Blackstone, BlackRock and 360 Degree Reviews

I’m back from New York after meeting with executives at a lot of top Wall Street firms, both sellside and buyside.  During my meeting with Tim Coleman, Head of Blackstone’s Restructuring & Reorganization Group (and also a fellow Gaucho!), he cited the strength of Blackstone’s culture as a key asset, an asset cultivated, in part, by an annual 360 review among Blackstone employees. According to Tim, the 360 review process prevents coworkers from unfairly “dumping” work on others. Wouldn’t you think twice before unreasonably working someone until 4AM if you knew that person would have the chance to air the dirty laundry at the end of the year?  In Tim’s world (i.e. Wall Street), a 360 review seems like a great check for what sometimes can be a brutal culture.

This morning I ran across 360 reviews again while reading a great article about the rise of BlackRock.  360 reviews are an aside at the end of the article, but the mention of their use at another great firm began to make me think further about their use. Should companies include a 360 review in their annual review process? (more…)

Advice from Marshall Heinberg, Oppenheimer’s Head of Investment Banking

Some classmates and I had the chance to sit down with Marshall Heinberg, the head of Oppenheimer’s investment banking practice, for an overview of his firm and an outlook on the investment banking industry.  Mr. Heinberg’s insights were unique and bold; below are three general takeaways from our conversation.

  1. If you’re an MBA student looking to get into banking, he suggested that you consider industry versus product roles carefully.  He recommends finding a career that will provide you with a depth of non-commoditized intellectual knowledge.  I took this to mean select industry coverage over product investment banking, as industry coverage gives you the chance to develop a deep knowledge base of a particular industry, which brings me to the next great insight… (more…)

Operations: The Bullwhip Effect

Ever wonder why the semiconductor industry is cyclical?  I did.  Apparently the answer lies in a concept called the “Bullwhip Effect”, which is the notion that the standard deviation of demand is amplified up the supply chain.  In other words, if consumer demand has a standard deviation of 10, wholesaler demand standard deviation may be ~20, and manufacturer demand standard deviation may be ~30.  Below is a brief summary of the causes of the Bullwhip Effect and a few solutions to mitigate it.

Causes:

  • Order Synchronization – if many customers sync their ordering timing, volatility of supply chain increases (more…)

Interesting Startups: Flipboard, About.me, Airbnb, Greplin, Instragr.am

Call it an old habit, or an undying passion, but I constantly flip through GigaOM and TechCrunch articles in my RSS feed.  I peruse 100+ articles per week; and here are a few companies that have caught my eye over the past month: Flipboard, About.me, Airbnb.com, Greplin and Instagr.am.  I am particularly excited about Flipboard, genius, though I’m afraid that if my girlfriend sees this company it will further place me on the hook to buy her an iPad.  C’est la vie…