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Christine Chang, MBA '15

Nov 20 2013

Harnessing the Power of Teams

Christine Chang, MBA '15

I sat slumped in the corner of a breakout room inside Sage Hall, wondering how I’d let my life get so out of hand. I was a day from leaving for the National MBA Human Capital Case Competition at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and I was in the midst of what was definitely the toughest week I’ve had yet here at Johnson, and trust me, EVERY week is tough. I felt like I was drowning. (Friendly tip: Johnson is not the school for you if you are afraid of hard work.) Luckily, my team (Kate, Nasiya, Matt, McNulty) was brilliant, my merciful friend Alan delivered Taco Bell to me (quality nutrients to work hard), and we carried on.

Three months earlier, I sat on a plastic chair outside Collegetown Bagels, getting to know my newly assigned core team (Chapin, Dino, LizPat) over pitchers of beer. We were astonishingly different. Core teams are groups that Johnson puts together by blending competency tests, backgrounds, career goals, secret sauce, and probably some unfortunate person slaving away at a spreadsheet. Core teams are meant to be leadership feedback vehicles, and also groups for us First Years to do all our academic projects together for the semester. Turns out that our team being crazy different was our greatest advantage. Oh, and we built into our team contract that anyone who was late to a meeting had to pony up money for a team beer fund. It almost made the rest of us happy when someone was late.

Both these teams have shown me the incredible power of what people can do when they work together. Don’t get me wrong - it’s not like I’ve never been on a work team or sports team (my parents still display my “participation” trophies from AYSO and I was a first-string bench warmer on the volleyball team in high school). It’s just that I’d been an individual contributor at work for so long that it took some adjusting. But then I realized – Christine, you dummy! - LIFE is team-based. Cooperation and leveraging each others’ strengths is how we survive and is woven into the fabric of daily life. This is not to detract from anyone’s individual talent, but most of the time, we’re just better when we’re together. No person can succeed alone.

Johnson is built so that you MUST rely on others to make it through the challenges of classes and career and clubs and our new lives in Ithaca. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving break, but in the meantime, I’ll be learning and working with my classmates to harness the power of a multitude of talents in order to create something great together.

Oh, and P.S. Our team won the case competition! We decided before we got to Nashville that regardless of the outcome, we’d continue a tradition last year's team started: Taking a shot at a bar called "Losers" and another at the bar next door called "Winners" (I kid you not). So we did just that! Then Nasiya and I (the Johnson First Years on the team) went back to the hotel to do our statistics homework in order to upload it by the deadline of 5 PM on a Saturday. Yes, on a Saturday. Like I said, this is not the place for you if you are afraid of hard work. THEN we all went out again of course. My favorite stop was when we turned on maximum charm wattage to convince a fancy restaurant to let us be seated at a table without ordering any food. They agreed as long as we kept ordering bottles of champagne. That was not a difficult obligation to meet.

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  I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading and it has a lot of interesting things to read about.
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