Owen Insights encourages collaborative learning

From the Spring 2012 edition of Vanderbilt Business

Owen Insights is a student-run series that encourages collaborative learning through regular presentations, discussions and workshops.
Owen Insights is a student-run series that encourages collaborative learning through regular presentations, discussions and workshops.

Owen has long been known for its strong sense of community, and that reputation stands to grow thanks to the efforts of the latest classes to pass through Management Hall. Students have started a first-of-its-kind forum at the school for sharing their areas of expertise with one another. Called Owen Insights, the series aims to foster a collaborative learning environment through regular presentations, discussions and workshops.

Founded by Aaron Fung, an MBA candidate for 2012, Owen Insights draws upon the wide variety of backgrounds, nationalities and professional experiences represented across the student body. “While the classroom has contributed a lot to my learning experience here at Owen, the majority of my learning has taken place outside the classroom through my interactions with classmates,” Fung says. “This is what inspired me to create a common platform for students to enhance their learning experience at Owen.”

Prior to business school, Fung worked as Director of Strategy for Ascend, a nonprofit association that focuses on professional networking and leadership opportunities for Asian Americans. His experiences at Ascend have helped him steer the Owen Insights venture. He views the series as an opportunity for students to not only network with each other but also hone critical presentation and public speaking skills.

Students are encouraged to suggest ideas for workshops, and topics in the past have included the business of education and American slang, which was of particular interest to international students. More recent topics have ranged from Foundations of American Politics, taught by Steven Smith, former presidential appointee, White House staffer and MBA candidate for 2013; to Tips and Tricks of Excel led by former financial analyst and 2012 MBA candidate Doug Midkiff; to European Economics led by Sergi Tejero Cano, former Chairman of the Andorran Economist Association and MBA candidate for 2012. Fung himself, who is a chartered retirement plan counselor, taught The Basics of Personal Finance along with Kate Yoho and Carlton Fitch, both CFP practitioners and MBA candidates for 2013.

Thus far the series has seen an enthusiastic response from students, and Fung hopes it will continue even after he graduates. “I’d like Owen Insights to become a self-sustaining program that draws all students into it,” Fung says. “I think people really want to learn from each other, and the great thing is that people are willing to teach. They just need a mechanism through which their knowledge can come out. Owen Insights gives students that mechanism and makes it easier for classmates to learn something that they might not get in a typical academic setting.”