Time to Party
Hundreds of LeBow alums returned to campus to see the new building, visit old friends, and make new connections during the LeBow Alumni Party.
Business (and Fun) in Prague and Krakow
For students in the Executive MBA program, the 10-day international residency serves not only as a capstone of their studies, but as a celebration of twenty long months together. This year’s graduating class journeyed to Europe, visiting both Prague, Czech Republic and Krakow, Poland. Their itinerary was quite demanding, with many visits to local and multinational companies, but was balanced with cultural excursions that provided opportunities for sightseeing and learning. Ultimately, it was a fantastic experience full of fun, growth, and memories made.
Accompanied by Dean Frank Linnehan, we arrived in Prague and were greeted with some gorgeous spring weather, but it didn’t take long for the clouds to roll in and the temperatures to plummet. After touring the city’s beautiful Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square in the wind-whipped rain, it was beginning to look like we would be facing a challenging week. But Mother Nature couldn’t dampen our spirits, and the clouds eventually parted on day two as we toured the gothic Prague Castle, the world’s largest castle complex and the seat of power for kings, emperors, and presidents, and St. George’s Basilica, the oldest surviving church in Prague.
The trip wasn’t all fun and games. After getting an overview of the Czech Republic’s economy and healthcare systems from representatives from Deloitte and Czechmed, the students jumped on the bus to learn first-hand the full scope of doing business in the Czech Republic. At DuPont, we donned labcoats and learned why the Czech Republic can be an attractive business location for foreign investors. We gained insight on running a business through the country’s wavering political past at Benes a Lat, a local manufacturer of engineering castings and were educated on the ins-and-outs of successfully starting and growing a modern day tech business at Avast!, the popular anti-virus software developer.
We all bid adieu to Prague and boarded a bus to Krakow, but not before stopping in Brno to visit the popular Starobrno Brewery, where we were given a tour of their massive facilities (and sampled many, many pints of the finished product). Our time in Krakow may have been limited, but it wasn’t short on quality. Visits included stops at IBM and Google, where we were given a European viewpoint of research and development in a post-communist environment. We also visited Selvita, an independent drug discovery company, where we were educated on the growth of the Polish biotech sector, and Lynka, a promotional clothing company where LeBow graduate Matthew Lynch is a board member and domestic sales director.
In the evenings, we took in as much as we possibly could in the short time that we had, from touring the historic Old Town district and gazing in awe at the majestic Altarpiece of Veit Stoss in St. Mary’s Basilica, to successfully seeking out the fabled Blue Van Special for a taste of Poland’s most sought-after wood-grilled sausage during a midnight trek to Market Hall. It was a whirlwind ten days, and although we were all sad to see the trip come to an end, the memories made will undoubtedly last a lifetime.
Program Coordinator, Online and Executive MBA Programs
Một, hai, ba, dô! That’s Cheers in Vietnamese!
Twenty LeBow students recently returned from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where they attended a one-week international residency to study the country’s emerging economy. As the group was composed of students from several MBA programs – Anywhere, Accelerated, and Full Time – it was the first time many of us had met. The week was busy with academic visits at local and multinational companies, cultural excursions and 95-degree weather, a welcome change after our frigid winter. We all enjoyed local cuisine and many social events such as a LeBow reception, where we invited local alumni, students and parents.
After completing the first nine weeks of the course online, students delved into the international dimensions of business in Vietnam. We learned about analyzing consumer behavior at Lowe Vietnam, a marketing and branding company; studied textile manufacturing and toured the facilities at Nhabe Garment Joint Stock Company; learned about software outsourcing at TMA Solutions; met with professionals in the Vietnamese healthcare market at Johnson & Johnson; and participated in a video conferencing session about technology and innovation at Cisco. We also met with professionals at IMS Health for further insights in the healthcare industry, and TRG International where we discussed launching start-ups and the challenges of being an entrepreneur in Vietnam. The insights we gained from these visits came full circle during our group debriefing session with Dean Linnehan at the culmination of the residency course.
Of course, we allowed some time for fun, too. The week began with an exploration of the maze of Cu Chi Tunnels, which were used by the Viet Cong in the Vietnam War, followed by a tour of Ho Chi Minh City, including Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the famous Ben Thanh Market.
Our day trip to Mekong Delta was a group favorite, complete with a relaxing sampan ride along a small mangrove palm creek and a boat ride to Ben Tre province, where we walked through quiet villages, visited a bee-keeping house where we enjoyed honey tea and ate seasonal tropical fruit. After listening to some traditional live music from local performers, we took horse carts along the village to observe the coconut candy production process – complete with delicious coconut samples!
Perhaps the highlight of the week’s cultural activities was the motorbike “foodie” tour, when we were able to experience a journey around the chaotic streets of Ho Chi Minh City, mingling with hundreds of other motorbikes and making several stops to sample authentic local foods, including soups, frog, prawns, scallops and local vegetables. What a treat! Our international residency experience was made complete with the help of Linh Trinh and Trung Ho, two LeBow undergraduate students from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, respectively, who traveled with to help with the Vietnamese language and who directed us toward their best recommendations for coffee, food and souvenirs. They even taught us to say Cheers, which we said before eating every meal.
Một, hai, ba, dô!
Program Manager, MBA Residencies
The Value of Drexel LeBow’s Finance Week
Finance week is the time of year where students can put down their textbooks, suit up, and practice the crucial networking skills needed in today’s business environment. Having been a finance week patron during the last three years of my Drexel undergraduate degree, I was greatly looking forward to participating this year. The jam-packed week began with students networking with top-notch co-op employers such as Goldman Sachs, SIG, Johnson & Johnson, Vanguard, Turner Investments, and PNC Advisors. During a focused 3-hour Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) prep course taught by the unparalleled and treasured Professor Sandberg, I learned that passing the CFA level I before graduation is absolutely within reach. Also, Casino night is a way for students to put their probability and risk taking skills to the test. The mid-week Philly Stock Exchange networking reception included student conversations with prominent and local leaders in industry. I was able to gain insight from Dean Linnehan about the value of networking skills in business – he told us: “Your net worth is a direct correlation to your network.” I will definitely remember this as I continue to grow my professional network and progress in my career.
My favorite event of the week was the annual NYC Alumni Networking Reception and NASDAQ closing bell. Now, you might call me LeBow obsessed, but I was looking forward to this trip before winter term even started mainly because I will soon begin my career in finance and am aiming for a New York City based position. I realize the importance of building a respectable reputation in the industry and the significance of a strong network. Many of the alumni recognized me from previous events and our conversations effortlessly resumed. I even had the privilege of shaking hands with the one and only Bennett S. LeBow who has tremendously impacted my life with his generous support to this institution I call home. I am extremely proud to say I will be starting my third and final co-op at Morgan Stanley in NYC and was able to set-up mentorship meetings with Drexel alumni while working in NYC this summer. I encourage all students to take advantage of these extraordinary resources and opportunities we are afforded throughout the year. Finance week offers key professional experience at your fingertips!
During Finance Week, I was able to take advantage of the New York Alumni Networking Reception. Besides attending the closing bell at the NASDAQ and discussing the beauty that is my home country – Kenya with Bennett S. LeBow, I spent about three hours with LeBow College alumni discussing my co-op experiences at J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Australian Stock Report and how to best use this as leverage when applying for a full time position. At the end of the event, I had contacts from alumni working at my main target companies such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley who were really willing to assist in my job application process.
In Berlin: Drexel LeBow Healthcare MBA students with Professor Michael Howley at the heliport of Unfallkrankenhaus Berlin (Trauma Center).
Dean Frank Linnehan and MBA students riding a horse cart in Mekong Delta, Vietnam. They are currently doing a residency there.
Hello from Berlin! The Healthcare MBA students are enjoying their international residency to Berlin and Prague this week. The cohort is pictured here in front of an original section of the Berlin Wall during the first cultural event. They also toured the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Square.
Here’s a candid of Associate Dean Paul Jensen, Ph.D., and Assistant Dean Brian Ellis captured during one of many sincere, open discussions about serving our undergraduate student population.
You can catch genuine moments like this with our faculty, students and staff five days a week on the third floor of Gerri C. LeBow Hall.
The Best Lecture I Ever Heard
While in Buenos Aires, we had the pleasure of attending an amazing lecture at Universidad Austral’s IAE Business School about Argentina’s economic growth and populist tradition.
Ariel Casarin, Ph.D., who directs the school’s Business, Society and Economics programs, delivered a dynamic account of the country’s economic decline, set against the backdrop of political chaos, social revolution and increasing competition from other South American countries. He told the personal story of his family’s emigration from Italy — and how the Perón era completely changed not only the sociopolitical landscape of Argentina, but also how those changes have been passed down to future generations through an expectation of government subsidy — even to the detriment of economic growth. A paradox indeed.
At the beginning of the lecture, Dr. Casarin posed the question: “Would you do business here?” He was met with silence. At the end of the lecture, he asked the same question. Again, the silence was palpable.
Heard among Drexel LeBow’s MBA students in attendance as they walked aboard their buses:
- “That was the best lecture I ever heard.”
- “I had no idea. Even after all the research.”
- “I wish we could have asked the guy questions for another hour.”
Eva Perón’s tomb in Recoleta Cemetery, Bueonos Aires.
Eva Perón’s body [was] safely buried in the Duarte family tomb under three plates of steel in the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. The tomb was said to be secure enough to withstand a nuclear attack or a restless corpse.
Read more about Evita’s restless corpse here.
(Photographs by Joseph Master)
Last week, a group of LeBow MBA students from all walks of life spent over a week in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The experience was eye opening. No matter how thoroughly you research a place — no matter how many hours you spend reading a book or a spreadsheet — nothing can prepare you to see the flesh and blood behind the numbers. Below is just a glimmer of what we learned …
There are 1.1 million square miles in Argentina, in which around 40 million people live and work. About 40 percent of the country’s population lives in Buenos Aires Provence. The literacy rate is over 97 percent. The people are kind. Welcoming. Proud. The buildings look Parisian. The palm trees are regal. The soil is some of the most fertile in the world. The nation’s oil reserves are plenty. A century ago, Argentina was a world leader. Only seven countries boasted more economic prosperity. Yet, since the age of Evita, crisis has been a marquee headline for Argentines.
Don’t expect the headline to change any time soon.
Today, inflation is nearing 30 percent — yet Argentina’s government has not devalued its currency. The exchange rate is uncertain. The dollar has been blocked. The deficit is growing; the nation’s infrastructure has deteriorated. Its ports are inefficient — falling apart. The ghosts of Juan and Eva Perón walk the streets. To this day, the government can be called many names that harken back to Perón’s approach to economics: populist; nationalist; statist. Today, the government, run by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is not trusted. People take to the streets in protest nearly every day. The walls of old buildings, statues and street signs — the hallmarks of a city once called the “Paris of South America” — are peppered with graffiti.
This is what we saw. We will never forget it.
(Photographs by Subha Bhattacharyya, Ph.D., MBA).
Until Next Time, Salone!
My roommate thinks I’m insane.It’s not like I don’t understand why. After all, Sierra Leone consistently ranks as one of the least livable countries in the world and Kono is certainly the least developed of the countries impoverished districts.Burning garbage, open sewers, and mud huts constantly remind me that I am living in the third world. Bombed out houses, young people with no hands and a noticeable military presence remind me that I am living in what use to be a warzone. What’s worse is that Kono District had the potential to be one of the most vibrant and profitable regions in all of West Africa.
Before the war, a shovel, free afternoon and a bit of luck were all that were needed to find diamonds in this area. Before the war. With such a rich supply of natural treasure ripe for the picking, rebels fought hard to take the town and its surrounding mines. The people of Kono then had their land robbed and decimated as the rebels took the districts central city, Koidu, to fund their crusade of anarchy. Diamond mining now takes millions in foreign investments, harsh working conditions and, obviously, substantially more planning than walking down to the closest stream. So what’s it like living and working in a region of the world that is still recovering from a civil war and learning to move past diamonds, the only thing that gets some people out of bed here?
Well, the words different in every conceivable way come to mind, yet do not seem to fully capture the extent. It may be cliché to say you just need to experience but there are somethings I would not even know how to describe to people. Obviously, it’s hot, the food is spicy and I stand out from the typical African. Children have had every reaction from screams of joy as they try to jump into my arms to the most sincere fear I have ever seen accompanied by hysterical crying (12 in total — yes, I was keeping count). The staple food here is rice, which I have eaten nearly every day at least once, but sometimes for every meal. Electricity for lights, water for drinking and gas for cooking are all luxuries that the large majority of people here do not have in their homes. But these are all the things that I knew before I left the states and not terribly interesting. Some of the more interesting (and less curricular) experiences I have had on coop include:
- Learning to speak a bit of the tribal language of Kono and the national language of Krio, a sort of English dialect
- Spending a weekend climbing the tallest mountain in west Africa after a 5 hour motor bike ride there
- Running in a half marathon in Makeni and seeing the president
- Watching the Champions league final in a shed no larger than a Ucross apartment with over 300 people screaming at ever action (the temperature falls under the “need to experience” category)
- Drinking palm wine and sharing kola nuts with rural palm farmers
- Aided in killing, skinning, and cleaning a goat for a pepper soup feast
With my flight back to the states tomorrow, I look back on my time here in a very positive way. The three months here went by both quickly and slowly. There were difficult days that seemed like they would never end, as with most jobs. Yet it seems like just last week I ran to catch the last ferry of the night into Freetown, a city so chaotic it makes New York seem quaint.
I am confident that I have had the most unique coop experience of any student at Drexel and will cherish the valuable lessons I have learned here for the rest of my career.
Drexel LeBow’s 1st ever #VineApp tweet!
“There is no such thing as a free lunch”
I learned this quote in one of my first economics classes at Drexel. In context, Milton Friedman uses this to explain how nothing is free in life and everything is earned by sacrificing something else. I have come to learn this rule bends a bit when a country endures a 10-year civil war. After the war, literally hundreds of NGO’s from around the world came here to Sierra Leone, specifically to ravaged mining district of Kono, and poured money into a variety of aid programs. Though these various NGO’s meant well in selflessly giving to the people of Sierra Leone, I feel many have only set the country back and further instilled the mentality that created problems in the first place.
That is a very bold statement I just made. Most people would ask me how giving clean drinking water to AIDS victims, homes to those with limbs amputated by rebels, or a square meal a day to school children could be detrimental. The problem is not in helping the people of Sierra Leone have a decent life (that is one of the main reasons I am here). I believe that handouts only create a reliance on others rather than fostering a spirit of independence and revival. Very little is learned or changed in receiving free help because the sacrifice to receive the aid is minimal. In short, the problem is that it is a free lunch.
NGO handouts only last until the money runs out and the aid workers go home. But what if you could give the people a fishing pole and teach them how to fish? (Figuratively of course since Kono is landlocked) The project I am working with here, Palm 2 Palm, aims to do exactly that. Rather than handing out money and walking away, a grant was used to set up a palm oil factory that buys fruit from local farmers to sell in the market place of Koidu town. All the money stays right here in the district, distributed fairly between the farmers and our factory workers. The project will create economic growth for years to come rather than just a short period of handouts. Palm 2 Palm is in the early stages but I am confident that it will ultimately make life a bit easier for a large group of people in Kono.
Though I have yet to have a “typical day” in Sierra Leone, I can describe some activities I have done regularly. On production days at the factory, I help manage the palm oil production, mentor the workers how to keep the books, and make some financial projections for when the production is finished. Other days, I ride a motorcycle into the bush to visit rural palm farmers and discuss the project with them. Palm 2 Palm has been exciting and the problems we have faced made me think harder than even the most difficult of my business exams. Everyday is a new challenge. Managing a factory that has the capacity to process thousands of kilograms of fruit a week and negotiating prices with farmers that live completely off the grid through a translator certainly is not easy. But hey, I can’t complain too much. After all, I am confident I am one of the few Co-ops that wears shorts and sandals to work. And I am nearly certain that I am the only riding a motorbike through the bush on a daily basis.
International Business and Economics
Sustainable Business Research Co-op in Sierra Leone