Archive for 'Classwork'

Weekend 24; lots of problems; bricks and metaphors again

September 10th, 2012 by under Classmates, Classwork, Coursework, Uncategorized. No Comments.

Weekend 24 is already in the rear-view mirror. Hard to believe. I’ve been swamped at work and swamped at home, so busy racketing back and forth between things that  it came as a relief to sit down for a few hours and do accounting homework. Look, problems with answers! It made a pleasant change from my other problems, which generally require me to choose between several pretty-good-but-not-perfect solutions, each of which will take months of labor to implement and make a a variety of people unhappy in a differing ways. I positively enjoyed my Weekend 24 accounting quiz. Look, a problem I could finish in half an hour! Fantastic!

Now accounting is over. I just have to take the final and then I’m done. Managerial accounting made a lot more intuitive sense to me than financial accounting, so it was much easier to learn the concepts. I hope to get through the final quickly so I can turn my full attention to finance, which is the next big Quant Iceberg in my path. I just finished finance problem set number 3, hooray. On Saturday I’ll meet with my finance group to work on a case report, which will involve even more problems. I suspect the entirety of my autumn will be filled with math.

I’m happy to be working on finance, however, as it is the fundamental language of business–can we make money or not? It’s still mostly a foreign language, which means I spend a lot of time consulting the glossary in my textbook to figure out what things mean. I finally really “got” net present value and the time value of money last night as I lay in bed thinking about it (and God knows I have typed fewer more pathetic admissions than that one). I had been having trouble remembering that money was more valuable now than later, till I realized that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”* was the exact same thing. And then it made sense. So I managed to grasp the most basic, foundational finance concept there is. Another brick in my bag. Zillions to go.

I’m feeling daunted today by the sheer volume of things to be done. My kids are back in school, which means I’m back on the wheel: packing lunches, driving them to school, going to work, coming home and making dinner, then driving them to lessons/rehearsals/events. And THEN I get to come home and do homework. I feel squashed.

On the other hand, I can’t believe I’m headed toward Weekend 23. The weekends are flying by.

*Metaphors for the win!

 

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Brief report on Weekend 27

July 30th, 2012 by under Classwork, Coursework, EMBA experience. No Comments.

Vacation ended abruptly at 8 a.m. this past Friday morning when Basu handed out our first mangerial accounting quiz. When I was actually taking the quiz I felt like I knew what I was doing, but as soon as I turned it in I was assailed by self-doubt and now I’m not so sure. But I will give myself some slack on this one, as my brain was still rattling in my head from the turbulence of our flight the previous night (which made my imperturbable younger daughter burst into sobs twice). The quiz seemed so unimportant in comparison that I was pretty relaxed while taking it. Silver lining, right?

We also had an entrepreneurship class and various classmates presented their Action Learning Project (ALP) proposals. The class gave input on the ones we thought were strongest, and the teachers will choose the final proposals that will become ALP projects. Then we’ll be assigned to ALP groups and spend the next six months creating a business plan for the project to which we’re assigned.

We also had a whole day on effective presentations. Good thing the teacher was an effective presenter, because 8 hours of one subject can be a hard slog if the teacher is a bore. I have an 8-minute presentation, complete with power points, due in early September. We’re supposed to practice in small groups, and then we will be videotaped giving the presentation and have our delivery critiqued by the teacher. Erk.

It feels like the workload is beginning to ramp up again. This week’s homework includes accounting problems, pre-work for the next unit, the presentation preparation, a leadership development plan that is overdue to my executive coach, and a whole lot of finance pre-work waiting in the wings. I am also working on my Dreaded Data Modeling Final Exam. Do you realize what this means? It means I am ALMOST DONE WITH DATA MODELING. Hooray! I will survive this class!

The last question of the final asks us to detail how we would use the specific concepts covered in this course to solve problems in our workplace. We had a similar question on our marketing final. In a way it is harder to answer those kinds of questions than it is to work through a calculation. But I was pleased when I read it because this is why I wanted to come to grad school–not just to acquire the bricks, but to use them to build a foundation for stronger thinking.  This is what getting an MBA is about, for me. So hooray for thinking about how to use what I’m learning, even as I struggle to, you know, actually see if I learned it. :-)

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Cause marketing

May 9th, 2012 by under Classwork, EMBA experience, Uncategorized. 1 Comment.

One of our recent marketing cases was on Dove’s “Real Beauty” marketing campaign. It was fascinating–stunning, moving messaging around a difficult social issue. I was left admiring their advertising firm but also wondering if cause marketing was kind of evil.

In class we saw several direct-to-YouTube videos produced by Dove’s marketers. Here is Onslaught, one of Dove’s videos, and here’s a parody that intercuts Dove’s serious message about how the beauty industry exacerbates women’s body issues with images from Axe commercials showing comically underdressed women overcome at the scent of Axe body spray. Dove and Axe, of course, are both owned by giant multinational Unilever.  That parody begs the question “How can Unilever’s Dove brand champion ending the sexual objectification of women, while at the same time its Axe brand does nothing but sexually objectify women?”

It’s interesting. The beauty industry makes boatloads of money because it successfully convinces women that we’re not beautiful by comparing the majority of us to a genetically blessed minority. The images and tactics used to convey that message are certainly damaging to a lot of women (and it’s gotten worse since I was a kid. It’s no longer enough to have a pretty face and bangin’ bod; these days even your armpits have to be attractive. Thanks a lot, beauty industry.) So I applaud public discourse on this subject. Good for Unilever and Dove for putting a huge chunk of change into bringing public attention to an important problem with the way their industry markets its products.

On the other hand, there’s no question that Dove saw “Real Beauty” as a way to garner warm fuzzy feelings from customers with the ultimate goal of selling more Dove products. Isn’t that cynical and self-serving? Aren’t those commercials and videos awfully manipulative? And is it right that Dove should co-opt an important social issue in order to sell more moisturizing lotion and firming cream?

It’s a hard question for me. When I worked for the Los Angeles Mission, my boss was an elderly minister with a knack for raising money from L.A.’s rich and famous, who liked his down-home charm and folksy way of speaking. Every once in a while we’d get a complaint from some nice church lady that we were taking money from so-and-so, and didn’t we know how so-and-so made that money? That always made my boss smile. “The only problem with tainted money,” he’d say in his Oklahoma drawl, “is there t’aint enough of it.”

Maybe that’s the right way to think about it. Social causes need money to get their message across. If a giant multinational is willing to do the spending on their behalf, the cause benefits regardless of the intentions of the company that promotes it. The cause wins, and if the company sells more stuff then they win too. Win-win. What’s wrong with that?

But, as we also discussed in class, cause marketing that isn’t truly integrated across the whole company may be harder and harder to pull off. These days anyone with an internet connection can find out virtually anything about your company. Knowing that Dove and Axe belong to the same family makes it very hard to take Dove seriously.

Eh, I can’t decide what I think. What do you think?

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