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David LoVerme

Entrepreneur, Musician, Runner, World Traveler, MBA, Product Manager, Lifelong Learner

The Condensed MBA: Part 5

With the second to last installment of my Condensed MBA series, we move on to the second year.  If it seems like the posts are heavy on the first year, that’s because the full time MBA tends to skew that way.  At BC, we moved from quarters to semesters and from daytime to evening classes.  For many, that allowed them to work either full or part time and for others it opened up time for the job search or to participate in extracurriculars such as my pet project the BC Grad Tech Club.  Still however, there was a lot of learning that went on and, as always, I have documented my take-aways here.  (If you missed my summaries of the first year courses see parts one, two, three, and four or a shortened version of the full first year on Linkedin.

Second Year: First Semester

Corporate Finance

For most marketing MBAs the end of first year means you never have to take a finance class again.  For me, however, I finished first year feeling that I had not yet developed the strength in finance that an MBA ought to exhibit so I enrolled in Corporate Finance.  It was certainly the right decision and I left the class with a couple of key take-aways:

  • What is a company’s valuation actually supposed to represent? Whether it is the market cap of a public company (aggregate value of outstanding shares) or the estimated valuations that underlie investments in private companies, it is easy to talk about what a company is “worth” without actually being able to clearly articulate what that means.  For me, drilling home the concept that the companies value represents the monetary value of its tangible and intangible assets AND the present value of the aggregate amount of money it will generate in the future was revolutionary. Understanding that last factor and what goes into calculating it (risk, discount rate, etc.) helped clarify a concept that had previously seemed rather convoluted.
  • In any finance event, over-communicating your reasons is key- Whether it’s buying back shares, taking on debt, or issuing shares every move you make will send a message and if you aren’t clear about the why, investors will infer what they want.  In fact they will probably do this regardless, but the more guidance you can give, the better chance you have of preventing misinterpretations.  For instance, investors will almost always interpret a new share issuance as an indication that the management thinks the stock is overvalued.  If you are going to issue new shares for any other reason you MUST be very clear about the why and even then you will see some drop in share price as not every investor will trust that you do not believe the stock is overvalued. 

Continue reading “The Condensed MBA: Part 5”

The Condensed MBA: Part 4

We’ve passed the halfway point in my six part MBA reflections!  If you missed it, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.  I am full time working on my heritage travel startup Radici Travel as part of the 2015 Soaring Startup Circle so the final three installments will likely come once a week.

First Year: Fourth Quarter

Global Capitalism, Culture, and Ethics

This class was case-based and examined a number of ethical issues related to globalization.  Because of the way scheduling worked, everyone had to take this class but the two sections were essentially divided into marketing people and finance people.  A couple of times I had to go to the alternate section for one reason or another and the general sentiment was often markedly different.  For me, there are a couple of lasting impressions:

  • The banana industry is brutal!  We must have read 3 or 4 cases about it, including the aptly titled Blood Bananas, and the issues ranged from spurious propaganda, to inciting military coups, to tax fraud, to human rights abuses.  Chiquita has actually changed its name multiple times to try to hide its own brutal past.
  • Most people are afraid to take a stand- One thing that really surprised me was how unwilling many people were to take a firm stand on an issue, both the actors within the cases but also students in the class.  It often seemed like people would make serious leaps to attempt to provide a justifiable reason for something in the case because of the economic upside.  After what we have seen, however, this kind of bending and stretching can lead to ruin and good ethical business tends to pay dividends in the long run.  If you are looking for a simple, doable way to set yourself apart in the business world, take a stand on ethics…you’ll be glad you did!
  • Unintended consequences are always there- Understanding this allows you to anticipate and mitigate some of them, but more importantly, you need to equip your people with a framework for dealing with the unknown when it inevitably comes.  This framework should include your company’s ethical code and a chain of command for making these calls.

Continue reading “The Condensed MBA: Part 4”

The Condensed MBA: Part 3

Wow, what an amazing response so far…glad everyone is enjoying my MBA recollections (it’s a lot of fun for me too).  If you missed it, you can find parts one and two here.  Now onto Part 3!

First Year: Third Quarter

Strategic Management

MBA courses are, by nature, often discussion based.  While I generally like this format, at times it can be unclear whether we are really on the right track or just blowing smoke.  With Professor Mary Tripsas at the helm, this was never the case.  She had no problem calling out vague or unsupported comments and really forced us to elevate our game and exploration of the topic at hand.  This challenge was energizing and is what really made the class stand out.  Other than Tripsas leaving a normally quick witted classmate speechless after calling him out for yawning in class, what do I still remember?

  • Who made that toilet? The first case we read was about Japanese luxury toilet company Toto and it’s challenge to American Standard.  To this day, I cannot use a bathroom without noting who made the toilet.  For the record mine is a Toto.
  • You can make a two by two matrix for just about anything (and it will probably help)- By the end of class we had seen so many of these that it almost seemed cliche and yet they really are a great framework for analyzing and organizing complex ideas or markets.  To demonstrate just how versatile they can be, here is one I like for Game of Thrones characters
  • Porter’s Five Forces- We were all doing an MBA and Prof Tripsas used to work for Monitor…needless to say, we got so much Michael Porter that it had to stick, if for no other reason than the amount of jokes and five forces parities we made.
  • Two-Sided Markets- Before going on to win the Business Plan Competition (spoiler alert), 5/6 of the Geck Squad did a routine presentation on Uber and two-sided markets.  We wound up getting really excited about it and putting in a lot more work than necessary but ended with a final presentation that we were really proud of and that I could probably still give today.

Continue reading “The Condensed MBA: Part 3”

The Condensed MBA: Part 2

With my Canadian vacation behind me, it’s time for Part 2 of my 6 part “Condensed MBA” series.  (Click here if you missed Part 1)  Read on to hear about first semester, quarter 2.

First Year: Second Quarter

Financial Management

Like Accounting, the biggest challenge for me was my general lack of familiarity with the vocabulary.  Getting used to a definition of “coupon” that didn’t include cutting something out of a circular was a bit of an adjustment but having Bob Taggart at the helm meant I had an understanding professor who was always available and ready to help.  So what stuck?

  • Time Value of Money- A dollar today is worth more than a dollar in the future.  Understanding the basic concept and how to approach calculating it is crucial.  While I am still a little shaky on the calculation part, I have a strong enough understanding of the basic concept to know if I need to bring in help with the calculations.
  • Helping each other is what sets BC MBAs from the rest- Despite hard work throughout the quarter, I was still pretty shaky heading into the exam.  One of my classmates came in super early on exam day and spent hours with a few of us to ensure we fully understood without asking anything in return…that’s community!

Continue reading “The Condensed MBA: Part 2”

The Condensed MBA: Part 1

Anyway you slice it, a full time MBA is intense.  You read hundreds of cases and articles, write thousands of words, take hours of exams, and it’s all over in a flash.  Now that I am officially a Master of Business Administration, I thought it would be worth reflecting on the single biggest take-aways from each class I took.

My MBA lasted two years, the first of which uses quarters and the second, semesters.  As a result this will be a six part series of posts.

First Year: First Quarter

Accounting:

With maestros Pete and Carolyn Wilson at the helm, this class was certainly one of the most memorable of my time at BC.  Besides the lowest grade of my MBA career, however, what did I take away from the class?

  • Having the right vocabulary is crucial!  Without a finance background, most of the terms used in the class were new to me.  It was a lot like learning a foreign language.  The concepts were not too difficult but understanding what was asked was not as simple as it seems.
  • Read 10ks! You don’t have to be able to author financial statements but being able to read and interpret them can make or break a good business person and teach you a lot about the company.
  • Appreciate accountants! Their job is not easy but the better they do it, the easier it is for everyone else to do theirs.  Given the importance of proper accounting, the whole company should be committed to proper accounting.

Continue reading “The Condensed MBA: Part 1”

What a Techie can learn from Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is famous for saying that he does not invest in Tech companies because he doesn’t understand them and cannot predict what they will do in ten years.  He may be a whiz with stocks and insurance companies, but can a Techie like myself really learn a lot of value from him?  Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Warren Buffett Experience with a group of MBAs from BC and five other schools.  I met the Oracle himself and we had a 2 hour Q&A (with a tasty chicken parm thereafter).  It turns out the answer to my question is a resounding YES!  Buffett spoke very little about investing in particular and more about general business and life lessons as applicable to Tech as they are to Textiles (the business from which his Berkshire-Hathaway holding company gets its name).  I have pages upon pages of notes but will do my best to summarize some of the highlights here.

BC MBA group with Warren Buffett
BC MBA group with Warren Buffett

The Biggest Mistake You Can Make Is Not Using Your Skills And Talents To Their Full Potential

Buffett spent a lot of time highlighting the fact that we had all won the ovarian lottery just by virtue of having the minds, opportunities, families, etc. that allowed us to be in that room.  In light of this, he told us he never really worries about mistakes–that it would be a mistake to complain about anything when you’ve already won on 80:1 odds at birth.  He highlighted a failure to use your skills and talents to their full potential as one of the few real mistakes you can make.  In today’s tech world especially, there are almost limitless free resources out there to make any idea a reality.  Likewise, we have developed a culture that encourages trying, failing, and learning, over the safer routes.  With opportunities like this, the biggest mistake we can make is not following our passions and starting a company, joining a startup, or otherwise following our passion.  Buffett suggested taking the job you would choose if money were not a concern–for many of us, that means the startup world.

Continue reading “What a Techie can learn from Warren Buffett”

Catching Up with BC MBA and Entrepreneur Ryan Traeger

BC Grad Tech

Last week I had the chance to catch up with Double Eagle Ryan Traeger, CEO and co-founder of ACHVR.  Ryan received a BA from BC in 2003 and an MBA from the Carroll School in 2012.  I have always believed that BC is a great place to start a business, yet our MBA program is not always viewed as such from the outside.  One of the goals of the Grad Tech Club is to change that perception and create opportunities for plenty of future businesses to come out of the walls of Fulton Hall.

Even before his MBA, Ryan was no stranger to entrepreneurship, running a small web design firm out of college before taking on some marketing agency firm jobs.  While he loved marketing, Ryan started to feel the entrepreneurial itch again and decided to go back to BC for an MBA.  He hoped in the time to either…

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TechStars Boston: the Right Place, the Right Time

BC Grad Tech

Last Friday, members of the Grad Tech Club joined forces with our undergrad counterparts to visit TechStars Boston in their headquarters downtown.  The visit was a great experience where we learned a lot about one of the most prestigious accelerators out there.  Like most accelerators, TechStars provides space, resources, and mentorship for the 1% of applicants it accepts as well as some upfront capital and the promise of more in a convertible note should the company get funded later on.  More than just great companies, however, Techstars is committed to producing great ecosystems.  One way they do this, which I found to be particularly interesting, is by bringing on not only startups but also coders and young business professionals as Hackstars and Associates.  These people serve as floaters so to speak, and resources available to the different Techstars companies.  This gives an on demand labor force for the companies and…

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Today, Tomorrow, and the Future: Navigating the Tech Landscape

BC Grad Tech

We all know Tech Startups have many differences from traditional businesses but identifying them and how to navigate these differences to build a successful career can be challenging.  That is why we were so fortunate to have industry veteran and NDT VP of Recruiting Larry Kahn visit the Heights last Tuesday!  With more than 20 years experience recruiting for high tech, he brings a great perspective on how to break in and make it in the industry.  I have done my best to summarize some of his key insights here.

A huge thank you to Larry for taking the time to share his knowledge and experience with us!

On Interviewing

  • Companies are increasingly hiring on consensus, with more than just one “decider” you need to pay extra attention to how you come across during your entire time in the office and to anyone with whom you interact.  This can be…

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