Friday, 16 January 2015

Filling Some Blanks

Aaaaaaah Christmas.  You wonderful, magical holiday.  This year, gone is the family, heat, cricket, beach, prawns, and paradoxical winter paraphernalia of an Australian Christmas.  Here are the friends, snow, European getaways, mulled wine, shrimp and fireplace-warming reality of a UK Christmas.

And thus Term 1 has ended.  Amazing.  While I rest on the couch, having reacquainted myself with leisure reading and exercise, it occurs to me there are a few things I’ve failed to properly document over the last 12 weeks.  With time now on my side, I’ll try to fill in a couple of the blanks.

Two short weeks ago our heads were glued to textbooks.  When they weren’t, our hands were glued to our pens, and our pens to our exam papers.  The glue didn’t help.  At all.  

To what was our attention affixed?  Here are a few highlights.

A traditional MBA foe.  More difficult, yet much more interesting, than it’s often credited (or debited).  With a steely determination and a dextrous calculator hand, we balanced balance sheets, reported income, stated cash flows, documented variances, priced transfers, and ratio’ed ratios.

Decision Making and Data Analytics
We waxed lyrical about multiple and serial regression.  We formed and subsequently rejected null hypotheses with a scientific level of pragmatism.  Over the break I read Freakonomics, which is probably the absolute perfect epilogue to both this subject and:

Economics of Organisations and Strategy
Hawks.  Doves.  Lines, curves, axes.  Within these runes are a clear articulation of supply and demand, of elasticity and marginal cost, of predatory and limit pricing.  A subject fit for Hermione Granger herself.  (Over the break I also read the final Harry Potter, and I would appreciate the withholding of judgement.)  Some formal learning in economics was one of the major things I was looking forward to about studying an MBA, and it didn't disappoint.

Other Highlights
 - Negotiating venture capital agreements with real start-up companies,
 - Creating a marketing plan for launching Premier Inn in Australia (featuring Karl and Susan Kennedy from Neighbours),
 - Turning our study group’s idea for a household inventory management system (patent pending) into a detailed business plan,
 - Placing 3rd with Frank, Aya and Ben at the European final of the AT Kearney Global Prize (picture below), and
 - The workload.  While not an academic topic in itself, this one aspect has been the most defining part of the experience, and deserves a bit more explanation.

The Workload
The last post was about a WAC - an original Cranfield form of assessment over 24 hours.  Fortunately, we only get two of those a term.  So a normal day is presumably a bit more manageable, right?  Well, no, actually.

An average day (for me) starts on campus at 7:30AM with a learning team meeting.  Here we discuss the case studies and readings that form the pre-work for the morning’s lectures.  Those lectures typically run from 8:30AM to 12:45PM, and generally are more discussion-focussed than formative.  Hence the need for pre-work.

In the afternoon there is typically an extra curricular activity (coaching, careers events, guest speakers, etc) for a few hours.  Squashed around this, the afternoon/evening needs to be spent on preparing for the following day’s lectures - reading course material and case studies, discussing in study groups, etc.

Then there’s assessment work.  This gets shoe-horned somewhere in amongst simply ‘keeping up’.

All considered, my routine (and it’s different for others) generally sees me packing up around midnight.  I live off campus, so have a brief drive home before starting again the following morning.  The reality is, there could be another 6 hours in the day and I probably still wouldn’t get everything ‘properly’ done.  Needless to say, managing self and workload is vital.

Now, all of that varies day to day, but that would be an average day for me in Term 1.  I’m aware some of my colleagues put in less time (i.e. they are likely smarter than myself), while others put in more time (i.e. they are presumably more diligent than myself).

Yes, it’s intense.  Seriously intense.  BUT, it’s amazing!  When the alarm goes off in the morning I’m pumped for another day.  And as my Christmas break winds down, I’m impatiently awaiting the beginning of Term 2.

Hope you’ve had a great Christmas, and a happy new year.  Cheers to 2015!

~ Craig

1 comment:

  1. Good post. I will keep this very short as my previous 2 posts were lost????