” Joe Fox says of the energetic innovator who never passes up the chance to question the status quo. Fox, associate dean of graduate programs at Olin, remembers how Hillenmeyer hit the ground running as a first-year MBA. As a class leader, she revived the Olin Women in Business (OWIB) organization, improved recruitment tactics for women applicants, and strengthened Olin’s ties to national organizations like the Forté Foundation and the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA).

At IBM, Hillenmeyer’s innovative approach to problem solving, data visualization, and collaboration on consulting projects has propelled her to Big Blue’s much-talked-about new business unit: Watson. Since winning Jeopardy! in 2011, Watson has evolved. The computer is able to interpret big data by identifying patterns, connections, and insights. Then it organizes the content into smaller chunks for humans to digest, interpret, discover solutions, and make decisions. Now Watson is its own business unit, strategy, and talent organization.

“My role in particular is to infuse our team with core design principles, innovation best practices, and a momentum that embraces and exudes positive change,” explains Hillenmeyer. Her team is part of the Watson Group based in IBM’s new global headquarters in New York City’s Silicon Alley, although Hillenmeyer is based in Seattle. The Watson Group has more than 2,000 employees globally. Hillenmeyer’s team works on projects from transit to nuclear decommissioning. The only limit to the scope of their work is impact: “it has to be important, solving real and salient needs of society or business. It has to transform, dramatically, the ways of today,” Hillenmeyer said.

Hillenmeyer’s office is equipped with Play-Doh, paints, sketch pads, white boards, markers of many colors, and a drill press. The sculptor-turned-IBMer refuses to abandon those tactile tools while working in this new era of cognitive computing. She insists they help facilitate novel approaches to idea generation, problem solving, and process reinvention: “We collaborate. We innovate. We team. We break things, and fix ’em. We brainstorm and fail, and make beautiful things exist. It’s a great job.”

Content courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis (Olin Business School).

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Get Career Ready: Be a Connector

By Angela Guido

August 14, 2016

Do you want to be the person your friends turn to when they need information or a connection? Do you want to become known as a great resource who can add value to anyone? Want to have positive influence on the lives of as many people as possible? Become a connector. It’s the same thing as being famous in your personal network.

The connector is the hub of a social network - she’s the person that unites others, creates shared opportunities, and expands what is possible for everyone. If you want to become the connector in your network, here’s how to do it:

  • Get good at connecting people – find creative ways to introduce them via email, social media, and in person.
  • Listen for hidden connections – when you meet new people and find out about their interests and needs, ask who else you know has something to offer them?
  • Share your own value with everyone you meet. For example, turn your simple passions into content others can use and appreciate. Download my Florence PowerPoint for an example of what I mean.

If you start connecting people and finding new ways to share value with the people you know, soon you will be the most sought after person in your network. Want more networking tips? Download this guide.

Our career tips are brought to you by Angela Guido. For more timeless wisdom and bright ideas for your career, check out her website, Career Protocol.

Subscribe to Forté Driving Forces and get weekly tips on career prep activities, taking the GMAT and cool on-the-job profiles.

 

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Driving Forces: Career Game Changer

When Maggie MacCool went back to school for her MBA, she returned knowing her career needed a “game changer.” See how a personalized, tailored MBA experience helped Maggie find her educational community and gave her the tools she needed to succeed as a woman in the world of business.

Content courtesy of Arizona State University (W.P. Carey School of Business).

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Get Career Ready: Say No

By Angela Guido

August 7, 2016

You’re one person. You have one life. You have exactly 24 hours in every day. You can’t do it all.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is say yes. Say yes to inspiration, curiosity, the unknown, and the things that interest you. That will lead you down an inspiring path. But if you say yes a few times, sooner or later you will have to say no because you have priorities.

A truism goes: “Only do things that only you can do.” Stuff like working out, spending time with friends, doing your homework, and keeping in touch with family can’t be outsourced. You have to do those yourself. So those will necessarily take top priority in your life. Learn to say no to things that don’t make the best use of your time. Some ideas:

  • Don’t step up to lead that additional class project when you are already overcommitted in your other classes.
  • Don’t run for president of your sorority when you are already chair of a professional club you want to dedicate your time and energy to.
  • Don’t help that friend with her problem set when the only time she can meet is when you already promised to have lunch with your brother.

Determine your priorities and say no selectively when opportunities conflict with them.

Our career tips are brought to you by Angela Guido. For more timeless wisdom and bright ideas for your career, check out her website, Career Protocol.

Subscribe to Forté Driving Forces and get weekly tips on career prep activities, taking the GMAT and cool on-the-job profiles.

 

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Driving Forces: Using Data to Solve Customer Problems

Whitney Nystrom has always had a passion for finding new ways to solve problems and as Senior Associate in PwC’s Customer Advisory Practice, she is able to help clients solve their biggest marketing challenges on a daily basis.  She recently helped a large CPG company gain better visibility into their customer investment architecture by building a dynamic business intelligence tool. 

After graduating from Texas Christian University, Whitney began her career at Amegy Bank and while there built her skills in finance, analytics, problem loan forecasting and found herself enjoying the challenges of using data to make more informed business decisions and solve complex business problems.

Looking to make a career shift into consulting, Whitney saw the opportunity to get her MBA as a way to gain new skills in analytics and marketing while also honing her leadership skills.  Whitney selected Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business because of the strong business analytics curriculum, the opportunity to improve her executive communication and leadership skills through the Business Leadership Center and because of the global learning aspects of the MBA program at SMU.

In addition to being a Forte Fellow, highlights of Whitney’s time at SMU were serving as the President of the Consulting Club where she fostered valuable relationships with well-respected consulting firms and traveling to Tokyo and Beijing as a part of SMU’s Global Leadership Program.

After completing her summer internship at PwC in their Customer Consulting practice where she worked on a Product Code Consolidation project for a Fortune 50 company, she knew she had found the right place to help clients solve complex business problems from strategy through execution.  After graduating in 2014, Whitney joined PwC full-time where the SMU curriculum could be applied immediately.  She has found herself using skills she learned in both Business Analytics and Marketing courses to assess client issues.  The time spent at SMU left Whitney well-prepared to work in a team environment and think about the holistic business as she addresses clients’ business needs.

Whitney continues to support women in business and has taken an active role in the Chicago Advisory Women’s Network where she is part of the core planning team.  She and her team focus on key areas that help promote women in the consulting industry, and help ensure they have a trusted network to support career progression in the firm.

Content courtesy of Southern Methodist University (Cox School of Business).

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