Archive for May, 2007

Candidate no more

May 25th, 2007 by under Uncategorized. 1 Comment.

I’m now the proud owner of an MBA degree. Commencement was held on Monday. I took the big walk and shook hands with Dean Frank. I also received a photo montage poster of various occurrences of the letter M around campus, which meant very little to me since I took my classes at satellite campuses. I look forward to receiving the actual diploma in the mail. It’s amazing how uneventful the graduation ceremony was considering how life changing the three previous years had been.

Some people go back to school to change their lives. Others go back just to add another line to their resume so they can make more money. You can tell the former from the latter by their attitude at the end of the program. I fell into the first camp and wanted to keep going. It feels like there is so much left to learn. I’d done some group work with the person sitting next to me at graduation and she definitely fell into the latter camp. She was completely burned out and couldn’t stop complaining about different aspects of the program. However, she received a 4.0 in the program, which may have been a symptom of resume-it is.

In the core, my professor for Managerial Economics and Public Policy was Charles Olson. He gave us a great piece of advice that I thanked him for at the reception after graduation. I’m going to have to paraphrase since I don’t remember the exact quote. The gist of it was that it was possible to get a 4.0 in the program without actually learning anything. A student could memorize all of the right answers, speak just enough in class to get credit for participation, and write some decent papers without learning how to become a better manager or employee. I’ve come to see just how true this is. Part of the personal growth that I went through in the program was the discovery of the major disconnect between how I viewed myself and my actions versus how I actually behave. I also learned a lot about how I am perceived by others and the impact that my actions have on how I am perceived. A lot of that growth came from the professors from the Management & Organization Department who taught me that emotional intelligence counts more than IQ when it comes to managing people.

The people who I met in the program were such a big part of the learning experience for me. We all pushed each other to learn and grow together. At the end of winter term, I published a list of names of graduates who I was sad to know I would not be seeing on a regular basis anymore. This time around the list is a lot longer, and I know I would forget someone if I simply put a list together. So, suffice it to say that I will miss most of my classmates. You were all a great group of people and I have a ton of respect for the hard work I saw everyone put into their education.

Special thanks and acknowledgement go to the members of my VCIC team. I know we’ll all keep in touch, but it was sad nonetheless to know that our shared academic experience was over. So, to Moshe, Skye, Shad, and Tom, I wish you all continued success in all of your endeavors. Hopefully, we’ll all get to work together again sometime. I would also like to wish the best to Sergio, who I worked with more times than anyone else in the program including my first and last group projects in business school. Finally, I have to wish good luck to Jason from our case competition team, who’s still working on his dual MBA/MS.

In closing, I would also like to thank Alissa Arford-Leyl for offering me this gig as the blogger for the part-time program. It was a lot of fun. If anyone reading this is interested in taking over as the part-time MBA blogger, she’s the one you want to contact.

The next chapter starts now…

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It's over

May 16th, 2007 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

So, that’s it…I’m done. My last group paper was turned in yesterday. I had my last class a week ago. It feels so odd. The three years went by so fast. Our first academic advisor at the Shady Grove campus was completely right about how quickly the program would be over.

Her words were, if I remember them right:
The MBA program is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.

I had this crazy notion that I would be able to take it easy in my final semester. I would be able to chill out with a bad case of senioritis. That didn’t happen. The last month was a brutal forced march of trying to get everything done so I would actually be able to graduate. After I got back from the VCIC, I had to finish my Ethics ELM makeup paper (since I never actually attended the ELM), a midterm and a group paper for Prof. Frels, and a group paper and presentation for Prof. Kirsch. On top of all this, I was part of a proposal team at work and was burning the midnight oil trying to get that done. Sometimes the peaks all line up.

The presentation for Prof. Kirsch was a ton of fun. He suggested Pecha Kucha format, which is like haiku for Powerpoint. The rules of pecha kucha are that you must present exactly twenty slides and you must spend exactly twenty seconds per slide. It’s a major challenge if you’re a blabbermouth or have a tendency to put ten bullets on every one of your slides. You have to communicate your findings in as concise a manner as possible and use a ton of visual aids. In my presentation, I used a bunch of these including pictures of tombstones, a great white shark, a cat staring in a toilet, Stuart Smalley, a bottle of beer, and me in my wrestling gear. Somehow all of those items made logical business sense when they were placed together.

In a similar fashion, all of the disparate knowledge I have gained over the last three years makes sense together. I started purging all of my readings the other night and it is amazing how much material we went through. Somehow, all of that information now has a place in my brain. Hopefully it won’t be lost as I wade through the massive “fun” reading pile that has built up over the last three years. I started with “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks.

What’s on your summer reading list?

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Milestone

May 2nd, 2007 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I have read my last Harvard Business School case.  Hooray!  Somehow it was fitting that a few hours before the class Professor Kirsch emailed us to let us know we wouldn’t be discussing it due to all of the other things we would be covering in class. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Harvard cases, they are one of the primary tools used to teach business school students around the world.  They all have a fairly similar structure, consisting of about twelve pages of text and about ten pages of exhibits.  The goal is to provide as complete a package as possible with all of the background information necessary to inspire a classroom discussion.  The length of the discussion varies from professor to professor and in my experience has ranged from twenty minutes to six hours.  The latter was pretty brutal especially considering that it took place in class after we turned in our analysis of the same case, which we’d been working on for two weeks.  That’s called doing a case to death.

A common characteristic of the cases is the human content that is provided as a frame around the usually dry background material.  The authors must have some instruction to put in material that the reader can relate to on a personal level.  It usually starts something like this:

Bob “Brownie” Macmillan (HBS 96), the chief marketing officer of Shady Biz Graphics, had spent most of his Saturday afternoon scouring the porcelain toilet bowls in his 50s era ranch home.  He found cleaning rust stains to be just the kind of menial labor that he needed to take his mind off his troubles.  In two days, he was scheduled to present a report to the board of directors regarding the butt whooping that Shady Biz had been handed over the past six months by its main competitor, Granata Sclerata Design.  Bob’s team had spent most of the last month coming up with a bold new marketing approach that centered on the Shady Biz mascot, Trenchcoat Timmy.  The new trade dress had shown a high level of appeal in focus groups, but was it the right approach?  If the board was unhappy with Bob’s approach, he knew he’d have a lot more time to spend cleaning commodes in the next few months.

Needless to say – I am so glad to be done with case analysis.

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