Four thousand three hundred and fifty pages were assigned to us as “essential reading” for this seven-week term (yes that is 4,350 pages in seven weeks!). This figure does not include the recommended readings, readings that are recommended in passing and further readings, which are also recommended.
Having moved from courses based on understanding the firm in Term 1 (accounting, economics, operations, decision making and IT), Term 2 is aimed at looking at the market. Most of our courses this term use case-study based learning, analysis and reflection. As an engineer who spent four years in undergrad crunching numbers and deriving equations, case studies are a whole new experience for me.
“Performance driven marketing” and “Introduction to general management and competitive strategy” are the two subjects with the heaviest reading load. This is not only because the syllabuses have a lot of prescriptive reading, but also because they are so interesting that when you start reading a case, you end up reading tons of related articles.
We’ve looked at a wide range of companies, markets and products in these two courses, from cars to coffee, pharma to farming, juice to vodka (including obligatory taste comparison tests – neat vodka is horrible enough on a night out, but a thimble-full at 11am is particularly disgusting!).
The two professors teaching these classes – Prof Damien McLoughlin and Prof Pat Gibbons, are outstanding. They are both highly regarded, have worked in a broad range of industries and have taught MBA courses all over the world. Their classes use the case studies as launching pads for class discussions and debates on customer behaviour, marketing innovation, competitor and industry analysis, value chains and (the answer to every question if in doubt) market segmentation.
Cold calling is their modus operandi and your grades are based, in part, on meaningful class participation so you had better be prepared. If you flounder or delay, 44 other people have their hands up and your opportunity to contribute evaporates.
As I have already mentioned, our class of 45 is a very tight knit and supportive group so everyone’s opinions are respected. This sort of environment makes it much easier to develop ideas and build on each other’s experiences. It also means that some of the wackier, more creative ideas get airtime as no-one is in fear of being shot down or ridiculed. The classes are great fun , I can’t wait for them to begin and can never believe it when the two hours are up.
Back to reading… I went to my optician yesterday because my eyes have been very dry all term and sometimes feel like they are on fire. I was obviously worried that I had developed a rare, flaming-eye syndrome.
I told the optician I was doing an MBA and she laughed and said that I was studying too hard and staring at pages for too long. She prescribed blinking and sent me home!