Babson Connect: Miami – A Working Vacation in South Florida
by Greg McQuade, M’16
Nearly two dozen Babson MBA students escaped the cold New England weather during part of their winter break by visiting Miami from January 6-8, 2016. The three-day event gave a Babson contingent of 23 students, two members of Graduate CCD (Lily Awad and Cheri Paulson), Professor Bob Turner, and Dean Will Lamb the opportunity to network and engage with South Floridian companies, Babson alumni, and prospective students.
The first night in Miami featured a networking event hosted by Grad CCD for Babson alums from the VISA – Latin America office. The cocktail hour was held at the Dolores but you can call me Lolita rooftop bar in the Brickell neighborhood of Miami. Andrea Bonaiuto (M’17 Blended Learning student) viewed the networking night as a personal highlight because it “set the tone for a great week to come.”
The second day of the trip was filled with multiple onsite company visits.
The first trek was at Windhaven Insurance. Babson MBAs met with the firm’s CEO, Jimmy Whited as well as several executives. One of Windhaven’s core values is to bring entrepreneurialism to its practice. Bonaiuto was impressed with the similarities between Windhaven and Babson’s culture, so much so that her view on the insurance industry was completely changed. She disclosed that before visiting Windhaven she would not have considered a career in insurance, but afterwards thought “I can really see myself working for an insurance company!”
The next onsite visit was at the leading management consulting firm, Accenture. The Babson crew had intimate discussions with two senior executives, one of whom is a Babson alum.
Finally, two Babson alums currently participating in the MBA Development program at Burger King Corporation discussed their varied projects to further establish the company as a leader in the evolving fast food industry.
The highlight of the trip was the 6th annual Babson Connect: Miami. It was held at the former Pan-American Airline hangar at the Grove Harbour Marina. There were over 125 attendees including students, alums, and friends of the college. In addition to individual networking, there was an informative panel on the topic of entrepreneurship in Cuba. The discussion panel was moderated by Babson Professor Kent Jones and featured input from Attorney Pedro Freyre (Akerman LLP, Chair – International Practice), Raul J. Valdes-Fauli, Sr. (Fox Rothschild LLP – Founder), and Faquiry Diaz (Tres Mares Group – President & CEO).
Before departing Friday evening, the Babson contingent made a trip to Apple’s offices in Coral Gables. In addition to demoing new Apple products, the MBAs met with senior-level employees from several departments including Marketing, Product Management, Sales and Operations, and Enterprise and Sales for Latin America. These interactions gave Babson students the chance to learn more about the product launch process at the world’s largest technology company.
Andrea Bonaiuto is one of many attendees who has remained in touch with the contacts she made in Miami and might have an opportunity to intern at one of them in either the summer or fall. She is not alone, either — a handful of attendees have been offered internships and full-time offers. Rolf Romer (M’16 – One Year) recently accepted a full-time offer from Windhaven. He will begin the executive development program during the first week of June. Rolf was satisfied with the trip because it gave him the opportunity to network with fellow Venezuelans in South Florida. “It was a great trip that was totally worth the effort of traveling to Miami.”