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!



At 11:06 AM , Blogger hallonman said...

Apparently travelling to Singapore shaves a year off ones age. Jake's tagline here is "tell it to me like I was a 2-year old" - Must be the time difference. ;)

At 1:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey DomoDomo,

Thanks for your post on the foundation course. I am starting INSEAD this January and I have to decide before the 2nd of October whether I want to sign up for the Foundations course. If so, need to pay asap, so a quick response would be appreciated.

In your opinion, was the course worth the time and the money? As you know it is a big expense (€1200 & acc & flights). Did you cover anything that is not in the preMBA reading list? And, would the preMBA reading suffice to prepare for the first month of the courses? (FYI, I studied management very long time ago and don't remember much of it)

Many thanks..

At 9:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi DomoDomo,

I wrote you a comment regarding attending the foundations course but you're probably too busy right now. In case you would like to write to me directly, you can email me on

Many thanks,

At 12:27 AM , Blogger DomoDomo@INSEAD said...

I'm so sorry to answer this late. Yes I do believe that attending BFP is worth €1,200. I mean I the value I put is considering the ROI. Bear in mind: it's part of connecting (I'm still keeping bonds from that time); it's good to get going; Jake COHEN is AWESOME. Pre-readings: Good for Financial Accounting (not the Youssada one, the other), Good in Finance but not overly necessary. Pre-readings only would suffice if you have minimum background, but in BFP we had an Olympic Swimming Champ, an architect, an anthropologist. Really depends on your confidence level. To sum up: I would sign up again, as would 85% of enrolled.



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