It was once said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Four months ago, these five people were strangers that I was convinced I had very little in common with. Today they’re five of my closest mates without whom I would not have survived the first two quarters of business school. My randomly assigned study group consists of an eclectic mix of individuals and to fully understand why we work so well together, I need to share a bit about them.
Charley is our “process guy” who lays out the group’s objective on a weekly basis. His consulting background and organizational ability keeps the group ahead of schedule.
Caroline is our in-house mathematician who believes firmly that "Math is discovered rather than invented." Her unique experience within the insurance industry has been a source of great insight during group assignments.
Duncan, a former investment banker and equities trader is keen on sharing his wide array of knowledge from the construction of aluminum smelter plants to the best ski mountains in the world.
Dan with his private equity background brings a plethora of tangible skills that have benefited every member of the group. He has earned a reputation for having a standard of perfection in everything he does but more importantly, he loves sharing his advanced modeling skills and knowledge with our group and others.
Pratyusha is our resident engineer who constructively assesses the structural and logical integrity of our group assignments. Her perspective as an engineer is characterized by a balance of conveying a bold vision blended with hues of methodical practicality.
We are six individuals from four countries—England, Nigeria, India, and the U.S.—with six different industry backgrounds, yet we have thrived by adhering to four group principles (1) Efficiency (2) Challenging each other’s opinions (3) Having fun (4) Being consistent. Fall A and Fall B were marked by two sets of notoriously rigorous core courses but within study group 45, it was a period of time remembered as having meticulous peer-to-peer learning, comically capitalizing on each other’s idiosyncrasies, and finding innovative ways to master new concepts.
As a study group, we quickly realized that the capital structure of our individual time would be the most important determinant of our study group’s success. This meant being prepared prior to every study session to analyze case assignments, make meaningful recommendations, and augment structured models.
An important strength of our group was the diversity of thought expressed during each study session. Considering that we had distinct approaches to solving problems, we constantly challenged each other to substantiate individual positions through transparency and quantifiable data. This approach helped each member hone the ability to objectively view and analyze problems. In essence, when Caroline offers a mathematical hypothesis, Dan and Duncan construct robust models, Pratyusha evaluates the logical veracity, and I validate by testing with empirical data, we can be pretty confident it was a well-executed assignment. We each valued the importance of confident humility and cherished the opportunity to learn from one another while challenging thought processes.
Creating a team environment hinged on support, humor, and commonalities ensured that our sessions were inherently fun. Our sessions usually commenced with playful banter about less than insightful class comments made by one of us, odd habits, humorous news events, or hockey. Having fun wasn’t just a byproduct of our group chemistry, it was an objective and some will argue that during the most academically demanding weeks, it diverted us from the perils of stress and enhanced the quality of our work.
We made a decision that consistently would be a hallmark of our group. Consistency in meeting, our work product, effort, and commitment to each other. We believe this was one of our most important decisions because it is one that will continue to characterize our support for one another for decades.
Emmanuel (Mark) Onyenyili is a first-year student at Tuck who has an obsession with all things marketing and branding related. Prior to Tuck, he was part of GEICO’s Emerging Leaders program, where he managed a New York Auto claims unit. At Tuck he is a student ambassador and a new co-chair of the Marketing and Brand Management Club. Emmanuel loves talking about consumers, insurance, Brooklyn and photography.