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Thursday, September 23, 2004

First Steps in the MBA Class

Our MBA classes at the Leavey School of Business in Santa Clara University started off this week and well, it has been quite hectic indeed. We have signed up for 2 courses this quarter - Accounting Basics and a Management Course on Organizational Behavior. Both the courses are held 2 times a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The first days of the classes have been nothing short of an eye-opener for us in many ways. The first thing that we observed about MBA classes is that it is far different from the traditional Engineering classes that we went through at IIT, KGP. The professor doesn't come to the class and teach you 'What are Assets', 'What are Liabilities' etc. You are expected to read that as part of your homework. However, during the classes, the professor will prick your brains so that you can apply what you learnt in a current business context. For example, we were made to go through the HP annual balance sheet and apply our knowledge of assets/liabilities to figure out whether it is worth investing the dollars in HP or not.

Another interesting difference is the relevance of the MBA courses to the world around you. The course textbooks don't talk of something that happened 10 years ago (our Engineering Books still do) - instead, they talk about the Enrons and the MCIs, the Disneys and the Eisners, the Southwests and the Jet Blues of the world. In other words, it really makes you aware of the business happenings around the world. I really find this aspect fascinating.

The method/medium of teaching in this country is very different too. Professors do not really care whether you are coming into the class or not. According to them, they know that they are good and so, if we do not come to the class, it is our loss and not theirs ! Of course, the fact that you are paying so much of money for the classes should be motivation enough to come to the classes, but then that is another point.

The MBA classes are also very discussion oriented. As I said before, the professor does not come into the class and start writing anything on the board. On the other hand, we are shown movies about a particular company/person and then there is a detailed analysis of why/how the company succeeded (or did not succeed).

Last but not the least, the MBA classes lay a lot of stress on assignments and homeworks. Most of these homeworks actually help you to be prepared for the next day's classes. As you might have already understood, it helps to know "What are assets" before one starts looking at a balance sheet - more so for people, who have only dealt with Compilers and Interpreters :).

These are early days for us in the MBA classes - but one thing is for sure. They are definitely going to be very different from what we have faced before and of course, they are going to be very very challenging.

Till then !