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Tales in Possible

Revive Possible

MBA Students Michael Caruana & Shyamali Rajivan work on a Faculty Fellows project supporting the NYU Stern Urbanization Project’s advisory services to the City of Detroit.

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I came to Stern thinking I wanted to work in financial services, but through projects I’ve done at Stern, I had the chance to try something different, first on a project working with a nonprofit last year, and now this one. - Michael Caruana

“We’ve been studying systems that can help cities serve their communities better,” says MBA student Michael Caruana, who worked with classmate Shyamali Rajivan on an NYU Stern Faculty Fellows project (part of Stern Signature Projects) to provide Stern’s Urbanization Project (UP) with research supporting the UP’s advisory services to the City of Detroit. Detroit is undergoing a transformation and its government is re-thinking all existing structures and systems. The students studied the impact of other cities’ management systems and identified specific systems that have been helpful to local governments and communities.

“Our mission was to research management best practices,” explains Shyamali. “We focused on systems that help cities run more effectively. Michael looked at employee management systems. I focused on CityStat, a system that provides measurement, accountability and transparency to city departments. It typically measures key indicators; for example, crime rates or response times to citizen complaints. When implemented well, this kind of system can help cities improve the way they handle problems and deliver a better quality of life for their residents. I tried to come up with key takeaways that could be applicable to cities like Detroit.”

Michael adds, “When it came to employee management, I tried to find the governments that did the best job of attracting, developing, and retaining talent. The two that stood out the most were Singapore and Indiana. For instance, both governments have done a great job defining both clear goals for their employees and ways to progress in their careers, which has made performance measurement much easier. “

Throughout the semester-long project, “We had weekly phone calls with our project lead, Urbanization Project Research Scholar Jonathan Stewart (MBA ’13),” Shyamali describes. “We would share our findings, talk about ways to fill in any gaps in the research and decide which topics to research more. We bounced ideas off each other, asked questions and provided some feedback that helped shape our research.”

“I’ve been specializing in finance at Stern, so it was a good complement to some of the finance-focused coursework I’ve been taking.” says Shyamali. “I am interested in the possibility of working in a policy-related role one day, and it was good to learn about some of the ways different governments approach the design and implementation of management practices.” Michael adds, “I was able to relate some of my coursework during the semester to the project. For example, some of the strategies covered in my strategic design class were the same strategies that were implemented in the cities I was researching.”

“I came to Stern thinking I wanted to work in financial services, but through projects I’ve done at Stern, I had the chance to try something different, first on a project working with a nonprofit last year, and now this one,” says Michael. “I’ve discovered that I want to pursue a career in strategy. My hope is that the experience gained through these projects will help me achieve that goal.”