Thursday, April 12, 2012

Professor for a Day -- New Initiative

At the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, we have a new initiative in which alums are invited back to the school to share their wisdom with our students (and the faculty as well).

This initiative is called Professor for a Day.

Today, I had the honor of having Mr. Jim Ettamarna, a graduate of our Operations Management program, come and speak to the students in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class. Jim had graduated in 1997 and what he has accomplished in 15 years is amazing.

He began his career with GE and had stories of having the then CEO Jack Welch (who, by the way, is also a UMass Amherst grad in chemical engineering) in the audience for one of his presentations, and  of pedaling a stationary bike next to the present CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt, at 5AM in the morning at the gym. He spoke of how one has to get the job done and to become known as an expert in an area and how one develops leadership skills.  His work at GE included bringing the opportunities of online commerce to the fore and this initiative helped him to get into Harvard Business School (HBS) from which he received his MBA. He has worked at McKinsey and was even in the cohort with Chelsea Clinton (and spoke about gatherings in the Austrian Alps).

Jim emphasized the value of networking (something which he certainly did at HBS), the importance of communication and analytical skills, and of taking advantage of opportunities and making luck turn to your advantage.

He also worked for several years in private equity and spoke about how he helped to turn around several companies and then to sell them at substantial profit.

He emphasized the importance of staying fit and healthy and of never burning bridges (he had some terrific stories about how he turned rejections around).

Jim spoke about the great faculty at UMass that he had had (this warmed my heart) and how what he learned was useful even ten years down the road.

He was inspirational and was an outstanding Professor for a Day. Afterwards, students came to my office to further discuss the numerous ideas and helpful suggestions that they had gotten from his presentation.

Thanks to a very successful alum -- as his former Professor, I couldn't be prouder. Moreover, today he gave so much of his wisdom and insights to this new cohort of students, many of whom will be graduating next month.