Editor’s Picks: P&Q’s Best Stories Of 2018

2018 Zell fellows and past alumni sitting with Sam Zell (Courtesy:
Tomer Foltyn Photography | www.TomerFoltyn.com)

Off The 2018 Launchpad: Kellogg’s Hottest MBA Startups

Want to stir up an argument in any Silicon Valley break area? Just ask if entrepreneurship can be taught. For many, the 21 year-old millionaire wunderkind is more than an epic myth. It is an archetype: the grinding genius filled with gusto who outwits the soul-crushing status quo to usher in a new age of audacious innovation.

Such virtuosos are few-and-far between, however. In reality, entrepreneurs are often serial failures, driven by an unshakable commitment to a vision that can quickly dissipate with any industry disruption. That’s one reason why Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management focuses more on the person in its Zell Fellows program, says David Schonthal, the faculty director of the program.

“The Zell Fellows is an accelerator of people not ventures,” he tells P&Q. “Our bet is on you as a founder, not on the particular concept that you are working on.

A year-long, co-curricular program, the Zell Fellows sets a high bar for acceptance and offers no academic credits to boot. Still, the 30 spots available rank among the most coveted in Kellogg MBA program. Aside from providing a $10,000 stipend to cover startup costs, the program also offers faculty and practitioner expertise and support from fellow classmates. The 30 fellows even make treks to destinations as diverse as SXSW and Israel. Beyond the structure, accountability, networking, coaching, and perks, the Zell Fellows fosters a community where entrepreneurs work together to help solve each other’s biggest issues.

“To launch a business side-by-side with other dedicated students who are launching their own disruptive businesses which solve unique challenges across industries has been the ultimate confidence booster,” says Milan Raj, whose tech platform seeks to boost occupancy rates in hotels, restaurants, and spas.

Of course, it is one thing to talk about Zell Fellows. It is another to see it in action, which is why the story also includes profiles of five companies started by fellows from the Class of 2018. Want to know what these ventures hope to accomplish, how much funding they’ve garnered, and what they’ve achieved so far? Check out these startup profiles here.

Night Skyline of Nashville, Tennessee, home of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management

The MBA In The Heart Of The Healthcare Industry

Nashville has everything you could possibly want. A high quality of living? Check. A thriving cultural scene? Check. A slew of job opportunities? You bet’cha!

That is particularly true with the healthcare industry, which pumps over $90 billion a year into the Nashville area. Home to over 500 healthcare firms, including goliaths like the Hospital Corporation of America and Community Health Systems, Nashville is poised for explosive growth thanks to an industry that accounts for nearly a fifth of U.S. GDP.

Such resources and opportunities, coupled with academic expertise, has made the healthcare concentration at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Business School into one of the world’s best. What’s more, 17% of the class ultimately enters the field, enjoying some of the highest starting pay among school graduates.

One of the healthcare program’s signature experiences is the immersion. In a nutshell, MBA students spend time on the hospital floor, following doctors, nurses, and patients. They watch surgeries and rehabilitation sessions. Bottom line: TheINSy get a first-hand look at the day-to-day operations and challenges, to give them a more ‘human’ understanding of the strategic, administrative, and budgeting decisions they will ultimately be making – and the potential impact they could have on the floor.

“I believe that you can’t change things unless you know how they work,” says Burch Wood, Vanderbilt Owen director of health care programs, in an interview with P&Q. “And to know how they work, you’ve got to get an understanding both at the level of putting your feet where the work is being done and understanding how people are thinking about healthcare.”

Not only does the program focus on where healthcare is, but it also delivers an unforgettable primer on the technologies and trends shaping the industry for years to come. “Getting that very strong, rich background in the healthcare program at Owen allowed me to come in with somewhat of a head start and knowing where the industry is headed,” observes Jameson Norton, a 2015 grad who is now at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics and executive director at Vanderbilt Behavioral Health. “Because we’re talking a lot about how things are evolving and you’re able to learn about some of the potential disruptors and the ways that things are transforming. That helps you anticipate where things are moving.”

A Welcome Week party at INSEAD from a YouTube video

INSEAD Welcome Week: Healthy Humbling Or Traumatic Hazing?

Love it or hate it, every INSEAD MBA alum has an opinion about Welcome Week. For some, it is a two day break full of boozing and bonding, a chance to cut loose before an avalanche of demands buries them. For others, it is hazing, pure-and-simple, an outdated and dangerous vestige of adolescence that demeans participants.

The follow up to P&Q’s original story on Welcoming Week being canceled, this story gave a voice to INSEAD students and alumni on the perils of this ritual. Sure enough, the gap between supporters and critics was stunning. It also sparked more comments on P&Q than nearly every other article in 2018,

One student referred to the initiation as “pure hell.” And there were plenty of exploitation tales coming from alumni. For example, a self-described “workout junkie” tried out for the “Radical Souls” club, a group that indulged in extreme sports. Just one problem: the club was a ruse. Alas, the alum didn’t get the “big reveal” until after she ran and climbed for hours in her initiation while enduring taunts.

“The club leaders would scream in our ears, calling us fat Renaissance rejects.”

Leonid Bershidsky offered a different take on Welcome Weekend in a Bloomberg column. “This is Europe,” he argues. “There’s still a chance to resist the U.S. trend toward protecting students from the life that awaits them outside school walls. At the average age of 29, INSEAD students should be capable of handling more than Welcome Week throws at them. Otherwise I fear for the businesses they will end up running…“Our culture is about being conscious of others and the impact our actions have on them,” he wrote. “The WW is an effective way to get students to think more about others instead of their own narrow ambitions.”

A provocative rite of passage or simply preying upon fellow classmates? That all depends where you stand – and that’s what makes this story one of the year’s best.



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