Sunday, August 9, 2009

CFN: Keeping Up

MLT (Management Leadership for Tomorrow) was featured last month on CNN's "Black in America 2" special. The TV program featured its leader John Rice and peeped in on the most recent class of MLT participants, as they completed assignments in New York.

MLT is well known to many Consortium students and alumni, because it helped many of them become stronger applicants for business schools (including Consortium schools). Indeed, there is significant overlap between the programs. The CNN program, however, brought to mind how many of the MBA-oriented diversity programs and its students bump into each other literally--the Consortium, Toigo, Jumpstart, and MLT.

They overlap among the students who participate. It's not unusal for an MBA student at, say, Dartmouth or Michigan to be members or participants of all four. The objectives of all of the programs, however, remain similar and common. Students who've participate in more than one see unique advantages in their involvement in all.

In many ways, the programs don't compete. They interact and take on special roles in an overall diversity mission. Each program offers something different, but something very important. Toigo focuses on financial services; Jumpstart focuses on investment banking and consulting, and MLT emphasizes preparation for business school. The Consortium has a broader general-management objective and, of course, provides substantial financial assistance (full tuition).

CNN's special on MLT just as well could have been a special on any of the four--or better, all four....

Moody's, the global ratings-agency firm, is proving that it seeks to hire top, diverse talent even in the current environment. It has begun to highlight and tend to it relationships with diversity pipeline groups--including the Consortium.

Last month, it hosted a seminar and networking event at its New York City headquarters. Senior managers--including CEO Raymond McDaniel and top economist Mark Zandi--made presentations to over 100 in attendance. Moody's also discussed career opportunities in its primary groups (analytics and investor services, most notably) and allowed guests to meet senior people in many of its subgroups.

The firm, along with its ratings peers S&P and Fitch, has been in the eye of the credit crisis. But the firm remains profitable with ambitions to grow more internationally and broaden its services. It's no longer just a ratings firm.

At the networking session, besides the Consortium, representatives and alumni from diversity groups NSHMBA, MLT, WITI, and ALPFA attended. Daisy Auger-Dominguez at Moody's leads its diversity-recruiting effort....

With the financial crisis all but over, now comes the flood of dramatic tales of collapse, tension, fall-out and demise. The latest book tells us about the collapse of Lehman Brothers: "A Colossal Failure of Common Sense," by Lawrence McDonald, a Lehman VP in distressed-debt trading. In his perch in its raucous trading room, he claims to have had a ringside seat to Lehman's implosion.

McDonald was not a senior manager or an insider. He tries to convey his overwhelming disappointment of having reached his career-long dream of becoming a respected Wall Street trader at a major firm, but having that dream squashed in one dramatic September, 2008, weekend--because of (in his view) ineptness and insulated behavior in top management. Read the book (if you can bear to read more second-guessing about the crisis) not to understand how Lehman collapsed, but to experience what it feels like to be on the inside of the sudden collapse and disappearance of one of the most storied names of Wall Street history....

Tracy Williams

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