Professor Bill Cockrum

Adjunct Professor of Finance at UCLA and Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance at the Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies

During his 16 years at the Anderson School, Professor Bill Cockrum has become known as an entrepreneurial finance guru. His students have honored him with an “Outstanding Teaching” Award eight times, but his reputation transcends the UCLA campus. A 1996 Business Week survey recognized him as the top entrepreneurial professor in the nation. Cockrum also teaches business ethics and investment management at this top ten school.


Become a Student Again
On average, first year students will have been out of school for three to six years and they are going to have difficulty just getting back into the practice of being a student. They need to make an adjustment getting back in the routine of schoolwork, doing and turning in homework, and so on.

Ready, Set, Compete!
A student attending a top ten business school will likely be exposed to a more competitive environment than they saw in either undergraduate school or in their work environment because of the selective admittance process. At the Anderson School, our average student is in the 92nd percentile on the GMAT exam and earned a 3.5 GPA from a top-drawer school – the top 25 or 30 schools academically in the U.S. And that’s the average student.

Be Prepared to Work in ‘Zero Time’
Most top ten schools try to teach students how to cope with demands on their time. How to sort out what’s important and what’s not. You’re going to be confronted with more work than you can possibly do, and you’re going to have to determine what’s important. That’s a big part of being a success in management.

Getting In: Stand Out or Sit Down
It just doesn’t cut it to be smart, have good grades, score well on the GMAT, work in a tough environment, and have a boss that says you’re great. All of that is expected. When talking about admittance to a top ten school, you’re going to have to partake in some activities between your undergraduate degree and your MBA application date that will make you a unique applicant. Expand your horizons. Instead of going to the beach or doing whatever you do on the weekends, do something unique in either a business way or a management way, or even in a community way.

Suck It Dry
The most common mistake made by first year students is not researching their school and all of its opportunities before setting foot on campus. Students procrastinate in discovering what the school offers. That doesn’t only apply to coursework. A lot of things in school are experiential — activities where you can learn what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, understand what international companies want, or discover what it’s like to be an investment banker. If you want to execute a career change from working at a magazine in Boston to becoming an analyst in New York City, you have to ask, “Is there a student club at my school that can help me understand that?”

Promote Teamwork
We think it extremely important that students learn how to be good team members because we believe that teams do better than individuals when solving problems. And you don’t have to be the team leader to have good results. I’d rather be on a team with you to study a problem than do it alone, because I think two of us, with two heads, will do better than one.


But the teamwork at Anderson goes on in a way that discourages internal competitiveness among the students and encourages support. For example, when a prospective employer interviews at Anderson, our students will share the information gained from their interview with classmates in order to get more jobs for UCLA. You will not find that culture at most of the top ten schools.

Get the Skinny on UCLA
If you’re coming to UCLA, you’re going to learn how to think, and that’s something you may never have learned before — we can teach that if you’re open to it. We can help you understand, appreciate, and probably embrace the concept of teamwork. You’re going to face a very challenging set of intellectual rigors, and you’ll graduate with three things that I think are important.

First, you’ll master basic analytical skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life. Second, you’ll gain the experience level of a 60-year-old person who has not been to a top ten school. And third, you’ll be exposed to the most current techniques. But be forewarned, those techniques will be obsolete in less than a decade, so you’ll have to constantly reeducate yourself. All in all, you’ll be a smarter individual upon graduation.

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