This post is courtesy of David Marcos, a member of the Texas Executive MBA at Mexico City class of 2013.
The Executive MBA program has a lot to offer. Even though classes are spaced apart, you end up receiving huge chunks of information, most of which seems to elude your brain a couple of hours (or beers) after the exams.
As managers, or executives, we always want to hear the takeaways, what will stay with you forever, and most importantly, what will pop out in business meetings or late at night when you’re trying to unravel some problem.
I couldn’t possibly write all I’ve taken away from the EMBA in just a couple of lines, but I will try to lay some of it on the table; make what you want of it.
Finance is everywhere, you can’t get rid of it, and more importantly, you really don’t want to. Whether you understand the concepts they teach in class or not, you’re making financial decisions every day. You are, consciously or not, weighing out future versus immediate benefits, and trying to minimize risk in whatever it is you’re doing. What I liked about the MBA finance classes is that they’re counterintuitive, what you think you know is wrong, and it’s leading to bad decisions right and left. The finance classes I took made me uncomfortable, nervous even, and that’s what you really want in a class. If you’re too comfortable, chances are you’re not learning anything valuable.
I’m an engineer, and my marketing knowledge before the classes was close to zero. Also, I thought of marketers as creepy creatures trying to figure out how to fool the masses, and I guess some of them are. Anyway, in marketing class I discovered a whole new area of knowledge when Dr. Kapil Jain gave us an excellent book called “All Marketers Are Liars Storytellers” by Seth Godin, which opened my eyes. After reading that book I would literally go out on the street and mentally sort out good and bad advertising. I could understand how and why the big successful firms were doing what they’re doing. If you haven’t read this book, do it, it’s really worth it. It will change the way you think about your business, especially if your job description doesn’t have marketing in it.
The Case Method
In the EMBA program, cases are used all the time for every purpose. I won’t tell you this is the best method, I have absolutely no pedagogic knowledge. For me, cases are worth one thing, they teach you about humility, and here’s why:
You read the case (of course, you’re a smart executive), and you haven’t even finished reading it when you’re already thinking “Fools! The answer is so obvious, I could have solved that right away.” So you sit in class and start talking about the very evident answer to the firm’s problem, and along comes someone who refutes what you just said with a very simple point, and you did not think of that. Then someone else talks and gives their solution, and you think “Wow! Why didn’t I think of that?”
Most of the time you end up defending a completely different solution than what you initially had in mind. That really teaches you, when you have a situation at work, to go ask everyone and listen to opinions – really listen, don’t just try to impose what you figured out from the beginning. The people in the EMBA program are not afraid to prove you wrong, but at work the chances are they are scared, so you really have to encourage debate.
There is plenty to take from this program, and you have a few examples above. Don’t try to remember every single rule and exception you get in class, let what matters stick to you. It’s like Einstein said once, which is one of my favorite quotes, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”