The College of Management’s Graduate Business School Hosts Three, Student-Lead Information Sessions

By Anna G. Szczebak

Do you want to learn the ins and outs of UMass Boston’s Graduate College of Management? Well, who better to turn to than the experts themselves: current students. On March 22, April 12, and April 19, College of Management Graduate students invited prospective students to join them for three virtual information sessions, Why UMass Boston?, Work/Life and Grad School Balance, and MBA/Master’s Programs Explained.

Moderator Anna Szczebak (MBA), and panelists Jack Li (MBA), Priya Padhiyar (MSBA), Valentino Palmieri (MSF), Joshua Fried (MBA), and Arsalan Siddique (MBA), share personal experiences from their respective programs.

 If you missed these panels, watch the recordings on the College of Management website or read below for a brief snapshot of each.

Why UMass Boston?

 The panelists covered affordability, diversity, programs and specializations, degree flexibility, networking opportunities, student resources, and more.

Attendees learned that UMass Boston is the third most diverse university in the country. This impressive statistic shows just how dedicated UMass Boston is to living out their mission and values.

Arsalan shares his perspective, saying, “It’s really a diverse campus. As an international student, it’s interesting to see diversity like that. It’s a respectful and inclusive environment. Diversity plays an important role in your education.”

A poll conducted during the event showed that 75% of attendees consider affordability an important factor in their grad school decision.

“Coming from a family of immigrants, affordability was very important to me. That’s why I chose UMass Boston,” shares Jack.

 Work/Life and Grad School Balance

 This balance is an important component of graduate school. And, admittedly, not always an easy one to maintain. The panelists give realistic depictions of how they manage to go to school and work full-time while still balancing family, friends, and fun. They touch on topics such as UMass Boston’s flexible degree programs, time management skills, and tips and tricks for coping with heavy course loads.

“Being in school and working full-time has enhanced my time management skills. It has helped me become a better version of myself and a better professional because I am exposed to all these different challenges,” says Arsalan.

MBA/Masters Programs Explained

 Maybe you already know which program you want to pursue. Or perhaps you’re deciding between more than one. Either way, this panel gives a valuable, insider look into the nitty-gritty of UMass Boston’s MBA, MS degrees, and certificate programs.

Josh touches on the flexibility of the MBA program, saying, “You can customize the course load that works for you. There isn’t a wrong way to do it. There is a temptation to get it done all at once, and there is a one-year option, but it depends on the person. I encourage you to pursue the option that works best for you, whether it’s full-time, part-time, online, or in person.”

Graduate College of Management Students Launch the Bloomberg Trading Challenge

By Anna G. Szczebak

A group of driven, UMass Boston students have organized the Bloomberg Trading Challenge (BTC), the only university investment competition to take place entirely within the Bloomberg Terminal. Bloomberg is a global company dedicated to connecting decision makers with accurate data and insights about the financial market. Its platform, the Bloomberg Terminal, is used by asset managers and policy architects in business, finance, and government all around the world.

Members of UMass Boston’s Graduate Student Managed Fund, Brian Walker (MSF) and Valentino Palmieri (MSF), alongside Laura Rodriguez, a member of UMass Boston’s Undergraduate Student Managed Fund, are working together to organize, launch, and run this challenge.

With the help of PhD candidates, Hugh Qiu and Faraz Moghimi, the group recruited nineteen teams from UMass Boston, Clark University, and Bryant University. Each team has been given remote access to the Bloomberg Lab, an on-campus center for the Bloomberg Terminal, at their respective universities. Over a period of seven weeks, from March 8 to April 23, each team will invest $1 million into US equities. The three teams with the highest return on investment (ROI), will present their findings to BTC participants and various professionals in the finance industry.

“Many finance students couldn’t get internships this past year due to COVID-19. Because of this, BTC is a valuable opportunity. It gives students a chance to learn the same skills they would have in a finance internship. Participants gain experience outside of the standard classroom setting and practice navigating the Bloomberg Terminal, a resource that is heavily utilized in the finance industry. BTC also adds to the participant’s portfolio of professional skills, improving their communication and research abilities,” explained Brian.

The College of Management’s Graduate Program Celebrates an Increase in Women Enrollment

By Anna G. Szczebak

Women are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic with a career advantage. Despite challenges presented by the pandemic, more women are pursuing graduate business degrees. A survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) shows that the number of female applicants to graduate business programs has increased from 41% in 2019 to 60% in 2020.

UMass Boston’s College of Management (CM) graduate program is proud to contribute to this trend. Recent increases in women enrollment have reduced the gender gap in the University’s classrooms. During the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021, 52% of new CM grad students were women and 48% were men, a 10% increase from prior years.

Overall, considering both new and returning CM students at UMass Boston, the gender split is just about equal, with 49% women and 51% men.

“In this rapidly changing marketplace, we are seeing more women entering and advancing in the workforce, growing in various industries, and looking to enrich their professional and personal lives by pursuing an advanced business degree.  Women see graduate business education as a smart investment in their future, and a high percentage have leveraged their MBA or business degree to make an impact,” says Barbara Benoit, Director of Graduate Enrollment and Strategic Outreach at UMass Boston.

Barbara also attributes this increase to the growing flexibility of CM’s grad programs. Online and hybrid course offerings promote a sustainable work/life and graduate school balance not just for women, but for all.  Further, Barbara states that colleges and universities have increasingly supported women through both on and off-campus initiatives, leading to a surge in women enrollment. For example, UMass Boston’s Women Beacons in Business Program offers career and personal development programs to the University’s diverse student body. The program is dedicated to educating future leaders about equality in the workplace and taking steps to ensure fairness and equal opportunities for everyone.

Students in the MSF Program Participate in the 2020 CFA Institute Research Challenge

By Anna G. Szczebak

The CFA Institute Research Challenge isn’t a competition for the faint of heart. Four UMass Boston students in the Masters of Finance (MSF) program, Valentino Palmieri, Jasmine Shukla, Tu Mai, and Phuong Tran, formed a team and participated in the 2020 round of this competition. They used their analytical, valuation, report writing, and presentation skills to assume the role of research analysts for a real-world company and compete against students from other major, Boston-based universities.

This competition is a global one, focused on financial analysis and professional ethics. Teams first compete in a local level competition. Winning groups move on to sub-regional, regional, national, and international rounds. Valentino, Jasmine, Tu, and Phuong had the opportunity to work with Rapid7, a cybersecurity and compliance solutions company. After a meeting with company executives, the UMass Boston team took matters into their own hands. Under the guidance of Mark Rye and UMass Boston Professor KoEun Park, they performed in-depth research and wrote a twenty-page paper on the A to Z operations of Rapid 7, including a complete financial analysis and recommendations for future action. Their hard work paid off, and the team advanced to the Boston finals, presenting their research to a panel of judges from the CFA society.

Valentino, Jasmine, Tu, and Phuong speak highly of their experience in the CFA Institute Research Challenge. The competition has not only instilled the group with a sense of confidence in their abilities but allowed them to put the concepts they’ve learned in the MSF program to practical use.

“I am extremely grateful for all the professors and mentors that put trust in me and the entire team. I am also grateful for my team members, who were supportive and helpful throughout the competition. A big thank you to Professor Park and Mark Rye for always being available to help and guide us. This competition was such a great learning opportunity and a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Jasmine Shukla.

5 Tips to Improve Your Appearance on Zoom

By Anna G. Szczebak

Since UMass Boston is 100% remote this semester, it’s important to be well versed in using Zoom. Follow this guide to learn how to look your best during remote classes and how to be easily seen and heard by professors and classmates.

  1. Insert a virtual background

Tired of having a plain wall or a cramped home office behind you during Zoom classes? Zoom’s virtual background feature allow your face to be visible, while covering anything behind you with a photo of your choice.

  1. Touch up your appearance

It’s difficult to find the motivation to get ready for virtual classes – so let Zoom get ready for you. When you activate Zoom’s “Touch up my appearance” feature, Zoom applies a filter that smooths your skin and gives you a polished look.

  1. Optimize the lighting in your environment

Don’t let bad lighting make you look like a shadow on the screen. Position yourself near window to improve your video quality with soft, natural light. Overhead light fixtures or lamps, that evenly illuminate your face, are the next best thing. However, if you can’t be picky about your environment, consider purchasing LED light bulbs or a ring light.

  1. Position your camera 2.5 feet away and at eye level

Your classmates want to see a close-up image of your nose even less than you want to show them. Position your camera 2.5 feet away so your whole face is visible from the shoulders up. This allows body language and hand gestures, as well as your facial expressions, to be easily interpreted.

Positioning your camera at eye level will appear the most natural. You can place your computer on a shoebox or on a stack of books for a simple and free way to elevate your camera. You could also invest in a laptop stand that holds your computer securely and allows you to easily adjust the height and angle of your camera.

  1. Adjust your background noise settings

Is your dog barking in the background? No problem. Zoom settings can be adjusted to reduce the level of background noise that can be heard when your mic is on.

Additional resources:


College of Management Alumni Participate in Boston University’s Diversity Forum

By: Anna G. Szczebak

UMass Boston’s College of Management Graduate Program was proud to watch three esteemed alumni represent the college and serve as panelists at Boston University’s Diversity in Business: Boston Area Graduate Admission Forum. Eight universities and various organizations in the Boston area participated in a mix of panels and networking sessions on February 16 and 17.

Neggin Rostamnezhad, a 2019 graduate of UMass Boston’s MBA program and current Human Resources Associate at Boston Properties, discussed how to leverage an MBA to make an impact. She emphasized how valuable it is to be in a classroom with people from different walks of life. Neggin strongly urged MBA students to take these relationships outside of the classroom, to pick people’s brains and ask questions. The most underused characteristic of an MBA, she elaborated, is the connections you make and the relationships you form.

Aderonke Odewale is a Double Beacon who participated in UMass Boston’s 4+1 program, receiving her bachelor’s degree and MSA in five years. She graduated in 2017 and works as Finance Associate at Bain Capital. AderonkeAderonke participates in a panel discussion discussed how to best navigate business spaces as a person of color. She recommends taking a deep dive into the company to assess its diversity before accepting a job offer. This involves more than just looking at diversity statistics published on the company website. Do thorough research and talk to current employees to get a clear, truthful picture of the organization.

Daniel Garcia-Decoteau, another Double Beacon and a 2017 graduate of Danny Participating in a panel with fellow MBA students.UMass Boston’s MBA Program, works as a Systems Administrator at Emerson College. He also discussed how to best navigate business spaces as a person of color. Daniel stressed how important it is to work for a diverse company. Doing so helped him become more successful by improving his confidence and allowing him to make real, genuine connections in the workplace.




How Do You Learn Best?

Many students and most effective educators recognize that individuals retain knowledge best when using differing techniques. Specific techniques can be grouped into “Learning Styles”. Some students find that they have a dominant style of learning, while others might determine that they use multiple styles depending upon the circumstances. Once you recognize what learning styles work best for you, it enables you to enhance the speed and quality of your studies in addition to understanding yourself and others in work, family and relationships. In a study about learning styles, Aranya Srijongjai noted that “According to the Memletics model, everyone has a mix of learning styles, and learning styles are not fixed (, 2003).

There are 7 categories of Learning Styles:

Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.

Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.

Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.

Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.

Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.


The most widely accepted model of learning styles is called the VARK model:

Visual (spacial) learners learn best by seeing.

Auditory (aural) learners learn best by hearing.

Reading/writing learners learn best by reading and writing.

Kinesthetic (physical) learners learn best by moving and doing.

No matter what theory your learning styles fall under, knowing your individual “best practices” will help make your overall learning more successful.

UMass Boston offers courses in multiple modalities to fit your schedule and desired learning environment, we encourage you to reach out for more information!

Staying Connected

Though social media platforms seem to have begun somewhat frivolously as a way to explore whether your favorite college classmate was single, or a more efficient way to share videos taken at the San Diego Zoo, today, these communication avenues have nearly infinite possibilities.

Facebook has transitioned from a college networking facilitator to a channel with 600 million users and over 2.32 billion active monthly users. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) now report that they are Facebook users (Pewinternet, 2018). Social media has in essence changed the way we exist.

Statistics from 2019 note that there are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide. That equates to about 45% of the current population (Emarsys, 2019). 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers are active social media users (Emarketer, 2019). 3 hours are spent per day, per person on social networks and messaging (Globalwebindex, 2019). The shift in communication, specifically via social media presents opportunities for businesses and consumers who are looking to talk to you, and each other.

With all of this comes the growing importance of staying connected, understanding what resonates within ourselves, our teams and our consumers. Effective communication is key to success in our daily lives and in today’s society, much of that is done online.

Be sure to subscribe for the most up to date information on what’s happening at UMass Boston, College of Management.

Is It Worth It?

Starting Graduate Business School is a big jump. In faith, financial investment and effort. Your time is a precious commodity; it’s important to consider all aspects before making the leap. Eagerness and determination to push forward, often commiserates with salary increase, career growth and expansion of your personal and professional identity.

MBA courses encourage students to hone their skills in resolving business challenges. Ultimately, this fosters students becoming more innovative and equipped with the tools needed to lead successfully.

Mike Catania, reflected, one of the major reasons for attending Business School was an aspiration to expand his network. “I got exactly what I wanted – access to brilliant classmates and faculty that I would never have encountered on my own. It’s difficult to ascribe a value to that, but I look at it as only temporarily intangible – the relationships forged over the next few years will positively affect my opportunities as an entrepreneur moving forward.”

A 2018 report on the financial return on investment for an MBA, shows the long-term profit. Notably, within 10 years of earning an MBA degree, the average  graduate had an estimated decade-long return on investment of $390,751, even after subtracting the tuition and opportunity costs. The average MBA salary varies according to concentration. According to a 2016 study by Poets & Quants, some graduates made close to twice as much as others based on the field entered.

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) conducts research reports on how graduates from business schools rate their experience during and after school. Their 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report notes that 95% of MBAs heralded their degree as good, excellent, or outstanding value. More than four out of five reported that their expectations from their education were met. Further, 93% of alumni would in fact pursue a graduate management degree if they had to do it all over again.

UMass Boston, College of Management is currently accepting applications for the MBA Summer and Fall, 2020 semesters. We’re available to support getting over that next hurdle in your career.


Productivity is defined as the efficient use of resources in the production of various goods and services. Higher productivity means accomplishing more with the same amount of resources or achieving higher output in terms of volume and quality from the same input. The pressure to execute is more prevalent than ever before.

Many of us translate being productive into the need to keep moving; in perpetuity. As this idea is perpetuated by social media and competitive professional arenas, many find themselves busy for the wrong reasons. Research indicates that only 26% of people often leave the office having accomplished the tasks they set out to do.  People may feel productive due to the level of activity, yet they aren’t truly making much headway.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, the best way to increase productivity is to infuse your schedule with balance so that when the time comes to work, you are fresh and ready to go, rather than feeling overly stressed or anxious. 

We encourage you to continue to fill your toolbox with skills that support the opportunities to work smarter, not harder.


Smart Communication


Active Listening; mindfully hearing and attempting to understand the meaning of words spoken by another. An invaluable business skill that should be honed by everyone.

In their Harvard Business Review article “Leadership Is a Conversation,” Groysberg and Slind state: Leaders who take organizational conversation seriously know when to stop talking and start listening. Few behaviors enhance conversational intimacy as much as attending to what people say. True attentiveness signals respect for people of all ranks and roles, a sense of curiosity, and even a degree of humility.

This means that we’re not only focusing, but showing verbal and non-verbal signs that we’re engaged. Smiles, eye contact, attentive posture and mirroring, are all ways to express that you’re in-it to win-it, with the speaker.

As studies point out, that  we spend 70 to 80 percent of our waking hours in some form of communication, and of that time, 45 percent is spent listening. We all want to know, that in some capacity, what we’ve got to share is important and useful. Having the skill to deliver that to your peers and colleagues, to your potential clients, to that future employer- is an step in the best direction.

21st Century Skills

Communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity; the backbone of the 21st Century Skill Set. Employers are increasingly in search of candidates with technical expertise paired with interpersonal skills. The technical tools can often be acquired on the job, but the “soft skills” are more challenging to get right.  Recent data in the Financial Times 2018 Skills Gap Study reflects that soft skills, were rated as “most important” by 64 percent of respondents.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Lou Solomon reports that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees.

Throughout your business school experience, you’ll have the opportunity to build these skills as you work on group projects and interact with mentors. The collegiate experience also assist in honing additional skills:

Problem solving


Analytic thinking



Ethics, action, and accountability

Reach out to the College of Management, Graduate Programs team to take the first step in building your 21st Century Skill Set.