EMPA Student Wins Worldwide Public Policy Competition as Part of Five-Person Team

public-administration-degree-team

Mariana Duenas (fourth from right), graduate of GGU’s Executive Master of Public Administration program (’18), won a worldwide public policy competition as part of a five-person team that prevailed over 130 teams from 159 universities and 27 countries. The 2018 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition was the largest-ever event conducted in higher education for the Public Administration field. International experts on public policy, comparative government studies, and global health issues judged the students on simulation scores, negotiation skills, and presentations.

Each team represented a fictitious country and assumed a variety of high-ranking roles, from Prime Minster to Minister of Public Health, and navigated difficult policy decisions and their potential outcomes. Duenas says: “As a team, we had to communicate among us to decide on preventative measures to minimize and control a disease outbreak from spreading — and ultimately control the number of deaths. As part of a government, our team all agreed that the main goals were to take preventative measures, handle emergency responses, and return to normalcy. I believe we were able to achieve our intended goals because we all collaborated and communicated so well together as a team.”

Data and Public-Policy Decision Making

The competition format was a computer simulation developed by Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming (CLSG) at the University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy – providing competitors with real global-health data to evaluate. CLSG Director Noah Myung explains, on its website, that the computer simulation, “was immersive so that each student can benefit from experiential learning prior to going out into the real world.”

The Executive Master of Public Administration degree is a great program that is tailored to working professionals who want to go back to school. GGU made it very easy for me to continue working full-time while completing the degree in 18 months.
—Mariana Duenas (EMPA, ’18)

“We live in a real-world situation of contrasts: ‘fake news’ and Big Data. Thus, GGU EMPA students are trained to make evidence- and data-driven analysis prior to making policy decisions,” adds Jay Gonzalez, George Christopher Professor of Public Administration and Chair of the GGU’s EMPA Program.

“The simulation competition fits well with a big part of what the faculty expects of the EMPA students,” says Mick McGee, DPA, Associate Professor of Public Administration at GGU. “Examples are the ability to think critically and synthesize information, gain knowledge (and its application in global and multicultural business and legal environments), respect diversity, and adapt in a rapidly changing world.”

Passion for Public Service

Public Administration inspires Duenas’ passions and not just her competitive spirit. Currently, she works as a Child Support Analyst at the County of San Mateo. “I honestly believe this field chose me, she says. “I like being involved in my community and ‘giving back’ and, I believe, I can achieve that working in this field.”

Duenas has just completed the Graduate Research Project in Public Management and her capstone thesis: “The Impact of Spanish Caseload on Customer Satisfaction and Reliability of Payments.”


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Treat People Like You Want to be Treated: An Interview with the Founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark

By Yumiko Higuchi
(A candidate of Master of Science, Integrated Marketing Communications)

There are many successful people in San Francisco; but Craig is my most favorite person because I am a big fan of his website, Craigslist. Before I came to the U.S. three years ago, I was so nervous because everything about my lifestyle might have to change. If I am in my home country, I have more information such as how to rent my apartment, how I can get second-hand furniture, and how I can look for community services. I did not have this kind of knowledge here, and I asked my ex-boss who has been working for a tech industry in Silicon Valley. He said, “No worries, Yumi. There is Craigslist. You can find everything there.” He was right.

Craigslist is the public communication website that has various categories such as community, discussion forums, housing ads, and product sales. It also includes classified advertisements that are the part of its business model. Craigslist was started in San Francisco as an email cc list to friends, featuring local events in the San Francisco Bay Area, and expanded to other U.S. cities, then overseas. Currently, Craigslist has more than 20 billion page views per month and covers over 70 countries.

“Ultimate Decision Maker Interview” assignment

I interviewed Craig Newmark for my assignment of the Ultimate Decision Maker Interview in my Sales Management class (MK332) taught by Professor Don Surath. I am going to share my take-away from meeting Craig.

Initially, I wanted to know about the secret of Craigslist because it had some unique characteristics that other websites did not have. Craigslist’s design and layout have not had a significant change for years. The customers of Craigslist focus on a clear objective such as looking for a job, an apartment, or a secondhand smartphone, so they like their simple web design; and they are willing to use it because every function is easy to understand. Also, Craigslist charges advertising cost for only some companies, and does not charge money for the general public, but their financial status is good. Those characteristics look rare in the tech industry.

While Craigslist operates their site with stable features, many competitors tried to take over Craigslist’s position, but were born and died immediately. Working in the tech industry for almost ten years, I’ve seen these kinds of circumstances hundreds of times. If someone has a competitor, the original service is often forced to change itself. Craigslist did not do this, so I wanted to know their secret of strength, why they did not change and kept offering good services firmly.

If someone has a competitor, the original service is often forced to change itself. Craigslist did not do this, so I wanted to know their secret of strength…

Meeting Craig Newmark

Craig Newmark is a likable gentleman. When we met at the café that he visits frequently, he welcomed me and sat in front of me. I asked him many questions that interested me. He answered all my questions slowly and with confidence. As mentioned above, I wanted to know the strengths of Craigslist, but it seemed to be challenging to obtain the answer from him because I did not know how to ask.

Although, after we talked a while, I had some clues. Many of his answers included the same phrase: “Treat people like you want to be treated.” That’s what he said when I asked him about the most important thing in the business, the essential point in the web service, and something about his private life. I think this phrase is his philosophy in his life, and it seems like this idea underlies his fundamental decisions.

Craig said that his position was customer service rep on Craigslist for a long time. I completely understood what he meant because the user support rep knows everything that customers want. Probably, it is also an excellent way of operating a long-lasting and popular website. Craigslist knows the customers’ opinions, so the organization did not go in the wrong direction. Consequently, Craigslist has been a popular website for years, and it has not had a big change. It might be a part of the Craigslist secret.

His philosophy is similar to “putting yourself in others’ shoes.” My major is marketing, and while I am studying at Golden Gate University, professors say this again and again. I am supposed to know its importance, but continuing this behavior is difficult. It is highly likely that Craig is a person who puts himself in others’ shoes in business and also in private. He takes others’ needs seriously. For the first time, I saw a person who lived this maxim for many years. This discovery impresses me and makes me respect him more, so I think I want to try following his philosophy sincerely in the future. It seems to be hard though!

After having interviewed Craig for the Ultimate Decision Maker Interview, I know the reason why Craigslist has everything we need – because the founder of Craigslist treats customers like he wants to be treated. He understands customers’ feelings.

Last but not least, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Newmark and Professor Surath for giving me such a precious opportunity.


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Pictured in header: Craig Newmark and Yumiko Higuchi.

7 Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career & The 7 Characteristics of a Winner


By Terry Connelly, former Dean of GGU’s Ageno School of Business

In a related post on this blog, I wrote about implementing your career strategy “like a business.” Here, I get down to skills you need in business and how to be a true winner and leader.

terry-connelly

1) For finance and international careers, learn to think financially in non-US currencies. While business “language” is most predominantly English, globalization has made far more than one currency relevant to business strategy and financial practice. Regional currencies have survived, and trade in pairs, to some extent in a zero-sum game. Public perceptions of the US dollar’s purchasing power change with tides of global central bank policies and national trade policies, which are currently a preoccupation of every US taxpaying business with foreign operations and profits and intellectual property. Do this exercise: spend a week translation all your own expenses and investments into Euros or yen.

2) In meetings, if you are not chairing, always be ready (and even volunteer) to be the note-taker! It’s not demeaning; it’s Making the record of discussion flow and decisions can become a very important role. It often yields access to more senior executives and follow-up responsibilities. If there is a document under discussion, be happy to keep the “mark-up master.” You will remember the important decision points in the meeting better, and be a “go-to” person for the next draft. If you have ideas to contribute, train yourself to “draft in the air” (i.e., gather precise language in your thoughts before you even write them down on the shared document) so you are immediately prepared to defend them: don’t rely on your “stream of consciousness” — get good and conscious before you stream!

3) Read people acutely: and don’t jump to conclusions. Always challenge your own assumptions about others’ motivations — truly keep an open mind, listen and read critically before you respond (particularly in terms of texts or e-mail; the latter have solved the problem of immortality as well as ultimate transparency! Don’t underestimate the usefulness of walking down the hall to chat, because you can’t read body language in print or even optimally in a video conference. Admit when you don’t know an answer without giving up the change to go get the answer.

4) Thinking outside the box can be learned. Try to focus on facts or nuances that others are missing, or dismissing. Avoid the “not invented here” syndrome affecting many bureaucracies and apparently entrenched lines of business. Pick your spots, however, when mounting a challenge to conventional wisdom – don’t become easily branded as a “contrarian.”

5) Pay close attention to internal politics. Then rise above it. Do not become trapped in other peoples’ disputes unnecessarily. When you are a party to a disagreement, always show respect for your adversaries. There are seldom permanent work enemies. If you are in charge of a working group or committee,  be flexible enough to include, rather than exclude, those whom you expect will disagree with the group direction, or your own  – unless it’s clear they would participate only to disrupt.

6) Build trust in your ethics and your judgment. Get known for fair and measured assessments of situations. Be the “sane one” in a room or workspace fully of rancor. And never disparage your own proven abilities – it confuses people and makes them wary of your intentions. Don’t’ surprise colleagues too often; let them have a good general sense of “where you are coming from.”  Let the surprise be the special insight, not that it’s coming from you. Be neither “predictable” not “unpredictable.”

7) Treat any workplace relationship or interpersonal conduct not relating to business as though its essence could be disclosed on a major social media or another news site at any time, and act accordingly. When in doubt, disclose; if you can’t disclose, don’t act.

Those are the skills, and here are the personal qualities you want to develop to be a winner and a leader…

1) Know your authentic business “personality” and stay true to it. Play within your competence, and if that’s not enough to succeed, seek to expand your competence.

2) Be committed to getting to the bottom of things; don’t settle for superficial agreement or avoidance because the issue is “too hard.” Do not keep a permanent “too hard” file if at all possible.

3) Be sure of your facts. Be truly well-informed. Take care in all things – including the “little” things.

5) Be  objective. Don’t fear to admit the strengths of another person’s position or argument.  Remember the argument based on your authority is the weakest.

6) Be discrete. in what to say, and when to say it. Keep legitimate confidences. Never agree “not to tell the boss” if the boss has the need to know, even as a favor to a close friend or mentor.

7) Be the first to define reality and the first to say thank you. Intelligence, integrity, and charm will take you a long way. Integrity is the essential one, and the hardest one to fake in the long run.


About Terry Connelly

Terry Connelly is an economic expert and Dean Emeritus of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University. With more than 30 years experience in investment banking, law and corporate strategy on Wall Street and abroad, Connelly analyses the impact of government politics and policies on local, national and international economies, examining the interaction of global financial markets, the U.S. banking industry (and all of its regulatory agencies), the Federal Reserve, domestic employment levels and consumer reactions to the changing economic tides. He holds a law degree from NYU School of Law and his professional history includes positions with Ernst & Young Australia, the Queensland University of Technology Graduate School of Business, New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore (corporate, securities and litigation practice in New York and London), global chief of staff at Salomon Brothers investment banking firm and Cowen & Company’s investments, where he served as CEO. In conjunction with past Golden Gate University President Dan Angel, Connelly co-authored Riptide: The New Normal In Higher Education (2011). Riptide deconstructs the changing landscape of higher education in the face of the for-profit debacle, graduation gridlock, and staggering student debt, and asserts a new, sustainable model for progress. He is a board member of the Public Religion Research Institute, a Washington, DC think tank and polling organization, and the Cardiac Therapy Foundation in Palo Alto, California. Connelly lives in Palo Alto with his wife.


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How I Earned a “Seat” Next to the CEO of United Airlines: A Cold Calling Exercise at Golden Gate University

By Milfred Galarreta (Candidate, MS, Integrated Marketing Communications, Class of ’19)

In the fall of 2017, on a typical morning in Sacramento and while still groggy in bed – after having arrived from Golden Gate University in San Francisco past midnight – I received a text message. Not just any message, but one from the CEO of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz:

I completely forgot, my apologies. I am hosting a big event this morning at SFO from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., but it’s inside the airport and I leave shortly after that.  If you provide me your email, I’ll see if I can get you on the invite list.

In my sleepy state, I watched my plans for the day explode like a supernova. Yet, in the back of my mind, I could hear Don Surath, my Sales Management professor who gave my class the cold-calling assignment to reach an Ultimate Decision Maker, saying: “You can do it, run! Say YES and deal with it later.” Amazing results don’t come for free: Within 10 minutes I was out the door and on my way to San Francisco. I got the interview!

When Oscar first contacted me, I told him that I had enough United Airlines frequent flyer miles – over 100,000! – to meet him anywhere; but on this occasion, I only needed to go 100 miles by train and rideshare. At that point, I called a friend from the class, Dora Nguyen (MS, Marketing, Class of ’18), to come with me for support and to make sure I handled the assignment as our professor would expect. She was also groggy but agreed to come along. Si se puede!

This GGU experience allowed me to reach a goal and also shaped me into a more determined person.

Determination in Sales

Prior to that text message, it had taken over 100 phone calls, plus emails and LinkedIn notes – along with researching where Oscar might be at any given time –  to get the interview. I then had a big moment of disappointment.

When I finally had a commitment from Oscar, the confirmation I was supposed to get never came – so I pulled out my “Cancellation Turtle.” It’s a way of handling bad news Professor Surath taught us that comes from chocolate turtles he kept in his drawer when bad news happened. (He’d eat chocolate turtles then call his best customer.) As I ate my chocolates – a Peruvian brand called Sublime – a stream of thoughts came to me about what I was grateful for. An attitude of gratefulness is important in life. By the time I was done eating my “Cancellation Turtle” chocolates and taking a walk, I felt serene.

Left to right: Dora, Oscar, and Milfred.

The Interview

On the day of our interview, Oscar was visiting San Francisco for a ceremony commemorating the last flight of the iconic Boeing 747. His calendar was booked for what seemed like every minute of this day. Three people were waiting outside the door for their turn to meet with him. He was sacrificing his lunch to talk to us.

…it had taken over 100 phone calls, plus emails and LinkedIn notes — along with researching where Oscar might be at any given time — to get the interview.

I was nervous; but Dora, who I had watched interview a general manager for Hilton Hotels (for the same assignment), broke the ice by saying: “I am an admirer.” I was too. I read about Oscar’s background and admired him as one of the only, and most accomplished, Latino CEOs in the U.S. I sent him several emails and LinkedIn messages, and wonder if the one that got his attention was: You were Latin, before it was cool to be Latin. This was my last message before he contacted me.

From Dora’s opening comment forward, it was like talking to somebody we knew. I could tell that in the short time we were there, he wanted to pass as much wisdom as possible to us. A few things he said piqued my interest. To paraphrase, he said: There are two ways to measure success; one is money; and one that is measured in completely human terms. The human quality is the only thing that is valuable and durable and truly makes you happy. I try to teach folks, especially like you: listen, study hard, work hard, and take care of yourselves and others; and just watch how many things accrue over time. People around you, at work, appreciate you if you are genuine and truly care about them. It makes a big difference. At the end of the day, your life is measured by what you leave behind. It is in the people around you: your spouse, your children, and your friends.

I realized that Oscar is more than the CEO of United Airlines, but a down-to-earth person who makes everyone around him feel like someone special. He also summed up his ideas by saying that, “by adding human to smart,” your career will reach its true potential.

On the train to San Francisco

Deeper Learning

This GGU experience allowed me to reach my goal and also shaped me into a more determined person. In addition to never giving up, my takeaway is that while it is alright to be driven, we need to learn to slow down and love people — and listen to the advice of those who are more experienced. I can now say to others: don’t forget that people have to care about you before they will help you.

I am continuing my travels on United Airlines! Last year I visited Ireland, Portugal, Peru, and New Zealand. This year I visited Cuzco, Peru and I am traveling to Japan and Hong Kong in August, and maybe Rome in December.

Here’s a big thank you Professor Don Surath, and to my Ultimate Decision Maker, Oscar Munoz: You both impacted my life for the better.


Interested in learning some of the techniques used by this GGU student? Don Surath will be conducting a seminar on how to reach high-level decision makers this summer at our downtown San Francisco campus. Watch GGU’s Facebook page for details.

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Golden Gate University Congratulates Golden State Warriors on NBA Finals Win

The Golden State Warriors have won the 2018 NBA Championship! We’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the ongoing relationship between the Golden State Warriors and Golden Gate University – Proud University Partner of the Golden State Warriors. GGU staff are attending tomorrow’s parade and will be posting pictures to our Facebook account, so stay tuned.

In another chapter in the relationship between GGU and the Golden State Warriors, a group of GGU students presented mobile marketing ideas to Warriors leadership for developing the team’s mobile app. Read more >>

Should I go to a Private, For-profit, or Private & Non-Profit College? Looking at Education Quality, Student Loans, and Return on Investment

By Terry Connelly, former Dean of GGU’s Ageno School of Business


terry-connellyFor-profit colleges have thrived by upending the long-standing operating model of universities. They treat higher learning as a business, students as customers, and “college traditions” as disposable.

The “Clean” Slate

“For-profits did not have the baggage of academic systems or faculty governance that focus on faculty,” says Gregory M. St. L. O’Brien, an administrator with long experience in higher education. In the same Chronicle of Higher Education article, he also says that for-profits were “free” of the traditional faculty structure of tenure-track professors moving through peer evaluations of their teaching and services and teaching faculty serving as department chairs holding tight to how curricula are organized.

The for-profit colleges have designed a business model that enabled enrollment to climb, at one point, at six times the rate of other American universities over the prior four decades. Never mind that promised salary levels can turn out to be much lower after graduation – or nonexistent if you can’t finish – and students, therefore, can take longer and longer to repay the loans they incurred to be able to attend – in some cases well into their 60s. For college-level students, the six-year graduation rate was 66 percent at private nonprofit institutions; 59 percent at public institutions; and 23 percent at private, for-profit institutions according to government statistics.

The way private, for-profit universities have exploited loopholes to get more student loan funding has taken money away from other more efficient ways to support access to higher education, such as community colleges, where no shareholders need to be satisfied with returns on investment. To achieve such returns, for-profits do not leave the design of the curriculum and course structure in the hands of the professors invested in student learning and experience, but instead, construct their learning platform with the interests of investors and owners in mind. University of Phoenix and Trump University were sued through a government class action and a whistleblower case for skirting federal loan rules, respectively.

Just Business

For-profits have focused on honing their instruction products – whether in-person or online – to match their targeted tuition price-points, which in turn are deliberately designed to procure the maximum amount of Federal education grants and loans. These students might be attending part-time in real-world terms, but are considered full-time students in terms of federal aid eligibility.

Investors are also attracted to the education sector by a situation many other industries would be delighted to enjoy: higher education consumers are already conditioned to pay higher tuition pricing every year for essentially the same product, regardless of whether or not it is new and improved. This kind of market can be a bonanza if you can cut production cost further, commoditize the product, optimize to deliver efficiency over quality, and supercharge your marketing pitches with high-pressure tactics.


For college-level students, the six-year graduation rate was 66 percent at private, nonprofit institutions; 59 percent at public institutions; and 23 percent at private, for-profit institutions according to government statistics.


The for-profits’ stocks were pummeled when the Obama Administration proposed an across-the-board requirement that all for-profit colleges track whether the jobs that their graduates actually get provide salaries sufficient to service their student debt with enough left over to live on.

Marketing a College Like a Sub-Prime Mortgage

Some online colleges, like Ashford University, spent up to 28% of its government-subsidized tuition revenue – more than it spent on the cost of its classes – on aggressive student recruitment campaigns. The University of Phoenix spent nearly a $100 million annually on promotion, including the cost of naming a football stadium (the school has never fielded a team). These spending rates – which do not necessarily include their extensive lobbying spend in Washington, DC – run up to ten times more than traditional non-profit institutions (even with the increase in marketing by private and public non-profit colleges to move up in US News ranking by garnering ever more applications to look more “selective.”

Seductive Sales Tactics

Some for-profits seek to drive all prospective student inquiry directly to their call centers by rarely publishing actual class schedules or tuition rates on their websites. This simple tactic forces prospects to contact the schools by telephone placing themselves at the tender mercies of the school’s own or outsourced phone-sales professionals. Some for-profits used sales quotas coupled with pay incentives to push enrollment, a practice that violates federal rules. A Government Accounting Office 2010 undercover Department of Education study presented to the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee, found “fraudulent, deceptive and otherwise questionable marketing practices” at all fifteen for-profit schools investigated, including direct inducements for fraudulent financial aid application by prospective students, as well as direct assistance to undercover applicants in answering questions on their admission exams.

The same DOE report also described “intimidation techniques,” used by recruiting managers on subordinates who were not meeting targeted enrollment number. Ultimately, University of Phoenix paid a multi-million dollar fine to the DOE to conclude the investigation.

Taxpayer Money

The US taxpayer has unwittingly been the lead underwriter in the emergence of the for-profit higher education sector, bearing most of the downside risks with few upside rewards in terms of actual taxes paid by for-profit institutions, many of which have gone bankrupt. By 2008, the College Board reported that, despite enrolling 10 percent of higher education students, for-profits were accounting for over 40 percent of federal Pell grants and student loans, and also a higher percentage of student loan defaults, which ultimately go against the taxpayer. Much like subprime mortgage lenders during the great financial crisis of the last decade, for-profits have no “skin in the game” when it comes to that risk of loss.

 Assessing Education Quality

Consider also the practice of “buying accreditation” – which is supposed to be an independent evaluation of the quality and integrity of educational offerings. When traditional private colleges that are failing, but already accredited, are converted to for-profits, some accrediting agencies are ruling that those wholesale reorganizations are merely changes in ownership rather than creations of distinctly new colleges – despite the fact that the end result is a complete change in the academic and operational model. When designing their degree programs, the acquirers had the advantage of wiping the slate clean without an independent assessment that prospective students can rely on.


About Golden Gate University

Non-profit since 1901
#1 rated for working professionals in the U.S.
Independent faculty governance
Modest marketing spend
In-house recruiting
Official Military-Friendly School®
Accredited: WSCUC Senior College & University Commission


 

A further major step away from traditional academic quality norms structures, pioneered at the for-profit leader University of Phoenix, was to abandon the traditional amount of student-instructor contact time. Despite more online education in general, U.S. regulators and accrediting bodies only caught on slowly.

More Likely to Drop Out

The for-profits less than stellar performance in terms of student retention may be primarily a result of their lower level of resource commitment to the central function of instruction. In many respects, the long-term success of for-profits may depend on whether they will really put the customer first or just put acquiring the customer first.

Although the actual drop-out rate among for-profit college students is difficult to calculate, a report to the U.S. Senate in July 2010 reached its own conclusion: three of the four schools reporting any data at all enrolled more new students over the course of the year than the total number of students at the start. One school started the period with 62,000 students, enrolled 117,000 new students, but ended with just 6,000 students.

…and Less Likely to Pay Back Student Loan Debt

The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard tracks the number of students who dropped out with debt for each college and university in the nation. The figures show a total of 3.9 million undergraduates with federal student loan debt dropped out during fiscal years 2015 and 2016 (from mid-2014 through mid-2016). It found that more than 900,000 of these students dropped out of for-profit universities. That’s 23 percent of all the indebted dropouts, even though only 10 percent of all undergraduate students attend for-profit schools.

Not So Great for Our Military Personnel

Non-profits have long been subject to the federal limit that no more than 90% of their tuition income can be derived from federal student loans and grants. Because they target lower income groups in their intensive marketing efforts, many such colleges risk coming close to or exceeding that limit: but they also know that enrollment of current military personnel who receive educational benefits does not count against that limit. Accordingly, many for-profits also have long been training their in-house or hired marketing guns on our nations’ soldiers, sailors, and marines, many of whom of course are in a position take courses online while deployed overseas. Some for-profit schools have been severely penalized for their treatment of prospective military enrollees.


“But private, non-profit colleges receive comparatively little attention, despite the fact that these institutions enroll a substantial share of students at four-year colleges: 3.4 million full-time equivalent students or 30 percent of all four-year enrollment (compared to 61 percent at public colleges and 9 percent at for-profits).”
–Brookings Institute


Private vs. Nonprofit & Private: Let’s Compare

The role of colleges that are both private and non-profit in expanding educational opportunities deserves more focus than it gets because of controversies surrounding both state university funding challenges and tuition increases, as well as controversies surrounding the for-profit college business models and student outcomes. As a recent Brookings Institute study on private, non-profit colleges observed:

“Public and for-profit colleges both feature prominently in higher education policy debates, usually for different reasons. Rising prices at public colleges and universities have prompted public concern about declining affordability, especially as states have cut back on taxpayer support to these institutions. Weak student outcomes at many for-profit colleges have drawn the attention of policymakers concerned about the waste of taxpayer money and the impact on students who leave college with debt and no degree…

But private, non-profit colleges receive comparatively little attention, despite the fact that these institutions enroll a substantial share of students at four-year colleges: 3.4 million full-time equivalent students or 30 percent of all four-year enrollment (compared to 61 percent at public colleges and 9 percent at for-profits). Consequently, better understanding the role this sector plays in U.S. higher education overall, and in each state, may reveal ways for policymakers to increase educational attainment…

Federal policy plays an important role in the financing of post-secondary education at institutions by providing grants to low-income students and access to loans to all students, in both cases on similar terms regardless of whether the funds are to be spent at a public, for-profit, or private, non-profit college.”


An innovation claimed by for-profits, such as the focus on working adult students and real-world success, has been in place, and delivered with integrity, by Golden Gate University for over 100 years.


What’s Happening Now

For-profit universities are back in the news, most recently in a New York Times editorial last month mentioning Betsy DeVos, a substantial for-profit education investor and the new head of the Education Department, enabling “predatory” practices in the for-profit sector. It should come as no surprise that for-profit colleges are attempting to take advantage of the Trump Administration’s decidedly pro-business / de-regulation agenda. The appointment of Betsy DeVos signaled that there would be a significant rollback of the Obama Administration’s employment rules on abuses in the for-profit sector. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2016, DeVos and company have already “hit pause” on the gainful employment rule.

As The New York Times also reported last month on its front page:

“Members of a special team at the Education Department that had been investigating widespread abuses by for-profit colleges have been marginalized, reassigned or instructed to focus on other matters, according to current and former employees … The unwinding of the team has effectively killed investigations into possibly fraudulent activities at several large for-profit colleges where top hires of Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, had previously worked.”

The Obama Administration team in fact had been looking into advertising, recruitment practices and job placement claims at several institutions, including the DeVry Education Group [now part of Adtalem Global Education]. But that was before DeVos named Julian Schmoke, a former dean at DeVry, as the team’s new boss!

Other ongoing investigations of Bridgepoint Education as well as Career Education Corporation were also stopped by the new DeVos team. Previous federal investigations had been undertaken after reports of misrepresentation of enrollment benefits, job placement rates, and program offerings at multiple for-profits, especially after the collapse of Corinthian College. DeVos also put on more-or-less permanent “hold pending review” the Obama Administration’s rules relating to mandatory disclosure of for-profits’ track records of success (or not) in terms of their graduates attaining “gainful employment” (i.e., enough to pay their student debts and also meet the necessities of life).

As the New York Times pointed out, Bridgepoint also had a high-level contact in the new Administration in the person of Mercedes Schlapp, Strategic Communications director at the White House, who served previously as a consultant to Bridgepoint through the Cove Strategies firm she co-founded with her husband, Matt Schlapp. He went on record to decry what he called the “persecution” of for-profits by the Obama administration because they had brought ‘innovation” to the education field.

An innovation claimed by for-profits, such as the focus on working adult students and real-world success, has been in place, and delivered with integrity, by Golden Gate University for over 100 years. The University has also been focused on the convenience offered by online learning since its inception in the 1990s. For the efforts of its leadership and faculty, GGU has been ranked the #1 ranked university for adult students in the U.S. — two years in a row.


About Terry Connelly

Terry Connelly is an economic expert and Dean Emeritus of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University. With more than 30 years of experience in investment banking, law and corporate strategy on Wall Street and abroad, Connelly analyses the impact of government politics and policies on local, national and international economies, examining the interaction of global financial markets, the U.S. banking industry (and all of its regulatory agencies), the Federal Reserve, domestic employment levels and consumer reactions to the changing economic tides. He holds a law degree from NYU School of Law and his professional history includes positions with Ernst & Young Australia, the Queensland University of Technology Graduate School of Business, New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore (corporate, securities and litigation practice in New York and London), global chief of staff at Salomon Brothers investment banking firm and Cowen & Company’s investments, where he served as CEO. In conjunction with past Golden Gate University President Dan Angel, Connelly co-authored Riptide: The New Normal In Higher Education (2011). Riptide deconstructs the changing landscape of higher education in the face of the for-profit debacle, graduation gridlock, and staggering student debt, and asserts a new, sustainable model for progress. He is a board member of the Public Religion Research Institute, a Washington, DC think tank and polling organization, and the Cardiac Therapy Foundation in Palo Alto, California. Connelly lives in Palo Alto with his wife.


More about Golden Gate University, non-profit since 1901 >>

Podcast: Interview with GGU Psychology Chair & Eating Disorder Expert Tom Wooldridge


Dr. Tom Wooldridge, Chair of the Department of Psychology at GGU, was recently interviewed for the ED Matters Podcast about the psychoanalytic treatment of eating disorders. On the podcast, Suzanne Phillips and Dr. Wooldridge discuss his recent book, Psychoanalytic Treatment of Eating Disorders: When Words Fail and Bodies Speak.

The podcast conversation focuses on what a psychoanalytic or psychodynamic approach can contribute to the integrative treatment of eating disorders and how such an approach can address the unspoken pain, secret shame, self-blame – and difficulty with affect regulation that often accompanies them. The role of childhood experience, cultural norms, cyberspace connections, and online forums are also discussed.


Listen to the Podcast >>


In addition to his role as Department Chair GGU, Wooldridge has a practice in Berkeley where he works with a wide variety of patients using a psychoanalytic approach. This year, he earned a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (2018).

The first article Wooldridge wrote centered on anorexia nervosa in male populations, published in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention. The article – recently chosen as one of its “Top 25” published in that journal over the past 25 years –  became the basis of his first book, Understanding Anorexia Nervosa in Males: An Integrative Approach (published by Routledge).


Related blog post: Teacher, Clinician, and Writer: An Interview with Psychology Chair Dr. Tom Wooldridge.


Request information about GGU’s master’s-level Psychology degrees >>

It Feels Good to Be A CFA® Charterholder: How I Passed the Exams and How I Teach

By Dave Kaczorowski, CFA® charterholder and Adjunct Professor & Academic Program Manager at Golden Gate University


At a recent CFA Society San Francisco (CFA-SF) event, I caught the eye of a few people across the room, and we gave each other a friendly look. They too, are CFA® charterholders. Passing the CFA exams is a hard mountain to climb, but it places you among the elite in your profession. My friend loosely compared it to being a war veteran. You may not use everything on the exams – which is everything! – on the job, but you will have a lasting camaraderie. Having “those three letters” after your name means you have gone through something hard – and you have beaten it.

What will be on the exams?

Now that I have become an instructor for CFA® Program Exam Preparation Classes for Equity Analysis, people ask me what will be on the exams. I tell them that it’s all fair game. You need to know as much as you can and ask yourself how you can accomplish learning that much material. It’s all about detail and memorization. In general, studying is the only thing you should be doing besides your job.

The volume of questions on the exam is heavy. You will see questions that you can’t remember anything about, but you have to minimize those occurrences. Level II is the same topics as Level I, and the material goes a lot deeper. Candidates should know that Level II is the most dreaded and stops many people from getting the CFA® designation – but it is not impossible if you are willing to prepare.

Another secondary issue to consider is time management on the day of the exam. The first two levels are two sessions of 180 questions, and Level III has an essay portion and a multiple choice portion. That leaves you with just a few minutes per question. Some you get right away, and some are going to take a long time. Don’t get too wrapped up in the time and freak yourself out about the pace. It’s not about answering the most questions, but about getting the most correct answers.

How to Study for the CFA Exams

The best way to study is the best way for you. Everybody’s brain works differently. My advice for students is to think back to college and remember, in four years, what became their most preferred study style. Some people find a study group to be crucial. They might form close relationships that last long after becoming charterholders. If you are a CFA® Program candidate, you may have been working in bonds, real estate, or equities. There are some sections you will know better than others because you do them for a living. Maybe you want to juice that more, to get more points, or study that section less because you think you can get by with what you know.

In my working and study style, I like structure; so I took a review course from  CFA-SF in 2015 and 2016 to prepare for Levels II and III. I passed both of those exams.

Getting My Three Letters

Because all paths are different, I will tell you mine. One way I like to study is by drilling: doing the questions over and over. I gobbled up questions from a variety of sources. The CFA Institute website has practice questions, and I probably used all of them. I also took prep courses. But unfortunately not for Level I!

I started an MBA in 2005 and took Level I in the summer of 2006. I didn’t open the CFA Level I CFA Program exam books at all until my MBA classes ended in May. The exam was early to mid-June. I had only three weeks of study. That was a terrible idea, but I had no choice since I had to finish off my classes. Ironically, I passed because there was so much overlap between Level I of the exam and my recent MBA. In essence, I spent the whole year studying the core concepts of the exam like financial statement analysis, economics, and statistics. I look back on those three weeks as hell, but I was able to pull it out. I do not recommend that way of studying!

In my working and study style, I like structure; so I took the review class from CFA-SF in 2015 and 2016 to prepare for levels two and three. I passed both of those exams. The biggest benefit of the classes was helping me stay on track. I started studying before Christmas for the June exam. When classes started in January, I had already studied the material covered in that class. That gave me the chance to go over it again in an entirely different environment.

In 2007, I got a sell-side job. I took Level II in 2008 and 2009 and failed both times because I simply did not have the time and energy I needed. I decided to put it down and focus on my job. (I also joined CFA-SF as a non-charterholder in 2007. I became an active volunteer, which was a huge help for my career.) I left the capital markets business in 2012 and got a job managing a private portfolio. It had been in the back of my mind to finish the exams. When I got a job with a better quality of life, I decided to take another run at it.

I became a CFA exam-taking machine. God bless you if you are the kind of person who is naturally good at taking exams; but for the rest of us, that’s what we have to do.

Beginning in 2015, I took a CFA review class in San Francisco. For several months you have to give up your life. I accepted that. I became a CFA exam-taking machine. God bless you if you are one of those people who are naturally good at taking exams; but for the rest of us, that’s what we have to do. I passed Level II that year. I replicated my process for Level III and passed it in 2016.

How I Teach Exam Prep Classes

Now that I have my “three letters,” I hope to make this process a little less difficult for the next person.

The review class divides each of the 18 study sessions into one, 2 ½ hour class.  While that’s not enough time to cover every detail, it is enough to teach the core concepts that underpin the lesson. For example, the study session on discounted cash flow analysis looks like a million formulas and models in the textbook.  It can feel overwhelming. When I deliver the material, I concentrate on the idea that a company’s future earnings dictate its value. It’s a simple concept that is the foundation of the lesson.  We dig into the different ways of calculating all of the components like free cash flow and discount rate, but keeping an eye on the relationship between future earnings and value helps the students keep it all in perspective.

Another part of that study session covers valuation ratios, comparing the value of an asset to its price. I developed an explanation for this concept in an undergraduate finance class I taught early in my career.  I refer to a valuation ratio as a “price per pound” where the price is expressed per unit of benefit. It makes it clearer when you keep people’s minds trained on the relationship between the price, and what you’re getting for that price.

About the CFA Program Exam Prep Courses

Aside from structure and the big-picture view, you can also learn from working professionals who have been teaching exam prep courses for years. For example, Johnathan Masse, CFA has been teaching for 15 years and explained in a recent post on this blog that he knows how the exams have evolved and that some, like him, learn best in a sensory environment. Vincent Deluard, CFA, a Global Macro Strategist for the broker division of INTL FCSton, who has written for Forbes, will also be teaching.

If you think classes are the way to go for you, you can register for the CFA Level I classes on the website of CFA-SF or contact me for more information.


About David Kaczorowski, MBA, CFA®

Dave (David) Kaczorowski has worked in finance for more than 13 years. An experienced investment manager of private and family office portfolios, he has investment expertise in all the five major asset classes and experience in the holistic management of a family office. His most recent position was as the primary investment manager for a highly diversified family office portfolio. Prior to that position, he spent five years in the investment banking industry as an equity research associate, covering technology companies. His resume in the industry includes Signal Hill Capital, Wedbush Securities, and Stifel Financial. He also spent seven years as a financial analyst in the actuarial department of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group. Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor of Finance and Academic Program Manager at Golden Gate University. He is a CFA® charterholder.


CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks owned by CFA Institute.


Marketing Luxury Brands: Expert from GGU Helps Bridge the Gap Between Academia and Industry at International Conferences


Photo: AGAATI California


Golden Gate University’s Nabanita Talukdar, DBA, made her way to major conferences in Monaco and Singapore recently to share the results of her research into luxury brands. Her presentations centered around two papers she authored that examined consumption motives in this segment of the industry. Dr. Talukdar teaches courses in Marketing, Business Analytics, and Mathematics courses at GGU — and holds the title of Visiting Assistant Professor & Director of Math Programs. Outside of academia, she conducted quantitative and qualitative analyses for L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, First Republic Bank, and Actelion Pharmaceuticals.

All three conferences centered on the luxury brands industry, bringing together top academics and industry leaders from around the world to share academic research and insights.

Monaco Symposium on Luxury

The Monaco Symposium on Luxury, organized by the International University of Monaco & INSEEC Business School, is a biannual event that attracted close to 250 attendees in April. Dr. Talukdar’s paper, co-authored with Dr. Shubin Yu of Peking University HSBC Business School, was among the 42 presentations selected for the conference through a competitive peer-review process (conducted by fellow researchers and luxury industry leaders). The paper, “Are Materialists Green? The effect of Materialism on Consumer’s perceived value and purchase intention of sustainable luxury products,” was based on a sponsored research grant from AGAATI to GGU. AGAATI, one the few luxury fashion companies focused on sustainability, wanted to understand motives behind purchasing decisions in the sustainable luxury category.

The AGAATI-GGU project had three parts: a focus group drawn from a pool of GGU alumni, employees, and students; a pilot survey that was sent to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago; and a luxury brand experiment using GGU students to understand the underlying psychological mechanism driving the purchase of sustainable luxury brands. In the pilot survey and the experiment, Dr. Talukdar was assisted by Michael Lin, a student in GGU’s Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program. Lin worked as a research assistant (RA) in the first study and assisted in data collection & analyses.

luxury-brand-marketing-researcher

Dr. Talukdar at the LVMH-SMU Conference

LVMH-SMU and the Mystique of Luxury Brands Conference, Singapore

In May, Dr. Talukdar traveled to Singapore to present her research at the LVMH-SMU Conference and Mystique of Luxury Brands (MLB) Conference. The LVMH-SMU is an initiative of a strategic partnership between Singapore Management University (SMU) and LVMH (Louis Vuitton), in order to produce and deliver independent and high-quality academic research dedicated to the Asian luxury-brand sector.

Prominent industry experts and over 80 academics from more than 50 universities attended the LVMH-SMU Conference 2018. Dr. Talukdar presented her (complete) paper: “Are Materialists Green? The effect of Materialism on Consumer’s perceived value and purchase intention of sustainable luxury products.”

asia-luxury-brand-marketing

Dr.  Shubin Yu (left) and Dr. Nabanita Talukdar at
the Marketing Luxury Brands Conference

The MLB Conference 2018 was organized by Curtin University’s Luxury Branding Research Cluster. A working paper that Talukdar co-authored, “The Effect of Sustainability Claims for Luxury Brands,” was her contribution to the event. Co-author Dr. Shubin Yu, of Peking University HSBC Business School, made the presentation to the audience.


For more on Dr. Talukdar’s luxury brand marketing research, watch the video about AGAATI’s sponsored research project >>


Learn more about Dr. Talukdar, her research, and what she teaches at GGU. We also invite you to request information about the master’s degree in marketing.


 

Contrarian Investing Can Be Profitable Investing

By Raj Sharma

Raj Sharma has 12 years’ teaching experience as a Golden Gate University Adjunct Professor teaching Equity Analysis. He is also a Portfolio Manager at Polestar Capital LLC, a value-driven, contrarian investment fund and research boutique, which he founded in May 2005.


silicon-valley-hedge-fund-manager-raj

Golden Gate University has a reputation for focusing on the real skills our students will need today and are taught primarily by people currently working in their fields. Like many of my peers at GGU, I teach a very practical course and draw on my current work as a securities analyst. No textbooks allowed!  Here are a few of the fundamentals of analyzing companies that I teach, and what I call a contrarian attitude that can be profitable in the long term:

  • A detailed and instinctive look at financial statements going back a decade – financial history of a company can tell us a lot about the likelihood that this company would succeed in the future.
  • Studying and understanding the culture of a company and how important it is in determining future success.
  • An opportunistic look at strong companies during times of minor missteps and bumps – affording them attractive valuations for investment.

Recent News in the Market

Tesla’s dramatic rocket display may not mean that the actual value of the stock is going to get to the Red Planet. Tesla seems to be everyone’s darling now; but you can, as a professional investor, ask pointed questions. Is there new competition? Well, VW says they are going to put 3 million electric cars out by 2020, and Tesla barely makes 300,000.

When Amazon bought Whole Foods that was big news, but it is best to talk about specific situations that a given company may face—not just M&A. Amazon also announced this year a potentially market-changing partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan announced focused on healthcare. Many questions have to be answered to make investment decisions based on this news. What does that do to the existing companies? What happens to CVS (pharmacy benefit manager) or Walgreens (pharmacy stores) or McKesson (drug distributor)?

It is essential to understand what consumers want and what are the demographic trends influencing the healthcare companies. And what is the industry structure that serves these aging consumers? Everyone complains that healthcare costs are high and you can cut costs, but cutting costs (and austerity) also brings down the overall GDP contribution of this massive industry and who likes GDP reductions! Which companies in this space will be best positioned to help reduce healthcare costs while improving outcomes for their consumers and for the country?

Like many of my peers at GGU, I teach a very practical course and draw on my current work as a securities analyst. No textbooks allowed!

IPOs and Tech Stocks in the Silicon Valley

Tech companies have had a huge impact on our lives and on the economy of the country. How to best invest in tech companies at levels and valuations that seem to head into the stratosphere every day making them riskier investments. Not all tech companies are risky though, and a careful analysis of their business models, their competitive positioning and their balance sheets can help an analyst and an investor separate the wheat from the chaff! Tesla on one had may appear sexy appear to have a lucrative future but investing in it at today’s levels could be fraught with significant capital loss! On the other hand, certain leaders like Amazon, Apple, and Google could still be excellent investments into the future.

Marketplace Behavior

As recently as ten months ago, the market had assigned Apple shares a low value because of repeated concerns that Apple was just a hardware company with a massive reliance on iPhones as its primary source of revenue and that all hardware companies eventually approach zero-margin profitabilities. When you do the fundamental analysis the right way, you see that the company exists in a broader ecosystem. When consumers use an iPhone or iPad, they don’t want to switch out because there is a time hurdle. That user base can keep consuming and add to revenues.

Apple is not a hardware company but more of an ecosystem with a massive installed base that should get a much higher multiple than usual hardware companies. It is not just that you sold someone a printer knowing that people don’t buy printers every year, so you price it really cheap (at zero margins) so that you can get lucrative printer ink business from these consumers till they come back for a new printer (and ink) from you. What Apple has done (and is doing) is creating an ecosystem that is very successful at keeping its users happy and satisfied, consuming digital products and expanding the ecosystem at solid profit margins – such ecosystems should sell at higher valuation multiples than the ones accorded to low-margin hardware companies!

The actual price of a stock relates to the mood of the market and to the current attitude to the industry that it is in. Being a contrarian can help. Being a contrarian versus going with the herd, your answers from a disciplined analysis can often be very counter-intuitive.

I teach that it is very important to know invest in what you know. Buying a great company is important but so is buying the great company at a reasonable price – and that usually only happens for great companies if they are experiencing an operational hiccup or are currently out-of-favor in the market.  The actual price of a stock relates to the mood of the market and to the current attitude to the industry that it is in. Being a contrarian can help. Being a contrarian versus going with the herd, your answers from a disciplined analysis can often be very counter-intuitive. When everything is “hot,” and things look great, it is typically not a good time to invest. People and investors have pushed the stock up in their excitement.

If you generally buy businesses only when all the news is positive, it may not pay off in the long run. If you buy based on this confirmation bias (that trends will continue) — and your friends are saying that you will always make money on this company – you may be falling into a psychological trap. Smart investors go step back and be skeptical of this hype. When there is fear in the market, be “greedy” and roll up your sleeves and get to your analytical best and deploy the cash into solid companies at hopefully reasonable prices!

When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies

Contrarian investors may step back when there is hype. This is an important mind-set and skill set that feeds the ability to spot what I call a “contrarian situation.”  You can look for solid businesses that are run by smart people and have competitive advantages. If they are having issues, the market may see them as a big deal because they are focused on the short term. Buying when a great company has had a misstep or people are questioning their strategy can be something to consider. After your analysis, you may realize the company may work through the current problem.

A way to see if you’re paying a good price for a great or a good company is to use its steady state (past three years’ average) free cash flow and estimate its present value. If the company is not growing much at all but its free cash flows are steady and very reliable then that $1 in annual free cash flows should have a value of at least $1 divided by the average return you would expect from a company in the U.S. to yield on a yearly basis

Getting Going in Investing Research

Valuation of the company is as important as picking a good or a great company to invest in. Warren Buffet is fond of saying that it is far better to buy a great company at a good price than a good company at a great price. A way to see if you’re paying a good price for a great or a good company is to use its steady state (past three years’ average) free cash flow and estimate its present value. If the company is not growing much at all but its free cash flows are steady and very reliable then that $1 in annual free cash flows should have a value of at least $1 divided by the average return you would expect from a company in the U.S. to yield on a yearly basis. That average over the last 100 years has been around 10%, to keep things simple and to be able to compare different companies using the same discount rate.

So perpetual free cash that flows to you from a steady, no-growth, solid company should be worth at least $10 ($1/0.10). I should be willing to pay $10 for a $1 in annual free cash flows from an asset with no growth or a Price-earnings Ratio (P/E) of 10x ($10 value / $1 in free cash flow). Now if you know that this company is growing and is expected to grow at least 5% a year for a long time, the value of that steady state $1 becomes $1 / (discount rate of 10% minus growth rate of 5%) or $20. The P/E on this growing asset is then 20x ($20 / $1) accounting for the growth in the free cash flows every year. If the asset is not growing it is worth $10 and if it can continue to grow its worth $20. Now, this is a modest risk company in the U.S.

If the company resides in an emerging market with greater market and political risks, then we would use a discount rate higher than 10%n (because we should expect a higher return in this riskier situation) and subsequently get a value lower than $10 for no growth and lower than $20 for growth. Again this is a way to put a conservative value on a $1 in free cash flows in the market. Now you may say the discount rate to value a stream of free cash flows should be a lot lower — in case you haven’t noticed the historically low interest rates in the US! That’s why we take a super long-term average of the discount rate to see how companies would compare apple to apples.


More about Raj Sharma

Prof. Sharma is currently Portfolio Manager of Polestar Capital LLC, a value-driven, contrarian investment fund and research boutique, which he founded in May 2005. Prior to Polestar, he was a Managing Director, Equity Research, at Merriman, Curhan, Ford & Co., a boutique investment bank in San Francisco where he covered specialty growth companies and special situations. Before Merriman, he was a co-founder of Landmark Research Group, active in the last few years in advising U.S. hedge funds, mutual funds and corporate clients in investment strategy. Prior, Mr. Sharma was Vice President at Onyx Partners, Inc., an investment banking and buyout boutique analyzing equity and mezzanine debt investments in companies in various industries in the U.S. Mr. Sharma was responsible for due diligence, financial analysis and operational nurturing and turnaround management of portfolio companies.  Prof. Sharma is passionate about pursuing leading, successful companies as long-term investments and is particularly interested in those companies that excel in business and in social responsibility. He counts Warren Buffet, Peter Lynch, and Joel Greenblatt as his primary influences in the shaping of his investment philosophy. Mr. Sharma has an MBA in Finance from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin and a BS in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at New Delhi, India.


Raj Sharma teaches Equity Analysis in the master’s degree in Finance program. We invite you to request information about the degree.  >>