A few weeks ago, Indiana University’s Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design visited New York City for their annual school trip. I presented to the students about WindowsWear and my career journey. I received extremely thoughtfully written thank you letters from the professors and students – I must say, they are the best thank you letters I have ever received! Receiving these letters were important to me because they got me thinking about where I came from, and how my time at Indiana University was so important to my development. Thank you to all the professors and students at Indiana University.
These letters remind me of what I wanted to be when I was growing up.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I always wanted to start a company from scratch and make it big and global. I was inspired by my parents who were Israeli immigrants. As immigrants to the U.S., my parents were extremely entrepreneurial, and valued resourcefulness, education, and risk taking. They didn’t just talk about making things happen, they loved to actually make things happen. I always also inspired by the stories of many other immigrants and people coming to the U.S. with little or no resources, and then becoming very successful.
In addition, all my family (my parents, cousins, uncles, aunts, etc.) had to serve in the military. Since I was born in the U.S., I didn’t have to serve. That being said, the military mentality of having a strong endurance and being able to deal with high amounts of pressure rubbed off on me. The same risks and opportunities that an army commander faces are also similar to challenges a young, start-up company looking to make its mark on the world.
I always knew I wanted to study business from a top school, and that’s why I chose Indiana University, as the school has one of the top business programs in the U.S.
These letters remind me of what I wanted to achieve in school.
I graduated with a degree in Business with a concentration in Finance. I chose finance because I felt it would give me the best skill set in understanding many different types of business within different industries. I also liked computer programming, and I took many programming classes in college – I also did a semester-long internship at Sun Microsystems in Silicon Valley in California. I also served two years of Army ROTC at Indiana University to provide me with some military training like the rest my family had. I also wanted to have a lot of fun in school, so I also joined a fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi. Out of everything the school offered, the most important thing for me to achieve was to get good grades in order to give me the most opportunities, and I graduated top of my class from Kelley School of Business Honors Program, magna cum laude, with a GPA of 3.83. After graduating, I was an investment banking analyst at Lehman Brothers, and soon after that’s where I discovered my interest in fashion.
In 2004, even though Indiana University was the #4 top undergraduate finance program in the U.S., the school lacked interest from top Wall Street firms, like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Lehman Brothers, among others. At the time, those top banks did not recruit from Indiana University. Having a strong background in entrepreneurship, Professor David Haeberle was tapped to lead the Investment Banking Workshop at Indiana University. The Investment Banking Workshop comprised of the top 40 finance students of Indiana University, with the goal of each of those students getting jobs and internships at top Wall Street investment banks. The better the jobs, the better the program.
When David started, he had no background in investment banking. I remember the first thing he said at our first Investment Banking Workshop meeting – he said “I was just got hired to head the Investment Banking Workshop, but I want to let you know that I know nothing about investment banking, but I know we’re all going to learn about it together.” I thought it was very odd that the Professor in charge of the class knew nothing about the subject matter. I also thought it was odd that he said “we’re all going to learn about it together.” To me teaching was supposed to be a 1-way street, the instructor has all the knowledge, you have none of it, and goal of school was for them to transfer it all to you. I thought it was odd for him to tell me that I was going to be involved in helping him learn the subject matter.
But, David’s approach was brilliant. I didn’t realize it at the time, but instead of having us learn from a textbook, he invited guest speakers and we learned from them. He invited all the alumni from previous years that worked at investment banks to share their experiences and network with the students. It was the smartest thing he could have ever done. He invited experts to discuss the industry, and at the same time, provided opportunities for students to network and get jobs and internships from them. While we were learning about investment banking from the alumni, he was learning more about them as well.
The first rule of business is to know your clients, and since David’s clients consisted of the alumni and the students, he created a program where he would stand to learn the most from all of them. He also valued regularly getting the students and alumni together for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. David knew that networking was extremely important, and that class could ever teach you how to socialize and network, you just have to learn how to do it.
The Investment Banking Workshop is now huge and has a tremendous global alumni database. David has helped place over 600 students with jobs at top investment banks around the world. His impact is amazing, just imagine one professor being able to have that much success in such a short amount of time.
Here’s my picture picture from my Investment Banking Workshop profile in 2003.
David has made such a positive impact on my life that I have adopted the same approach in my classes. I’m an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Baruch College, and I’m currently in my 6th semester teaching at Baruch College. I have invited over 100 different guest speakers to my classes to discuss topics like marketing, public relations, business communications, customer relationship management, and online reputation management. My classes are very fun and interactive, and the students and speakers value the networking opportunities. Many of my students have received job and internship offers from my guest speakers as well.
Here’s a picture of a guest speaker from one of my classes, tweeted from one of my students.
Another professor I admired at Indiana University was Professor Utpal Bhattacharya. Utpal is known around the world for his in-depth research on stock market integrity and insider trading. He has spent years trying to make financial markets fair for all players and root-out injustice and illegal activities. Through his research, Utpal’s mentality is just like any start-up company, he is one man taking on the world to try to make it a better place.
In addition to teaching finance, Utpal also taught me the value of sharing your accomplishments. I remember at the start of every class Utpal would share with us the highlights of a research paper he was writing, the press that it received, and where he’s taking things next. I was always inspired by his personal journey, and by him sharing with us his accomplishments, it made us feel part of them too. Utpal was my also mentor on my senior year thesis.
Finally, these letters reminded me of how important it is to say thank you.
The smallest recognition of a thank you can achieve a tremendous amount of good. Receiving thank you letters from the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design is also extremely exciting, because Indiana University is one of our clients for WindowsWear, and they subscribe to WindowsWear PRO.
I graduated from the Kelley School of Business, not the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design. But, that being said, all the students and faculty of the Kelley School of Business can learn from the students and faculty of the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, how to do one of the most important things in business – how to properly send thank you letters.
Thank you Professors Janis Shaffer and Deb Christiansen, and all of the students, and look forward to seeing you next time in New York City, or even better, in Bloomington, IN.