Saturday, December 02, 2006

Reflecting back on our growth so far

To prepare grounds for resolution time, which is coming faster than you realise, I'll make the most of this event-free week-end to reflect on a mid-point assessment of the MBA experience.

A good anchor was yesterday's Winter Ball, with P5 s celebrating their departure, and us analysing our experiences so far.

At one table, the talk was about how fast everything has been, and how neglectful of the human network we have been. Always posponing events, dinners, parties... You end up now 2 weeks away from the end of P2, with some people you will not see before P5 (if they go to Wharton and Singapore, or if you go to Singapore in P3 and they go in P4). Too late.

At one table, the talk was about how changed each of us felt and our entourage noticed. For one couple, the change, I guess was obvious. He is graduating from Wharton in June, she from INSEAD in July. They have just been confirmed by Goldman Sachs and Lehmann Brothers in London. Wow... Super NPV couple (super nice too). Of more interest were inner changes. She claimed to have gained self-confidence, by being able to analyse complex situations, and by knowing the value of the INSEAD Brand name. He claimed that the network was the source of strengths, and lauded his school's efforts to try so hard to put a class of best people who would grow from one another. What is true for Wharton, is true for INSEAD as well. When we discussed about comparing the 2 experiences, he liked the Wharton power, 800 people in one year, 1600 contacts over the MBA. He enjoyed the numerous clubs and the possibility of "cliquing" with same interest-people. What he liked about INSEAD was the community atmosphere, the fact that everybody knew quasi everyone, and that people seemed a bit more active on the social scene. I guess that at Wharton, the structure of networking is more established that over here, where we need to put a lot of efforts to build our informal network system.

In my particular example, inner strengths -from new hard skills to enhanced soft skills- and the realisation that you are a the top, with all its duties and rewards, have been the two most striking examples of change. I could add the ability to drink a lot more beer and wine, but that is not valued in the market ;-)

We also discussed about the strange P2.

Funnily enough, it was difficult to find agreements on the value of Professors. The Wharton husband did recognise the quality of classes he had attended -and that was not because his wife was there... There was one consensus though: Igor the Magnificent. Our Managerial Accounting Prof is the star of this period, no doubt about it. Super fast, super clear, super interesting, super funny, of a potentially super not funny course. It seems like everybody loves Managerial Accounting at INSEAD.

Then we all agreed on Finance 2 star Pascal. A great guy, a great course. A few did raise some interesting issues, mainly that his pace is so fast that we don't always get it in class.
Latest quote: "If it's Dutch, it must be cheap", on the main characteristic of Dutch auction.

As to Thomas, from Leading Organisation (OB2), some argued that he was too American -which to me is not such a valid point; nothing wrong with being American, even more so in being too American. And again he makes such an interesting subject of potentially fluffy stuff. I like his class a lot. He might look cheesy and smiling, but he definitely is not PC-obsessed.

The big debate was on Marketing and Operations Management. Some people complained about the weak closure of Miguel's classes. I think that he should be credited for providing us with a compelling, clear, decisive marketing framework, and for conveying the message that marketing is about numbers/hard analyses too, not just ads and glamour.

On POM, everybody seems to agree that the guy, after all, is funny. We laugh a lot from his idiosyncrasy. Some people argue the contents is not deep enough, or high level enough. I think that the class must be worked in conjunction with tutorials, which are more hands-on, to be fully appreciated. Examples of his humour (on a case study about Zara): "It's the fashion industry, it's not good to be out of fashion", or "If it's possible to do something stupid, then someone will do it", on how TQM processes often are very procedural.

On Strategy, we all concurred to say that Dominique knows his stuff perfectly, and that his classes are enjoyable. I raised the point that his concepts are not always cutting edge, but maybe nothing new and compelling has emerged from strategy in the past 20 years (apart from our dear Blue Ocean).
I liked some of his quotes "Even Blue Ocean is more sophisticated than this" on EasyGroup diversification strategy, which tried to replicate the core EasyJet model in various industries.

Ok. I'm using too much of my time on this blog. Got to go back to Finance and case studies.

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