Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Bad News Bears

Today marks the end of Term 3. This means I will not step into another Darden classroom until January 2012. Of course, a lot of Darden ground will be covered between now and the beginning of next term including final exams, Week on Wall-Street, resume drops, job treks, and interviews (to list a few). I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment, but there’s no way I could have survived without relying on my learning team.

Darden first-year students are placed into learning teams comprised of five to six students. Each team is assigned with a conference room where we meet for a few hours the night before classes to review our case material. It’s a great opportunity to clarify case content (or strike a healthy debate over interpretations of case facts), but it is mainly a tool to facilitate preparation and stronger in-class discussions.

Four months ago I stepped foot into Learning Team Room 33 for the first time. I introduced myself to the strangers, my new learning team members, and we began our first team task; determining a team name reflective of something we all had in common. Failing to find any commonalities, we adopted the name Bad News Bears. We hoped this our unique backgrounds wouldn’t result in a dysfunctional team

To give you a sense of what we were working with (our diversity of backgrounds), here’s a brief profile of the Bad News Bears and perhaps more importantly, the roles we’ve taken on.

Non-traditional student: Previously doubled as a Chinese instructor and admissions representative at a boarding school. Talk about a non-traditional but amazing background. She brings energy and optimism unrivaled by any Darden student.

Quintessential banker: Yes, the quintessential banker. He previously lived in New York City, working within fixed income. He is incredibly efficient and does a great job ensuring that our team stays focused during learning team meetings.

International perspective: Formerly served six years with the Israeli Defense Forces, and brings far more than just an international perspective. He arguably plays the most critical role, willing to challenge the team’s assumptions and providing poignant remarks that challenge our methodology.

Media mogul: Has experience in media sales and co-production for an international broadcasting corporation. Another relatively non-traditional student, but he has the intellectual curiosity to push our learning team to think beyond the bounds of the case and is one of the brightest individuals and fastest learners I’ve ever met.

Although we started as a motley crew, we have definitely transformed into a high performing team (our Leading Organizations professors would be proud!) Beyond preparing for classes as a team, we’ve established strong bonds (pleasing the Finance professors) and I would consider these guys lifelong friends. We actively seek each other out at Darden events. On Sundays, we often eat dinner together (the last time my learning team dined at my apartment, I pushed the apple pie, since I was frantically trying to make use of all the apples I purchased at Carter Mountain Orchard).

As we head into 2012, I’m looking forward to forging stronger relationships with my learning team, not to mention all of the free Sunday dinners!