Almost a year back when I came to this college, admin, faculty and classmates all stressed on how strong alum network PennState has and the value of same. I was from a different country and was not able to grasp this “power of alum” concept. But now I understand what they all meant. If you read the next few paragraphs, no matter which country, which culture you are from, you will agree with me as well!
Just to build the context, among many, Smeal has one very valuable asset, John Winsted who is our alum board member, mentor and an IBM partner. This year, John worked with our consulting association and designed an unprecedented opportunity for the second year students interested in consulting field. John invited a select group of second years to participate in mock consulting case interviews. Though this was a mock interview, it was being conducted with a set of real interviewers in the same room and same setting. With lots of excitement and energy, 10 of us left for IBM Philadelphia office (Critical to mention that we travelled through a PennState Van, it was a monster in size when compared to a small car, indeed it was!!). The same night we had dinner with John and chatted about gamut of topics ranging from Consulting, Technology, IBM, Watson computer, PennState, MBA, Football, Argentina, Summer experiences and the rules for the next morning interview.
Next morning, we showed up at the venue and were quite surprised to notice that we were drastically younger in the room. All the real interviewees, who were with us in the room, seemed pretty senior with many years of work experience. Before the interview, we had a super brief presentation on IBM (that’s the first time I came to know that IBM had 5 Nobel Prize Winners as its employees). Then came the best part, the Case Study, but there was a caveat here, this case was to be done in a group and the case was followed by a group presentation. All we had were a very insightful case, a team of 3 to 4 people and 45 minutes to analyze the case and put together a presentation. This was followed by Lunch and one round of personal interview. There were two things worth noticing here, first the whole experience of solving a case in a group and second was the effort that John and his team took to put together this show. We wrapped up at office, Thanked John and his team and left for Happy Valley.
If you really read this blog till here and not just glimpsed like an MBA reading , then you will surely have a reasonable question about Feedback. True, this whole exercise would have been futile without a constructive feedback. But personally, I found this part of the effort, the most impressive. They did not give us an on the spot feedback. HR from IBM talked to each of the Case evaluator, Presentation Evaluator and Personal Interviewer and collected individual feedback for each one of us and then called us individually to give a feedback. In a nutshell, the outcome was very positive, they were very happy with our performance and professionalism. John felt that we lived up to the PennState brand in this exercise and he and his team at IBM were happy with what we did!
However, through this platform, not just me but we all 10 participants want to let John know that honestly, we did nothing great, we just tried following his footsteps and live his legacy that he left for future Smeal MBAs. If I got Dr. Givoli’s class right, then Smeal Alums like John are the intangible assets that this college and all of us have which adds to the Goodwill of the brand.
Dear John, a “Big Thank You” to you and your team from all of us; we value your effort, we sincerely do!
—Mehul Pathak & IBM Case Participants