Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Interview with Karate Ace - Saleem Javed

Dallas is a brand which can be associated with both academics and sports. Universities here are highly reputable and sports have achieved an equal traction. SMU Cox community therefore is no different(well we might say its even better ;)). It focusses not only on education but also on collaborative learning; a culture where we seek guidance from notables of all domains. We all know how rare it is to find people who can balance their lives in all aspects. Last week I had one such opportunity. I am talking about Saleem Javed, a postgraduate in English, who has won various medals representing India with Gold medal in Asian Karate championship in 2011 being the most notable one.

Saleem was kind enough to give us a perspective about his life. Read on the excerpts to see life through his eyes.

Parents in India give a bat to their child and want them to become another Sachin Tendulkar. What made you choose Karate?

I always had a passion for learning Martial Arts.I had a chance to watch a State Level Karate championship when I was 13 and that’s where the interest arose in me.  

Can you share your life with us as in what challenges you faced and how did they change your perception towards life?

I had to face a lot of problems due to the financial situation in my family when I had just started with Karate. I must thank my parents for making me realize my dream despite all odds. Going through all hardships and knowing hard work & dedication as the only way to succeed changed my perception towards life.

Saleem Javed - Representing India

It is always an honor to represent India in any sport. How did you feel when you represented India for the first time?

No feeling can be greater than getting a chance to represent India.  Winning Gold at Dhaka,Bangladesh  was very special for me . I was absolutely elated when I got the news of my selection to represent India.

Today a lot of commercialization of sports has taken place in India and to be fair only lucrative sports such as Cricket, Hockey, Football are getting all the money and attention. Do you feel that Indian government is not doing enough to promote athletic sports such as Karate, Boxing, archery, taekwondo.

It has been a trend in India and it feels bad when few sports are sidelined .According to me every sport should be supported for the fact that  every sports person strives hard putting all his efforts irrespective of the sport he/she is playing.

Indian contingent for Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth games is big but we are not able to have a good medal tally. Where are we lagging? Do you feel a robust infrastructure would help the athletes a great deal?

I feel in India we give more importance to only academics. Right from the school a Child is told to become a Doctor, Engineer or Pilot . Government should improve infrastructure and also necessarily include sports as an important part of curriculum in schools in which they can educate and also create an awareness among youth of India.

How important is Karate in one’s life? How do you plan to spread awareness about it?

Karate is not only a sport but its also an art of self defense. I am happy to see karate being introduced in schools which is a good initiative . I strongly recommend that every woman should take up karate if not as a sport then at least as a safety tool as we see lot of atrocities happening against women, which is really unfortunate.

He loves cricket also (Indian by heart)

You have balanced your life pretty well be it at academic or sports. Please share with us your success mantra?

It was really important to strike a healthy balance between studies and sports.  It was never easy but when you have that passion to achieve something it will keep you going.

Injuries are very common to any sportsperson. How do you keep yourself fit and away from injuries?

Injuries are always there in every sports but when it comes to sports like Judo, Taekwondo, Boxing and Karate, it gets more intense. I have been the victim of many injuries throughout my journey but at same time, assured myself to stay fit and healthy, overcoming injuries at times.

How did it feel when you had that Gold Medal around your neck on a stage like the Asian Championship and then the National Anthem went live along with the ‘Tricolor’?

That moment when I got my Gold Medal around my neck I felt like I was dreaming . It was indeed a great feeling that I can never express in words. All I can say is I am Proud to be an Indian.

Saleem Javed with his trophies

Saleem should be a role model for most of us as we embark on a new journey together. Looking back at his life I could sense his motivation and dedication in both the fields. A winner of so many prestigious awards and the quality of being humble is what brings the best out of anyone. He has already lived a dream when he won the Gold medal in the Asian Games in Dhaka 2011. While a part of his job is done, there is still a long way for this child prodigy to go. We from the SMU COX School of Business, here in Dallas, Texas wish him all the very best in all his endeavors and we will always stand there when talents such as Saleem need us for anything.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

An Aussie Connect With Lauren Creed

Lauren Creed, currently working with Pizza Hut as a Sr. Brand Analyst, is our guest for this blog. In this edition, she talks with us about the places she has lived in, her work experience, her love for sports and much more. Read on for a walk down her memory lane:

Q. how long have you been in Dallas and what brought you here?
I moved to Dallas in January 2014 to work for Pizza Hut Corporate. I moved from NYC where I lived for 8 years, 4 of which were spent at Fordham University for my Undergraduate Degree and 4 were spent working at the New York Post in Ad Sales. 

Q. Tell something about the job that you have at Pizza Hut and what things you handle?
·       I report daily updates to our Marketing Leadership Team on our overall business.
·       I am also the acting Brand Manager on beverages and oversee our partnerships with Pepsi and Dr. Pepper.
·       I launched two National windows last year featuring Pepsi and Blake Shelton in conjunction with our BBQ Pizza and Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza launches.
·       I am a member of the Beverage Committee and work closely with the 7 other members of the committee to make high-level beverage decisions throughout the year.

Q. You seem to have experience with marketing skills as you have worked as a brand analyst. Now that digital space is growing and we have apps in our hands, how do you see the future of marketing promotions shaping up?
Digital market is growing. An average person spends more time on their phones and computers than anywhere else. Millennials are the number one target audience for most companies, and part of understanding Millennials is understanding the entire digital space. Companies without e-commerce sites or mobile friendly sites will lose over the next few years. Taco Bell is an example of a company that has done a phenomenal job of growing their business by focusing on the digital space.

This here sure looks like a boon of digital age. :)
Q. With the digital marketing space, the competition has increased . Facebook has opened up opportunities for start-ups to find ground. What are the challenges faced by a brand like Pizza Hut in such a case or for that matter by any old and big brand?
Looking at Pizza Hut specifically, our biggest battles are combating what the competition is doing. The Millennial audience wants to feel like they are eating something unique and customizable every time they step out the door, so the battle for bigger and older companies, such as Pizza Hut, is to figure out a way to be true to the brand and core consumer, while also figuring out a way to draw in that younger consumer by offering variety, fresh flavors and unique eating options.

Q. Do you have fond memories of Australia? Do you miss something back home? Would you like to be there some day again? May be settle back in Sydney?
I have very fond memories of Australia. I am actually 11th generation Australian, despite not having an accent, and my entire family was born and raised there. I spent 7 years living in Sydney when I was 6 – 13 years old and am given the amazing opportunity to go back on a yearly basis to visit family and friends. What I miss most about Australia is my family, and the food. The food is much better over there…Vegemite anyone? 

Q. We play Cricket together- any sports you have a special liking towards?
I am actually the co-captain of a Kickball league that I started at Pizza Hut last year. We play every Thursday, and it is more of a social league than a professional league, but we have a lot of fun and it is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to the Dallas area! 

Q. Expectations from life@Cox and post Cox?
I expect to learn about a lot of the areas that will help build upon my overall marketing skills. After working at Pizza Hut for a year, I now realize how all parts of business affect my current role. The marketing team works closely with Finance, R&D, Consumer Insights, Digital, Operations, etc. on every product that we launch and I am excited to learn more about these particular areas so I can bring that knowledge with me to my next job. After Cox, I aspire to become a Brand Manager at a CPG company. I haven’t decided which company yet, so I will lean on Cox and their amazing networking events and opportunities to help me figure that out.  

Q. Any special memories that you would like to share with the class. Something that has had an impact on you and shaped you as a person?
 I briefly mentioned this before, but I have been fortunate enough to live in a few different countries throughout my life. I was born in London, spent time in NYC, Australia, California, back to NYC and eventually landing in Dallas. I really feel like this has helped to shape the person that I am today, and I look forward to meeting lots of new people at SMU who are also from many different places (whether in the US or in the world). 
My name is Zoey and you better not mess with Lauren!
Q. Business over! what do you like taking on to in your free time?
As mentioned earlier, I am the co-captain of a Kickball league. I am also a commissioner for the entire league, and help organize any events that we have throughout the season. I am also an animal activist and have been volunteering with animal shelters since I was 18. I currently volunteer with Dallas Pets Alive and organize their Google Plus social page. As a huge animal lover, I have an English bulldog named Zoey, 7 years old, and a cat named Mason, 1 year old. Lastly, I am taking a Children’s Book Writing course which ends at the end of March, and I am hoping to write my first Children’s Book by the end of the year. 

Q. Do you expect Michael Clarke to bring the World Cup 2015 home?
I may not have my Australian accent anymore, but I am still a huge fan of all Australian sports. To answer your question, YES, Australia will bring home the World Cup 2015….Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!

 Pirate Lauren! Welcome to Dallas.
We are moving the globe and we are moving to Southern America next to the Land of Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona. The blues made it to the finals of WC 2014 where their resilience with Mascherano, Zabaleta, Rojo proved to be tough for Phillip Lahm and Co to break. Who had romped Brazil 7-1 in the Semi Finals- only a brilliant play by Mario Goetze could save the day for the Germans.  Nicolas Pallazo to tell us more about Argentina.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

SMU COX School of Business ITOM Concentration: A STEM accredited program

Over the last few weeks, my future classmates at SMU COX CO 2017, have done a wonderful job at kick starting this blog and then adding excellent posts from time to time. I thought it was time that I should start contributing as well and hence here is my first of many posts on this wonderful forum!!

To give you guys some context, last April I wrote the GMAT. In the following months, I applied to several B schools in US, Canada and India and secured 8 admits with decent scholarships. After weighing down several factors in an excel, IT guy here :) , the cumulative score of COX School of Business came out on top and hence I decided to pursue "My American Dream". For those of you eager to learn more about me, head straight to this link:

SMU Cox School of Business MBA Dallas US GMAT

One of the fundamental parameters in my decision making was the STEM accredited ITOM concentration at the school. For those of you not familiar with the term, worry not just read on! STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. There are certain programs in US that are STEM accredited which in turn has an impact on the length of the OPT period granted to the students upon graduation. You guys must be like what's OPT now? If not, you are well researched individuals and definitely better than I was an year ago. For the less enlightened souls like me, an OPT stands for Optional Practical Training in US. So? So that is the status you can use to stay in US and apply the concepts you learned in your program, MBA in my case, while working with a U.S. firm. Now here is where the fun starts.

What if I told you that the maximum term available for an OPT is just 12 months. Just 12 months? But I did a 2 year course and thus shouldn't I be granted the same period if not more? I am sure these questions would have popped up in your head when you read that piece of information but I stand by my words: OPT period is only 12 months after which one needs a valid visa to continue working in US which is an H1B in our case. Now I am sure all of us are aware of the complications around H1B visa least of which is the lottery system. Sure there are 20k visas dedicated specially to the Post Graduates in US but the number of applications for those as well is far more than the 20k quota. If a postgraduate student does not manage to get the Visa in the 20k pool, he moves to the general pool where there are 65k visas available on offer. To give an additional data fact, in 2013-2014 there were 172k applications, inclusive of the postgraduate applicants, for these 85k H1B visas. 50% hit rate!!!

Moving on, the OPT period for a STEM accredited program is also 12 months to begin with but if certain criteria are met, one can get this extended by another 17 months. I would recommend everyone to take some time out and go through this link:

I am sure everyone would agree that this extension will give you enough breathing space, time to re-plan, look for better opportunities and finally another shot at the highly coveted H1B visa in case you face a rejection in the first attempt. I would also like to highlight that traditionally the MBA degree is not a STEM degree in US and thus if your H1B application is rejected in the first attempt, you will not be entitled to stay in US beyond your OPT period. There are certain workarounds around that situation as well but lets save that for another post. Having spoken to a lot of co-applicants as well as current MBA students in USA, I realized that not many were aware of these caveats around the H1B situation. So don't just go by those rosy stories that you know about your seniors and far-off relatives who are comfortably working in US, wake up call things have changed!

I want to clarify one additional point here. I did mention that the STEM accredited program at COX was one of the fundamental parameters in my decision to join the B School but it was by no means the biggest factor. There are several other exciting programs at Cox that were paramount in my decision making and I would recommend you all to go through the several posts on this blog.

I would also like to highlight that the School and Program fit, Reputation, Location, Faculty and Infrastructure, Global Exposure and Diversity, Internship and Placement trends, Total Debt are definitely the factors worth considering before you make your decision. Just as I mentioned, prepare an excel and come up with a cumulative score for each school based on the factors that are important in your decision making.

The objective of this post was to bring to light one of the lesser known facts about the MBA degree offered by Cox School of Business(major with ITOM concentration). Believe me, none of the admitted students (India Class of 2017) were aware of this fact and we only got to know about it from one of the seniors in a skype session. It just made the deal a lot sweeter for all of us. There are several other outstanding programs at the school and I would like to appeal to everyone to look at the blog I mentioned earlier.

We, SMU COX Class of 2017 students, will keep updating our blog with several useful information about the SMU COX School of Business and thus stay tuned for several such posts in the coming months. Till then stay blessed!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A football club to fall in love with !!

Going off topic and calling a sports fan in all of you. Personally I am a big soccer/football fan and just wanted to write on the current state of the Manchester United. I have been following it for the past 12 years and I have been awed by every bit of it (be it the stadium - Theatre of Dreams or be it the gameplay). There have been times when the team looked invincible then there were times when we looked beatable but I always held my end to support it no matter what. 

Since the retirement of Sir Alex there is no aggression on the pitch, there is no fergie's time. The chosen one (David Moyes - currently managing Real Sociedad) came and went and the downfall was evident. Still the team had the calibre to reach 7th rank but lost on the Champions (UEFA) league place. 

Current Season so far:
League Position: 4th
Games played: 27, Games won: 14, Games Drawn:8 , Games Lost:5
Manchester United this season has shown their flare, their problems, their injuries, their vulnerability at the back, their attacking prowess but this is one of those seasons where the team is not playing its best but still get to remain 4th in the EPL. The manager Louis Van Gaal did some marquee signings in the transfer window. With the likes of Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind, Marcus Rojo, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Radamel Falcao (on Loan) in the squad it always looked like the best team to field and people were convinced that last year’s disappointment will be quickly forgotten.

My first impression was that with a top heavy we might struggle at the back line and it was evident with the first game itself when swansea beat united at Old Trafford, then Leicester. The players initially got injured and it did not help the manager have a proper 11 and he had to do with makeshift players to play in other positions. Due to the injuries he did not have a proper formation that he could resort to. He played 3-5-2, then he played 4-4-2 then he played his famous diamond. All of them had some success here and there but one could not find a formation that the team could resort to even when they were under pressure. I have know United to play wide and give in a lot of crosses to their strikers. This season it has been a major disappointment. The best players so far in the season have been David De Gea, Ashely Young, Wayne Rooney, James Wilson, Ander Herrera, and Paddy McNair.

Manchester United Squad at the starting of the season (2014-15)

Lets start the breakup on individual player
  1. Van Persie – He was pretty sharp in his first season at United and make valuable runs to go past the last defender. That sharpness is not seen and he looks old. He should not be given a regular place in the line up. He got his form back for 5-6 matches where he scored many goals but he is back to missing a lot of chances. May be Van Gaal can give someone else a chance even though he has the most number of goals for united this season.
  2. Radamel Falcao – Post injury hasn’t looked the same force that he was with Monaco, Athletico Madrid. He tries hard even got goals but for a striker to have 4 goals in 16 matches does not justify anything. Premier League is more physical that any other league and he is getting a taste of it. He is talented and we all want his to score more goals. 
  3. Juan Mata – On and off season for him. He has won 2-3 matches for United but as a playmaker he is not feeding a lot of balls to the strikers hence not a lot of scoring opportunities for them.
  4. Wayne Rooney(Captain) – A born striker, look at him being a work horse in the midfield. He had the best game against New Castle and has been playing well in his new role. He has scored 11 goals but he will look convincing in his role as a striker. Van Gaal explained that he needs him in midfield but why is he wasting a talent.
  5. Angel Di Maria – He was Real Madrid’ best player in the Champions League Final and Argentina’s best player in the football world cup and then he got a whopping and jaw dropping deal at United to replicate what he did for the likes of Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale. To be honest if he plays the same role at United and feeds the likes of Persie, Rooney, Falcao suddenly you will see more goals. He is not able to deliver the ball properly in the box and he has restricted movement due to which he loses possession. If united are to score more goals he is the go to man. Still love the goal he scored against Leicester.
  6. Daley Blind – A good player with good presence of mind and has good control of the ball. He is slow thereby can’t go back and hence the defense loses a counter attack. He should up his physical game and keep more possession.
  7. Ashley Young – He has played his role very well as a left wing. He has put in a lot of balls in the box and has created more chances. I think he is better player when played up. He is quick and United want him to be back in the 11.
  8. Luke Shaw – Showed his talent at Southampton but I think he left it there only. Got injured a lot and I don’t see him as a proper fit unless he makes good use of his talent. He was signed as United wanted a player who could player from box to box but he prefers to stay mostly in the team’s box. Hence no wide play.
  9. Paddy McNair – One of the youth’s find of the season. Has defended well and tries to go up to feed the midfielders. Seen as the lucky charm.
  10. Phil Jones – He looks strong but gets injured easily. He was destined to be the best central defender in England but he hasn’t shown the promise. Not able to complete most games makes the central defense looks vulnerable to attacks from anywhere.
  11. Chris Smalling and Johnny Evans – They have made unnecessary mistakes which have costed United many games. They aren’t defending well to and lose a lot of possession easily. 
  12. David De Gea – Won at least 4 matches on his own and he is the reason why United is sitting in the 4th position this season. He has been under pressure most of the season and he has performed more than expected. He has been the best keeper in premier league this season.
  13. Marouane Fellaini – He has given some good performances this season and he has looked dangerous in the box. He should be given more chances and should play in attacking roles where he can use his physical prowess.

Next few games are must win and they are not going to be easy. Games against Arsenal (FA Cup), New Castle, Spurs, Liverpool. If they get the max points out of these games they are in contention for the Champions league place else it will be the repetitive of what happened last season. Louis Van Gaal needs to produce either a miracle by winning all the games or just buy some good players in the transfer window again in order to stay alive in front of teams such as Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool (These are the top 5 in the Premier League right now, Man United included).

People want to watch the big club playing the big games and I hope to see a turn around soon. 

A Red Devil Fan. :)

P.S: I love to play also and would really appreciate if we can have people to play on weekends.