Thursday, October 22, 2009

Conspiracy Theory

The first year's curriculum was extremely rigorous filled with core classes you cannot skip that teach you all the basics you need to know about business. Marketing, operations, finance, strategy organizational behavior (psychology for a dime) and career management.

During the summer internship, I have found out that I was more than prepared for the job.
And then, there's second year. Why do we need the second year? Well, there are plenty of courses to expand your horizons from leadership and strategy courses through corporate finance, taxation and post merger integration (coming up in Q4!).

There are good school with a one year program so why do we have 2 years?
The real reason is that the programs were more expensive here in the States so in order to give the students their money's worth they got two years.

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining.
If I could, I would make this a 3 year program, though I'm not sure my liver can take much more of this. These are the best years of my life.

My wife has a theory. She thinks we are left here to help the first years. We take on leadership roles and help them with school, the job hunt, cheering them up, being career coaches, peers, club leaders etc. Just as we were "raised" by our second years (I like to call them third years now) we are now doing the same to our first years. It feeds the continuation of the culture and reduces the load requirement for staff to do that and gives us the excuse we need to stay here another year, so why not?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


A few weeks ago, a little before Q1 was over the DSA (Darden Student Association) organized a diversity panel, where the community was to meet and discuss the topic. I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to such discussions, but as a president of two affinity clubs I was asked to attend.

The panel was composed of people from different races (yes, there were white people), and even women! Unfortunately not all major religions were represented and all panelists were heterosexual(as far as I know).

As usual in such discussions nobody wants to talk about the pink elephant in the room so we ended up talking about "diversity of opinions" and such.

The was one moment of honesty when a fellow student, who is also African American mentioned the phenomenon of people assuming that some non-white people got into business school, or a job or college because of their race. With that comes, of course the opposite side of people who feel they are not worthy and that the only reason they got in was due to their skin color.
This is the point where people start feeling uncomfortable. That's when the discussion finally got interesting, but unfortunately the discussion was diverted and the topic was not fully discussed.

When I was working for SAP in Israel, a representative from a large enterprise customer that you most likely now and use it's products came and talked to us about our products and how they are used in their company. At one point, he showed us a screen where he was asked to fill in his personal details like name, address etc. Then he filled out a field called "Race". We were all shocked. There were whispers going along and everybody was simply stunned that a company would ask you for your race. It just felt wrong to ask people about race. Considering race when hiring a person seemed like racism to us.

I believe in a merit based system and don't believe race is a good predictor for performance of a person. I've been in the united states for a year and had my share of conversations with friends from different backgrounds and races and I do understand the poor history of the united stats that this comes from. I know there are white people that can't afford to go to college. Some of them are in my class today. Some got scholarships, some funded their way by serving in the military.

We keep feeding the segregation and keeping it alive with affirmative action, but at some point if we want to move forward we would have to let it go. I would suggest that Darden leads this change and remove race from its applications. In fact, I thought I was an African American when I filled out the B-School applications because one side of my family if from the US and the other from Libya. Then I was told that north Africa counts as white. "You'll have a school full of white people" a friend told me. I think if our financial aid system worked according to financial need we would be giving everyone a fair chance at this. I even think this should be pushed down to colleges. Give financial aid based on economic status in college. After college we're all at the same plain with the same opportunities and what we do with our lives is up to us and not our skin color.

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