Ringing in the New Year: Chilean Style

So the study abroad opportunities available at TCU are expansive, as one can see from Lacey’s other post via India. We really do cover the globe and I myself am enjoying the celebration of the new year in Chile. My first time in South America and I’m experiencing many a firsts here.

Starting with the actual new year up in the rotating sky bar in Santiago, we had a delectable full course meal and night view. We are currently enjoying the sights of Pucon, where we experienced some proper horseback riding (my first time) on a private ranch, also with delectable meats. Following that, there appears to have been the shockwaves of a small earthquake here. If by small, you mean 7.1. Thankfully, there was little damage and the epicenter was 2 hours away from us, so our physical experience of it was minor and as tourists, exciting. Today with some free time, I enjoyed my first proper zipline course and others participated in various activities of white-water body sledding, kayaking, exploring volcanic caves, and so on.

Still, it’s not all fun and games, we do have actually business here and I look forward to the actual look at local and national businesses in the area. Tourism has had a major push in the area of thermal baths and we’ll be looking at the industry and experience Parque Thermal Menetue and how it has developed in just a few hours. Being from Japan, I’ll probably have my biases, but we shall see. Hope everyone is enjoying the new year and perhaps making reasonably doable resolutions. Or quickly breaking them. Stay awesome.

annie nguyen


Classmates Become Family


As I write this, I am sitting in a hotel room in New Delhi, India while one of my classmates sleeps soundly. It is 11:30 p.m. and in the rooms on either side of me and down the hall are more classmates. Somewhere in Chile there is a group of TCU MBA students planning what they will do this evening or where they will have dinner. Another group of Neeley MBAs are likely just wrapping up lunch in the Dominican Republic. One of my classmates is on his honeymoon, another classmate is enjoying his first Christmas with a new baby, another is celebrating a recent engagement, and many are spending time with family they unintentionally neglected this semester. For three weeks we are spread out all over the world, but we remain close. We are already family. 

In August, as I arrived for the first day of pre-semester workshops, I never expected the next five months to go as they did. I was swapping a job for class, but other than that, nothing would change. I lived in DFW already. I had friends here. My family isn’t too far away — just a quick drive to Austin. 

The day before START workshop, my mother called me from the hospital. She was ill, but thought it was nothing. A few weeks later and still in the hospital, there were no answers. I continued to attend classes and had my mother moved to a hospital in Dallas where I could travel daily to stay with her. And so it was for months. Class, drive, hospital, drive, class, drive, hospital, drive… I found time to shower between classes and my classmates helped me stay on top of homework and reading.  

While my family was hurting and my friends were working, my Neeley MBA classmates and faculty supported me. One by one, I came to rely on them for help with the square root rule when I was zoned out during supply chain; for a recap of which fashion case study went with which class when I couldn’t keep them straight; for someone to laugh with for a few minutes before I got in the car to drive back to Dallas.  

I studied finance and signed off on blood cultures. I read cases while my mom was having brain surgery. I explained the 9x rule to the doctor who was telling me about the new MRI they were considering. I chatted with my mom about Taryn Swan while we watched Nickelodeon. I pored through statistical analysis on my mother’s symptoms. While I was doing my best to devote more time than I had to school and my mother, my mom just kept fighting… and she just kept getting worse. 

My mother passed away on October 28th.  The Neeley family — people I had only known a short time — kept me looking forward. Peggy, the Director of Graduate Admissions for the Neeley School, rushed to meet me at the hospital. Classmates surrounded me with love at my house. I had become so close to these people in such a short time.  

TCU’s Neeley MBA marketing materials tell us, “It’s more than business. It’s personal.” We’ve all heard it from schools and employers before. But, at TCU, they mean it.  I could not have asked to be surrounded by better people. I could never say enough to thank them for loving me. 

Now it is 11:57 p.m. in New Delhi. Tomorrow morning at 6:15 a.m. we depart for the Taj Mahal, a monument built out of love and mourning. I think of my TCU family with love and I thank them for helping me mourn. Visiting the Taj Mahal with just a few of my TCU family seems the perfect end to an imperfect year and a perfect tribute to a more than perfect mom. 

“Should the guilty seek asylum here, 

Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.

Should a sinner make his way to this mansion, 

All his past sins are to be washed away.

The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs; 

And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.

In this world this edifice has been made; 

To display thereby the creator’s glory.”

     -Emperor Shah Jahan

— Lacey Hammons

Delhi taxi ride … an adventure at every turn

It’s best to close your eyes if it’s your first time in a taxi… in India.  

I arrived in Delhi around 11:45 this morning. Many flights today had been canceled due to poor weather conditions, but it is difficult to divert a flight from London that has already been in the air for 8 hours. As I made my way from the terminal to customs I began to wonder what India would actually be like beyond the confines of an international airport. India really starts to hit you the moment you walk through customs. Hundreds of families and friends are waiting on their loved ones. Wading through them to make my way to the prepaid taxis was intense for a girl used to the wide open expanses of Texas.  

I paid 350 Rupees and hopped in a black taxi.  It looked very similar to the one I took yesterday from Paddington Station to London Heathrow, so logically, it should be safe. No?

The lines intended to separate the road into four lanes heading toward Delhi city center were more of a suggestion. As taxis, motorbikes, bicycles, handcarts, horses, tuk-tuks, and people on foot created an ever-changing landscape of anywhere between five and seven lanes, I realized I was in for the ride of my life.  

I didn’t want to miss any of the sites as we drove. The air smelled thick and the taxi seemed to be going in circles. Manu, the taxi driver, wanted me to feel at home, so the drive was accompanied by a soundtrack of the Vengaboys … strange.

The hotel was 8 miles from the airport. Two hours and a stop by a travel information shop, I finally arrived at the hotel. Did we nearly run over a cyclist?  Yes.  

Truthfully, keep your eyes open. I saw the President’s Estate, a military base, a variety of businesses, a few markets, some startling images, and a new kind of beauty.  

More to come — happy holidays from India!

Lacey Hammons

Rewards after a tough semester

A full week after our IP presentations and I’m finally caught up on sleep. It’s remarkable how restorative a few days off can be after a difficult semester.

The final three weeks of this fall semester were very challenging. I started studying for finals before classes even finished. All of the hard work and long nights studying with my new TCU family really paid off because I did well enough to earn a 3.3 average for the semester. Mission accomplished as far as my grades are concerned. So many of my classmates are such good “teachers” and study buddies and learning and reviewing content with them was a real joy.

After finals, my team dove straight into our Integrated Project, a week-long, computer-based business simulation that pits five teams against each other in creating and running global microcomputer companies. All of our skills and knowledge were tested and teamwork was of the utmost importance since we were confined to a room for 12-16 hours at a time. Trust and collaboration were my team’s strengths and we finished strong in second place in our World of five companies. We finished IP week with two presentations: one for fellow students and faculty and one for recruiters from several local companies, including Frito-Lay, Bell Helicopter, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Sabre Holdings.

Travel is my reward for surviving the final three weeks of school. I’m spending Christmas with my family for the first time in eight years. Shortly after I return to Fort Worth after Christmas, I’ll depart for Chile for a study abroad trip with about a dozen of my classmates. The trip to Chile is certainly an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m very thankful that the Neeley School of Business offers this type of travel class. Many of my other TCU classmates are traveling to India or the Dominican Republic during the holiday break. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., will also be a popular destination for TCU students and alums next week.

On Christmas Eve I’m thankful for both my new TCU Neeley School of Business family and the opportunity to spend time with my mom, dad and my brother’s family.

Happy Holidays and GO FROGS!

Michele Machado


So I meant to update earlier with diversity day news, but as usual finals were a rush of sleepless nights and heavy workloads. So for many of you B-school prospectives and alumni, you’ve probably heard something of the dreaded Integrated Project (IP). It’s probably the worst end-of-finals feeling you’ll ever have simply because you know that after finals end, you’ll be spending the next week of waking hours trying to tackle this massive project (and maybe a few teammates). Despite all of that, you will find that IP is one of the most comprehensive learning experiences you will ever have and a truly fascinating way to apply everything you’ve learned.

Now, every team works differently of course, and I might be a little biased since my team happened to win, but the caliber of competition that occurred within my year was amazing. The amount of time management, leadership, negotiation, and information processing necessary to really attack IP is what allows the project to test the concepts and skills that the first semester of coursework is meant to teach you.

I had a goal of ‘Fuji or Bust’ before I left Japan, and I think the 16 hours straight of climbing that I did then as I worked my way to sunrise is probably comparable to some of the ongoing exhaustion you might feel during this experience, but along with that, I can say this. IP did not force insomnia on me, did not stain half my clothes red, did not cause my body to ache for a week following (mostly just a day), and still offered a spectacular feeling of accomplishment when all was done. Knowing that, I offer a few tips to those wary of approaching IP.

10. Know Your Metrics: If you’re looking to win, understanding how your performance metrics are being measured may affect the way you lever, get venture capital, budget your R&D, and generally a lot of your financing and growth activities.

9. Simulation World is not Real World: There is definitely a huge amount of information in the simulation; the key is to remember this is basically an alternate reality. Look at the charts, see the information, everything is meant to be new, somewhat dated to what we know today. All information means something and you can’t use any real world experiences to bias the simulation news you will get.

8. Market Research Matters: You learn in statistics that 95% confidence is enough. Well, after a certain point the difference between that and the best research available from the game is pretty meaningless. Get that and every piece of research you can, because the information could change your decision and tactics. It makes a difference.

7. Plan to Grow: The biggest challenge in the game is whether you’re growing too fast or too slow. Capacity and R&D are both huge factors in the game and so long as the amount of competition in the world is actually generating the demand for whatever product that may be, then you will see an extremely fast and furious growth in market potential. One of the failings in the simulation is that it does not truly factor in how long it might take a new product to gain traction or a learning curve for human resources. It is purely a combination of factors involving features, compensation, and advertising campaigns.

6. Everything is Interconnected: While splitting roles and responsibilities is great, most aspects of the game have interdependent aspects that you should be aware of. Know which people should be working together and in what priority. You may want to just run off and do your part, but it will help if you know where your decisions affect one another.

5. Time-limits: While this might vary place to place, there is a time limit. The game itself forces you to only modify one thing at a time (a feature I’m not entirely okay with software wise), and thus you need to manage your time wisely. If your team is having decision issues, from the start setup a time limits for how long arguments are allowed to go and then force a decision.

4. Decide Fast, Tweak Slow: One of our professors once said that if you think too long it will likely be wrong. Along the same vein, it is better to decide almost every decision you have to make in that quarter quickly, even just with filler numbers, and then spend long tweaking as needed after you have made a general game plan.

3. Food Makes Everything Better: So within our team we kind of unofficially took turns bringing or buying food for the team, either breakfast, lunch, or dinner depending on the time frame. Perhaps you won’t feel that close to your team, but I see it like family dinner time. It brings a bit of camaraderie that can ease tensions.

2. Sleep: No seriously, I’ve done my share of late nights with architecture and cram-sessions and generally poor last minute study habits. Sleep. Nothing good can come after midnight and at a certain point you need to have enough wits about you to last the week.

1. Do not stress it: It’s a game at the end of the day, and while a lot of things involved can affect how you originally perceived people or skills, this should not break you.

Thus ends the first term. Soon, travel abroad. New Year’s and happiness abound. Stay awesome and have a great holiday everyone.


annie nguyen

Top 10 Movies Every MBA Should See

By: Matt Acuff
Neeley MBA Class 2012

Most MBA students have little time to devote to anything other than school and job searching and even less time to watch movies. However, just as every professional golfer has seen CaddyShack and Tin Cup and every pilot has seen Top Gun and Airplane, there is a core-curriculum of movies that every MBA student should see. If you’re an MBA you need to see these movies because they apply to your profession of business, because they contain valuable lessons to be learned and because, frankly, you don’t want to be the only one left out of the joke at the meeting the next time your boss cracks a joke or quotes a line from one of these particular films. So, I’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Movies Every MBA Should See. In this list we’ll hit all the finer points of being an MBA, including college life, finance, investments, supply chain, entrepreneurship and ethics.

Ready? OK, let’s go!! Coming in at …

10. Back to School – Starring Rodney Dangerfield and Sally Kellerman

Back To School

Plot – A self-made millionaire decides to go back to school to prove a point. However, because he’s already a made man, all he focuses on is partying and having fun (um, what else is there?). Hilarity ensues as he dusts off his old swim trunks for the dive team!

Why it’s an MBA Must? – Getting geared up to go back to school is an exciting prospect for a new MBA student. We have the potential to relive those glory days that most of us remember from undergrad. You know, the all-night parties, the fountains of beer and unbridled debauchery that nowadays would require an online subscription and a shot of penicillin. Sadly though, most of us soon realize that we’ve somehow lost a step or two. We notice that those beers catch up with you in the morning, we actually have to stretch before intramural sports and pray we don’t pull something, and we get cranky when people won’t sit down during breaks at the football game—even though we’re in the student section. Alas the actual MBA program may prove to be more business than pleasure., but it’s still fun to think back on and have a little fun just one more time!

Stock Rating: + 5%

Back To School

9. Wall Street (1&2) – Starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen (Shia LaBeouf)

Wall Street

Plot – “Money is everything.” “Greed is Good.” You’d sell your family down the river to make it big on Wall Street. In this thriller we see just what lengths people will go to make a buck or two … and by buck I mean a million! Young stock broker Bud Fox becomes enamored with millionaire mogul Gordon Gekko and will do anything it takes to make it. Or will he?

Why it’s an MBA Must? – This movie really deserves to be numbers 1 through 10 on the list and is a picture of how most MBA’s dream of being a “Big Shot.” It provides a look of what power and greed can do to the human soul. It’s a lesson in business that just may have more value added than any of your core classes. It is also the one movie on this list you MUST see before you get your MBA. An MBA who hasn’t seen Wall Street is like a priest who hasn’t heard of the Pope. Oh and by the way, the second Wall Street is pretty good too!

Stock Rating: +10%


8. Boiler Room – Starring Ben Affleck, Vin Diesel and some other schmuck

Boiler Room

Plot – Boiler Room is kind of a modern day Wall Street with bad acting. Talented young broker gets caught up in a scheme to defraud people. He is blinded by the lure of money and ultimately must make a decision to do what’s right.

Why it’s an MBA Must? – Well actually it’s not. We follow up the “must see movie” of Wall Street with the “if you have to skip one” movie Boiler Room. It is without a doubt the weakest movie on the list. However, if you like cheesy acting (Ben Affleck) and can picture Vin Diesel as a principal of an investment firm (ha!), then this movie just might be for you. Boiler Room is a good look at what we all think the life of an investment banker should be like and horrors of what a lack of ethics has potential to be. Its only real merit of being on this list is that if one day you do find yourself in a room full of traders you won’t want to be the only one who hasn’t seen it. But then again you may be better off.

Stock Rating: -2.5%


7. The Insider – Starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe

The Insider

Plot – The Insider is a quasi true story of a man on the inside of a company who is doing wrong. He decides to put an end to it and blow the whistle on the company. However, by doing so he risks his life and the safety of his family. He is faced with a choice of doing the right things and risking his life to do it or keeping his mouth shut.

Why it’s an MBA Must? – Business ethics pure and simple. As future leaders MBAs need integrity. It’s a must and its non-negotiable integrity is either something you have or you don’t. It means doing the right thing when it doesn’t matter if you do the right thing or when the right thing is not the easiest thing to do. There is a simple way to test your integrity: Which is worse? Stealing a piece of bubble gum or stealing a million dollars from the corporate account? Do you know the answer?

Stock Rating: +6%


6. Tucker: A Man and His Dream – Starring Jeff Bridges


Plot – Another true story of Preston Tucker, the founder/designer/creator of the Tucker Automobile. Tucker was an entrepreneur who created a car and used his passion to briefly live the American Dream.

Why it’s an MBA Must? – This movie is full of the American Dream, the Land of Opportunity and the Entrepreneurial Spirit that many of us MBAs have. It’s a feel good (kinda) film that will inspire you to follow your dreams and sacrifice to make them a reality. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart but can be the most rewarding concentration of any of the MBA specialties.

Stock Rating: +10%


5. Office Space – Starring Ron Livingston and Jennifer Aniston

Office Space

Plot – I’m not sure exactly? But it’s funny! OK, I’ll try. This comedy is about a guy who one day decides he’s fed up and not going to put up with every day drone of the 9-to-5 anymore. So while everyone else is clocking in he’s busy clocking out! Just trust me on this one, this movie is hysterically funny and will relate to anyone who has ever held an office job. The best business is funny business and there’s no funnier business than Office Space.

Why it’s an MBA Must? – If you’ve ever gone to work and wanted to scream at the top of your lungs just how screwed up the place really is but didn’t this is the movie for you. The funniest/scariest part of this movie is just exactly how real it actually is. This movie is an inside look at office politics at their finest. It’s a case study in bad management and will give you an up close and personal look at exactly what consultants do! Hehe. As MBAs, at one time in our past or some time in our future, we can all relate to this movie and thus it’s perfect to be included on this list.

Stock Rating: +16%


4. Glengarry Glen Ross – Starring Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris and more

Glengarry Glen Ross

Plot – “Sales it’s a tough racket (gulp).” This movie is about a bunch of salesmen who get fired and get the opportunity to get their jobs back! The cut throat world of just what it takes to be a salesman in this world is the topic of discussion.

Why it’s an MBA Must? – This movie will give any MBA the ABC’s of selling, literally! It’s a great film on what exactly it takes to make it in the business world as a salesman. If that’s your future then you must see this film!

Stock Rating: +15%


3. Smartest Guys in the Room – Featuring Kenneth Lay and Jeffery Skilling

Smartest Guys In The Room

Plot – This is the only documentary on the list and boy is it good. Produced by billionaire Mark Cuban, it’s an in-depth look at the mega fraud and downfall of what was ENRON, the biggest failure in the history of business. See how it happened and all the crooked things ENRON and its executives were doing to cover it up. Its fascinating! The things you see in this documentary leave no doubt that big business can be evil. It’s scary because it is true!

Why it’s an MBA Must? – It’s real life lesson in business ethics. It makes you think and be cautious of things that seem too good to be true. This film is not only a good watch but it’s almost a class in itself and thus important because it actually happened. This film is a must for any MBA and will remain with you and cause you to really think about the difference in doing things right and doing the right things!

Stock Rating: +20%


2. Citizen Kane – Starring and directed by Orson Welles

Citizen Kane

Plot – Widely considered the greatest movie of all time,  this classic is about the rise of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane. Kane is a man who starts with good intentions but gets consumed by the pursuit of power. Citizen Kane takes you through a series of flashbacks as a reporter tries to unravel the mystery of the tycoon’s dying words.

Why it’s an MBA Must? – Not only is it widely considered the best movie in American film history, it’s also the best business movie in history. Coincidently, the movie teaches a lesson to any and every potential MBA about the dangers of the path that we are already on! This movie is an American classic and there really is no excuse for not having seen it but now that you’re a business student you even more or a reason and less of an excuse.

Stock Rating: +25%


OK, nine down one to go! Before we reveal the No. 1 Must See Movie for every MBA lets recap what we now know.

10. We know going Back to School is no dive in the pool!

9. We know Greed … and well Greed is Good!

8. We know Ben Affleck can’t act!

7. We know ethics and integrity Inside and Out

6. We know that “A Man and His Dream” can change the world!

5. We know exactly how good it feels to be a gangsta!

4. We know what it takes to make it in sales!

3. We know to “ask why? … asshole.”

2. We know Rosebud!

So now for the for No. 1 MBA movie and most important lesson that any MBA can learn..

1. It’s a Wonderful Life – Starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed

It's a Wonderful Life

Plot – Good hearted man George Bailey is down in the dumps. His entire life’s work is on the verge of crashing down. In the pit of despair he contemplates suicide. But before he can act on his impulse he is visited by his guardian angel who takes him on a ride to show him what the world would have been like without good ole George. He sees that life is more than about work and money and when you look at it that way it truly is a wonderful life!

Why it’s an MBA Must? – As another American film classic you really should have already seen this one too as Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed typically make us feel good around Christmas time. But this story really contains at its root the most important lesson a business man or woman can learn. We MBA types can easily get lost in the pursuit of money, and we delve into work and put aside life itself searching for profits. It’s an easy trap to fall into but it is imperative that every MBA keep things in perspective.  Money is really not what’s important in life and no job is worth dying over. In the end our family and friends are truly what’s important and it doesn’t matter if we have a good job or are filthy rich or unemployed, life itself is the real prize of living and we should never forget it!

Stock Rating: +1000% Life is a risk free asset with infinite return!!


Networking, Networking, Networking

I’m sure that many people are excited to go back to business school in order to do some networking with people. In particular, MBA alumni of the school you attend.

TCU is particularly good about bringing in their alumni, and these alumni are very good about spending time with you to discuss your future. At a brand management boot camp in September, I got to meet Neeley alums that worked as Brand Managers at a variety of corporations such as Frito-Lay (Dallas), Procter and Gamble (Cincinatti), and Sony (Los Angeles). On top of that, the school also brought in another MBA student from a different program that had experience in brand management. Needless to say, it was a very useful program. In those two days, I learned an entire course worth of material. Furthermore, the marketing professionals made it easy to talk to them about their jobs and experiences. Neeley has been great about that, and I am glad I can count on the school for this experience.

However, the programs offered don’t always match up with my particular goals, so I’ve made a concerted effort to get out and meet people. I scheduled appointments to meet with the Chancellor, Athletic Director, local school superintendents to discuss how they attained their position and their recommendations to me of how to achieve success. Not only has this been useful to me for learning, but I have developed my own personal network of individuals that are helping me. I even contacted the Secretary of Education (I am still waiting to have a conversation with you Mr. Duncan!) trying to put myself out there and learn about others.

 If I could offer some advice, it would be just that. While you can rely on the school to bring people to you, you’re also going to need to get out there and hoof it yourself. When you do, you’ll see how fast your network can grow.

— Daniel Gandarilla