Student Profile: Summer Venture
John Eng í09
Summer internship: Sears Holdings
Iíve got a lot of family members in medicine. My parents are doctors; aunts and uncles are doctors. I was thinking about medicine, but then the business bug got me. After college I went to work for Cambridge Associates, which I liked because you get to advise endowments and foundations. After four great years there, I was looking to broaden my skill set and an MBA seemed like a good bet. I talked to a lot of my bosses and they suggested I look at Yale because it was a good place not just for business, but for society.
Soon after starting here, I did an exercise with the Career Development Office on my core values. A major reason I came back to school is that I wanted to see how businesses are run. I wanted to get the kind of experience not possible when youíre a consultant. The CDO pointed me in the direction of Sears for a summer internship. Sears isnít exactly a sexy company. But itís run by Eddie Lampert, a hedge fund manager who wants to completely transform the company. What heís doing is a melding of finance with the retail world. After looking closely at Sears, I realized this is a great opportunity.
They gave me a marketing project, initially, with two other SOM students, focused on improving the customer experience. But I was also interested in finance, so I suggested that Sears create a venture capital arm. Itís becoming more common for big corporations ó McDonaldís, Intel, even Best Buy. Sears had the money to do it, and when I suggested it to my boss, he said I should look into it. I had no experience starting a venture capital fund, but I set out looking at notes from my Investor class and did some discounted cash flow analyses, and I created all these little models. I put it all together with a big feasibility study, looking at the proposal from all the angles Iíd learned in the Yale curriculum ó customer, employee, investor, competitor, etc. ó and presented it to senior management. They were really impressed, but all I was really doing was putting into practice what Iíd learned at SOM.
The SOM core curriculum is built on a number of Perspectives aimed at teaching a manager to assess a problem from multiple angles. At Sears, I got to test out all my new knowledge and I was amazed how perfectly it fit into real-world situations. I got to spend some time with several executives; every two days I had a meeting with the Chief Marketing Officer; I had regular meetings with the head of Innovation. Everything I saw confirmed just how relevant the curriculum is to what managers face every day. Itís amazing how something that can seem so different in the abstract, is really so practical when you put it into action.