Spring 2010

Spring 2010

Can a Small High-End Bakery Help Revive a Struggling Island Economy?

Wharton’s Risk Center is Helping the World Prepare for the Next Major Disaster.

Lei Wang, WG’03, is About to Make Mountaineering History.

Cover Story

  • Bakery

    Baking Up A Miracle

    Can a new high-end bakery help save a run-down island out in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay? Brian Murphy, WG’08, believes it can. He also knows it won’t be easy.

Featured Stories

  • Nearing the Summit

    For many, climbing Mount Everest would be the accomplishment of a lifetime. For Lei Wang, WG’03, Everest is merely another peak – and the last hurdle standing between her and an historic mountaineering achievement.

  • The Power of ‘The Network’

    From real estate to the oil industry, medicine to investment banking, Wharton alumni help each other launch their careers, change their careers and advance their careers – even in the most challenging job market in decades.

  • Masters of Disaster

    At Wharton’s Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, researchers are investigating why humans do such a poor job planning for, and learning from, catastrophes.


  • Return of the Follies

    Shira Yudkoff The oddball Wharton tradition known as the Follies returned to campus in mid-February. Wharton Magazine contributing photographer Shira Yudkoff captured the Follies troupe here during their final night of rehearsal.

  • This is Not Your Mother’s China

    By Calvin Sun, WG’82 As our plane touched down in Beijing, I thought about my late mother, who left China as a young woman, returning only twice. Twenty years had passed since that final visit, and I regretted she never had another chance. Thinking further, I realized that she probably would never have recognized China for its changes. Indeed, as I talked with friends, I heard likewise: China is changing so rapidly, even “natives” have trouble keeping up with the latest social and cultural trends. If you are going, or even if you’ve been there, here are some to be aware of. Housing Challenges Young employees often have trouble finding housing. As a result, many cope via 蚁族 yǐzú , or “ant race.” They share an apartment, working like ants to save for a place of their own. Because the ant is both social and highly motivated, Shanghai-based consultant Kin Ho Wong maintains that “ant race” is preferred to the Western “rat race.” Wong says that the former conveys dedication and industriousness, and lacks the negative connotations of the latter. Improvements in Education Career concerns often lead students to study overseas, returning to China to work. Such Chinese are called 海龟 hǎiguī, or “sea turtle.”“龟”is a play on the character “归.” Though both are pronounced the same, guī, they have different meanings. 龟means “turtle” while 归 means “to return.” In previous years, such education, particularly in the United States, was invariably superior to what they could get in China. Therefore, these 海龟 were almost always guaranteed better jobs than those who remained in China for their education. This difference in treatment often created jealousy in the past. Today, however, another factor has emerged. With China’s rapid progress, its educational institutions have improved as well. Therefore, a degree from a foreign university, […]

  • The Inbox

    Send your letters via email to letters@whartonmagazine.com or via traditional mail to: Letters, Wharton Magazine, Wharton External Affairs, 344 Vance Hall, 3733 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6360. Letters may be editied for clarity or brevity. The True Trailblazer? I enjoyed the article on Dr. Oz in the Winter 2010 edition (“The Doctor Is In. And Everywhere,” page 16). In the Editor’s Letter, Dr. Oz is described as a “joint degree trailblazer” at Penn. I believe that is not quite correct, as I was the first student at Penn to ever accomplish this. I completed both degrees in 1978, which is eight full years earlier than Dr. Oz. There was no joint-degree program at that time, so I simply applied to both schools individually when I was a senior in college. I asked the Wharton School and Penn Medicine if it would be OK if I studied at both schools at the same time, and I had to make up the curriculum as I went along, since there was no precedent for this at Penn. Five years later, I had completed the two degrees. I could not think of any other university in 1973 that would have allowed me to matriculate in both their medical school and their graduate business program. Michael Rose, WG’78, M’78 Springfield, NJ A Good Doctor Dr. Oz is an inspiration to those of us working to make Americans healthier instead of sicker and poorer. If MBAs found medicine a calling and doctors embraced the discipline of business, then America’s healthcare system wouldn’t be in crisis, but rather the envy of the world. Dr. Oz embodies the best of both worlds and could be the last best hope for American medicine. Davis Liu, MD, W’93 Sacramento, CA A Happy Reader All I can say is wow! I received my Wharton Magazine today and started to […]

  • Editor

    Editor’s Letter

    By the time you sit down to read this, probably sometime in late April, Lei Wang will very likely be living out of a tent somewhere near the base of Mount Everest in Nepal. There, Wang will spend the next several weeks training, gathering her strength and preparing both mentally and physically to climb the largest mountain on earth—a mountain so enormous, so dangerous and so unpredictable that 210 people have died in pursuit of its summit. But Wang, WG’03, is not one to worry. And if everything breaks just right—if the weather holds up, if the climbing is good, if disaster doesn’t strike, and, of course, if Wang is feeling good and strong as she traverses Everest’s icy slopes—the diminutive China native and Boston resident just might reach the top. If she does, she will have become the tenth person in world history, and the fi rst Chinese woman, to ever climb the tallest mountains on each of Earth’s seven continents … and, just for good measure, ski to both the North and South poles, too. Wang’s pursuit of this goal has taken up nearly a decade of her life. It’s drained her savings. It’s put her career on hold. So when I spoke with Wang late this winter, about a month before she was to ship out for Everest, I had ask her: Why do it? In “Nearing The Summit,” Wang answers that question. She talks about her remarkable personal journey—a journey that has transformed her from a self-described “out-of-shape” young woman into one of the most accomplished climbers in the world. Wang’s inspirational story is just one of the highlights of our Spring 2010 issue. As we saw most recently with the horrible earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, disaster is truly inevitable. In “The Masters of Disaster,” contributor […]

  • Scott_Shane

    Genetics in the Workplace

    The science is clear: Your career is shaped, at least in part, by your genetic makeup.

  • Money_Plant

    Growing Ever Greener

    Through its New Sustainability Program, Wharton is Helping Save the Planet — And Money, Too.

  • Wharton Folly

    By The Wharton Folly Committee — Joel Serebransky, WG’85, Matthew Sinacori, WG’03, Ram Rajagopal, WG’02, Steve Margolis, WG’86, and Andy Stack, WG’01 Illustration by Brian Ajhar The New Interview

  • Karl_Ulrich

    The Value of a ‘Crash Course’

    One course. Four days. Full credit. How does it work? Karl Ulrich talks about how and why he created Wharton’s first ‘modular’ course. By Tim Hyland Ryan Donnell   Can a full-credit course really be taught in just four days? According to Karl Ulrich, the answer is a resounding yes. For the past two years, Ulrich, the CIBC Professor of Entrepreneurship and eCommerce, has been engaged in something of an academic experiment out at Wharton | San Francisco—an experiment that has proven, both to Ulrich and other Wharton faculty, that so-called “modular courses” do have a real and legitimate purpose in the curriculum. In fact, Ulrich says, modular courses, which are offered in an “intensive workshop format” and keep students occupied for nearly every waking moment for a period of days, offer an experience that conventional courses simply can’t match. The modular course Ulrich developed for Wharton | San Francisco, OPIM 654 (Intensive Workshop on Development of Web-Based Services) is open to undergraduates, MBAs and Executive MBA students from both the East and West programs. In just two years the course has become one of the most popular Wharton has to offer; Ulrich has had to turn students away both years it’s been offered. But as excited as students are when they enroll in the course, Ulrich says, they’re even more enthusiastic upon completion. We spoke with Ulrich in early February about why he developed OPIM 654, how the course is structured, and why he thinks modular courses have an important future here at Wharton. What was the impetus for creating this course? I had just finished chairing the School’s globalization committee a couple of years ago, and one of the things that emerged from that was the idea to teach courses in so-called modular format, which refers to a […]

  • From_the_Vault

    From the Vault: Dietrich Hall

    By Tim Hyland Don’t let those clunky old-school calculators fool you. The Wharton students seen in this 1960 photograph are clicking away in what was considered, at the time, to be one of the finest and most advanced academic buildings in the country. Dietrich Hall was among the first buildings completed at Penn after World War II, and the University spared no expense on its design, bringing in hallowed New York design firm McKim, Mead and White—the team behind such iconic buildings as Penn Station in New York, the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC and the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn—to lead the project. The building was completed in 1950. In 1981, it was renovated to include Steinberg Hall. Today the combined “Steiny-D” continues to serve as one of Wharton’s main academic buildings, hosting classrooms, the Dean’s Office and several academic departments. —T.H. [Editor’s Note: No, the machines pictured here are not typewriters, as we had originally stated, but rather “electro-mechanical calculators.” Thanks to the many readers who corrected us on this.]

  • Wharton Leader: Eric Kacou, WG’04

    By Robert Preer In little more than a decade, Rwanda has gone from a country in ruins to a model for African development. Since the end of the 1994 genocide, Rwanda’s economy has grown an average 8 percent a year. While much of the world was sliding into recession, Rwanda grew over 11 percent in 2008 and 6 percent in 2009. Rwanda was also the world’s top reformer in the World Bank’s Doing Business Survey last year. As managing director of the international consulting firm OTF Group, which focuses on competitiveness in developing nations, Eric Kacou, WG’04, leads the Rwanda National Innovation and Competitiveness Program and is a key economic advisor to the government of President Paul Kagame. Kacou says he has been privileged to play a part in Rwanda’s extraordinary transformation. “Our relationship with Rwanda started in 2000 when OTF’s founder, Michael Fairbanks, and other colleagues facilitated a week-long seminar with the leadership of Rwanda,” says Kacou, 34. “In 2001, I was part of the original OTF team that moved to Kigali to support Rwanda’s leadership in changing the model of prosperity creation to one based on high and rising wages, innovative and differentiated products, and trustful and competitive industry clusters.” Kacou credits Fairbanks, one of his key mentors, with teaching him how to be an effective advisor to developing countries. Author of the landmark book on strategy in emerging markets, Plowing the Sea, Fairbanks remains active in Rwanda as a member of President Kagame’s Advisory Council. Based in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali, Kacou and his team have focused on ground-level initiatives including helping Rwanda’s leadership nurture key industries, training a new generation of leaders, and creating a supportive environment for home-grown businesses, as well as foreign investors. “Our role is mostly as strategic advisors and cluster facilitators,” […]

  • Wharton Leader: Roger Crandall, WG’02

    By Liz Farquhar   From his seat on stage at Commencement in 2005, Roger Crandall, WG’02, had an up-close view of Wharton’s newest alumni. And as each graduate’s name was read, Crandall remembers thinking: “These are the business leaders of the future; these will be our customers.” He also noticed something else: Diversity. So when he returned to Springfield, MA, the next week, he arrived with the kernel of a plan that has since transformed the face of his company, MassMutual Financial Group. MassMutual is now the fifth-largest life insurance company in the United States. It is also the third-largest seller of participating whole life insurance, and over the past several years, sales of that product alone grew 14 percent, compared to the industry average of 1 percent. Crandall, who was named CEO of the company in December 2009 and has served as president since December 2008, believes it’s his job to build on that strength—and a focus on demographics and ethics is a big part of his approach. So far, he seems to be doing well; the company saw record sales of its top line in both 2008 and 2009. A career in insurance, however, wasn’t always in his plans. After starting work toward a Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in the late 1980s, Crandall switched gears and ultimately decided he needed to be where the action was: On Wall Street. Unfortunately, he picked the absolute worst time to make the move—1987, in the wake of that year’s spectacular crash. “There were no jobs,” he recalls. That’s when his father stepped in and helped him land an interview at MassMutual. By 1988, he was working in the firm’s real estate investment training program, and what he thought would be a brief tenure before returning to Wall Street blossomed […]

  • Final Exam

    Think you could still ace your way through Wharton? Well, here’s your chance to prove it.

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