Perspectives from the Executive Women in Leadership Panel

Denise Miller, Vice President, Digital Transformation and Innovation, SAP

How do you find a mentor? How do you balance your personal life and your career? How do you have a voice when you are the only woman in a group?

These were some of the thought provoking questions I had the privilege of discussing with a room full of talented women (and some men!) at the Executive Women in Leadership Panel hosted by the University of Pittsburgh, held earlier this year. As my esteemed cohorts on the panel shared insights from their journeys to becoming leaders in their respective professions, I couldn’t help but think back to a pivotal moment in my career. Fittingly, it was a moment in which the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz School of Business played a significant role.

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Be in Control of Achieving Your Goals!

So did you take Ashley’s advice and just breathe? If you did and you are still feeling overwhelmed, think about the environment in which you operate.  Does it allow you to achieve your goals?  Do you compare yourself to others?

Director, Career Management

Often we find ourselves creating false logic or justifications to put off tasks that we find challenging or less desirable to complete.  We worry about what others are doing and how our actions stack up to their success. Acknowledge the instinctual fear that exists—fear of failure, fear of rejection, or fear of being perceived in a manner that goes against your brand.

Become more self-aware in 2017. Understand what you can and cannot control. Recognize your strengths, as well as your habits and tendencies that may limit your success. Eliminate those that work against you and make an effort to get things done. Try incorporating the following tips into your routine to help you achieve your goals this year!

Understand WHY. Why are you doing this? Why do you want to achieve this goal? Are you doing it for yourself or to appease another party? What are your intentions? Have a concrete reason to put forth the time and effort needed to accomplish what you set out to do. Ensure your heart is invested in these actions and that you are passionate about what you are doing.

Build a roadmap. Start with your end game in mind and reverse engineer the process. Research and identify the steps you need to take to reach that goal. You may need to refine the process as you go along, but this will serve as guide.

Manage ambiguity.  In most cases, you will find that you may not have a clear path to successfully achieve your goals. Identify factors that are out of your control and learn how they may affect your work stream. Remain calm and create various what-if scenarios to cover all of your bases to ensure success.

Create a task list. Now that you have built your roadmap, build a “to do” list that captures the steps you set forth for yourself. This will hold you accountable and allow you to see your progress. Use an app to  manage this list or good old-fashioned pen and paper. It still works. Pick the  mechanism that works best for you!

Learn to say “NO!” Everything you do takes time. Work realistically and understand to what you can truly commit. Lacking time-management skills can hinder you from accomplishing what you set out to achieve. Do not put off tasks to the point that you are scrambling to complete them.  It is okay to say “NO” when you are unable to fully commit to something.

Limit distractions. Set your priorities straight. We all like to binge watch Netflix or join our friends for half-price wine night, but those who are most successful work smart and get their stuff done first! Most distractions are social in nature and FOMO (the fear of missing out) is a real phenomenon.  Not being dialed into everything that happens in your social circle is okay when you achieve your desired goals!

At Katz, we have a team of advisors to help students achieve their goals and prepare them to be ready for anything. Please contact Melissa Shapiro if you have any questions or to learn more.

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Ready, Set, Click — The Katz Blended Online MBA is Here

Bill Valenta, Assistant Dean of MBA and Executive Programs

Bill Valenta, Assistant Dean of MBA and Executive Programs

The questions have come from near and far, in person, by telephone, and by email. When will we offer online courses for graduate business students? Well, I am very happy to inform you that the answer is right now! If you want an MBA from Katz, and the only thing holding you back was the frequent travel to Oakland, you can now remove that as a reason for not joining our world-class MBA program.

This spring term, we completed our first two pilot courses in our Professional MBA program: Information Systems and Investment Banking and Venture Capital. We’re currently developing multiple core courses for the fall 2017 term — so much so, in fact, that if you were to begin the program then, you could conceivably take every course required to graduate in our blended online format. That is because we are continually adding courses and will have all courses available in a blended online format by 2019.

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Global Practicum Opens Eyes to Working Abroad

Megan Victorson

Megan Victorson

When I started my professional MBA program with Katz, I had heard a lot of talk about the Global Research Practicum during my orientation session.  I was immediately intrigued by this opportunity; I always had wanted to study abroad when I was an undergraduate student, but never took the opportunity.  So this past fall, when the locations of this school year’s GRP program were announced, I was immediately drawn to the Europe trip to London and Brussels.  Not only because I have never traveled to Europe, but also because with the Brexit vote being so prevalent in global business, I knew that this was the class I wanted to be a part of.

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Channeling 2016 Presidential Election Emotions into Productive Actions

Faculty member Dave Lebel

Faculty member Dave Lebel

Post-election blues got you down? Are you frustrated your candidate didn’t win? Luckily, recent research suggests there are several things you can do to turn those negative emotions into productive outcomes.

Many people watching the presidential election results experienced a range of negative emotions including anger, fear, sadness, and despair. These emotions, if unchecked, can often lead to non-functional or counterproductive outcomes such as vengeful retaliation, withdrawal (should I move to Canada?), or increased sadness and depression. For example, think of your friend or family member who took to Facebook or Twitter to rant or vent about the outcome of the election. This rarely solves anything and only serves to create a cycle whereby others respond in kind with negative posts.

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Join Us at Katz Diversity Student Weekend

Melanie Krugel

Melanie Krugel

This year marks the 2nd annual Diversity Student Weekend! This event is planned by the MBA Admissions Office in conjunction with the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA)Roberto Clemente MBA Association (RCMBAA)the Katz Alliance, and the Katz Veterans Association. Learn more and register here.

The two-day event — which will be held from Friday, November 4 through Saturday, November 5 — focuses on Full time MBA opportunities for prospective women, the LGBTQIA community, under-represented racial/ethnic groups (specifically, African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American students) as well as current or former military students.

Those attending will have the opportunity to explore Pittsburgh; interact with current students, staff, alumni and community partners; learn about our various programs; experience what it’s like to be a member of the Katz community; celebrate our culture of inclusion, and much more.

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A Marketing Analysis: Where Clinton’s Campaign is Failing Her

As of the end of September 2016, Hillary Clinton is only 3% more likely to win the Presidency than is Donald Trump.

In marketing terms, this can be considered nothing but an embarrassment.

Professor Cait Lamberton

Professor Cait Lamberton

The Clinton campaign is offering the Presidential equivalent of an iPhone: non-transparent, complex, sometimes glitchy, but also highly versatile, powerful and sophisticated. Savvy consumers love the “product’s” extraordinary functionality and historical brand dominance. Sure, there are people off cracking into Android devices, but they’re not coming up with something functionally superior.

By contrast, the Trump campaign offers a Swarovski-crystal covered off-brand flip-phone. The technology is unsophisticated; there are a lot of things it simply can’t do. You have to push the buttons over and over to create a single message, and it might autocorrect in weird ways. The cool kids don’t carry these things around. But the non-insiders recognize it intuitively – it looks like a phone, for Pete’s sake! There’s nostalgia, comfort, and accessibility – covered in a veneer of overpriced, but nonetheless broadly appealing, sparkle.

If you were in charge of the iPhone marketing department and the off-brand flip phone were gobbling your market share, you’d be humiliated, and with good reason:

YOU HAVE THE VASTLY SUPERIOR PRODUCT AND YOU ARE LOSING.

What kind of tactical mistake can create this kind of effect in the market? Classic marketing principles can help us understand why this is happening. I’ll talk about two here.

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A New Era for Microsoft?

Faculty Member Richard Franklin

Faculty Member Richard Franklin

On January 21st, Microsoft announced that its next release of Windows, Windows 10, will be available as a free upgrade for users currently running Windows 7 or higher.

Pre-release reviews of Windows 10 have largely been positive, and it incorporates an impressive list of new, desirable-sounding features. These include Cortana – Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri voice-controlled assistant.

This announcement of free upgrades for such a large user population is something of a reversal of traditional Microsoft strategy. Why would they make such a move? Probably because they are facing some very large long-term problems:

  • The Windows sales model is over twenty years old and will not be sustainable much longer. Licenses sold bundled with new PCs from makers like Dell, HP and Lenovo have long been an automatic-pilot, high-margin revenue stream that accounted for as much as 35% of Microsoft’s total revenues as recently as 1999 and in 2012 still made up more than 25% of Microsoft’s revenue. This is rapidly tailing off as PC sales drop and mobile device sales grow.
  • With the exception of the business/enterprise desktop/laptop market – where it still dominates – Windows has become increasingly irrelevant as users have migrated in huge numbers to mobile devices running either Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android.
  • Microsoft’s entry into the pad/mobile market, Surface, has sold anemically and received – at best – mixed reviews.
  • Windows 8 was a marketplace disaster. The new “tiled” interface, intended to provide consistency between mobile, pad, and desktop devices, turned off end-users. Windows 8.1 restored the option for the more traditional look and feel, but the damage had been done to its reputation.
  • The mobile version of Windows 8 actually received positive press, but made only minor inroads in the smartphone market – in spite of the adoption of Windows by Nokia.
  • Once seen as a market and thought leader, Microsoft has become something of a sideshow, ceding the spotlight to companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

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Gesundheit! Don’t Look Now, Facebook Emotions are Contagious

Faculty member Nicole Coleman

Faculty member Nicole Coleman

How happy are you feeling? Did you look at Facebook today? These two questions may seem unrelated, but new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests that what you view on Facebook can influence your current emotional state. Although technical academic research rarely hits the mainstream media, this research has created a media storm and largely for the wrong reasons: People are upset that Facebook made its users unknowing test subjects in an experiment toying with their emotional states. So what did the researchers do exactly, and what did they really discover?

Originally, the research team, led by Facebook and conducted with two university professors, wanted to find out if the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) effect was real. FOMO would take place when you see all your friends and co-workers posting amazing photographs of their summer vacations, looking fabulous with their tanned and fit beach bodies, and here you are, sitting at your computer in the office, feeling pretty sad. The research team sought to answer a pretty simple question: If you see lots of happy (positive) material in your Facebook news feed, does that make you feel sad (the FOMO effect) or happy? The researchers took advantage of the fact that the average person’s news feed (what they see when they log onto Facebook) doesn’t show every status update in their network—that’s just far too much information. Rather, the news feed displays a sample of information, determined by Facebook’s algorithms, which are presumably based on the friends whose statuses that users tend to “like” or whom users indicated are close friends, family, etc. Continue reading

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Don’t Worry About the Level of CEO Pay

Faculty member David Denis

Faculty member David Denis

U.S. CEOs are paid extraordinary sums and their compensation continues to rise.  According to a recent USA Today article, CEO pay has risen 725% since the late 1970s, whereas pay for standard employees has risen only around 10% over the same period. Today, the realized annual total pay for the median CEO of an S&P 500 firm is over $12 million. Such patterns have raised concerns about fundamental fairness and the extent to which corporate boards have been effective in overseeing the executive compensation process.  However, many of these concerns reflect a misunderstanding of the economics of the employment contracts between CEOs and the companies for which they work.

First, although some commentators believe that CEOs exert too much influence in setting their own pay, it is important to note that CEO employment contracts represent arms-length transactions negotiated in a very competitive labor market.  When CEOs fail to perform, they are often fired by the board. Academic research indicates that, if anything, the rate of forced dismissal of top executives has increased over time to the point that, in any given year, one out of every six Fortune 500 CEOs loses their job.[1] Moreover, when a fired CEO is replaced, the incoming CEO is typically paid even more than the outgoing CEO. Since the incoming CEO clearly lacks any power over the board, his or her compensation contract represents the market value of the incoming CEO’s talent. Continue reading

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