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From College Street to Wall Street
What business do Obies have in business?

Business Scholars on Wall Street: (Front row) Kimberly Betz and Wendy Miller of the Office of Career Services, Andrew Roebuck, David Kwakye, Ozlem Akcakoca. (Row 2) Evelyne White, Joe Collura, Hang Do. (Row 3) Ananya Balaram, Mami Suzuki, Shiv Chaudhary. (Back row) Kevin Jackson, Ryan Herring, Ben VanCouvering.

Twelve young men and women in dark suits sit around a conference table in the Carnegie Building, focusing intently on Darcy Robinson Foley’s discussion of growth strategies at an imaginary ice-cream purveyor called “Delectable Delights.”

According to the case study that Foley has compiled and passed around the table, Delectable Delights has enjoyed extraordinary local success and is eager to increase its sales and profitability. Should the company consider expanding distribution to new locations? Should it contemplate broadening its products, perhaps with new holiday-targeted flavors or a lactose-free line?

Her attentive listeners begin to debate the possibilities. How will the company keep a firm grip on quality control at new stores? Can the company engineer modify existing equipment to produce lactose-free ice cream, or will Delectable Delights have to invest in new machinery? Suddenly, Foley ’92, the manager of accounting at the Solo Cup Company in Chicago, breaks in.

“I just want to say that this is great,” she says. “This is the kind of discussion that takes place at tables and in boardrooms all across the country.”

Meet the inaugural group of Oberlin Business Scholars—the participants of a wildly successful winter-term program launched this year by the offices of Career Services and Development and Alumni Affairs. For four frenzied weeks in January, the students toughed out an intense introduction to the world of business by means of workshops and site visits with Oberlin alumni in the private sector. In Cleveland and New York, more than 40 alumni volunteers helped guide the group through the intricate workings of mergers and acquisitions, hedge funds, and venture capital while also delving into the more general topics of accounting, consulting, and public relations.

Some of the alums brought props to drive home their lessons—such as the M&Ms used by Liam Stokes ’84 in an exercise emulating futures trading—while others led the students through the paces of an actual business case. To showcase their newfound knowledge, the scholars, divided into four teams, delivered end-of-the-month PowerPoint presentations analyzing real-life business moves made by Starbucks and other companies. “It was incredibly rewarding to watch the students discuss these concepts professionally and comfortably,” says Director of Internships Kimberly Betz, coordinator of the program. “I was also moved by the bonding that occurred among the students—I foresee lots of Oberlin Business Scholars reunions in the future.”

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