Sunday, August 20, 2006

Week 0: Business Foundations Programme

I have just completed the Business Foundations Programme at INSEAD.
That took place on campus, from August 13 to 19.
Financial Accounting Professor Jake Cohen was in charge of the module; he announced 66 participants in Fontainebleau, and 30-something in Singapore, which I think is quite a good number.

As a headline, BFP is a crash course to bring students to a par level in 3 technical/quantitative subjects and enable them to be fully operational come Periods 1 and 2.

The classes were: Financial Accounting, Finance, and Quantitative Methods.

1. Financial Accounting, Professor Jake Cohen

First, I loved the Professor. It was not a common opinion among my groupmates, but I really enjoyed his classes. The reason was, I felt challenged all the time, and his horrible habit of cold calling everyone must have played a part in this motivation to perform. Jake is very Wall Street type of person, read direct, demanding, and bright.
He focused on building Financial Statements and understanding their dynamics. One of his tag-lines being "I don't want to take away the magic of Course blabla in Period 3 so you'll see later", I will not explain in detail, but give impressions.
You don't need pre-readings for the class. The class is quite technical (Balance Sheets, Income statements, Statement of Cash Flows, entry journals, ratios), but is taught in an intuitive way. Jake's other tag-line "say it to me as if I were 3 year-old" sums up the approach.

2. Finance, Professor Pekka Hietila

Pekka comes from Finland, he is a long-time INSEAD Professor. Everybody loved him, as he is so very nice, helpful, and of course brilliant.
He focused on NPV calculations, Finance vs. Accounting. The class is a bit technical, but nothing impossible for people with a minimum business background.

3. Quantitative Methods, Assistant Professor Michele Hibon

This could have been an optional course. Ms. Hibon really is nice and helpful, and has to teach plenty of maths concepts that many of us already knew: derivatives, logs, stats. I don't know why, but all the teaching staff in this subject are so nice. Every day, a PhD student went from cubicle to cubicle to hand out Solutions sheets and see if any group required help, but everyday (at least my group) we kept saying thank you so much, but never did the exercices.

In conclusion, Business Foundations is valuable for either people who have been out of the academic world for a long period, or people without business background.
Positives: great teachers, great classes, opportunity to meet 20% of your class mates and bond before campus gets crowdy.
To be improved: all courses were taught with cases, but Quantitative Methods. And that was a shame as students sort of didn't take that class seriously.

My personal great plus: my group. They were absolutely fun!


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Au revoir, Home

On Friday and Saturday, I held my last farewell parties, with friends and family.
On Sunday I took the plane to Paris. It was odd, since the past 4 years have been the most intense in my professional and personal lives.
Of course Mom and Dad were sad, as I was, because it always is heartbreaking to part ways. What made it sadder than usual was that I don't know yet where INSEAD will lead me. I mean, I have plans to share my life between home, where my professional interests are, and away, where opportunities may arise. That reminds me that when I was interviewed by INSEAD alumni, and I outlined to them my post-INSEAD goals, they both said that although they had rarely seen such focus, I should keep myself open to new opportunities that inevitably would arise at INSEAD. That is why maybe I was blue in the plane... What if, despite my strongest will, I should not come back home? What if my dream life after INSEAD of half a year home half a year elsewhere turns out to be different?

We shall see developments during the year.
Programme of the week: to finally read pre-course readings, and on Sunday, to head to Fonty for the Foundations programme.