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. Continue reading
And then he said, “Watching a recession happen is like seeing a train wreck in slow motion.” Or words to that effect. The class heaved a long sigh.
Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, Professor Lewis Spellman walks into class with a sunny disposition and then dissects the US bond markets, European banks and the fate of export-imports with the emerging economies. It is the best of times because you can see an economic phenomena happen and it’s the worst of times because I will probably graduate in the middle of a recession. “Financial Markets and Institutions” is my favorite course of the semester and given the current economic scenario there could not have been a better time to take it.
Image courtesy financialfacts.org
What does Greek default have to do the price of US treasury bonds?
A semester ago, I had no idea. This course is based on the principles of macroeconomics and draws extensively on the current state of markets around the world. We have discussed everything from China to Europe to Brazil. I think I can connect the dots little by little. In every class, the professor systematically breaks down the components of the economy, explains its pain areas, draws balance sheets that point at shrinking bank capitals and tells us that its only getting worse. In every class, we discuss about yet another bailout or fund structure or regulation that is being introduced to change the fate of the economy. Having someone explain economics real time is a privilege. I only wish the news was not so depressing.
It is officially the only course in the business school where you have to watch TV everyday. Business news of course ( I was not joking)
Sometimes he talks about the state of affairs during the Vietnam war, his time at the Federal Reserve, the bank freeze in Texas. You realize that he has seen it all and yet he is smiling. You reassure yourself. This too shall pass. After all, companies are actively recruiting at McCombs, most of my classmates received full time offers from their summer internships. I see companies visiting campus everyday and information sessions all the time. I don’t know what to make of it. So, I clear my head and just read. Without emotion, without passion. Like an academic. Not a practitioner.
To know more about Dr. Spellman’s views, here is the link to his blog “The Spellman Report”
Perhaps you’ve met Sofie. If you aren’t as lucky as me to have her in your study group, maybe you remember a run-in with her over breakfast tacos or a random chat with her at a football tailgate. But if you think either of these describe your interactions with Sofie Leon, I have potentially disappointing news: she may seem spontaneous, but her day is planned out like an army ranger’s and her marching orders come from a sergeant more horrifying than any you’ve seen in Band of Brothers. This demanding monster I speak of is her Outlook Calendar. Take a look (click the photo to see this masterpiece in its full size):
Sofie believes strongly in the familiar “if it ain’t on my calendar, it ain’t happening” mantra. Between classes, lessons in Portuguese, and lots of meetings that include the intimidating “Fellows” label, Sofie runs an all-star schedule that could make you feel like your lack of sleep is just you being whiny. But while her schedule is unique, her situation is one we can all relate to. We were warned that days as a McCombs MBA candidate are busy and long, but the warning is becoming a reality as organizational commitments ramp up and exams seem to ALWAYS be looming. Yes, we still make time for fun… and no, we don’t all have to schedule it into our calendars. Although with so much to do around here, scheduling it in sounds like a pretty good idea.
So how do you work with all of us “Sofies” on group projects or, if you are a “Sofie” yourself, how do you manage your own busy schedule? First, dominate your calendar. Outlook… Google… iCal… whatever. Color-coding… recurring reminders… task lists… whatever. Just get it under control! Second, remember the MBA contact hierarchy, “T.E.P. – Text. E-mail. Phone call.” IN THAT ORDER and heavy on the “T” and “E.” Phone calls are inconvenient and awful. You know what, let’s just dump the “P.” If you can’t type and need something quickly, use HeyTell. It’s amazing. If you need some quality conversation with the family or long-distance BF/GF/BFF/Wife/Husband, use Skype or Google Video. A 30-minute video chat is much more rewarding (and efficient) than a phone call that might last twice as long. Just remember to look into the camera (not at the screen) when you are speaking. And on that note, don’t use our new rules as an excuse to keep your eyes on your iPhone all day. It’s good to look up as you walk through the GSB from time-to-time because (believe it or not) good ol’ fashioned face-to-face conversations are still pretty awesome.
So there you have it: “T.E.H.V. – Text. E-mail. HeyTell. Video.” It might be time for a trademark. Is anyone from the law school reading this? Maybe Sofie knows somebody over there. If only I could get some time on her calendar…
Well, here I am, back for my 2nd year. I mentioned last year that I was particularly interested in diversity. Now that I’m in my 3rd semester, I thought I’d mention a few classes that were unique and beneficial at McCombs.
Creativity and Leadership
I recently had drinks with Raj Raghunathan (my professor for Creativity and Leadership,) Nina Godiwalla (today’s guest speaker and author of Suits: A Woman on Wall Street), and another student after class. It was great to talk to them further about the material of the class and Nina’s story. I found her story of her professional journey and how she incorporated her passion into her career inspiring.
That brings me to the material of the course. It is about living a happy and fulfilling life and finding your intrinsic motivation. There aren’t many courses like this in MBA programs but many wish they could have taken a course like it.
This may be the best course I have taken at McCombs. It’s about how to sell an idea through an organization. The professor, John Daly, is amazing because of the way he breaks things down. He has this stuff down to a science. And I could tell how good he was right away because he delivers his message just the way he told us we should. It’s no wonder this is one of the most popular courses every spring. The material is important, applicable, and real too. It includes not only communicating, but also navigating the politics to get an idea adopted. This is useful information for anyone in the business world.
Managing Complexity, taught by Professor Reuben McDaniel, is very interesting. It’s about understanding and accepting that we can’t control or predict the future. We should just accept that there will be uncertainty and manage accordingly. The discussions that we’ve had so far have been stimulating because there are so many applications of this theory. This is a relatively new field and a good amount of the research on it has been done here. We actually had a professor of physics speak to us about her research and how it applies to organizations. In an uncertain world, this concept is especially important to understand.
I get asked by a lot of prospective students about an average day or week at McCombs. Here are some examples of things going on this past week for me:
- Strategy Management (Core)
- Performance Management and Control (Flex-Core)
- Art of Negotiations (Elective)
- Global Management – South America (Global Trek)(Elective)
- Marketing Fellows Practicum (Elective)
- GBC meeting (Graduate Business Council)
- Interview prep
- Company Research
- MAC tours (McCombs Admissions Committee)
-Other things going on
- National Case Competition
- UT Men’s Basketball
- MBA winter soccer tournament by MBA Soccer Club
- Ski trip to Park City organized by GBAT (Graduate Business Adventure Team)
As you can tell, there is a lot going on, but it’s fun and exciting. This is just a small sample of the things going on. If you like to stay busy, have fun and chill with some great people, this is the place for you!
-The picture above was taken today…after a nasty cold front it’s finally getting warm…73 degree high today and forecasted to stay like this the next few weeks! Amped!
Business school is like a fifty-item all-you-can-eat buffet. You need to know how to handle your appetite; else you can end up with a very bad stomach! Your core courses are the staple cereal that you carry on your plate throughout the semester. You will find that your plate is consistently filled with homework, quizzes, midterms and finals. The side dishes include student organizations, career fairs, company meet-and-greets and career planning sessions. There is a plethora of choices available and there is much more than what you can take. Then, there is the meat – case challenges and MBA+ projects. Skip this if you are an MBA vegetarian. However, if you are a meat lover, these can greatly enhance your MBA experience. Case challenges prepare you to solve real life scenarios in very realistic settings. Last week, during the case challenge, teams had a chance to present their solutions to real company recruiters. MBA+ projects can give you the opportunity to work in a functional area that you’ve always wanted to know, but never found the time. As if this weren’t enough, you can try the heavier, richer items on the menu like the practicum where you can team with a professor to work on a problem for an entire semester.
Along the way, if you are not sure about what you should eat, do not hesitate to discuss your concerns with an academic advisor, a career advisor, an MBA+ coach, a professor or even a second year student. They will patiently listen to you and create options that you had never thought about. And yes! This buffet is unique – if you want to be sure before you reach out for an item on the menu, you can ask the people who ate here before you did. Asking an alumnus for her opinion of a course/program is as easy as sending an email or making a phone call. Everybody is out there to help.
If you are ready for dessert, you can think of the tail gate parties on football game days, the think-and-drinks every Thursday, Prof Magee’s semester end party at his house or our very own cohort get-togethers.
Feeling that you ate too much? Need to relax? You can go to Carpenter Center or the Atrium for some good times with your friends, or work out at Gregory Gym or even hang out with friends at Jester. This buffet never closes; so you need to know when to stop!
I once ate more than I could swallow at a buffet and regretted it an hour later