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The Marshmallow Challenge

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Eberhardt graduate students collaborated in an orientation teambuilding exercise that included 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and marshmallows.  The goal: build the highest freestanding structure. The catch: varied and conflicting instructions! Which team do you think generated a fresh idea?

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Internship Spotlight – Rebecca Teichmann

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Fiscalini photoWhen she committed to the Eberhardt MBA program in 2012 Rebecca Teichmann could not have predicted that her internship experience would be spent in Modesto, CA on a dairy farm with 3500 cattle!  To say the least, it was a bit unexpected, but she believes it was worth every (stinking) minute.  The opportunity was created by Brian Fiscalini, fourth-generation General Manager of the Fiscalini family farm, and recent graduate from the Eberhardt MBA program, class of 2012. Brian recognized the opportunity to capture new ideas and talent through an MBA intern from the program.  Rebecca’s assignments were focused around the needs of Fiscalini Cheese Company, the family’s artisanal cheese brand.  More than once Rebecca jokingly said “they could pay me in cheese.”

Working in a family business environment wasn’t entirely new to Rebecca.  In two past experiences prior to pursuing her MBA, she worked in the same company with her brother, Matthew Teichmann ESB ’03: one an internet marketing company and the other Matt’s own consumer products gourmet food company, San Franola Granola.  The summer internship with Fiscalini Cheese Company helped Rebecca crystallize her post-MBA career goals in the area of marketing of consumer goods.  It also reinforced her desire to return to the East Bay where she plans to launch her post-MBA career.

As the MBA Marketing Intern for the cheese company Rebecca initially spent some time getting familiar with the products and the production processes, dedicating a day in the cheese plant with the master cheese makers learning about the process from start to finish.  As most of the cheeses produced by Fiscalini Cheese Company are aged products, “finished” is a relative state.  However, she was able to participate in the observation and analysis of new product line extensions into soft (fresh) cheese options, including mozzarellas and spreads, that the company has been producing with the use of new equipment while optimizing shelf life and determining the optimal packaging in terms of quality to maximize sales.  And, to Rebecca’s delight, there were numerous opportunities to taste test the product throughout the summer.

In addition to learning about the business from the inside, Rebecca was able to gain valuable insights about industry competitors which helped in her understanding of the market segment and enhanced her ability to give sound marketing recommendations in the delivery of her projects.  The primary deliverables that Rebecca was asked to produce through the internship included contributions to logo redesign, a major overhaul of the website, and a refresh of both internal and external marketing collateral key to the company’s sales efforts.

Visiting local competitor Hilmar Cheese with Brian Fiscalini allowed Rebecca to benchmark the Fiscalini product packaging and presentation to a similar local producer.  Assisting the Sales & Marketing Manager, Linda Rodriguez, with the company’s participation at Tony’s Fine Foods vendor trade show exposed Rebecca to a broader selection of consumer food products within the industry.  She discovered that while the various brands are competing for shelf space, consumer interest, and loyalty, there are also valuable insights to be gained by networking within the consumer products industry.

Another key takeaway from the experience for Rebecca is a bit more universal to any situation, but particularly true in any smaller organization.  Because the nature of this particular business is one that operates on a very lean scale, Rebecca realized quickly that projects and assignments weren’t always going to be laid out waiting for her.  Instead of waiting for direction or guidance Rebecca tried to anticipate future needs of the Sales & Marketing Manager and proactively address opportunities, for example, to update and enhance the internal sales tools with up to date pricing sheets or re-organize the cheese store, where customers “off the street” might just show up and purchase a piece or even a few pounds of product straight off the shelf.

While she thoroughly enjoyed 10 weeks on the farm and many of the advantages of working in a small company environment, particularly seeing the immediate tangible impact of her contributions, Rebecca is actively pursuing opportunities with consumer products companies in the East Bay and San Francisco.  She hopes to combine her pre-MBA experiences and undergraduate degree in Latin American Studies from Gonzaga University with her MBA and summer internship at Fiscalini Cheese Co. into to a marketing role with a larger company with multiple product lines that target a wider range of consumer segments.

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For more information about the Fiscalini Cheese Company and the wide variety of aged cheeses, fresh cheeses, and cheese spreads available, please visit the website fiscalinicheese.com

Internship Spotlight – Marianne Lewis

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by Rebecca Teichmann

Marianne Lewis MBA Student
MBA student Marianne Lewis internship with Olive Grove Consulting

When it came to finding an internship, second-year MBA student Marianne Lewis proved her dedication and initiative by searching high and low for internship opportunities.  From utilizing Tiger Jobs, to searching her alumni job site with the University of Southern California, to InternMatch.com, Marianne looked for internship opportunities anywhere and everywhere, and she started early.  While many students procrastinate as long as they can, on everything from school work to the job search, Marianne began searching early in the process and ended up finding not just a summer internship, but a nine month position with the Olive Grove Consulting group.

Olive Grove Consulting is full service consulting firm that helps creative leaders increase their effectiveness, the organization’s mission is to be a “Champion of the Courageous.”  Clients include nonprofits, foundations, individual leaders, civic entities, corporations, and social enterprises.  The services of the firm are designed to meet the unique needs of each client.

During her nine month relationship with Olive Grove Consulting, Marianne had the opportunity to contribute to a wide variety of projects within the company.  From writing 12 case studies to building a social media marketing program, she was given the freedom to complete projects with minimal direction, which can be an enormously daunting task.  That said, Marianne seems to revel in the freedom and the challenges that come with working autonomously.  The process was very satisfying, even if it was not well defined with a clear path to completion.

When asked about her recommendations for students seeking internships, Marianne mentioned that working with a boutique consulting firm had its unique advantages.  With a small firm, there is the ability to experiment and learn through the process.  With a bigger firm, you are limited to completing the task in front of you, and you have less range of freedom.  She was able to build trust with her supervisors and co-workers, and in turn earned the trust and flexibility to tackle projects independently as a student, working remotely.

Marianne’s advice for students seeking internships is to do your research.  If the company is in the news, why are they in the news?  Don’t just look at the company website, actually look at what is being said about the company and why people are saying the things they are saying.  For a student seeking an internship, stick with the smaller firms as the broad experience can prove to be invaluable.

Olive Grove Consulting Logo

A Bigger Picture: The importance of seeing the large scale impact

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By Jamieson Cox, MBA ’14

As part of our visit to Suzhou Wuzhong Economic Development Zone outside Shanghai (SWEDZ), we were treated to an amazing lunch by Shirley Yao, Deputy Director of the Administrative Committee of SWEDZ. Following the extravagant lunch the MBA’s had a unique visit to the planning exhibit of the Suzhou Wuzhong Economic Development Zone to explore a major project in the planning. Upon arrival, the class was guided through a step by step explanation of the area and a breakdown of the vision of the future in this zone. The walk through the museum-like display seemed to project a plan to be built on different planet, as the area is currently very bare.

My personal analysis of the planning is that unlike most industrial planning of sectional areas, this project was not just a neighborhood or a shopping center; it was an entire area that is planning on becoming one of the largest and most influential cities in all of China. After walking around the room, as the whole class snapped photos of the large room-size scaled model of the SWEDZ, we were then brought up to a small deck that overlooked the whole city model lit by thousands of LED lights.

For the next 15 minutes, the entire group was glued to the large projector screen that displayed a video showcasing the plans. I personally have never experienced a project planned of this size and scale. It’s interesting to think about something of this proportion and the people who make these kinds of decisions, as they will not just effect the now, but also people hundreds of years down the road. All aspects of the human life were accounted for in the planning; from the large parks and tourist areas, to the residential areas fueled by the massive, job producing production districts. Fellow MBA Chris Dawson stated that “It was amazing seeing the amount of detail that went into the planning. The specifics of the display and video were something I have never seen.”

When we look at a city like Manhattan, we see that in the US it takes nearly a hundred years to build, while this city plan is presented as one project to be completed in a much shorter amount of time. Cities in the US are planned as numerous small projects that are all approved through a hierarchy. The plan that was showcased to us, seemed to be one huge project and vision of the major city; something that is not done in the USA.

My quote upon exiting was, “consider my mind blown. I want to be a part of that!”

It tells me that we need to always think BIG PICTURE, and that we might be better served if all of the smaller projects were guided by a major vision and bigger picture. By doing things like this, you can save on efficiencies and prevent creating more issues in the future, and not having to compensate for a lack of planning further down the road.

Economic Development Zone Model
MBA students take in the Suzhou Wuzhong Economic Development Zone model.
Dr. Price and Deputy Director Shirley Yao
Dr. Price and Deputy Director Shirley Yao

Observing Flip Chips First Hand

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By Megan Cabral, MBA ’13

On Thursday we had another successful and educational company visit. After a morning class session we all gathered on our bus to head out to Shanghai’s Xi Jiao economic and technological development zone.  In this zone we visited the STATS ChipPac Shanghai (SCC) manufacturing facility.  Once at the location we began with a lovely Chinese lunch and presentation about the work that is done at the SCC facilities, specifically this Shanghai location.

STATS ChipPac is the largest turnkey assembly service provider in China.  It is 793,000 square foot facility that emphasizes low cost, high quality and short cycle times.  It is a mega facility for turnkey backend solutions including wafer bumping, sorting, assembling and final testing.   STATS ChipPac has a broad portfolio of leaded, laminated, stacked die, memory card and Flip Chip assembly.  At the Shanghai location they work with companies such as QUALCOMM, Intel, AMD and SanDisk.

After learning the basics of what they do at their facilities we had the opportunity to see firsthand how operations worked inside a manufacturing floor. We were privileged to be able to examine the Flip Chip production line, which we were told is what they are most proud of. While viewing the processes we were educated on the details of manufacturing and machine work.  It was interesting to see such a different work area from what we are used to seeing in the US; it was very white, very clean and very quiet as the operators worked meticulously in their full white scrubs and gloves.

After our tour of the manufacturing line we sat with some of the management team and were able to ask questions about the operations process.  We learned about working conditions for operators; they work 4 twelve hour shifts and then have 3 days off and this is preferred because most commute.  Additionally, they are provided with 2 meals while working along with several breaks.  We also asked questions about the supply chain and different companies which they produce products for.  The companies that hire them provide them with the raw materials needed and fund the initial equipment cost.  Finished goods are shipped out via air and SCC has an AA rating with customs which enables them to streamline the process and reduce down time.

The overall experience at STATS ChipPac was very interesting especially because we do not have manufacturing plants that are so labor intensive in the United States any more.  It was also very enlightening because people tend to hold negative views on working conditions in developing countries; it was clear, once visiting this location, that the employees here are very well taken care of and actually enjoy their work.  It was also very educational to have a firsthand learning experience in the operations and manufacturing process that we MBA students have spent this past semester studying together in our Business Operations class.

Dr. Albert Huang and Mr. H.S. Tan discuss questions about flip chip manufacturing at STATSChipPAC after giving the group a tour of the manufacturing floor.
Dr. Albert Huang and Mr. H.S. Tan discuss questions about flip chip manufacturing at STATSChipPAC after giving the group a tour of the manufacturing floor.
H.S. Tan introduces the MBA students to the manufacturing process used at the Shanghai STATSChipPAC facility.
H.S. Tan introduces the MBA students to the manufacturing process used at the Shanghai STATSChipPAC facility.

MBA Students at Shanghai University “reserve” a desk

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SFU Library
Students at Shanghai University “reserve” a desk to work at by leaving books and personal items on it. Christine Cao tries out one student’s study space.

Shanghai International Ferry Terminal

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Anh Le, MBA ‘13

Early morning on Wednesday, May 15, the group gathered again for the new adventure. This time it was the Shanghai International Ferry Terminal, a 45 minute driving northeast from the heart of Shanghai. Guiding us this time was the CEO of the Ferry Terminal and also a professor at Shanghai Finance University which we visited afterward. Once again it was very nice to see a warm welcome for the UOP group of MBA students and faculty from the people here. Back to the ferry terminal, it was just finished last year with a current capacity of two cruise ships at a time, each can take up to more than 7,000 passengers and crew members. Last year right after its inception, the terminal had 60 cruises pass by with 48 of those started and ended here. Following that success from last year, the terminal’s CEO expected to have 120 cruises this year and the number would be double next year. With the site close to Shanghai Pudong International Airport, the terminal’s facility is relatively a mimic of the airport with many rounds of security, baggage claims, as well as China custom.

Our next visit led us to our Professors Phil Zhu’s and Wenjing Ouyang’s former university, Shanghai Finance University. Before reaching our destination, we had the chance to experience the cargo flow on one of Shanghai’s main freeway while listening to Professor Price’s explanation about how more efficient and cost-saving it would be for that cargo to be transported by trains. Around noon time, we arrived at Shanghai Finance University and started the campus tour at the school’s main library. Our first impression here was the intensive competition for study space even when it’s not the final weeks. Tables were filled with piles of books, papers, and even pillows and personal belongings to secure the space. What’s more? You have to book these tables even before the new semester starts.

After that, we headed to the university student activity center. One thing that some of us noticed was that most building’s designs were very simple and colorless. It made the environment, especially in the library, quite depressing. Their activity center, however, was the exception. It had a layout similar to that of most US colleges with some Chinese cultural decorations such as lanterns. One factor of the building that we found very appealing was the functional rooms offering different kinds of entertainment as well as treatments to help students reduce stress. Music therapy, massage chairs, video games are some examples. Also during our visit at the center, everyone had the chance to try out calligraphy art which really excited those who saw it the first time. After lunch, the group went to visit the school’s currency museum where we explored the history of China’s money from the time people still used coins with the shape of a knife until now. Final destination of the trip was the university’s fencing club where Professor Price had the chance to demonstrate his expert fencing stance.

Saying goodbye to Shanghai Finance University and our three very friendly student guides, we headed back to our hotel and stopped by one of the most famous temples of Shanghai, the Jade Buddha Temple. The temple is the home of one of the three largest jade Buddha statues in China with more than 6 feet tall and weighed roughly 2 tons. The statue was placed in a room decorated with many small golden Buddha statues, carved with names of the benefactors who made big donations for the temple. Also, only these people can come close and pray to the jade Buddha. Here we also learned many other interesting stories about the origin of Buddhism as well as other Chinese cultures. Leaving behind the antique temple, the long history of Buddhism, and the crowd of beggars outside the temple, we headed back to our hotel and get ready to explore more the Shanghai nightlife.

Ferry Terminal
MBA students received a tour through the International Ferry Terminal in Shanghai
Ferry Terminal
MBA students received a tour through the International Ferry Terminal in Shanghai
calligraphy
Katrina Fischer, MBA ’13, tries her hand at the Chinese art of calligraphy.