On Finding a Great Business Mentor

Mentor

For young people entering business school or graduating from it, knowing how to find the right mentor who will set them on a path to success is tricky. A mentor can have a significant impact on a young person’s career choices and development, so it’s important to find a good one worth admiring and worth listening to. By lending their experience, their insights, and their advice, a mentor has the power to help create another force to be reckoned with in the business world. So how do you find the right one?

Firstly, it helps to know that not every great business leader makes a great mentor, and not every great mentor is a ferocious CEO. What’s more important to the mentor-mentee relationship is professional chemistry. Ken Jacobs, Lazard CEO, encourages young workers to find a mentor they want to be like in three to five years.

As people become more senior in their careers, Jacobs says to look for a mentor they’d want to be like in ten to fifteen years. “Say to yourself: Do I want that person’s lifestyle? Can I share their passions? Can I share their interests? To me, that’s a critical element of knowing if a workplace is right for you,” he says.

But a great mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be the only person you’d ever want to emulate. There are many different kinds of great mentors and teachers. A good mentor is someone who asks tough questions and doesn’t shy away from answers they don’t like. Rather, look for someone who draws on their own expertise and experiences to help you grow yours.

It also helps to know what a good fit for you looks like. Not every mentor is right for every fledgling business brain. A natural partnership formed between Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and the late Steve Jobs of Apple because they both wanted to build “high-quality things.” They shared a similar outlook on life, business, and change.

Once you’ve identified someone that you think would be a good mentor for your career, talk with them. Set up a meeting somewhere that is comfortable for both of you, where you can feel confident about your skills and what you’re asking. Be clear and realistic about your expectations, and make the most out of your new relationship.

Bachelor’s Degrees with the Highest Earning Potential

Bachelor's degree

It comes as no surprise that STEM degrees lead to careers with the highest earning potential. Petroleum engineering tops the list with an early-career salary of $100,000 a year and mid-career wages of $168,000, according to Payscale’s 2014-2015 College Salary Report. It’s hardly a spoiler to say that the top-earning jobs are all in the engineering field, but here are the top four most lucrative bachelor’s degrees this year, following petroleum engineering:

  1. Nuclear engineering, at $68,200 for early career and $121,000 by mid-career
  2. Actuarial mathematics, at $58,800 for early career and $119,000 by mid-career
  3. Chemical engineering, at $69,500 for early career and $118,000 by mid-career
  4. Electronics and computer engineering, at $65,000 for early career and $116,000 by mid-career

Nothing too surprising there, as those fields require very specific skills and abilities to be done correctly. But here’s something slightly more surprising: Forbes’ list of the top ten bachelor’s degrees with the lowest earning potential. What is interesting is that while those high-earning skilled careers require a lot of education to enter the field and to perform well, those that make the least amount generally have degrees in education. Here are the lowest-earning bachelor’s degrees from Payscale’s report:

  1. Child development, at $32,200 for early career and $36,400 by mid-career
  2. Early childhood education, at $29,700 for early career and $38,000 by mid-career
  3. Child and family studies, at $31,200 for early career and $38,600 by mid-career
  4. Early childhood and elementary education, at $32,300 for early career and $40,400 by mid-career
  5. Human services, at $33,800 for early career and $41,300 by mid-career

Take a look at the links above for more information about which degrees yield the highest—and lowest—salaries.

Things CEOs Wish They Knew When They Started

Advice

Don’t you wish that you could give your past-self advice? Many of today’s most successful CEOs certainly wish they could, but they will have settle with passing on their knowledge to future generations. Luckily for us, Forbes’ Christine Crandell recently asked some seasoned entrepreneurs and businesspeople what advice they wish they had been given earlier in their careers.

Crandell spoke with four CEOs: Sandra Kurtzig of Kenandy, Keith Krach of DocuSign, Andres Reiner of PROS, and Sid Banerjee of Clarabridge. In short, here’s what their main pieces of advice boiled down to:

  • Be customer obsessed
    • “We measure our success by our customers’ success.”—Krach
  • Know that your business’s success is very dependent on people
    • “[Millennials] have high expectations of how software should perform. They bring a consumer mindset to enterprise applications. While seasoned employees bring deep experience and adult supervision, you need both.”—Kurtzig
  • Diversify
    • “Diversity creates strong organizations where people naturally help each other…That, along with growing people from within by moving them across departments and roles, builds deep connections and empathy.”—Reiner
  • Keep your work and your life balanced
    • “Keep the vision in front of everyone, don’t’ take yourself too seriously and keep a healthy work/life balance.”—Krach
  • Don’t watch your competitors, watch trends
    • “Take risks. In today’s market, proven methods are not always the best methods…If an emerging trend looks stronger and is better than what you’re working with, embrace it.”—Kurtzig

Here is some additional advice from successful CEOs and entrepreneurs:

  • Learn to manage your credit cards and stay on top of your payments.
  • Skills are worth more than a job. It doesn’t matter if you have a long resume if you don’t have the skills to back it up.
  • You need a plan for your money and to learn how to manage your money.
  • Do something you love instead of simply chasing money.
  • Money doesn’t make you happy.

Looking for even more advice? Click here for further reading.

Largest Student Loan Provider, Sallie Mae Under Fire

Student Loans

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Sallie Mae is the nation’s largest student loan company. On Monday, the company disclosed new federal probes which are going after possible violations of consumer protection laws. This most likely means that Washington is looking into the company more than before.

In their most recent quarterly report, the company explained that that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched an investigation into the ways the company processes borrowers’ payments on student loans. The FDIC told the company it will be publicly accusing the company of violating several federal laws.

Sallie Mae expects that it will pay penalties to the affected customers as well as the government. The Education Department has been accused of not having enough supervision.

The CFPB’s top student loan official, Rohit Chopra, said in an recent report that the agency found several problems in how student loan servicers process borrowers’ monthly payments. He also suggested that while his report focused on the private student loan market (at $165 billion), the same problems will probably affect the borrowers of federal student loans ($1 trillion).

“The department is aware of Sallie Mae’s discussions with federal agencies and will await the outcome of those conversations,” said Stephen Spector, Education Department spokesman.

Ever since Senator Elizabeth Warren questioned the Education Department’s supervision of companies it pays to collect payment on federal student loans, the Education Department has been on close watch.

When John Remondi, Sallie Mae chief executive was asked if the company felt comfortable with it’s practices since the CFPB report, he responded with, “We do, absolutely. I think it’s fair to say that our customers are not experiencing the problems that are hinted at or implied in that report.”

Your Bachelors Degree May Not be Enough

There has been a large growth in wages for people with advanced degrees over the past 10 years, but the same is not true for those with Bachelors degrees.

The inflation-adjusted wages of people with a bachelor’s degree declined between 2002 and 2012, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute. Those with advanced degrees had an increase in wages.

A chart made by EPI shows the differences:

Wages

2008 is when the wage gap really increased. EPI’s report found that between 2000 and 2012, the income of workers with only a bachelor’s degree compared to those with only a high school diploma was at a rate of about 4 percent for men and less than one percentage point for women. In comparison, that rate was about 14 percent during the 1980s.

The problem is that graduate degrees cost a lot of money. The programs are very rigorous and don’t allow much time for a part time job. Tuition is much higher as well, and students who already have $50,000 or more in debt might feel hesitant about stacking on more in a poor economy.

While this may seem a bit depressing, a bachelor’s degree is still very valuable. Over the past ten years, workers with a bachelor’s degree’s pay stayed about the same, while those with only a high school diploma saw a drop in pay.

Arthur Samberg and Mario Gabelli Pledge $40 Million to Columbia Business School’s New Campus

Columbia University

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Two Columbia Business School alumni, Arthur Samberg and Mario Gabelli, pledged a combined $40 million towards the construction of the West Harlem campus.

Both men graduated in 1967 and are on the school’s Board of Overseers. Samberg personally pledged $25 million. He is the chairman of JetSuit and the former chief executive of the hedge fund Pequot Capital Management. Gabelli pledged $15 million, and is the chairman and CEO of GAMCO Investors.

These are not the only massive donations that have been pledged towards the new school. Three months earlier, Ron Perelman, owner of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc. pledged $100 million.

“I think you can teach disruption,” said Perelman. “I think you can give a student the tools for which to be disruptive, to think disruptive innovation. Some things are gut instinct. Entrepreneurship is one of those things. Fashion sense is. Music is one of those. You either have it or you don’t—not that it’s so great to have it.”

Before even Perelman stepped in, there was a pledge of $100 million from Henry Kravis. Kravis is also an Columbia MBA alumni and is known for co-founding KKR alongside George R Roberts and Jerome Kohlberg. The new gifts bring the total donations to almost $500 million, which is about $100 short of the school’s goal.

The new business school campus is expected to open in 2018. It includes two buildings named after Perelman and Kravis, and will be about 450,000 square feet. These buildings are part of the expansion of the Columbia campus on 17 acres in the Manhattanville neighborhood of West Harlem, which is about a mile from the main campus.

Students and Universities – How are They Surviving the Recession?

Student Loans

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It seems like every week, news organizations are reporting negatives in regard to college graduates and universities. The recession is making it harder for students and their parents to pay for school, and finding a job after college is harder then ever.

According to a report in 2012, half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. Many are working in retail or the food industry, or in an office job that they are over qualified for. Those who do have a job are earning less than their 1970s counterparts, when adjusted for inflation. If Congress doesn’t stop interest rates from doubling, recent college students will be paying double the interest rate then recent grads.

Students aren’t the only ones taking the hit from the recession, Universities are too. Moody’s, whose CEO is Ray McDaniel, recently put Howard college up for a possible credit downgrade. This is not the only college this is happening too. Just in the past month Moody’s has also downgraded Wittenberg University. Fitch Ratings has downgraded Roger Williams University, University of Connecticut and more.

What does the mean for future and current students? With Universities having less money, student rates doubling, and job prospects being slim, it is not hopeful. As the recession slowly gets better, we can only hope that this will improve things for students and recent graduates as well.

The Questionable Optimism of MBA Students

MBA Students

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Optimism isn’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it can often be a good thing. But for MBA students in the United States, too much optimism about base salary straight out of school is, in many cases, only setting students up for major disappointment.

The average base salary for MBAs worldwide sits between $90,000 and $115,000 for top programs—which means that those graduating from less prestigious universities will likely earn less than that. In a recent survey done by Quacquarelli Symonds, QS, 4,122 MBA applicants expected, on average, a base salary of $113,000. That’s relatively reasonable, especially considering they won’t graduate for another two years (upon which the average salaries will likely be higher in general).

But when looking at individual countries, students in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Russia, and Switzerland had much higher expectations. U.S. students reported expectations of $140,000 base salary pay. That’s well above the average salary of students graduating from Stanford, which is one of the top MBA programs in the country. And though that amount is less than it has been in years past, it’s still quite an optimistic number to go on.

While some students may strike gold and get offered that much or more, most of them won’t. Students would likely have to attend a top school to do so, and considering Stanford only accepts 7% of its MBA applicants, that’s an opportunity that will pass by most. Some areas, such as financial services and consulting, pay more on average than others, but are still not likely to bring on fresh graduates for such high pay.

There can be no doubt that base MBA salaries are still quite healthy, hovering right around the 100K mark. They are likely to increase in the future, but perhaps not as much as students expect them to.

Ronald Perelman Donates $100 Million to Help Teach Entrepreneurship

Columbia University

Img: Taís Moraes via Flickr

Billionaire Ronald Perelman, a Forbes 400 lister just donated $100 million to help teach entrepreneurs in the “fast changing currents of modern markets.” This money was donated to Columbia University’s business school to be used to develop a facility and program for teaching entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Perelman stated that, “I think you can teach disruption. I think you can give a student the tools for which to be disruptive, to think disruptive innovation. Some things are gut instinct. Entrepreneurship is one of those things. Fashion sense is. Music is one of those. You either have it or you don’t-not that its so great to have it.” This is true about so many aspects of business. While there is a lot to learn and study, there are some aspects that some people either have or don’t have. Sales people are usually people-persons. If you aren’t that way, there is a good change sales isn’t your “thing”.

The Ronald O. Perelman Center for Business Innovation is expected to be open in 2017. The donation ties that of Henry Kravis, for the largest in the school’s history. Henry Kravis’ building will be right across from Perelman’s building in Manhattanville, which is north of the University’s Morningside campus.

Young Women’s Leadership Network

YWLN

The Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN) supports two programs which empower students to break the cycle of poverty through education. In the US, only 8% of low income young adults receive a college education. Since 2001, YWLN has helped over 5,000 students enroll in college. These two programs include the Young Women’s Leadership Schools and the College Bound Initiative

In 1996, Ann and Andrew Tisch partnered with the New York City Board of Education to open the Young Women’s Leadership School in East Harlem. They did this to provide economically disadvantaged girls with a great education and college prep similar to the private schools in the area. This was the first all-girls public school to be opened in the US in 30 years.

The College Bound Initiative (CBI) empowers young women and men to realize that they can go to college. Students who participate in the CBI program receive a four-year college degree at more than double the rate of their peers.

Hillary Clinton stated that, “The Young Women’s Leadership School is one of the premiere public schools in the nation. We could use more schools such as this…There should not be any obstacle to providing single-sex choice within the public school system.”

Getting involved is easy. You can apply to be on the Leadership Council like Lynn Carfora and Amy Curry, volunteer like Jenny Farrelly, give money, and more.

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