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Alumni in Action

Business Casual: May 2021

By Jane Burns

May 18, 2021

Business Casual

An informal but informative newsletter for WSB alumni and friends

Commencement ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium
Commencement ceremonies returned to Camp Randall Stadium on May 8, with separate ceremonies to award bachelor’s and graduate degrees. The ceremonies were for graduates only. Later in the evening WSB celebrated 1,087 new Business Badgers with a light show featuring each graduate’s name beamed onto the exterior of Grainger Hall, an event that was also livestreamed. Photo by Jeff Miller / UW–Madison

The Briefing

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Graduation 2021: An unusual, but successful year at WSB

In a school year when so much was different, one thing remains the same: Talented Business Badgers head toward promising futures. Meet four new members of the alumni community who reflect on their time at WSB and eagerly await what’s next.

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MBA students on the challenges of leading during a pandemic

Being a business leader during the pandemic has been challenge enough. But doing so while also in your first year of the Wisconsin Executive MBA Program? That was a different kind of challenge, but a valuable one. First-year executive MBA students reflect on challenges faced and lessons learned.

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Secret to finance success? ‘It’s the Badger thing’

Success in finance is about much more than driving profits—and WSB’s emphasis on inclusive leadership, technical skills, and collaboration sets Business Badgers apart on Wall Street and beyond. “It’s the Badger thing,” says Erwan Quintin, Nathan S. Brand Distinguished Chair in Finance. “Our students end up almost invariably impressing the heck out of their employers because of the skills they have that are a bit unusual in finance.”

The Ticker

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Back to School

Blockchain 101

From NFTs (digital art) selling for millions to China’s digital currency, blockchain technology continues to make news. But what does it all mean? Here’s a primer to some of the terms you’ve likely heard lately.

Blockchain: A digital ledger of transactions organized into “blocks” that form a chronological chain and are linked through cryptography.

Digital asset: Anything that can be stored and transmitted electronically; in blockchain that can be a cryptocurrency or real-world assets that have been digitized.

Bitcoin: The platform of the bitcoin cryptocurrency that was the first application of blockchain technology.

Ethereum: A blockchain-based platform that includes a cryptocurrency (Ether), as well as other applications such as smart contracts.

NFT: Non-fungible token, which uses blockchain to verify ownership of a digital asset (including digital art, tickets, or coupons).

DeFi: Short for “decentralized finance,” in which finance is not controlled by a central authority (government or bank) and is generally associated with a blockchain platform (such as Ethereum).

CBDC: Central bank digital currency, which essentially marries blockchain and centralized finance. China is a world leader with its digital yuan.

For more information, listen to “The Future of Money,” a UW Now livestream featuring WSB’s Brad Chandler, director of the Nicholas Center for Corporate Finance and Investment Banking.

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Tip Sheet

Summer road trips are on the horizon, as is the prospect of a commute as we return to our offices. That means it’s time to load up on podcasts, and Business Badgers suggest a few to help you learn while you pass the time.

The Daily from The New York Times for 20- to 30-minute episodes on top topics of the day. And Planet Money from NPR because they make economic topics interesting and easy to understand.”
—Linden Houghtby (BBA ’12), client services manager-international-APAC, WHR Group

WorkLife with Adam Grant. His tagline is ‘How to make work not suck.’ I always have great takeaways from his interviews and insights.”
—Jenny Patzlaff (BBA ’01), supply chain practice director at the University of Wisconsin E-Business Consortium

Thrilling Tales of Modern Capitalism on Slate. It’s a newish podcast. It delves into the origins of some well-known businesses. It’s quite informative and entertaining. They have covered Crocs, Airbnb, Kodak, GoFundMe, and more.”
—Geoff Gordon (BBA ’92), vice president-marketing, Main Concept/Endeavor

The Journal by The Wall Street Journal. They dive deeper into one top economic news story of the day.”
—Daniel Mandel (BBA ’15, MBA ’22)

Alumni Opportunities

May 19: The Business of Chocolate. Watch the inaugural “The Business of…” event, about the music industry.

June 9: Alumni Webinar: “Navigating the Digital Landscape.” Watch previous Alumni Webinars.

Job search resources: Online tools and videos to help plan a career move now or in the future.

Class Notes: Tell us what’s new in your life! Submit a Class Note to share with your fellow Business Badgers.

About Business Casual

Every other month, alumni and friends of the Wisconsin School of Business will receive insider updates with news about our alumni, faculty, students, and programs. If you want to share Business Casual with friends, they can sign up at

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