Recruiting for Superpowers

I missed the boat on writing a quick blog post on a surprise visit to our Mathletics class back in November, but I’m going to do so here anyway.

In our last class before Thanksgiving break, we had an amazing guest speaker, Shira Springer, a sports reporter for the Boston Globe, who spoke to us about using sports analytics to predict the performance decline of aging basketball players.  In the middle of her lecture to us, she turns to our professor, Ed Kaplan (aka Coach K.), and says “You know, Ed, I think we might need to ask someone with more expertise in this arena.  Don’t you think?”  Coach K, “Well, do you know anyone like that?”  Shira, “I may.  Let me see.”  She pulls up Skype on her laptop and within seconds Rick Carlisle, head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, and one of only 11 people to ever win an NBA Championship as both a player and a coach, is staring out at us from the front of the classroom.   Rick was refreshingly honest about his use of analytics and his experiences as a coach, and it was a perfect example of how our professors bring in amazing guests to drive home the core concepts of our classes.  (Coach K. is himself nothing to sneeze at as a lecturer, mind you.)  All-in-all a great reminder of how SOM goes above and beyond in terms of providing an incredible academic experience, even in the 2nd Year when so many of us could easily be fixated on jobs.

Speaking of: back at the beginning of the month, I participated in what was possibly the best recruiting event ever.  SY/Partners, a design and innovation consulting firm focused on transforming corporate cultures, came to the TEAL Room to host a full-day workshop for 30 members of the SOM community.  The event also had an ancillary goal of recruiting potential interns and full-time employees for the firm, but it was far from the typical ‘corporate presentation, coffee chat, interview’ model that we’ve become accustomed to.  And it worked for them.  SY/Partners set the entire event up as a workshop incorporating the principles of design thinking, case study analysis, and presentation skills.  And even though they included a good amount of information on how they worked, what their own culture was like, and what application processes were, it was integrated seamlessly into the day’s activities.  Moreover, they chose a client that was near and dear to all of us – the Career Development Office.  With a guest appearance from the CDO’s very own Kristy (whose awesomeness I blogged about back in May), we tackled the problem of how to reframe the traditional job search in light of new technologies, new interests, and new sectors.

By the end of the workshop, I’d really felt that I’d gotten to know the company extremely well, and was fully committed to going through their application process for a Senior Strategist role.  What’s even more amazing is that I’d also felt that I’d gotten to know my own classmates better throughout the process – we were able to practice group facilitation, effective brainstorming and idea generation, ethnographic interviewing, and even our drawing skills.  At the beginning of the workshop, we went around our group and each person at the table described their ‘Superpower,’ whether it was ‘mischief,’ ‘supreme listening,’ or ‘standing and speaking.’  The results got me to know my classmates in a new light.  Aside from knowing them in the context of the club, or over a beer at GPSCY, it was refreshing to get to see them in a professional setting, turning on the creative parts of their brain.  It was a great experience.  I think SY/Partners gained a lot of fans that day, and here’s to coming up with new ways to recruit and engage MBAs!

About the author

Dennis Tseng

MBA, 2014