Business School or Med School for Moms?
Jul 22 2008

Thanks to a Mommy Track’d post called MBAs Are Opting Out for the link to the article by Reuters called More women with MBAs take mommy track than doctors: study.  

I can’t say I’m surprised for a variety of reasons.  I have an MBA and although I never thought of completely opting out of the business world to be a full time stay at home mom (other than the first 6 months of my kids’ lives), I did choose a more flexible transition back into the workforce by starting my own company.  That way I could start them off in part time care until I felt they and I were ready for them to go to full time care. 

According to the article by Reuters, “The University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business study of nearly 1,000 Harvard undergraduates found that 15 years after graduation, business school graduates were more likely than doctors or lawyers to leave the workforce.”  

It continues by saying “Those surveyed were about 37 years old and had at least one child. Fifteen years after graduating from Harvard College, 28 percent of the women who went on to get MBAs were stay-at-home moms. By comparison, only 6 percent of MDs stopped working outside of the home.  Of the MBAs surveyed, 27 percent had careers in the financial sector and 17 percent worked in consulting. The majority of the MDs worked in specialties centered on women (13 percent in obstetrics/gynecology), children (31 percent in pediatric medicine), and family.” 

As a business student, there’s not often a set path like there is for med students.  In the medical field, you finish school, you do your internship, you do your residency, and then you get hired into a private practice or university to continue in your field.  Sure the field of medicine changes but apparently not as fast as the field of business.  

Business is all about your network and skills.  Moms/Parents who stay at home with their kids are advised to continue building and keep up with their network.  Medicine is definitely about your skills, but you usually don’t get hired on to a hospital or private practice based on who you know, it has more to do with what you know and where you got your degree! 

I find it interesting that I know several MBA women friends who have opted out of pursuing a career while their kids are young and at the same time my OB/GYN and pediatrician (who both happen to be women) came back to work shortly after their kids were born.  Our pediatrician came back to work only about 8 weeks after her baby was born.  I think both of them are amazing and incredible doctors! 

I remember my OB saying how important it was that I take it easy after the baby was born and to take as much time off as possible.  I then made a comment to her about the fact she returned to work after her babies were born and she was able to manage it, and she kind of stared at me blankly and didn’t seem to know what to say. 

So what do you think the reasons are for the different parenting choices made between moms who got a business degree and those who got a medical degree?  I have some ideas, but I’d love to know what you think.

Author: | Filed under: diversity, mom, mother, parenting | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

MBA Class: Mom’s Business Acumen
Jul 15 2008

And now for a very cool guest post from Michelle Yozzo Drake author of a newly released book: “From the Kitchen to the Corner Office:  Mom’s Wisdom on Leadership.”

MBA Class: Mom’s Business Acumen…Or, “How to Take Skills Learned From Mom to Kick Butt at Work” 

As Aruni braves the balancing act that returning to the “formal” workplace brings for a working mom, I was thrilled that she asked me to do a guest post for entrepremusings.com. 

I love to work with women…they just get it, even if they don’t know it!  Generations of women have been successfully running the home-based business that we call “The Family”.  They have had to utilize all of the skills needed to address the same issues that Fortune 500 companies struggle with. And they’ve done it with grace, style and, okay, maybe a few bad hair days here and there! 

My version of an MBA class focuses on “Mom’s Business Acumen”: 

Risk Management-The art of baking bread, taught to me by my Aunt Giovanna Yozzo Fanelli (Aunt Jennie), yielded a surprising class in risk management, crisis management and plan-failure recovery. As I made loaf after loaf of bread (according to Aunt Jennie’s half Italian/half English instructions) and failed every time, I had to learn how to push past my fear of failure and create new plans to minimize my risks of future bread baking failure! Hours of work sometimes yielded sub-par results (a.k.a “lead-bread” – this made Aunt Jennie laugh as she encouraged me to persevere and continue on my quest for the perfect loaf of bread).  My ultimate victory (at least 20 loafs and 80 hours later) was the title of Bread Maker in my family’s eyes.  And after Aunt Jennie died at 96 years old, she passed her pans to me. I had become the bread and the baker, and she would be proud! 

Mergers and Acquisitions-My sister and a few of my sisters-in-law now have new “blended families”.  With divorce rates and remarriages at an all-time high, there are new things today’s mom has learned. Creating a family with kids from previous marriages and new ones with new husbands takes a lot of hard work and effort…no wonder the idea of running a newly merged company is child’s play for the mom that has balanced issues with siblings, half-brothers, step-sisters, etc.! 

Cultivating Strong Teams and Leaders-Lessons learned from the women in my family who are masters in the kitchen – my mother Mimi and my Aunt Marie, specifically – have been priceless in developing my ability to coach my clients on building strong teams and leaders at work.  Have you ever watched two strong women in the kitchen putting out a holiday meal for the family?  Mimi and Marie were masters at leading and following as they consistently put out a quality product (the seven-course Italian holiday meal) for their customers (35 family members and a few stragglers). The big news is, I never remember a moment of tension in either of their kitchens…but always lots of laughter! 

Budget Cuts-My mother-in-law Marty used to take her twelve children (my husband Rich is number NINE) to the beach on the ferry every Wednesday…because kids ride free on Wednesdays when accompanied by their parent! She knows how to work a budget! Examples like that guided me during my family’s lean years – when I was sewing shorts for my two young sons out of my husband’s old shirts – and during the first crucial years of my businesses when breakeven was only a dream. 

Sales and Product Issues-Have you ever negotiated with a four-year-old over why Oreo cookies are not a breakfast food?  Successfully selling those eggs over the Oreos takes a sales master! How easy negotiating with a customer over the price of your products or services is compared to “selling” bedtime to a child! 

So when I meet a mom getting ready to return to the workplace and she’s fretting over her perceived “resume gap,” I see the opportunity to educate a sister on how to talk about her degree from the “Mommy Management Training University!” 

What have YOU learned from your mom, “mom-figures” in your life, or being a mom yourself? 

Michelle Yozzo Drake is a management consultant who has just released a new book: “From the Kitchen to the Corner Office:  Mom’s Wisdom on Leadership.”  Her Workplace Wisdom Blog is hosting Lipstick Leadership Week -July 14-18 – where Michelle is highlighting other women’s stories about what they have learned from their “moms” or as a mom that helps them succeed at work!  Submit your story (and get a plug for your website!) at LipstickLeadership.com or KitchentoCornerOffice.com 

Author: | Filed under: entrepreneurship, mom, mother, parenting, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Venture Capital Investment Competition at USC in Los Angeles
Mar 8 2008

For the past few years I have served as an Advisor to The University of Texas at Austin MBA team that competes in the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC).  

It all started when I was an adjunct lecturer of entrepreneurship at UT Austin and since then I’ve continued to advise as they need me and my schedule permits.  This competition did not exist when I got my MBA, and even if I had the opportunity to participate I was too busy trying to start my first venture.  What a plus it would have been for any entrepreneur to have seen a term sheet presented by experienced investors in an academic environment rather than in real life when you feel like you have to learn another language just to understand parts of the investment terms!

This year the regional competition was held at USC in LA on March 7, 2008.  The UT team this year was comprised of:

Ben Jones – MBA 2008
Kyle Reese – MBA 2008
Rajiv Bala – MBA 2009
Ryan Sanders – MBA 2009
Scott Chiou – MBA 2009

I connect them with local venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to help them prepare but we had a late start with only about 5 weeks to get ready and midterms in between this year.  Other teams have semester long classes to prepare for this competition!

At the competition, 6 teams were given business plans for 3 real companies including NiLA, makers of environmentally friendly lighting, on Wednesday, March 5 at 5:00 pm.  They use the Internet and other relevant sources to research the companies and come up with questions for the entrepreneurs.  On Friday, they heard the entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts in front of 11 real live venture capitalists, including Aditya Mathur of Revolution Ventures, Nathan Joyner of Pacific Ridge Capital, Neal Hansch of Rustic Canyon Ventures, representatives from Tech Coast Angel Group and many more. 

They then go into little rooms and subject the entrepreneurs to answering several of the same questions over and over again from the 6 different teams.  Why would any entrepreneur do this you might wonder? Because the VCs are in the room while they are being asked the questions so they are getting exposure that they might not have had otherwise to them.

After the questioning sessions are over, the teams again regroup and come up with a PowerPoint presentation which outlines which company they would chose to invest in and why.   For the company they choose to invest in, they create a term sheet.  They present their choice in 3 minutes in front of the VCs.  The VCs then grill them for about 15 minutes on their company choice and investment terms.

At the end of the day, the judges decide who wins and who takes 2nd place.  The 1st and 2nd place winners get money and the opportunity to compete in the national competition at University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School in April.  I have personally seen one student get a job on a team I advised in venture capital because of participating in this competition.

As an advisor I get to be a fly on the wall and watch the VCs deliberate and observe the decision making process.  Plus I build my network in areas outside of Austin.  Personally, I believe this experience has helped me gain better perspective on what venture capitalists are looking for which is why I’m currently seeking money from angel investors or smaller boutique/seed stage venture firms. 

So I’m sure the suspense is killing you as to whether or not our team placed and unfortunately they did not. They picked the company with the biggest market potential but with the highest risk and the VC judges picked NiLa, which has a great opportunity but less risk and less upside.  Goes to show you that most VCs are not early stage investors!

There are so many variables that go into winning from judges backgrounds, to student’s experience, to understanding of the market of the presenting companies, etc. that you can’t always prepare for everything.  But what an experience! 

Flying back to Austin today for SXSW Interactive and will post about my experience as a newbie SXSW attendee.  I’m looking forward to meeting many of the people I’ve met through blogging and twitter!

Author: | Filed under: competition, entrepreneurship, fundraising, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »