Immersion Learning

Challenge Accepted

by Drew Pascarella, MBA ‘01 (6/3/14)
Drew Pascarella, MBA ‘01On August 27, 2013, when hosting the annual Investment Banking Immersion (IBI) mixer at AD White House, I both congratulated the returning second-year students on their astounding full-time offer conversion rate, and issued the incoming first-year students a challenge: do better than the prior class. This was met with some chuckles from the crowd. Beat an impressive number of summer offers, and, a near 100% conversion rate? Surpass our best Investment Banking recruiting season in the history of the school? Yes.

I am grateful to the dedicated students who took the time to entertain our web visitors with their detailed weekly accounts of the immersion. I hope their posts provide a good sense of what being immersed in banking for a semester is like.

This post is about giving thanks.

When accepting my appointment at Johnson Graduate School of Management nearly two years ago, I knew I was joining a world class team. I also knew, as a top-ranked school with a rich history and immensely talented incoming students, Johnson’s expectations of the IBI would be high.

Successes enjoyed in the IBI are the result of tireless dedication of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who all care enough to do better.

When second-year students returned to campus, admittedly tired from their 10-week sprint to the offer, they had the chance to relax and bask in their achievement. Instead, they focused, engaged, and led first-year students through the fall preparation process. For what? Monetary gain? Academic credit? No, for Johnson. These students heard my challenge, and knew they could be a part of the solution. The Class of 2014 wanted their legacy to be an even better Class of 2015.

When faculty and staff, all who work closely to ensure we are delivering a world-class academic experience, reviewed the curriculum, did we just hit the copy button from last year? Absolutely not. We reviewed feedback, spoke with our partners, and retooled our course offerings to ensure they were higher-quality, more relevant, better.

When our dedicated banking alumni, who are all entirely consumed with their careers and working under intense pressure, again engaged with us this year, they fought harder than ever to play an instrumental role in coordinating offers for our students. The result? We are sending 50% more bankers to summer internships this year versus last year. Our alumni rose to the occasion, as they always do, and did better.

When the current first-year students arrived and were issued the challenge, they could have just read the playbook from last year and executed. But they wanted to be better. The Class of 2015 worked together, as a team, to build upon the success not only of 2014, but every class before that, to achieve a result even I did not think was possible. Of course, their jobs are not done. The ultimate grade will be determined once their conversion rate is tallied. My expectations are high.

At Johnson, team is everything. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make 2015 better.