Monday, April 23, 2007

A quick review of P4

As P4 is about to end, and the week is going to be quite frantic (term project deadlines), it must be the good moment to reflect on this period. In a nutshell: I liked the fact that courses were practical, real-life oriented; I disliked the fact that people were too stressed or busy with job search to take it seriously.

In the Entrepreneurship Path, REP was excellent, NBV was disappointing but not hopeless.
The good thing about REP is, it's rather unusual. When we think about entrepreneurship, we jump to "new ideas" and "start-ups". There are a lot of established firms, medium-sized, that are just waiting for MBAs to turn them around. And they are worth millions. Now if you don't have ideas, but are stronger in execution, this is a serious option. Of course, as there's no free lunch, there must be something tough. To succeed, you need to survive the search process, and to get down to management tasks. Tim Bovard used his great real-life experience, and several guest speakers to make this class lively and useful. On top of that, teams have to look for real companies to take-over, but I'll tell the story once my team gets the deal...

NBV is the classic "New Idea" start-up entrepreneurship class. It is very disappointing IF 1/ you have taken VOBM in Singapore and 2/ if your project is not mature enough. Presumably NBV is a transitory phase to carry a project from VOBM to Business Plan Workshop in P5 (which I will also take). Now Steve is a nice guy, but at times too urbane and too mild. Some dose of Fernando Bartholomé would really help, in his case (like, your project is crap, your business model is a sophisticated piece of BS...) Still, 2 ventures from the class are seriously getting funded so it's not all bad.

I also had Negotiations 2 with Ayse Onculer (she is Turkish, not French ;-) so beware of pronunciation). I was very enthused about Horacio, he is such a great communicator. However, I felt that his takeaways tended to evaporate quite quickly, and that it's fine to concentrate on value-creation, but if you don't claim it at some point, you're doing this for the Glory. Ayse's approach is the opposite: it's all about getting results. I liked it very much. The only problem is, by claiming value, you sometimes have to fight very hard, and it's not always easy to do so with INSEAD people. I mean, some reputations were seriously damaged, as were some relationships.

Real Estate, well I will pass on this one. It's just terrible.

Strategic Cost Management with Deigan Morris was very interesting at least for his brilliant and goldsmith's precision-like analyses. The counterpart of course is, at times it was not really fun... God I missed Igor -who, rumour has it more and more strongly, is leaving INSEAD. Great shame...

Brand Management, by Pierre Chandon, is alright. Easily one of the best Marketing classes at INSEAD. Not super insightful but still quite relevant. I mean, after all, it's Marketing...

Now the big star of P4, without a shadow of doubt, is Karen Cool. The guy created, polished ICA. He exudes ICA. He emits ICA radiations. It's just awesome to me. It's all about mixing economics, game theory, strategy, and some marketing. As someone said, this should be a core course. Karen is the type of Prof. I like: humble, bright, intuitive, challenging (his cold calls...), passionate. He did nearly kick out someone today, which is a bit tough, because that person was auditing, but it was more for the politeness of being asked for auditing rather than for the fact of auditing per se. That tells you about the man, all about manners and respect. A great, great INSEAD Professor.

My personal favourite though, in P4, was Fernando Bartholomé in PIM. In a rational way, I should prefer Karen's ICA, because of all the analytics, and strategic thinking etc. but I enjoyed so much PIM. It was so different from any other courses I've had, the guy was bloddy funny, and most of all, I think I'm bringing home a lot of takeaways...

Overall, a great period to enjoy your schoolmates (when they are not interviewing), Fontainebleau in spring, great different classes, and Paris... If like me you did not look for a job "seriously".

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