Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Blog finale

First of all, I am thankful for the teaching and feedback given by Professor Arvan! I enjoyed the class and the format.

As for the lessons learned, I think the principle-agent problem and the transaction cost in bidding situations are the two topics that I have the most interests. The example of the conflict between customer's need and company's need from a valet parker is the most memorable one, because it is a very simple and easy to understand example but it actually reflects a lot of conflicts in organizations that are in similar nature. As for the transaction cost in bidding topic, I simply never thought too deep into the matter. I always thought that the bidder with the lowest price wins the project and get to sell their products. But the truth is that price is only one factor, and we also need to consider the long term development of the product, the stability of the product, etc.

Posting blog is a very interesting way to communicate actually. Maybe it's because I've never done it before in any of my classes taken in the past three years of college. But I think what's better might be real time online discussion where everybody log on a instant-message discussion page and starts to talk about certain subjects. I think it is a whole lot faster to get feedback than commenting on blog. But it's just a personal opinion. As for Excel homework, I usually go over the slides or Excel sheets that are related to the materials in the homework, which speed things up when I do the homework.

I have learn some very interesting topics from this class. I think it help to to better build and keep human capital since I have a better understanding of the reason and solution to some of the conflicts in organization.

Trying to understand prompts, writing blogs according to prompts and commenting definitely improved my writing skills. I think it is really beneficial for my future career since I hope to land a consulting position, which require great communication skills and clear logic structure for presentation.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The era of Apple - reputation and branding

In 2002, when iPod was introduced, Apple rocked the world of music. According to Apple, One million of iPod was sold by June 2003. From then on, Apple started to build itself as a innovative and elegant brand.
I am not entirely sure, but I think that Apple built their brand and value proposition through building a strong reputation that align with their brand value.

First of all, they were not doing good financially until the invention of iPod, which not only save the company but also started their road to become the most innovative company in this decade. After generations of newly designed iPod, Apple introduced iPhones and iPads in the following years. The rolling out of each generation of their product broadcasted and reinforced the idea and perception of being innovative in consumers' minds. They built up their reputation year by year, device by device. And when Apple has the reputation of being a innovative company that create easy to use and beautifully design product. It automatically built the brand in the same way. So when people are talking about which company is innovative and has the easiest product to use, Apple would come up to their minds.

Apple brands itself by doing what they believe and advertise their values. They truly believe that making electronic device that is easy to use can make a huge impact on people's lives, and they work hard to make that happen. A side from that, they did not just do the work but also advertise their ideas. Whenever a new product come out, Apple always post a video on their website, usually feature their senior VP of design Jonathan Ive, explaining the ideas and values behind the design.

So I think the concept of branding and having a reputation can be really closely related since both of them reflect the value stand behind the products or services that the company provide.

Friday, November 15, 2013


I want to talk about one of my experiences where I have strong reputations of mastering certain skills.
I have been working on a project since August this year in a team of six people. In the beginning, none of us know each other since the project group was assigned by directors. So the first phase was getting to know each other. After two or three weeks of teamwork, we started to actually get to know each other's personality a little bit. 
I started building my reputation as a good data analyst and presenter by getting my part of work done with high quality. So team members started to notice that my work were usually presented with concise and clear charts that demonstrate the result of my data analysis in a sharp way. Even though I did not know their thoughts back then, but I would guess that they started to deem me as a person who like play with data and charts, which was the first step of building a reputation. 
As the project went on, I worked with one or two teammates on some tasks together where my ability to utilize certain data-processing software were observed closely and learned by one or two teammates. I started to gain trust.  turned the data synthesizing part of our mutual tasks to me before he even try to do that because he know that I can do the job nicely. So in this phase, my ability was built up in the small circle in my team. Therefore, my reputation built up a little bit more than its in the beginning. 
And most recently, when I work on some research for the project on my own, some of my teammates turned to me to solve some of their data-processing problems. So by now, my ability is recognized in this entire group. I reached the highest reputation level I can be.
I think what I did to built and maintain my reputation was merely three things: completing my tasks with high quality; Actively reaching out to help other team members with their problem;  Answering questions and offering help when teammates turned to me with their questions. 
For me, at least in this case, I never thought about abandon my reputation for anything. I think it is simply because I can not think of any possible payoff or gain for me to cash in my reputation. I think my reputation brings me joy and fulfillment.

Added on Nov/17:
The project was to find and justify the best practices a Fortune 1000 company should take in order to improve brand awareness among general public and recruiting performance. The consulting project is paid by the company. So this was a very meaningful and serious project. We have a very strict timeline to complete the project. So it is very organized. We have team meetings and client calls every week to make sure our direction of research is align with the client's need.

Having such reputation makes me able to take on more data analysis responsibilities that I am good at. I believe by giving tasks to the most suitable person is a great way to increase efficiency and effectiveness. And I look forward to being promoted to project manager in the future.

Friday, November 1, 2013


I thought hard but I am not sure if any of my experience can be considered as a  triangle principal-agent situation. I think the most similar case would be the consulting project I am working on. In this case, the agent is project manager, and two principles are the consulting organization (or say project manager's supervisor) and the client.

In my consulting team, there are one senior manager, one project manager and five consultants including me. We work for a Chicago based company.  Our contact of the company is the director of a division at the firm. In order to keep pour in high quality effort toward the project and meet client's need, client is obligated to have at least a call with us each week.

But after the first client call in the beginning week, there was a family emergency in our clients family. Senior managers try to contact our client by emails and phone calls, but the clients were not responding. And at the same time, the senior manager also want the project keep going, which means that both the project manager and us need to produce same amount of research as normal. But it got harder and harder for us to do since we need more information from our client as our research went deeper. Project manager in this case, was upset because he was not able to get hold of the client for 5 weeks. With the overwhelming pressure of having a satisfying mid point presentation for our client without the feedback, PM really did everything he could to contact our client. So the PM was stuck in the middle of the pressure zone. In one side, the organization or SM need PM and us produce a high-quality midpoint presentation, but in the other side, PM also face the pressure of not able to communicate with our client and find out its need.

So the entire tension that PM had was ended by receiving client's response this week. Luckily, the client was really interested after we briefed him what we've been doing. So it did not ends in bad way. I know that this case was not really the perfect case to discuss the principle-agent model. But it is the closest one I got.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Group Projects

Based on my experience, the success of a project really depends on what mentality or goals that are on each group member's mind. And I believe even though different level of knowledge may evoke some arguments but major conflict rises with different level of personal commitment and interest.

The consulting project I am currently working on has a great team. From my point of view, everybody on the team are on the same page in the sense of commitment, goals and effort. Everyone clearly like doing research, analyze and discuss as consultants. We share out ideas and resolve conflict opinions with respect. And each of us really want to have a great final deliverables to the client so a lot of individual effort were put in to make the entire project move forward. And therefore, the combine effort and a common goal really makes the team functions with high performance.

However, not every project is like the one I mentioned above. A project I involved with last year did not went so well. In my point of view, it was caused by different goals for each of the team member. Two of them are seniors who are busy looking for jobs and interviewing, so grades just does not matter that much to them anymore. Therefore, they putted in minimum effort which in turn adding up the workload of the rest of us. In the end, because of the excessive amount of work rest of us did led to a non-satisfactory result.

Recall what professor talked about during the class on Thursday, CEOs, just as all the other human beings, care about themselves first. I think it is applicable to anyone. From my past experience, personal interests are strongly positively correlated with the commitment and performance of s/he in a team environment. It could be earning good grade or putting good word on resume that pumped the person to put in effort. Therefore, group's interest comes second when it is not aligned with personal interests.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

5 - Transfer Pricing - IlliniBucks

First of all, I want to say such regime like "Illinibucks" does not exist for reasons. I believe this is not a way to achieve equality in our society. It empowers those students from financially strong families to have better access to resources on campus and from the University. And therefore at the same time grants the University extra unethical income. Under the system of Illinibucks, I would say quite a lot of things on campus make good candidates of the Illinibucks. It can be used at entrance of dinning halls, time ticket for registration of courses, entrance of career fairs and so on.

In my imagination, one can use Illinibucks to pass the long line at the dinning hall entrance in lunch "rush hours". And it is very much useful for those students who have limited time to have lunch. It allows those students to arrive on time in their afternoon classes without a empty stomach. Also, when it comes registering for classes, it become such a critically important for students because it really give you the opportunity to have a perfect schedule (no classes on lunch or dinner times or early mornings). What's more, getting in to career fairs can be greatly favorable since recruiters always getting tired really quick after non-stop talking with students.

I personally would spend my Illinibucks according to how much I value those things. For example, registering for classes is important form freshmen year all the way through senior year. Attending for career fairs only become important in junior or senior years. So it really depends on what year am I in.

I personally does not believe that the price of Illinibucks would be a big factor here if one can use several Illinibucks at the same time since one can just buy more Illinibucks to get pass other people. Therefore, it is purely beneficial for people who can actually afford the Illinibucks. And it really draws a line between people, which can cause unstable society and anger.

Also, Illinibucks would be a monopoly, and it invisibly has a price discrimination. So people who value the Illinibucks the most are willing to pay more money to buy more Illinibucks in order to achieve the desired benefits. And people who value the Illinibucks at a lower utility would purchase less Illinibucks.

Friday, September 27, 2013

4 - Risk management (major and extra curriculum)

I never occur to me to think about the relationship between my future income risk and the choices I make now in college. I believe there is a really strong tie among those two.

First of all, a lot of people, including some advisors, are saying that your major does not decide your career path. Well, to some extent, that might be true. But if you look closely, by choosing a major, you actually narrow down the possibilities of potential career. For example, by choosing to be a Econ major, it is very much unlikely that I became a Mechanical Engineer (ME), because I do not possess the knowledge or skills that is required to perform in that field. And if we calculate the arithmetic mean of the salaries of Econ graduates, we could get a number let's say $60,000. And if we do the same thing for ME graduates, we could also get a number, let's say $80,000. The point is: if I choose to be a Econ major and perform well, I kind of lock myself around the $60,000 range. It would be unlikely to go way above or way down of $60,000. Therefore, by choosing a major with bright future and work hard, I reduced the risk of having to work for an underpaid job, and likely to get a job with $50,000 to $70,000 salary.

Moreover, the summers between semesters give me a lot of time. 3 months time is almost like the length of a semester. And no matter I apply for grad school or a job, admission officers or recruiter would definitely interested in what kind of activities I involved with in all past summers so that they can assess me. I studied aboard at University of Cambridge in England in summer 2012, and interned at a major national bank head quarter in my home city during the past summer. These experience granted me an expanded horizon, enlarged network or relationships, teamwork and analytical skills. These skills are critical credentials for landing a job in my area of interests or applying graduate school.

If I stand at the school’s or recruiter’s perspectives, I would understand that it is a lot riskier to admit or recruit a graduate with just high GPA but no extra-curriculum activities than a graduate with comparable GPA and a lot other experiences, because the person with fewer experiences will not able to provide proof of his/her abilities without showing them in certain activities like interning. Thus there is a greater possibility that s/he could not perform as expected.

Sadly there are no close relatives or friends of my family have been through the same career path that I am about to take. I bet I would benefit a lot from them if there were any.