Brett Shaheen, Rhodes Scholar, and Aziza Zakhidova, Marshall Scholar

Undergraduates to Study International Development Through Rhodes, Marshall Scholarships

Two Wharton undergraduates plan to use two prestigious national scholarships to continue their research in the area of international development. Brett Shaheen, W’06, C’06, a senior pursuing a dual degree from Wharton and international relations at the College of Arts and Sciences, has been named a Rhodes Scholar. Aziza Zakhidova, W’06, C’06, a senior in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, has been named a Marshall Scholar.

Brett Shaheen plans to study international relations at Oxford, building upon his research in international development. He brings to Oxford an impressive resume of research and practice, including work in Jordan and India, an analysis of the microfinance industry for which he received a University Scholars research grant, and a stint as editor-in-chief of Penn’s Œconomica: The Undergraduate Journal of Economics.

“Being in the field of a microcredit organization and experiencing rural life in the developing world,” he reports, “has brought a new sense of urgency to my work,” which he is excited to continue with his studies at Oxford next year.

Aziza Zakhidova intends to pursue an MPhil in Development Studies at Cambridge University and then an MSc in Economics at the London School of Economics. Her studies will focus on economic development, with an emphasis on the transition economies of former Soviet Union countries.

Born in Uzbekistan, Zakhidova lived in Japan and Italy before moving to the U.S. at the age of 12. She resumed her study of Japanese language and culture as a student in the Huntsman Program, studying abroad at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo during her junior year. Currently, Zakhidova is conducting research, funded through a University Scholars Research Grant, on the impact of a JBIC line of credit extended to Uzbekistan for the improvement of Uzbeki agricultural colleges.

MBA Students Bring Expertise to Philadelphia Non-profits

“I have always been involved with the communities I live in,” says Wharton MBA student Franco Tapia, WG’06, “and when I heard about the NPBLP program, I immediately thought it would be a great fit. The ability to use Wharton’s resources to help the greater Philadelphia community is something I’m proud to be a part of.”

In April 2005, Wharton’s Social Impact Management Initiative launched a unique program called the Non-profit Board Leadership Program (NPBLP). Working with the Non-profit Center at LaSalle University, the NPBLP selects and trains ten Wharton MBA students to serve on the boards of directors of non-profit organizations in Philadelphia.

MBA students placed through the NPBLP use their high-level knowledge of such areas as accounting, finance, and marketing to make a direct impact on the business strategies of organizations in the community around them.

NPBLP’s first group of participants was selected from over 50 applicants.

Program participants will attend board meetings, serve on a board sub-committee, and receive one-on-one mentorship from a senior board member. They will also take part in quarterly development sessions, where they work with experts to find potential solutions for the challenges they face in their board positions.

“These partnerships will benefit organizations and communities that typically do not have access to MBA talent,” says Sadaf Kazmi, WG’06, the program’s student director.

“Over the course of the next semester,” reports Mishra, who’s working with Philadelphia’s Arts & Spirituality Center, “I plan to focus on providing a framework for increased transparency in what is currently a start-up-like environment.”

Turnaround expert Steve Miller addressed an audience of restructuring professionals and students at Phialdelphia's Union League

Second Annual Restructuring Conference Draws Strong Industry Attendance

“The real purpose of restructuring is to fix a company that is broken,” said Robert Stevens “Steve” Miller, chairman and CEO of Delphi Corp., at the 2nd Annual Wharton Restructuring Conference on February 10. “Saving Chrysler felt like a higher calling. If the company failed, it would put a half-million people out of work.”

Miller, a sought-after chief executive and corporate director, has a strong sense of the lives — as well as dollars — at stake in his work. After joining Chrysler Corp. in 1979, Miller negotiated with 400 lenders and the U.S. government as the architect of the Loan Guarantee Act that bailed out the troubled company.

The subtitle of the conference was “Identifying Opportunity in the Next Wave of Restructuring” — and the theme of identifying opportunity applied equally well to the MBA student organizers themselves. While Wharton has alumni strength in this area, the MBA Restructuring Club and its conference are only two years old. MBA students specifically interested in turnarounds and distressed investing sought to fill a gap in club offerings, and drew their membership from multiple disciplines — finance, accounting, law, and management.

The relatively new student conference found a receptive audience. The event was fully subscribed with about 115 student/faculty attendees, 19 speakers, and 156 investment bankers, lawyers, and other restructuring professionals — more than twice the professional turnout of the year before. The conference theme is uncommon among business schools and drew a handful of student attendees from as far afield as Stanford.

This year’s co-chairs — Ajay Bijoor, Borja Madrid, and Will Rudat, all WG’06 — helped organize panels to cover operational turnarounds, distressed investing, and financial restructuring. In addition, they enlisted two illustrious keynote speakers who share a name — Miller — but brought insight from different sides of the restructuring table.

While Steve Miller spoke from the operational perspective, the conference’s second keynote speaker, Henry S. Miller, chairman, managing director and co-founder of Miller Buckfire & Co., has represented debtors, creditors, and other parties in complex reorganizations and chapter 11 matters for Calpine, Delta Air Lines, Sunbeam, and Dow Corning, to name only a few among dozens of clients.