Cornell stresses immersion trainingEvery student accepted into the investment banking curriculum at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management becomes a fund manager. It’s an immersion course, and all 250 students suffer massive amounts of stress as they invest millions of dollars in various corporations.
Some students’ portfolios were devastated after stock prices crashed following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. More recently, students who invested in Boeing and Northrop Grumman, shouted for joy when the United States launched the war against Iraq.
But even if a student went bankrupt after investing in Enron, he didn’t have to deal with the loss. After all, it was just a mock investment. But he did have to contend with a big, fat “F” on his report card.
There are no “how to” guidelines in the investment banking curriculum. Students must keep abreast of the market to manage the funds. There is one professor for every three students, checking on each student’s investments.
“Mastery through experience” is the school’s motto. Its programs and environment emphasize hands-on training and collaboration. The Johnson School’s immersion learning program, which was launched in 1999, strives to train students in real-life situations.
“I trained at Merck, the U.S. pharmaceutical company,” says ABN Amro Bank’s assistant director Kim Seok-hyeon. “I participated in projects that determined whether Merck should invest in a new medicine or not.”
There are six MBA programs at the Johnson School: managerial finance, investment banking, entrepreneurship and private equity, manufacturing, strategic brand management and research, sales and trading. The school hires professionals from each field to make sure their curriculums are in tune with reality.
The Johnson School also has a 12-month MBA program for students earning masters degrees in science or engineering. In addition, the Johnson School offers dual degrees in human resources, real-estate studies and law.
Cornell, one of America’s Ivy League schools, is based in Ithaca, New York. The woods, valleys and lake surrounding the school are magnificent. Niagara Falls is about two hours from the campus by car.
One of the places of interest near Cornell is the Statler Hotel. This 150-room hotel is managed by Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration. The hotel is another way to provide hands-on experience for students. This is a top-tier facility, charging $150 (178,500 won) a night. The room occupancy rate is 82 percent.
Cornell founded the United States’ first graduate school of hotel administration; it has always been the best. It’s another example of Cornell’s emphasis on real-life education.
The Johnson School tries to provide a variety of experiences for business students, and has exceptional concern for women and minorities. It considers cultural diversity in the admissions process, and even has a separate office for women’s and minority admissions.
“I never felt any discrimination because I was a minority,” says Kim Jin-won, the managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston’s Seoul branch. “The school teaches students to respect cultural diversity.”
About 70 Koreans have graduated from the Johnson School. Among them: AmorePacific president Seo Gyeong-bae, Samyang Genex managing director Kim Jeong and Taekwang president Lee Ho-jin.
Graduates in finance include Jang Deuk-su, the Apgujeong branch manager of Shin-young Securities, and Kim Byeong-su, the advisory director of Sitkim Investments. Shilla hotel president Lee Man-su and Haitai Confectionary & Foods president Cha Seok-yong are graduates.
“Cornell graduates are known for acting before talking,” says Mr. Cha. “No matter what we do, we tend to emphasize actual benefits over obligations.”
The attachment that Cornell graduates feel is extraordinary. They have made $3.4 billion dollars in endowments to the university.
The Johnson School itself has an endowment of more than $115 million.
Cornell graduates often want their children to go to the school, one reason why they donate so much money. Alumni view it as an investment in the school that their children may one day attend.
The Johnson School’s Korean alumni have similarly given substantial amounts of money to the school.
The relationship between the Johnson School and its Korean alumni is very close. High-ranking people from the school, including its dean, visit Korea regularly. They come looking for prospective students and to promote the Johnson School’s graduates to employers.
The Johnson School was founded in 1946. It admits just 250 students each year.
It’s small by design. The personal scale gives students an opportunity to get to know their professors and develop long-lasting relationships.
That’s one of the reasons that the alumni meet so often in the United States.
The Korean alumni meet every quarter. They recall their experiences at the Johnson School and exchange information. Small groups within the same class often gather for activities such as golf.
The alumni are also active in providing information about the school and in conducting interviews of students who want to go to the Johnson School.
by Lim Young-ju