Wednesday, January 4, 2012

All about Q2!

As promised, here are my thoughts on the classes we took in Q2.

Statistics for Managers: Stats this quarter was simply a continuation of stats from last quarter. We had the same professor and literally picked up where we left off after the midterm in October. My sentiments on this course are the same from last quarter: I do not recommend taking this course lightly, especially since it covers material for two quarters. Stay on top of the readings and get extra help from the scholars whenever you can. It is not much fun trying to cram all this material in the day before the exam!

Strategy: This is the kind of course I have been looking forward to taking since I started at Rotman. Although I do not anticipate working as a business consultant, the tools and techniques we learned to evaluate a company’s strategic position will certainly help in my career in finance. This was also the first class I have taken where I have really experienced the value of class discussions, especially when we discussed the 8 or so cases we had to read throughout the quarter. You definitely hear a lot of different perspectives from your classmates, and mostly ones that you haven’t thought about before. This course also included a weekend-long case analysis project – each student worked with a new group of people to analyze Cineplex Entertainment and present recommendations for their future strategic position. In general, I really enjoyed the course and learned a lot.

Finance: Everyone had mixed feelings about this course. For anyone who is financially inclined, it wasn’t too bad. But for the students with little to no knowledge of finance, it posed a challenge. The workload was heavy – we had an assignment due every class – and it moved fast. We covered valuation of bonds, stocks and futures and discussed topics such as market efficiency and hedging. Even though the course moved quickly, the fact that we had an assignment due every class was pretty valuable, in my opinion. It gave us a chance to practice everything we learned over the quarter at least once. The scholars for this class were also very knowledgeable and helpful. If you are a future Rotman student: yes, this course is hard and can be frustrating, but there are many resources available for you if you need extra help.

Financial Accounting: Another class that was a continuation from Q1 with a very similar format: lectures, a quiz, two assignments and a final exam. There were a couple differences though. The assignments were to be completed in groups instead of individually. Although I prefer to work on assignments involving a lot of numbers by myself, it was nice to be with my group on this once since they both involved some judgement. As well, our professor, Francesco Bova, liked to use i-clickers in class. Basically, he would show a multiple choice question on the lecture notes, and we would answer the question using the i-clickers. The results were tallied so we could see what the rest of the class answered. And of course, we would always discuss what the right answer should be so that people have an idea of what they might be doing wrong. We also referred to the financial statements of Air Canada when discussing certain topics, which was nice because we became more and more familiar with the company as the quarter progressed.

Managing Customer Value: I really enjoyed this course. The professor, Nitin Mehta, stressed on the first day that we would not be writing radio jingles. It was actually a very analytical course on various marketing topics: analyzing the company, customer and competition (the 3 C’s), examining the market segments and deciding on a target, and deciding on the product, price, place (distribution) and promotion (the 4 P’s.) The first class of the week was a lecture, and the second class was spent discussing and debating over a case about a company that is dealing with some sort of marketing issue. If you make a point in class though – be prepared to defend it until the class is over! The professor remembers who said what and will ask you what you think again when someone brings in a new perspective. Throughout the quarter, there are three assignments, but only the top two grades will be recorded – so if you do well on the first two, you don’t need to complete the third. For the final exam, we were given a case the day before so we could read it and become familiar with the company and the issue at hand well ahead of time. The exam was very similar to assignments, except obviously we only had 3 hours to get our thoughts down onto paper.

You: “Ok, Paige, gotcha. But what really made Q2 so hard?”

Several things made Q2 so hard!

Case competitions: No matter what field interests you, there is one for everyone. And for the most part you can participate in however many you want. Although they consume a lot of time and energy, they are well worth the learning experience, even if you don’t win or make it to the finals. Do at least one!

Networking: Not just networking, but preparations for recruiting season in general. In addition to meeting people “on the street” (Bay St., that is), many people were participating in mock interviews, resume workshops and career consulting this quarter. A single mock interview by itself doesn’t take up that much time, but preparing for one does.

Study tours: Some first and second year students were preparing to go on study tours to China and Europe (they left over the holidays) by going to extra classes and doing some extra presentations. And some other students were compiling applications and doing interviews to head to India or Latin America in May.

Group homework: There were definitely a lot more of them this quarter. Two for finance, two for accounting, a giant statistics project and the strategy case analysis project. Working in groups is fun, but scheduling time to work together can be tricky.

Weather: I doubt this is a legitimate excuse, but it was getting cold and dark outside. It definitely affects the mood and makes it harder to get out of bed in the mornings.

And there you have it, folks! Q2 in a (big) nutshell. We are halfway through our Negotiations intensive this week and so far it is going very well (despite the early start time of 8am!) This weekend the MBA Games Team finally heads off to Edmonton for competition, and next week is the much awaited recruiting week.

The busy-ness begins!

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