Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CBPM Class of 2009 Graduation

So it is hard to believe that the semester is over and even more hard to believe that the second years are now officially alumni of the Wisconsin School of Business and the Center for Brand and Product Management. I have to say graduation to me is met with mixed emotions. While the school part can get old, the life of a student is incredible. Even though I still have another year, I know that this time next year I will be ready to be done with classes, but not ready to leave my friends for the real world again.

The CBPM Class of 2009 is the largest graduating class in the history of our program, but that title will be short-lived. They have set the bar high for our class and all future classes and will be missed greatly. I do regret not getting to know them better until this semester. With everything going on first semester I was just trying to keep my head above water, but the trip to Turkey was a great opportunity to get to know them better and it only continued through the spring. I will miss their friendships next semester.
Congrats to the Class of 2009!

The Role of Touch in Consumer Purchasing

Marketing professor Joann Peck has recently been recognized for her ground-breaking research on the impact on touch in consumer purchasing. Click on the title of this post to read an about her work.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mifflin Street Block Party

So Madison has its fair amount of craziness, but the Mifflin Street Block Party was unreal. Four blocks of Mifflin Street west of the Capitol were sealed off and the street turned into Madison's version of Mardi Gras minus the parades and beads. Lucky for us, Shannon and Paul Robinson have a house on Mifflin and decided they were up for throwing a party. It turned into a great time as 1st and 2nd years from all of the different centers showed up and hung out together.
Below are some pictures from the Fiesta.

View from Shannon and Paul's

GBA Spring Ball '09--Partied like it was 1999

Some called it Prom, others Spring Ball, but either way it was a blast. Everybody got decked out in their finest adult attire and enjoyed a night of drinking and dancing. I would say dining, but I don't really remember eating any food even though I know it was there. Attendance was the highest ever, which made it even more fun as it was one of the few events that 1st years, 2nd years, significant others, faculty, and staff all attended together. While an Indian dance troop performance, speeches by Dean Knetter and Coach K, and MBA Superlatives award ceremony were highlights, the real fun didn't start until we hit the dance floor.

I know it was a good time simply because my legs were incredibly sore the next morning from the dancing. It was fun to see a different side of many of the students because they seem to be so serious in class, but you put on a little Bon Jovi and well, they can't help themselves. Post-Prom took us to Brocach for what was supposed to be a quick drink, but $2 High Lifes and a rousing game of quarters turned into a debauchery. All I know is that a crowd ended up at my apartment for pizza and Old School and didn't leave until 4:00 A.M. Quote of the night--"Greg, did you order the pizza man?"--unnamed prospective student not in the Brand Center.

Here are some pictures (that are usable) from the evening courtesy of Jess Worley.

Brian Ward, his lady friend, Joe, Jon Jones, the Pragers, and Paul Robinson (Shannon's husband).

Sam (Katie's boyfriend), Katie Daggett, the Worleys, and the Digmans (well soon-to-be).

Greg Arseneau and his admirers. Wish we had a picture of his doing the Worm, yes, I said it, the Worm.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Newsweek business writer does piece on WSOB

Not sure if you saw the article, but this will appear in this week's issue of Newsweek. The writer, Daniel Gross, serves as the Writer-in-Residence for the WSOB this semester in addition to being a featured columnist in Newsweek and the Business Editor. He visited campus last week and actually set in on two of my classes--Macroeconomics and Marketing Communications. Seems like a really nice guy and was very accessible to the students. Really didn't think he was going to write an article on us, but he did. The same article appears on, which is a business website/blog.

Great to see the program getting some national attention.

Degrees of Separation
Why life is still good for some business school students.
Daniel Gross

May 3, 2009 Updated: 11:14 a.m. ET May 4, 2009

Living and working in the New York region's financial-media complex in 2009 means daily, compulsory attendance at a gathering of the glum. The economy may be shrinking at a 6 percent annual rate, but finance and media have contracted by about 30 percent. For the past year, the daily routine has meant sitting in a depopulated office (assuming you still have a job); following the latest grim news of magazine closings, buyouts, and layoffs; and commiserating with friends, family, and neighbors. And, of course, the angst extends far beyond directly affected companies. Finance dominates the area's economy to such a degree that everybody—lawyers, accountants, real estate brokers, waiters, retailers, and cab drivers—have all been affected.

Of course, one can try to get away to sunnier, more mellow climes. But the usual havens aren't offering much succor. Florida—like New York, except the catastrophe is real estate. Mexico? Um, not now. But last month, I found an unexpected haven: the Midwest. Each semester, the University of Wisconsin School of Business brings in a journalist-in-residence for a week, usually from New York. The theory: Students and professors benefit from the perspective of someone who is chronicling the workings of the world they are studying remotely.
But the benefit was greater for me than for the students. The four days in Madison functioned as a kind of detox. I left thinking the university should turn the Fluno Center for Executive Education into a sort of clinic. It could do for stressed-out financial and media types what Minneapolis' Hazelden does for the drugged-out: offer a safe, friendly (if chilly) place to escape the toxic influence of New York.

Madison struck me as blessedly detached from the ailing financial sector. Of course, Wisconsin is suffering along with the rest of the nation. Its unemployment rate in March was 8.5 percent. But Madison, with its three-legged economic stool of education, state government, and health care, is faring somewhat better. More significantly, the business school isn't having a dark night of the soul, as so many of its Eastern counterparts are.

Columbia Business School and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton are basically satellites of Wall Street. Half the students have memorized the partnership roster at the Blackstone Group the way I once knew the lineup of 1970s-era Cincinnati Reds. An MBA from Columbia or Harvard or Wharton is basically a leveraged bet on a student's ability to make it in finance. You pay a ton of money, most of it borrowed, so that you can land a really high-paying job with one of the big investment banks or private-equity firms that visit campus. By their second year, most MBA students at Wharton are already scoping out the Hamptons for the second homes they know they'll be able to buy in a few years. But with the gilded pipeline to Wall Street temporarily shut down, the rising MBAs are suffering the kind of existential crisis more generally associated with comparative literature majors. The New York Times last month ran an article about students at Wharton who were suddenly at sea. Some were considering working for nonprofits!
But in Madison, the vibe is much different. The television in the business school's lobby was set to Headline News, not CNBC. The only mention of toxic assets was an ironic one—on a T-shirt. When I walked into undergraduate finance classes and asked, "How many want to go get a kick-ass job on Wall Street and make a ton of money?" not a single hand was raised. The students are mostly kids from Wisconsin studying the basics—management, accounting, corporate finance. Some plan to stay in-state and find a job with a small business or with one of the big local firms: Kohler, S.C. Johnson, Kohl's, Harley-Davidson. Many head to Minneapolis or Chicago for jobs with consumer products companies. The University of Wisconsin boasts of having as many alumni who are CEOs of big companies as Harvard does. Yes, Chicago has its big options exchanges. But the Wisconsin students don't seem interesting in moving money around. That happens in the East. ("Instead of being the warm center of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe," as Midwest native Nick Carraway put it in The Great Gatsby, "so I decided to go East and learn the bond business.")

The finance graduate students I had lunch with knew about CDOs and hedge funds but mostly as academic subjects. When I met with a small group of undergrads in an entrepreneurship course, they presented interesting ideas about online businesses, not financial engineering. Private-equity magnate Henry Kravis, CNBC anchor Erin Burnett, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon could probably sit down at State Street Brats and chow down unnoticed and unbothered.

While the faltering economy has dampened job prospects, the meltdown on Wall Street hasn't caused these students—or their faculty—to reconsider the utility of studying accounting or corporate finance. It could be because they haven't been asked to risk as much personally as MBA students back East. At one forum, a student groused about rising tuition, much to the disbelief of the business school Dean Mike Knetter, who knows from expensive education. (He was trained as an economist at Stanford and taught at Dartmouth before returning to Wisconsin.) Knetter, a Wisconsin native, pointed out that even if it was rising, tuition here is still a huge bargain. In-state MBA students pay $11,500 per year, plus living expenses, while undergraduate tuition is about $8,000 per year. (At Wharton, by contrast, tuition for MBAs is $50,000, and total costs are $80,000.)

Compared with the costs of high-end executive detox retreats, like the one run by former Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin, Wisconsin is a bargain.