Juntos explained

“They say under-graduation is a three or four year thinking period where you figure out what you really want to do in life. Masters are the only studies you consciously choose for yourself because you, mind it you know what you want to do and why you want to do it.”

I joined The College of William and Mary’s Mason Business School to pursue my MBA about seven months back. During my interview process with Mason, like all the MBA programs, I was asked why I wanted to specifically join Mason Business School. And like all naive aspiring MBA students, I gave them not one but plenty of reasons. On a superficial level, all that sounded very impressive to me (and evidently to them as well!). When you write those essays/letters to the college you want to study in, you put in your whole heart to ensure that your efforts and capabilities should stand out. In my heart, I was so convinced about what I was writing and what I really expected out of my MBA experience. Soon after that I started speaking to student friends outside Mason circle. One thing that kept coming up again and again in those hundred conversations (the ones you make before joining a school for reasons you know) was that it doesn’t matter what you write in your essays, or what they (the college) say they will deliver. End of the day, you going to end up as one of those million big-bucks-driven corporate managers in one field or the other.

I still have one and a half year to figure out what eventually I will turn into. But I am glad that my business school is not leaving any stone unturned to ensure I don’t end up being just one of them. The classroom discussions about supply-demand models, the potential profits that a firm can make, controversial or not-so-controversial hedging funds, the marketing mixes, the debits and credits on the accounting books, the excel sheets, leadership development programs and what not keep me busy most of the times. But somewhere in between this schedule, MBA program at Mason delivered what no other business school does – Junto discussions!

Junto discussions, as we call them, root from the word “Junto” (pronounced as “Hoon-toh”). In Spanish, it means a small, usually secret group united for a common interest. But at Mason, it means the time when we broaden our horizons and look beyond business and books. This was the first time the school experimented with this idea to let students pursue discussions about topics beyond their curriculum. Keeping the passionate students of The College of William & Mary in mind, the response was just as expected – overwhelming! Different ideas were proposed regarding politics, sports, economies, water, energy resources etc. Students of the same interest formed smaller groups and starting mid-November, we were ready to experience what not only broadened our horizons but also gave us multiple perspectives to look at things. The groups met, brainstormed, discussed and sometimes argued.

The topics/issues covered were Global Sourcing/Supply Chain, Tsunamis effect on global supply chains, Business of NCAA sports, Untapped US Energy Resources, Occupy Wall Street, European Debt Crisis, Impact Investing, Clean Energy, Global Demographics, The Currency of Water, Online Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility.

On Feb 10, 2012, all the Junto groups presented to the Mason MBA community what they really discovered and learned over the past few months. I can’t really put everything I learned from these presentations by my brilliant classmates, but I am going to give it shot by listing down few things that I learned from the Juntos. These ideas don’t wholly conclude or summarize what was discussed in individual Juntos; they are mere representations of my interpretations.

  • Global Sourcing and Supply Chain Management: In supply chain management and global sourcing, it is not just about the lowest costs and prices.
  • Tsunamis effect on global supply chains: Mike Tyson once said “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the face”. It is as important for a firm or business to have a risk management or disaster control strategy in place as it is for it to have finances.
  • Clean Energy & Untapped US Energy Resources: There is no dearth of untapped energy resources and technologies to ensure we don’t deplete the resources that we have; it looks like we are just waiting for the day when we run out of what we have already discovered.
  • Global Demographics: The universe is indeed expanding, but population on earth is expanding at an alarmingly higher rate. From the look of it – it seems that there is nothing much that we can do about it, but there is.
  • The Currency of water: Stop treating the social work that you do as charity. Start treating them like your customers – you are just about there what we call sustainable business.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: CSR is not just for the big corporations. It could be something as small as ensuring your Accounts Payable are paid in due time.
  • Business of NCAA Sports: There is a huge difference between “Student athlete” and “Athlete student”.
  • Occupy Wall Street: Occupy Wall Street was just not about the North America, it’s a disparity that exists in every part of the world. You won’t realize till the time it starts hurting the “99%”.
  • European Debt Crisis: When you don’t adhere to set standards for any job, the system is bound to collapse sooner or later.
  • Impact Investing: “Impact Investing is the future”. Enough said.
  • Online Marketing: Facebook/Twitter accessibility rather not be banned in business environments, there is a lot that you can do with them. Try using Google analytics to shoot up your website ranking. “Keyword” is indeed the keyword to success of any website (as far as the Google page ranking is concerned). And of course, keep blogging.

I am glad I am a Masonite and I got to experience Juntos. The word “Junto” sometime is also confused with the word “Junta” which relates to revolution. This Junto experience was none less than that. I finished these Juntos a little wiser, a little more aware of what is happening in the world around me! Guess I just found one of the most important reasons on why I wanted to be a part of the Mason Business School.

Go Tribe!

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Nimarta Kaur

Nimarta Kaur is a full-time MBA student at the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary.

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