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Alumni in Action

Business Casual: September 2019

By Alumni Relations

September 25, 2019

Welcome to the first edition of Business Casual. Every other month, the Wisconsin School of Business will bring you a digest of news and features that can help you stay informed about the School and gain insights that can enhance your career.

An informal but informative newsletter for WSB alumni and friends

Dean Vallabh “Samba” Sambamurthy with new Business Badgers in Grainger Hall
Dean Vallabh “Samba” Sambamurthy joined approximately 1,000 new Business Badgers in Grainger Hall on September 3. Undergraduate growth continues at WSB, with approximately 3,200 BBA students enrolled this year, up from 1,791 ten years ago. Photo by Paul L. Newby II

 The Briefing

finger to make a choice

More choice is always better, right? Maybe not

Who does the best job choosing your health care plan? You? Your employer? Your dog? That choice is a big, confusing mess, WSB Associate Professor Justin Sydnor says on the Freakonomics podcast. Sydnor’s research, also cited in The New York Times, shows most people don’t make the rational choice when given options among low-deductible plans and the more economical high-deductible plans, so maybe it’s options that are the problem.


The newest Business Badger: Dean Sambamurthy

He’s mastered the throwing of the ‘W,’ exchanged high fives with Bucky, learned an awful lot of names, and moved into his office at Grainger Hall. Now it’s time for Dean Vallabh “Samba” Sambamurthy to get down to business. The new dean started at the beginning of August.


Professor Graaskamp still making a mark in Madison

The late James A. Graaskamp, legendary real estate professor and scholar, had an impact that has long loomed large on the UW-Madison campus. Now, the city of Madison will share in his legacy. A new 44-unit affordable housing building in Madison will be named The Graaskamp. Its accessible design is a tribute to Graaskamp, who was stricken by polio at age 17 and used a wheelchair.


Back to School

What is business analytics
(and why is it important to learn)?

Associate Professors Dani Bauer and Jordan Tong, who helped design the curriculum for the WSB’s new MS degree in business analytics, weigh in:

Business is changing rapidly, and the proliferation of data is driving that change. So it is not surprising that business education is also changing to include the important and emerging field of business analytics.

In a nutshell, business analytics refers to the process of applying a combination of quantitative (statistical) methods and technologies to transform data into better decisions and, ultimately, value creation in an enterprise. It’s not just analyzing data—it’s putting data to work. That work is descriptive (“What happened?”), predictive (“What might happen?”), and prescriptive (“Now what?”). With business analytics, a company can go from data to decisions, and a business analytics student can go from the classroom to real-world success in a number of fields.

icon of a check box and a pen

Tip Sheet

Heading back to Madison? Haven’t been here for a while? If you’re coming for Homecoming or planning a trip with friends or family, consider these insider tips from local Business Badgers:

“There are lots of new venues to explore in Madison. Be sure to go to a concert at The Sylvee or take in a Forward Madison FC (soccer) game at Breese Stevens Field. No matter how you spend your day, the grand finale to your adventure should always be a scoop of Babcock ice cream―or two!”

Renee Moe (BA ’99, MBA ’08), president and CEO of the United Way of Dane County

“Check out Madison’s thriving food scene and our James Beard Award honorees: Dan Fox at Heritage Tavern, Dan Bonanno at Pig in a Fur Coat, Tory Miller at L’Etoile, or Tami Lax at Harvest. If you need some exercise after that, you can cruise the city on an e-bike through Trek’s BCycle public bicycle-sharing program”

Jeff Haupt (BBA ’95), owner of Red Card Media and publisher of Isthmus newspaper

“Macha Tea Company is the perfect spot to recharge on a weekend afternoon. Sidle up to the tea bar, choose from their high quality tea selection and order a homemade matcha red bean cupcake. Natt Spil appeals to foodie explorers with its menu that ranges from dim sum to wood-fired pizzas. Robinia Courtyard―a coffee shop, bar, and restaurant―has the best patio in Madison.”

Nimi Ehr (MBA ’20), longtime Madison resident

Alumni Calendar

Sept. 25: Alumni Webinar: “Mastering the Power of Influence”
Oct. 2: Dean Samba’s Alumni Tour: Chicago
Oct. 11-12: Homecoming
Oct. 22: Dean Samba’s Alumni Tour: Minneapolis
Oct. 24: Business Analytics Industry Meetup
Oct. 29: Dean Samba’s Alumni Tour: San Francisco
Nov. 19: Tele-Town Hall with Dean Samba (phone in from anywhere; details to come)

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. Questions or comments? Email