Meet Tyson - Former Managing Director of Consulting

What positions did you have in SBC, and what was most rewarding about each of them?

The two most rewarding positions I had in SBC were INE Coordinator and Consulting MD. Being INE coordinator was really rewarding because it was one of my first experiences organizing such a large-scale event in college. There were many different pieces that had to come together in order to ensure the success of the event and balancing all of the pieces was definitely a very valuable learning experience for me. It was also quite motivating to know that the event was able to help out so many of my fellow MIT peers. As Consulting MD, one of the most rewarding things I did was to start the consulting initiative with Square Peg Capital. It was great to see so much involvement from the rest of the board, especially the younger members.

How did SBC enhance your MIT experience?

SBC enhanced my MIT experience by providing me one of my first circle of friends away from highschool as well as giving me exposure to various areas that my academic studies did not really provide. I'm still very close to my class even today and I felt that I've grown a lot just by being around all these wonderful people and learning from them. One of the key factors that led to my getting my job offer was case prepping with a fellow member of the class. Additionally, I feel that as a younger student I found a lot of influential role models and mentors from the club that offered me much useful advice.

What was your favorite SBC memory?

My favorite SBC memory has got to be my senior year spring retreat when we rented out a house on a private island and had a camp fire. I remember arriving pretty late and having to row over to the island in a very precarious tin boat that nearly sank halfway there. But then once we finally got on the island, it was good to just relax, take a couple of cold ones, and just listen to everyone's stories/ play some games.

What was your favorite class you took at MIT and why?

My favorite class at MIT has got to be a toss-up between 6.867 (Machine Learning) and 14.26. 6.867 was great because I felt that I was able to get a very fundamental understanding of the inner workings of most of the machine learning algorithms that I've had exposure to before. It was also one of the most rigorous classes I've ever taken and consequently one of the classes where I put in the most effort. 14.26 was also one of my favorite classes because it picked apart a lot of my pre-conceived beliefs about economics. The professor (Nobel Laureate Bengt Holmstrom) was also extremely entertaining day-in and day-out and truly cared about the students. 

What was your favorite MIT memory?

My favorite MIT memory apart from CPW was taking part in the 2015 stand-up comedy class over IAP and getting a chance to perform stand-up comedy in front of my peers at Stata. Much of what I did over my 4 years at MIT has been highly technical and mentally draining at times, so it was really refreshing to take part in something that required me to use my brain in a different capacity and be creative. I enjoyed stand-up comedy so much that I still do it to this today and occasionally perform at local open-mics.

Where will you be working after graduation and what brought you there?

I will be working as a management consultant at BCG after graduation. I was actually initially exposed to the consulting industry during my freshman BEP in SBC. I was initially drawn to the industry because I felt that while MIT prepared me well technically, I was still lacking a great deal of other skills that were necessary to run and lead my own company. Consulting was the perfect opportunity to bridge this gap as there is no better way to learn how to run a company than to work closely with C-Suite leaders at existing successful companies to solve their most challenging problems. Currently, I am also planning on using my time at BCG to identify opportunities for big data/machine learning disruption in antiquated industries.

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Tyson Chen

Former Managing Director of Consulting

Currently works at Boston Consulting Group

Meet Anthony - Former Managing Director of Entrepreneurship

Which focus group/initiative were you a part of and what did you achieve in it?

I was part of the Entrepreneurship Focus which wasn’t a core piece of SBC until my Sophomore year. With the help of many other SBC members, I helped launch the Entrepreneurship group out of the Engineering focus group.  At first it was a challenge to find the right direction for member development, but after I left as a Director, those who followed set up amazing projects such as the Flux Accelerator program.  

How did SBC enhance your MIT experience?

SBC enhanced my MIT experience by providing me a business perspective complimentary to the technical classes I studied. It opened up the opportunity to see the world through a different lens by way of the people in the Club. I gained valuable friendships and connections that I have already leveraged to continue to learn about business fields as they apply to my career, even though I am working in tech.

What was your favorite SBC memory?

My favorite SBC memory is more of a program I got to participate in. The Flux Accelerator program allows startups in the MIT community to be paired with SBC members that help with various aspects of the company.  I got to be an advisor for a company called Releaf and worked closely with their CTO on tough product problems they were working through.  The company wound up getting accepted into Y Combinator which made for an exciting time to be involved.

If you could go back to your Freshman year, what would you do differently?

I would try to meet more people in various groups from the very beginning. I wound up making friends only in the Football, Fraternity and SBC spheres but missed out on opportunities to meet amazing people outside of these groups. MIT is the best place to meet smart and friendly people and I would encourage everyone to go to random meet ups for things they are interested in throughout their MIT career. 

What was your favorite MIT memory?

My favorite MIT memory is quite different from most. I played football and during my Sophomore year we went undefeated and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in the history of MIT Football. We wound up winning our first playoff game at the last second and this was my favorite memory.

What are you looking forward to most after graduation?

I’m looking forward to learning in a real world setting the skills needed to start my own company in the future. I am a firm believer that you can only learn so much in the classroom and getting hands on experience at a fast growing company can help anyone gain the ability to replicate that growth. I’m looking forward to having ownership of products that revolutionize the way the physical and digital world interact.

Where will you be working after graduation, and what brought you there?

After graduation, I will be working for Uber in their Associate Product Management program. I made the switch from engineering to product after working a summer internship that allowed me to take on a couple Product projects along the way.  I found that working in a role that bridges the gap between technology and business is an ideal way to progress my career.

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Anthony Emberley

Former Managing Director of Entrepreneurship

Currently works at Uber

Meet Hyun - Former Co-President

Which focus group/initiative were you a part of and what did you achieve in it?

I was a part of the finance focus group/initiative and really wanted everyone in it to benefit from the meetings. There are many areas of focus in finance and different skillsets appropriate for each, so we tried to bring as much variety in the topics we covered. We've also tried making headway into the investment initiative, and I'm very happy to see that it has taken off.

What positions did you have in SBC and what was most rewarding about them?

I was a SBC week director my sophomore year, Treasurer/Finance director my junior year and most recently Co-president. It's really great to see your role evolve within the club and to gradually take on more responsibility, which helps develop a sense of ownership and commitment.

How has SBC enhanced your MIT experience?

SBC certainly has some of the best and the brightest minds on campus, and just great people in general (objectively speaking, I promise ;) ). With a heavily engineering focus at MIT, SBC was tremendous in helping me keep my interests balanced and I also met some of my best friends here.

If you could go back to your Freshman year what would you do differently?

Freshman year is a great opportunity to meet not only the people in your hall or your classes but on campus in general. Many of us will eventually find a group of friends who we feel comfortable with - whether it is fraternities/sororities, sports teams, or SBC :) - and inevitably spend most of our time with them. I'm certainly guilty of this, and really wish that I had a chance to get to know a greater number of people in my class if I could go back to my freshman year.

What was your favorite class you took at MIT and why

14.26 - Economics of incentives

Bengt Holmstrom is a Nobel Laureate so that's the merit of the class in and of itself, but I'd go above and beyond say it was one of my favorite classes at MIT. I've really enjoyed the content of the class and also the way it was taught. He goes beyond the mathematical economic model of incentives and encourages people to think through many of the cases introduced in class, which makes the class very exciting and real. If I'm not mistaken 14.01 is a prerequisite for this class, which I also heavily recommend!

Where are you working after graduation and what brought you there?

I'll be working as an investment banking analyst at Goldman Sachs in the industrials group. I've been fortunate to have had exposure to many different areas of finance during my MIT career, and realized over time that I'm much more interested in being a part of a longer-term strategic decision making process than the fast paced, market facing trading floor. There is also a strong camaraderie between the incoming class of analysts in investment banking, of                   which I am a huge fan, and it is certainly not the case for many of the other entry level positions in finance.


Hyun Yang

Co-president of SBC from 2016-2017

Currently works at Goldman Sachs in Investment Banking

Meet Jessica - Former Co-President

How did SBC enhance your MIT experience?

SBC provided me the opportunity to complement my technical education at MIT with an education in business and soft skills, especially through the Board Education Program my freshman year. It also gave me a network of incredibly accomplished and knowledgeable peers and alumni who were always willing to give advice or tell me about their experiences.

What was your favorite SBC memory?

My favorite SBC memories are the bonding events that we have. Our annual retreat was always a fun time to get away from campus and catch up with everyone in the club. I also loved getting to try out some of Boston's fine dining during our focus group dinners.

If you could go back to your freshman year, what would you do differently?

If I could go back to my freshman year, I would have traveled or done MISTI my freshman summer instead of doing an internship. You only have so many chances to take advantage of MIT's programs abroad, and I think freshman summer is a great time to do so.

What was your favorite class you took at MIT and why?One of my favorite classes at MIT was The Art and Science of Negotiation (11.011). It was an incredible learning experience unlike any other class at MIT. We got to practice our negotiation skills every week in mock negotiations in class, and our professor always encouraged us to have reflective and insightful discussions as a class. It was also nice to have a class that didn't have psets!

Where will you be working after graduation and what brought you there?

I'll be working at J.P. Morgan in investment banking after graduation. Each summer, I've gradually shifted from more software-focused to more finance-focused internships, as I found what interested and excited me.


Jessica Li

Co-president of SBC from 2016-2017

Currently works at JP Morgan in Investment Banking

It's OK to Major in Course 15

by Kamil Mafoud, MIT '16 Course 15

MIT is one of the greatest universities in the world. It’s hard to keep track of our many accolades and it feels like there’s a new report every other week ranking us #1. To nobody’s surprise, we consistently rank among the best for STEM departments. What sometimes goes unnoticed is that we also rank among the best for many other departments including Management (Science), Economics, and Urban Planning. This university’s success across a broad set of fields reflects its commitment to excelling in every aspect.

But within all of this, there is a fundamental problem - one that inhibits the potential of our great university.

When I started MIT, I was really interested in entrepreneurship. In my senior year of high school, a couple of friends and I started up a company called AppointmentStatus, a platform by which you could connect doctors and patients to facilitate scheduling. I knew that my interest in entrepreneurship would fit right in with MIT’s culture of innovation.

As a result, I came in interested in majoring in Course 15, but as soon as I arrived on campus I was quickly talked out of Course 15 by everyone I met. They told me that course 15 was a “joke” and that I would be better suited studying computer science at MIT. If I really wanted, I could take Course 15 classes on the side.

So I declared Course 6 as my major and started taking the standard classes (i.e. 6.01, 6.042, 6.006). After taking these classes, I realized I wasn’t really excited by the direction I was heading with Course 6. I also started to become more interested in finance. But again, instead of pursuing Management Science, I was convinced to switch to Course 18. I was told that math would provide me with a quantitative background, which would be beneficial to a career in finance. I ended up with quite a few Course 18 classes under my belt. In fact, I remained Course 18 up until the beginning of my senior year.

It was at that point, even though I only needed to take a few more classes in Course 18 to complete the major, that I realized how fed up I was. I never really looked forward to any of my math classes and I found myself looking for the easiest way to complete the major. I was essentially trying to game the system just to receive the degree.

But it was not what I was passionate about. It was too theoretical for me and not aligning with what I could see myself doing in the future. This was my identity crisis. Each day I remained Course 18, I was forcing myself to be someone that I was not.

The switch to Course 15 was a huge relief as it helped me realign who I was with what I was doing. Unfortunately, I still had to deal with the stigma of being an MIT student studying Course 15. Many of my friends and peers are studying something STEM-related and sometimes it feels as though you are looked down upon for taking an alternative path; but, what works for them might not work for you.

Be yourself and do what makes you happy. MIT is far too stressful of a place to do otherwise. I do not regret the decisions I have made throughout my four years as I have learned many valuable lessons from them; however, I hope others can learn from my mistakes and avoid some of the confusion I endured.

Though I am graduating in Course 15, I can still boast that I have taken classes across a broad range of departments including Course 6, Course 11, Course 14, and Course 18. In fact, I wish I had taken classes in more departments. My education goes beyond what is written on my degree and I don’t need the validation of declaring a double major on my resume.

Truthfully, the courses I have taken in Course 6 and 18 are not particularly relevant for what I ambition to do. So don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Just because you got into MIT does not mean you have to choose a STEM major, and the path that your friends take here should not dictate yours.

I have found more value in classes like International Capital Markets (15.447) and Options and Futures (15.437), for example, which were relevant to my sophomore internship in fixed income trading; or in Finance Theory II (15.402) and Accounting (15.501), which helped me smoothly navigate my investment banking internship.

Besides their usefulness, Course 15 classes have also been far more interesting to me. I loved learning the economics behind investing in commercial real estate in Real Estate Finance (15.426) and this semester (even as a senior counting down the days until graduation) I’ve jumped out of bed for my 8:30am class in Sloan to discuss the strategic rationale of mergers and acquisitions and the legal complexities in a hostile takeover battle.

Once you get to the real world, what your degree says doesn’t matter. It does help establish credibility but your success ultimately boils down to how hard you work and how well you apply your intelligence. Having a degree from MIT certainly helps, but it, alone, does not promise you a successful career.

I would say that I have been fairly successful at MIT. I have held leadership positions across different organizations at MIT, excelled in internships (mostly in finance), and upon graduation I will be starting my career at Morgan Stanley. I am not telling you all this to boast of my accomplishments, but to point out reality - that you will be happier chasing your dreams than chasing validation.

Kamil is a graduating senior in Course 15. He is a former director of the SBC Finance Focus Group and an incoming investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley.


Interview with Philippe Schwartz of Square Peg Capital

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Philippe Schwartz

Partner at Square Peg Capital; Former president of Withings, Inc. and Founder & CEO of ooVoo

Philippe is a partner at the Boston branch of Square Peg Capital who invests in internet-related businesses. He brings his 20+ years experience as a business executive to form collaborative relationships with startups and help them achieve greater value.

Q: Describe your job. What do you do as venture capitalist?

As a VC for Square Peg Capital, I invest in companies while working very closely with the CEO and founders. We have a collaborative relationship with companies to help them negotiate difficult contracts with customers, for instance. The last role before I became a venture capitalist was running an Internet of Things (IoT) company in global health and wellness.  I have knowledge in how to maintain relationships with retailers and manage supply chains, etc. I work closely with the entrepreneurs so that they avoid the mistake that we all made when we were executives, entrepreneurs, and operatives, so we share the experiences we’ve had and help them solve real life issues, not just the investment issue. It’s an ongoing engagement, not a report-back relationship.

We are financial partners. We align ourselves in the interest of the company. We’re just another player in the company’s ecosystem. That sounds nice in words, but at the end of the day, they have to happen in reality. Sometimes we don’t agree on everything. There are often different views between us and the executives, but we always have healthy debates that are based on mutual trust and a willingness to prioritize the interests of the company.


Q: How does Square Peg go about choosing which startups to invest in and maintaining relationships with them?

For companies that we are currently invested in, our job is to help them with a lot of operational and strategic decisions about which contracts should be signed, recruiting people, helping them maintain relationships with retailers. We help them with day-to-day issues, so it’s very granular and down-to-earth. With new companies, I’m looking for opportunities in areas not because it’s a great technology and a great team, but also because it’s a company that I can understand because I’ve been in that business. Therefore, I can contribute something to the company, and they see us providing real tangible value. The two work hand in hand, since when you start establishing a reputation with an existing relationship, the word goes around and it helps making the new deals.

At the end of the day, when we look at investment criteria, one is really about quality of teams. And the next priority is finding good market opportunities. Sometimes they don’t necessarily feel huge, but they’re real and they become huge as the market evolves. I think if you can find these two things, that’s the winner. Finding great people and solving real problems. We really never invest in one individual. A collaborative team is the essence of a successful company.


Q: What brings Square Peg Capital to Boston in particular?

It’s amazing how vibrant the ecosystem is here, especially with MIT. I have a feeling that it is one of the most vibrant entrepreneurial community you can find in the US. It’s great for us to be able to tap on that. It’s not about finding people who can do the job best, but more about finding the spirit, finding people who think in similar ways in helping companies, providing ideas, forming a network. We are eager to work closely with any organization at MIT that is promoting entrepreneurship.

The question was sometimes, “Why yet another VC in Boston? How are you going to able to source deals that are unique enough? Are you just getting the deals that the big VCs don’t want?" What has been really fascinating is to see that we’ve been able to source some very unique deals, because of that mantra of helping the company, building a brand of close collaboration. We've been creating a novel alignment with founders by helping them with operational decisions, and investing in themes that we believe we understand well.


Q: What was the hardest moment of your career?

There’s been a lot of them. Being an entrepreneur is like a roller coaster ride. I deal with the fact that you wake up, it’s sunny, and 5 hours later you get an email from a customer or supplier, and the sky is falling on you. It’s difficult to deal with the volatility of good and bad news. While there are other hard moments such as not receiving sufficient funding or unfavorable market conditions, the hardest moments involve anxiety around teams and people. Many issues arise not because of the money or the market, but of people not getting along. A person may have specific technological assets yet still be destructive to the goals of the company. [In such a case,] don’t be overwhelmed by losing him even if he has good knowledge. Never compromise the DNA of the people, and the alignment of the individual’s DNA to that of the company. While running a company is tough, having the right team significantly increases the chances of success.


Q: What advice would you give for MIT students looking start their own company?

First, don’t be afraid. If you have a dream or something you believe in, then go for it. As an MIT student, I think that a lack of fear would be the most important quality. MIT provides such an amazing, supporting platform between professors, clubs, and incubators that help you decreasing the risk, which may compensate even more for lack of experience. Second, don’t be too myopic about the technological features of a product. Yes, technology is critical for the success of a tech venture, but always think products, brand, and user experience. Don’t forget that eventually, someone needs to buy and use the product. Don’t lose track of the non-technology aspect of business—the brand and emotion associated with the product.