Warren Buffett Hosts Wharton Students

Warren Buffett, who attended Wharton in the early 1950s, hosted 150 Wharton MBA and undergraduate students this spring for an intensive day of learning on everything from the Bear Stearns bailout to his prognosis for the economy, the upcoming presidential election, and whether the U.S. financial markets are losing their edge. The trip, which unbeknownst to students was being covered by Fortune, was led by Scott Weber, a second-year MBA student, and sponsored by the Wharton Investment Management Club.

The day-long visit began at one of Buffett’s companies, continued at Berkshire Hathaway’s downtown Omaha headquarters for hours of questions and answers, then went on to a favorite restaurant, where, Fortune reported, Buffett treated everyone to root beer floats and lunch. For a link to the complete Fortune story, see the Magazine website at www.wharton.upenn.edu/alum_mag.

Global Alumni Forums

The Global Alumni Forum in Lima, March 13–14, “was a total success,” according to Jorge Kuryla, WG’95, president of the Wharton Club of Peru. “More than 250 alumni, professors, panelists, and friends gathered to exchange ideas and best practices.” Among the speakers were world-famous author Mario Vargas Llosa, international journalist Andres Oppenheimer, and former prime minister of Peru and partner of The Rohatyn Group, Pedro-Pablo Kuczynsky.

Global Alumni Forum in Ho Chi Minh City

Multinational investments, entrepreneurship, and the real estate and online industries in Vietnam were among the topics tackled by alumni, government, and business officials at the Wharton Global Alumni Forum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, May 30–31.

Wharton faculty Franklin Allen, Janice Bellace, George Day, Stephen Kobrin, and Marshall Meyer gave presentations and moderated panels, while Dean Thomas S. Robertson welcomed alumni. At a farewell gala at the Reunification Palace, Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky, senior international partner at WilmerHale, discussed the U.S.’s response to globalization and the worldwide rise of Asia. Sesto Vecchi, W’58, managing partner at the international law firm Russin & Vecchi, and Dam Bich Thuy, WG’58, general manager of the global bank ANZ Vietnam, co-chaired the event.

New Online Alumni Community Launched

WhartonConnect, the new online alumni community, is now live. Alumni benefitsof WhartonConnect include enhanced search and profile management capability, an integrated calendar of events, easier event registration, improved navigation, and a single sign-on for all Wharton websites. Please log on and check out the enhanced features of this system. To connect, and for additional information on the new community, visit www.whartonconnect.com.

Global Warming Pressure Heats Up for Companies

New carbon emission regulatory regimes are coming soon—and they will likely carry significant costs, said business and academic experts who spoke recently at the first annual Conference/Workshop on Business and the Environment at Wharton. The event was organized by leaders from Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL), a new global center on business and the environment that brings together Wharton and Penn faculty with business, NGO, and government officials to discuss and research issues of business and the environment.

Wharton professor Eric Orts, the founding director of IGEL and conference head, said companies have many motivations for wanting to neutralize the effects of greenhouse gases on climate change. A common view is that companies always apply a “net present value analysis” or profit-oriented view in evaluating the environmental effects of a new product or service. But this isn’t always the case, he said, noting that some companies take voluntary steps that might relate only indirectly, if at all, to a cost benefit analysis.

What came through clearly at the conference, Orts said, is that the business community is serious about tackling global warming. “I think that only a few large businesses believe that climate change is an issue that they can ignore—or lobby against.”

For information about the IGEL, see its website at http://environment.wharton.upenn.edu. For a link to Knowledge@Wharton’s full story on the conference, see the Magazine website atwww.wharton.upenn.edu/alum_mag.

Fashion Week Lures Top Retail Industry Talent

Kenneth Cole, famous for both his fashion brand and humanitarian efforts, spoke in Huntsman Hall as 2008 Fashion Week’s keynote speaker, discussing his history in the fashion industry and his recent charity work for AIDs research. The Wharton Retail Club is an organizer of Fashion Week.

Wharton/INSEAD Renew Alliance

Dean Thomas Robertson and INSEAD Dean J. Frank Brown announced a four year renewal of the Wharton/INSEAD Alliance at an April 30 joint alumni event in New York City. Launched in 2001, the alliance combines the resources of the world’s leaders in management education to deliver top-quality business research and education across four dedicated campuses: Wharton’s U.S. campuses in Philadelphia and San Francisco, and those of INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, and Singapore.

Leadership Saatchi & Saatchi Style

Ideas are the currency of the future, Saatchi & Saatchi’s Kevin Roberts told Wharton students during a recent Wharton Leadership Series lecture. Roberts, the CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi since 1997, has in the space of 11 years cemented the ad agency’s reputation as one of the most successful and creative companies in the industry.

His presentation as part of the Wharton Leadership Lecture series touched upon the skills needed to be a successful marketer, what consumers really want,the importance of failure, his own personal management style, and the need to have a dream. Roberts was among a slate of top-level executives who shared career and personal insights with Wharton students this spring. Other Leadership Lecture speakers this spring included Richard Fain, WG’72, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Donald Humphreys, WG’76, senior vice president and treasurer of ExxonMobil.

Students Awarded Health and Human Rights Leadership Award

Wharton MBA students Emily Rizza, Katie Vahle, and Joyce Liao, all WG’08, received the Doctors of the World (DOW) Health and Human Rights Leadership Award on behalf of the Wharton Healthcare International Volunteer Project (WHIVP) this May. The award recognizes the students’ work in designing a voucher program for pregnant women in Kenya that will help reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rates, as well as an HIV/AIDS- and TB-related project conducted a year earlier.

Vahle and Rizza called their experience in the West and North Pokot districts of Kenya the highlight of their time at Wharton. The students wedged their volunteer trip into the three-week break between summer internships and their return to Wharton last fall. The students’ work through WHIVP, a student-alumni group, was in partnership with DOW, a non-profit volunteer medical services association.

The WHIVP-DOW partnership program, which DOW expects to implement this summer, aims to reduce the maternal mortality rate from some 410 per 100,000 births to 175 per 100,000 in the areas of Kenya covered, Liao says. The plan pivots on a voucher system, backed by private and public funding, and is devised to encourage more expectant mothers to use existing healthcare facilities in the area.

Johnson & Johnson/Wharton Fellows Program for Nurses Turns 25

The Johnson & Johnson/Wharton Fellows Program in Management for Nurse Executives recently enrolled its 1,000th participant and celebrated the nursing management program’s 25th anniversary. Johnson & Johnson also announced plans to fund  a full scholarship for a nurse executive from Africa to attend the program.

The $10,000 scholarship for a nurse from Africa honors the memory of Lois Ginsburg, the long-time administrative head of the program, and funds all program expenses. J&J also pays the tuition costs and some meal expenses for the 40 nurse executives who attend the annual three-week program, which focuses on management and finance knowledge for chief nursing officers.

At a recent two-and a-half-day Advanced Management Education Conference, a biannual reunion event for nurse management program alumni, speakers  included Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian and best-selling author, and Nancy Barry, longtime CEO of the Women’s World Bank, a pioneering microfinance organization, and founder of Enterprise Solutions to Poverty.

“It allowed us to speak the language of business to each other and understand what we mean,” said program graduate Catherine Hughes, vice president for Patient Care at Virtua Health in Berlin, NJ, of the program. The nurse executives “have a new level of clarity as executive leaders. They are better able to relate the complexities of finance to the quality of outcomes.” For information on the Johnson & Johnson/Wharton Fellows Program in Management for Nurse Executives, see http://executiveeducation.wharton.upenn.edu.

Mayor Nutter’s Leadership Team Comes to Wharton Executive Education

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, W’79, recently brought 100 of his key administrators to a two day leadership program at Wharton’s Aresty Institute of Executive Education.

The Wharton program focused on building leadership strengths, and integrating the School’s business perspective with legislative and policy insights from the Fels Institute. Academic co-director and Wharton professor Michael Useem helped design the program to support the mayor’s vision for improving education, expanding jobs, improving health, enhancing ethics, reducing crime, and strengthening services.

The mayor visited on the second day of the program to address his team. “We’ve set the bar high, and people want us to be successful,” he told the city leaders. “The driving force behind what we do is to deliver higher quality service. Your obligation to the public is to provide the leadership the city needs.” Nutter’s managing director, Camille Barnett, expressed similar high hopes for the participants. “Our two days at Wharton have given us a common experience and a common language. But most importantly, this program imbues us with courage and hope, the leadership values that are essential to accomplishing what lies ahead of us.”

China Business Conference

While China’s manufacturing sector booms and people sock away money in savings accounts, the country’s financial markets remain in their infancy, according to international finance experts who gathered at the recent 2008 Wharton China Business Conference, a student-run initiative. That partly reflects the realities of economic development—the so-called “real economy” tends to develop in advance of capital markets. Once an economy takes off, as China’s has over the last several years, creative financiers start to figure out ways to fund investments, distribute gains, and share risks.

Yet the relative underdevelopment of China’s capital markets also reflects the biases of its powerful central government, speakers stressed. Chinese regulators are less experienced with financial markets, said Vincent Duhamel, managing director at Goldman Sachs Asia, a conference speaker. Ideally, regulators should only act as referees, allowing the market to innovate, “but they are not comfortable letting the market do its own work,” he told conference attendees.

Even a widely perceived Chinese strength—the country’s massive foreign currency reserves—reflects the underlying weakness of the financial markets, said Jennifer Amyx, a Penn political science professor. For a link to Knowledge@ Wharton’s complete story on the China Business Conference, see the Magazine’s website at www.wharton.upenn.edu/alum_mag.

‘Small Wonder’ Wins BPC

Student team Solixia, whose “Hot Dot” cancer treatment platform is the size of a small protein fragment yet 20 times more powerful in diagnosing and treating cancer than currently used radiopharmaceuticals, won the $20,000 grand prize of the 2008 Wharton Business Plan Competition. The prize was awarded at Wharton’s annual Venture Finals April 30, where student finalists received a total of $73,000 in combined cash prizes, access to capital, and in-kind legal/accounting services.

Solixia co-founders Brian W. Smith and Irene Susantio, both WG’08, have already received recognition for their efforts. Smith recently won a Philadelphia Business Journal “Philly 40 under 40” Award as a “proven performer”; Fox Chase Cancer Center has agreed to team up with Solixia for submission of an STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) proposal to the National Cancer Institute; and Solixia was also accepted into the Wharton Venture Initiation Program, Wharton’s educational incubator.

This year’s Venture Finals also included a People’s Choice award, where an audience of hundreds listened to brief elevator pitches from all finalists. The audience voted for Innova Materials, which focuses on a process for spraying antimicrobial particles into plastic, such as water carrying pipes, to increase sanitary conditions. Innova, led by undergraduate student Michael Young, also won two other prizes: the $10,000 Second Prize overall and the $5,000 Frederick H. Gloeckner Award for the highest ranking Wharton undergraduate team. The $5,000 Third Prize went to Proteza, makers of “SmartSock,” a pain alleviating prosthetic liner for below-knee amputees.

This year’s Venture Finals, the culminating event of the year-long competition, attracted nearly 300 venture capitalists, business leaders, faculty, and students. The Venture Finals judges who selected the winning teams represented a range of organizations and included:

John Clarke, WG’82, managing general partner, Cardinal Partners; David L. Ferguson, WG’85, partner, Weston Presidio; David A. Piaquad, WG’84, senior vice president, business development, Schering-Plough Corporation; and Aydin Senkut, WG’96, founder and president, Felicis Ventures.

Wharton Wins Sustainable Venture Capital Investment Competition

Vicki Yan, WG’08, and the Wharton team impressed the judges and won first place at the third annual Sustainable Venture Capital Investment Competition (SVCIC) at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

They beat teams from NYU, Duke, Columbia, UNC, and Northwestern. The five-member team included Yan and teammates Xiao Chen, WG’09, Ashish Mehta, WG’09, Alice Zhang, WG’08, and Xiaoming Zuo, WG’08.

The competition is a whirlwind of activity, forcing students to make thoughtful investment decisions in a 24-hour span. Teams play the role of venture capitalists, evaluating business ideas using a triple bottom line of financial profitability, environmental integrity, and social equity to determine whom to support. They interview the entrepreneurs, asking tough questions under the watchful eye of VC judges who assess team dynamics and insight into the financials as well as the rapport with entrepreneurs. Then, the real work begins—developing an investment framework, writing a term sheet, and creating a PowerPoint presentation to share their vision for these companies.

In their final presentation, team members discussed why they were interested in the business plan they selected — an organic baby food company that has committed to making a difference not just in the lives of children whose parents buy the food, but also in the lives of malnourished children worldwide. “We felt that saving the lives of children was most important to us,” says Mehta.

Reported by The Wharton Journal

Wharton Students Rack Up Competition Victories

In addition to the SVCIC competition, Wharton undergraduates and MBAs showed their mettle in a host of competitions across the nation this spring. Following is a round-up of some of the winners.

Undergrad Student Wins Paper Competition

Gordon Su, W’08, a student in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, was one of the winners of the 2007 Carl Marks Student Paper Competition, which recognizes outstanding student achievement in the field of corporate renewal. Su won in the theoretical/conceptual category for his paper, “The Bankruptcy Implications of Second Lien Loans.”

VIP Member Julie Price Wins Entrepreneurial Fellowship

Venture Initiation Program member Julie Price, WG’08, was selected as one of three 2007 Women Investing Next (WIN) Fellows by WIN, a Philadelphia-based organization that supports women led and owned businesses. Price, an entrepreneur who was accepted to VIP for her venture, Fitness Fusion, an alternative fitness system, was honored at WIN’s annual dinner. As part of her fellowship, she will have the chance for mentoring, networking, and access to WIN events.

Undergrads Place Second in Marshall Case Competition

Undergraduate seniors Puneet Singh, Daniel Francis, Daniel Shin, and Edan Yacobovsky placed second this spring in the USC Marshall Case Competition. The students were coached by marketing professor Keith Niedermeier.

Wharton MUSE Team Wins AMA Case Competition

For the third year in a row, Wharton’s undergraduate team took top place in the 2008 American Marketing Association (AMA) Case Competition.

The team members were: Lara Aleman, W’09, Sherry Bai, W’09, Jason Chou, E,W’10, Talal Khan, W’08, Jonathan Kuo, E’10, Melissa Lamb, W’09, Adela Mou, C,W’09, Joanne Tong, W’08, Kevin Tucker, W’10, Jonathan Wu, W’08, and Diana Zhou, W’09.

Wharton MBA Team Wins First Prize at Financial Engineering Case Competition

Wharton students proved their business acumen and analytical skills in derivative security valuation and financial engineering by placing first in this year’s Financial Engineering Case Competition (FECC), hosted by the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.

Wharton VCIC Team Wins “Entrepreneur’s Choice Award”

Wharton MBA students won the prestigious “Entrepreneur’s Choice Award” at the 2008 Venture Capital Investment Competition Finals, a first at the VCIC International level. The students were: Mayank Mehta, WG’09, Nana Murugesan, WG’09, Karthik Raghupathy,WG’09, Anupam Rastogi, WG’09, and Shantanu Rastogi, WG’09.

Rebuilding Together at 20

The Wharton chapter of Rebuilding Together, an initiative that sends MBA student volunteers into West Philadelphia to help renovate houses that have fallen into disrepair, is 20 years old this year. Recently,the Wharton Rebuilding Together team mobilized 250 volunteers to renovate over a dozen houses in the West Shore neighborhood from 45th and 48th Streets to Woodland Avenue and Grays Ferry Avenue.