Monday, October 10, 2005

Term 1 academics in some detail

I promised I will talk about term 1 and the studies and some of those serious stuff, so here I am, ready to talk about the courses, the profs, the exams, the books, the readings, the cases, the assignments, the homework & exercises. Oh that's an awful lot! Never realized there are so many aspects to studies! Damn! What about job search! Gosh, I'm in big trouble! :-| Maybe I should talk just about the courses for now. (This is when I go back to the title and change it from the ambitious "learning from term 1" to "Term 1 academics in some detail").

OK so let me take this step by step and maybe I will be able to cover this in some detail. Now that I am through with term 1 classes, enough to gain some perspective, hopefully I can write a bit more than "Hey that Prof. is cool man. He cracks so many jokes in the class, doesn't let me fall asleep despite the last night!", or "That subject sucks! I don't see myself using that ever in my life!" or "The team assignments are a killer man! We spent half a day today trying to convince each other of what the problem was." etc.

So let me take a step back and try to put the 4 main courses in perspective in this post. Managerial Effectiveness (ME) is all about how to manage people in an organization. It covers wide variety of topics, from the organizational structure to put in place, the decision-making, managing information flow, how to motivate people, how to make the different groups (that you created in the first place) work together efficiently, how informal networks form in an organization and how the culture (or cult in some cases) are formed and what the incentive structure should be with respect to the hiring and retention policies for the company. (Hey this was a good recap for me, I have ME exam on the day after!) This amazingly complex maze of managerial issues were discussed in class throughout the term. What is strange in a bschool is that everyone has a different take on every single thing. I am not talking just about specific topics listed above. This is even true about who likes what subjects and who doesn't. ME discussions were a source of nirvana for me while some people struggled with the topics. I come from an organization that has tackled these issues, but there are ample fields out there that have no clue about how things work within the realm of an organization. People from these fields find it hard to grasp these discussions and the consequences of deciding where you want to be in this web of complex interactions.

One thing I realized as I prepared for bschools is that every person brings something unique to the table. You might think that it is nothing, or that it is natural (depending on your personality ;-)). However, regardless of whether you have this seemingly simple piece of realization before you come here or not, when you come to a place as diverse as Fuqua, or any good bschool for that matter I guess, you are in for a surprise. You will meet people who hate ME and others who travel to the corners of the universe when going through the readings from the ME course pack.

The second course, and let me be through with this real quick, is COMPUTER SKILLS. You have to do excel, word and powerpoint assignments in this and it prepares you for other course, as, of course, these tools are going to be the bread & butter for us. Nothing to write specifically about this course, except that it's a drag, a necessary evil and very boring to sit and do.

Managerial Economics (ECON or MICRO) is about what makes the markets tick, and what should organizations do to stay profitable in these markets. There are various theories with respect to supply & demand in markets, competitive markets, monopoly and oligopoly markets, price discrimination, costs, revenues etc. The main take-away of this course is that you have to be in a position to understand what's happening in the market. Almost all of us have subscribed to the Wall Street Journal, and when I read it now, I have begun to grasp some bit of why OPEC behaves the way it does, or whether the world is running out of oil, or how much room do companies have to increase output to gain profit, or indeed, do firms always make more profit by producing more, or would it pay off to enter this market given that these companies are serving it; will they act aggressively (cut prices for example) when I enter, or is it in their interest to make way for my entry. A lot of it is counter-intuitive until you look into these theories and you say "Duh?" or "Aha!". And if you are thinking we students have got all the answers, that's where I have to interject and say "We students are learning to ask the right questions", and then perhaps analyze the answers or the reality of the situation. The idea, in my ECON prof. Jim Anton's words is "to get the intuition."

This ties in nicely to the STATS course, so let me jump there. The idea of taking the stats course is essentially 'to be good consumers of statistics' that come by in every day world. Our world is fraught with statistics; you listen to them everyday, in TV, in newspaper, on the net and never do you stop to think how it is effecting your day to day decisions. I am over simplifying the idea and you might think that this might be a soft course. Quite to the contrary, most of this course is hard and mathematical. The stats course starts with probability and then moves on to sampling, random variables, central limit theorem, and finally, to regression analysis. Again, you are taught to be a good consumer of information that comes to you. Can you ask the right questions? Because the answer is in the questions you ask.

1 comment:

Paa"ji" said...

Hi, Got here from Simbas blog...great picture of everything happening in B-School.....GOOD LUCK for the comming exams