Thursday, November 17, 2011

Guest Blog - Brian Brecheisen

Hey there, KD!! I hope this blog finds you well. I can't believe it, but it's the beginning of the end. I have one last assignment, and I am going to be finishing the MBA program. It's been a fun, long journey, but I'm excited for my next steps. I am not quite sure what they are yet, but I am excited for the future, especially the ability to read what I want to again.

Well, as promised KD, here's a blog from a guest blogger, and friend of mine, Brian Brecheisen. He's a Power Systems Engineer at Nucor Steel. We met during my in-residence course, and have been fast friends. We figured out that we are both from Northern Indiana, and were at a time, both engineers. He was also my roommate for the Washington Campus for Public Policy experience. For the guest blog, I asked him to share some information about himself, and his experiences in the KD program. I have listed his information below. Happy Reading!

Name: Brian Brecheisen

Time in the KD Program: 20 months, started in February 2010

Occupation: Electrical Power Systems Engineer at Nucor Steel

Location: Blytheville, AR

Degree Program: MBA/MSSM Dual Degree

Why did you choose KD?
I, first, learned of KD from friend from my undergraduate college, Rose-Hulman.  He told me about how flexible the program was and all of the interesting people he had met and worked with in the program.  Also, I was familiar with KD because the Kelley School has a great reputation in the Midwest.

Key Experiences in the KD program.
I really enjoyed both in residence courses.  The first year was great because we all got to meet before our program really got started.  I was able to build on my relationships in the first year by working with those individuals in some class projects.  The second year was even more enjoyable because we all got to reconnect after working together for a year. 
Another great experience was the course in Public Policy, which I attended in Washington DC in September.  This was a very interesting course which I would recommend to everyone.  Emery and Michelle have already discussed this course at length, so I will not bore you with the details.

Any other thoughts for people considering joining the KD family?
The most important thing to consider is that you have to be very disciplined to stick to the work on your own.  No one is going to be there making sure you read the material and attend the Breeze sessions.  Also, it is very important to have a strong support structure in your personal life.  I would not be nearing the end of the program without my wife.  She has been very supportive and I think that is as important as anything.

Well, KD, that's Brian! He's another great member of the KD family. Until next time, catch you later!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Washington Campus Experience, Pt. 2 - 2, My Other Adventures in Washington

Well, KD fans, here’s pt. 2 of the 2nd installment in my Washington Campus Experience – my other Adventures in Washington.

I think in any trip, especially a class trip such as this one, the networking and social times are just as important as the actual education. It is through those that we make the connections that we remember well beyond the actual classwork. Moreover, those are the memories that you laugh about much later, after the fact.

As I reminisce on my Washington Campus experience, there are 2 stories that I believe that I will always remember fondly at – the Quest for Crabs and the March to Georgetown. Each of these titles represents a great story that I will share with you.

The Quest for Crabs
In the summer of 2008, I had a life changing experience that affected me on multiple levels. First, I participated in the National Housing Training Institute (NHTI), which was a highly revered conference for young professionals in housing to insight needed to understand what it took to become a Chief Housing Officer. This was monumental, because it was at this conference I realized that housing wasn’t going to be my long term career path, which ultimately led me to applying to the KD program.

Second, I had my first positive interaction with eating crab legs. NHTI, at that time, took place in Baltimore. During our free day, I was able to go to an Orioles game at Camden Yards, and experience true seafood for the first time. While I have been in all contiguous 48 states, I had really only eating seafood while at home in the Midwest. It was based upon these eating experiences that I decided that I didn’t like crab legs. However, during NHTI, I was introduced to Phillips, a high quality seafood buffet, found only on the east coast. Suffice to say, this experience changed my eating ballet for life.

As things go, this was my first trip back to the Mid-Atlantic, since that faithful trip in the summer of 2008; and my only goal, outside of getting an A in the class, and making some new friends, was to get some high quality crab legs. Fortunately, Brian and Lilia, my new BFFs, were down for the adventure. I am especially appreciative that Brian was, as he hates seafood, lol… However, during the first two days of the class, I was on a wild hunt for crab legs, consulting everyone in our class with D.C. ties, from the teacher, to Syd (our class liaison), to my fellow classmates. While my passion for finding good crabs was equal parts humorous and interesting for most my classmates, I was finally able to get some good recommendations for locations.

In the end, however, Brian, Lilia, and I, were able to find a Phillips restaurant in D.C.!! Getting there was quite the challenge, as we had to figure out which Metro stop to take, walk across an expressway entrance, and under a viaduct to get there. Even more during the trip, we found out that rent for some D.C. properties is $4200/month, depending on whether you live. But, I was able to feast on a full bucket of crab legs, or as I refer to them, heaven in my mouth.

The March to Georgetown
A common occurrence for our class was coordinating dinner schedules. With so many people who were not from Georgetown, there was often comfort found in eating with folks from the class in some of the great D.C. eateries. Moreover, it was truly over meals that we were able to get to know one another, talk about our experiences in our respective MBA programs, and/or debrief from some of the more amazing experiences that we shared throughout the day. Often, after coordinating dinner schedules, there was the enviable coordination of social activities. Throughout the course of the week, classmates wanted to see the sights of D.C., hang out with friends or alums, meet D.C. insiders, etc… So, it would regularly happen that either during lunch, or at the end of class, the same question was regularly bandied about, “What are you doing tonight?”

On this particular night, Brian, Lilia, myself, and two of our colleagues from the class decided that we wanted to go to Georgetown, a neighborhood in D.C., where we were supposed to me another large group of people from our class. I wasn’t sure what was there, but everyone else was jazzed, so was I. Initially, we contemplated taking a cab, as was our normal practice. But, since our group was too large to fit in one cab, and we thought that D.C. was only about a mile and a half away from where we were. We decided to walk. We were told the directions were simple, walk a half a mile down to the White House, turn right, and it’s about a mile. We would never know just how wrong we were… But, we did as the directions said; we walked down to the White House, turned right, and kept walking.

About a mile and a half into our trek, we were talking through Foggy Bottom and passed a CVS, where I had to stop because I was out of gum. (I love fresh breath, what can I say?) After we each made our purchases, I asked a police officer outside the store, how much further until we reach Georgetown. We informed him that we were walking, based upon some directions from a friend; he, then (and I might remember this moment forever), laughed very hard and said, “oh, you have a couple more miles”, which was met with our horror. We made the startling revelation that while we had already walked 15 blocks; we needed to walk another 20 to hit our mark. Of course, this was met with indignation and horror, and we immediately began working to find a cab that would fit us, which of course, would not come. And so we continued, walking to and past the George Washington University campus, through Washington Park, and eventually into Georgetown, which is quite a nice neighborhood.

After walking 3 hours, 4 miles, in clothes and shoes not meant for such a hike, we, then, found that our large party wasn’t coming. But, since we were already there, and none of us wanted to admit that we walked this way for nothing, we explored some of Georgetown’s finest establishments. In the end, we found out two things – one, the trek really could have been only a mile and a half, we took the looooonng way, and two, that it was only a 10 minute walk from a Metro stop. But, it was an experience that will live on forever in humor, at least for me, now.
Well, KD fam… I hope that you found some humor in those two great experiences. For, our next installment, I am going to talk about what happened after the class was over. Until next time, catch you later!!

The Washington Campus Experience, Pt. 2 - 1, The Day at the Capitol

What’s up KD!! Well, in our last conversation, I was starting to tell you about my trip to Washington D.C., for the Washington Campus for Public Policy. Well, I figured that I would keep telling you about my experience – today’s addition is broken into two parts – the Day at the Capitol and other Adventures in Washington. First, up the Day at the Capitol.

As a part of the Washington Campus experience, we spent a day at the U.S. Capitol Hill. During the day, we met with current and former congressmen and their congressional staff, attended a hearing for either the Senate or the House, and visited the Supreme Court. It was a long, but extremely powerful day. (I have weaved pictures in, so that you can see some of the places that we went… Thank you Lilia for letting me use some of your pictures!!)

Our day started by going to the U.S. Capitol, where we met with Ohio Congressmen Sherrod Brown, and a member of his congressional staff, Marjorie Glick. It was definitely both interesting and eye-opening. I think the most interesting educational lesson from the session was developing an understanding the divided nature of a Congressman’s position. On one hand, he has to serve his constituents in his home district, wherever that is – from Maryland, to Michigan, to California, and everything in between. However, they also have to be in Washington, so that they can make the right connections to get something done. Moreover, they have to be in proper balance, because by leaning to one side too much, will get you skewered by the other side.

I think the second most interesting education lesson was the importance of a good congressional staff. In fact, as a person who used to work in education, I often would get excited for students as they would describe their experiences working for their local congressperson. However, what I learned is that those college interns, who grow up to be congressional staffers, are often the most powerful people on the Hill. They actually control access to the respective congressperson, as they control his/her schedule.

We, then, were assigned to sit in on Senate Hearings during the day. I, unknowingly, actually chose the most important hearing of the day – the Super Committee’s first hearing regarding the budget. It was fascinating to hear each of the politicians say the same things, while sending subtle jabs at one another.

I think the final most powerful lesson from the entire day was the shared frustrations of those in Washington, with our governmental process. It was truly intriguing to get an insider’s perspective on just why Congress and President Obama aren’t able to get anything done. The reasons ranged from a lack of trust, to the lack of concern for re-election, even to an unwillingness to listen to another viewpoint from your own. In all cases, however, it was relieving to see that the Washington insiders that we met with were just as frustrated about the current events, as the American public seems to be.

But, I would be remiss, if I didn’t include some of the cool pictures from places we were able to see while at the Capitol. I have included pictures of the Supreme Court (outside, not inside – no pictures on the inside!!) , the original Liberty, which is outside of Union Station in Washington, D.C., and the World War II Memorial.