I'm getting dragged back into this subject but will go there because it is important. As I said in an earlier post the MBA was set up for non-business majors who somehow end up in commerce and don't know a thing. The poor liberal arts major or education major can then get up to speed and compete. That's the theory but not the fact as many, if not a majority, of MBA students are undergrad business majors who are just doing some retraining. You know who you are so quit reading.
If you were a liberal arts, computer science or education major and thinking about an MBA here is the truth about the most important thing, the courses. But first a fact or two. Going from liberal arts to business school is kind of like going from liberal arts to plumbing school. In liberal arts we spouted nonsense about the Industrial Revolution, the Sung dynasty and the role of the boyars in Russian society. Fun but not really going to make you a lot of money in the long run. Business school is more of making balance sheets balance and figuring out discounted cash flows. Not real exciting but it is what you do in the business world.
Secondly, a little secret about business school. If you get in, you will not get kicked out. Grading is pretty easy in grad school. If you don't show up for classes you will get kicked out but if you try, you won't.
But what do you do in the classes? I know what I did but that was a long time ago so went to the class catalog and found that some liberal arts types had invaded the writing so it is almost impossible to figure out what goes on in the class. But Uncle Bill will interpert for you.
First, the traditional MBA is for two years with the first year being mainly requirements and the second year being requirements plus electives. Forget the fourth semester--you will be so busy interviewing for a job that you, and the school, won't be paying any attention.
Finally, on to the catalog. This is Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Couldn't get in there unless I built them a building but did go for the Senior Executive Program so know the lay of the land. I highly recommend Stanford if only for their golf course.
And the first course is--
|FIRST YEAR COURSES|
|GENERAL MANAGEMENT PERSPECTIVES|
Your time at Stanford begins with a unifying academic experience to build community within your class and to give you a shared base for approaching general management problems. Every student in your class will study General Management Perspectives, comprising seven required courses in your first quarter and one required course in your second quarter. The goal of this coursework is to give you insight into the perspective of a senior manager and leader.
Through the Perspectives experience, your faculty advisor will get to know you and your experiences, abilities, and aspirations. He or she will guide you in choosing the most challenging course of study to maximize your personal, intellectual, and professional development. You begin to shape your future here.
This doesn't sound like a course, it sounds like a party. See what I mean about the liberal arts language? Vague but not too threatening. What's next?
This course gives you perspective on key accounting concepts and role of accounting in markets and firms. You will learn the structure of financial statements, including balance sheets and income statements, and the accrual basis of accounting. In addition, you will cover the role of accounting numbers in providing information to investors and managers. Finally, you will assess the value created by a business or business segment, and the distinction between economic and accounting profitability.
Ok, finally some clarity and I have to give Stanford credit. Their accounting classes are oriented toward USING accounting as opposed to DOING accounting. If you are a manager you use accounting information, if you are a CPA or in the controllers department you do accounting which means just piling the numbers together but no real analysis. This class is not easy but absolutely essential to business success because if you don't know how a balance sheet works then you will never be successful in business. Us finance guys used to have fun with the marketing guys because a finance guy can take a balance sheet and in 30 seconds tell a marketing guy what is wrong with his business. Inventories too high, receivables too long, margin too low, debt too high--it's a no brainer. The smart marketing guy will then say "Tell me how to fix it?" Then they have the finance guy because that is the tough question. But anyway, this is a good but hard class.
Critical Analytical Thinking
Critical Analytical Thinking (CAT) will address issues that transcend any single discipline or function of management. In 15-person sections, you will analyze, write about, and debate fundamental issues, questions, and phenomena that arise in many forms in management. You will explore these critical issues broadly, as well as hone your analytic and persuasive skills. CAT will enhance your ability to identify critical questions when exploring a new business issue, to parse issues, to develop reasoned positions, and to make compelling arguments. CAT also will help you explore the principles and ideals that you will seek to uphold as a leader.
I've read this three times and have no idea what it is about. Even looked for buzz words that would give it away. Words like 'critical' and 'analytical' usually are code for math or computers. Really not sure about this one but math and computer professors know that students hate their classes so they veil them in verbiage. Watch out.
In the winter quarter, you will take a course on ethical analysis. This courses emphasizes both frameworks for conducting ethical analysis (on what basis can you say that a course of action is or is not ethical), the analysis of ethical dilemmas (how do you think about situations in which different ethical precepts collide), and how to deal on a day-to-day basis with the practical issues of ethical behavior in organizations.
Oh, please. Enough is enough. This Sarbanes Oxley 101. Believe me, if you go on to be a manager in a public company you will come to hate Sarbanes Oxley. Take my word for it. Also, business school will give you examples so black and white that only a psychopath would not be able to figure them out. The real world is a bit different. Here's one I heard about in Argentina--you are a pharma company trying to register a new drug, you go to the right ministry, they say you didn't fill out the form right and need someone that knows the local customs. You go there and pay the 'consultant' a huge fee. Part of that money goes back to the ministry offical. A bribe? You bet but a common practice. What are you going to do? I don't know but this course isn't going to give you the answer. It depends on your moral compass and the moral compass of the company.
Will look at a more courses tomorrow.