Week 3 was all about finance and consulting. In many respects it was in contrast to week 2, which was focused on entrepreneurship and expectedly so. Paul Toldalagi kicked off with the business staple concepts of “sustainable competitive advantage”, differentiation and voice of customer. As he related his career progression, it was evident that he had prepared himself for change as the opportunities unfolded before him. Innovation is driven by diversity, temperament and curiosity, and it has penetrated the consultancy field as well. However, it is the intellectual agility and expertise that will drive this business, even though the world is moving towards freely available content.
Zephyr Management, a global emerging markets investment manager, was an interesting visit as it presented a mixed bag of rationality and passion in the mix. On one hand, the basic concept of valuing an opportunity relative to price, and positioning oneself in high growth areas were reiterated, “follow your heart” was one piece of advice that seemed more entrepreneurial. What followed was all about large scale, big and impressive companies. Rudin Management showcased its innovative Di-BOSS system, which is an operating system for a building. Who would have thought that this is where the key to smart cities would be developed, while big players like IBM and Microsoft are still struggling. Steve Ibach gave a glimpse of “the future of finance” projected from the learnings of the past. He also mentioned how data will drive the future. The number of times this has been repeated in the past two weeks only goes to show how critical data really is. Every online platform seeks to somehow collect customer data or use it to create an advantage. Skew level data indeed is gold in today’s world. The visit to Bloomberg gave us some insight into how real time information has been able to bring fair bit of transparency in financial tradings. While the impressive infrastructure and free spirited work culture was very alluring, the high impact of the work was a little intimidating, on the other. General Atlantic, a private equity fund management company, gave us a glimpse of the private equity fund management and how investors are targeting the emerging country consumers. It was important to learn how critical liquidity planning, geographic, currency and sector decisions are to making investments at the scale that General Atlantic makes. The visit to EY was the penultimate be for the week and was an ideal choice to complete the broad spectrum of companies we have visited since we have been in New York. Their professionalism clearly reflected in the way they received us and answered our queries. Although they functioned Ina corporate setting some entrepreneurial opportunities did exist in the organization.
The highlight of the week, and I dare say the program so far, was the new venture competition hosted by NASDAQ and Prezi. A couple of sleepless nights and animated team discussions later we were stoked. A little nervous, a little hungry and on fire- each team represented CEU well. It was quite an experience to have been on such a stage an