Jan 2015 - Sep 2016
Over the last months our EMBA-class has passed several major milestones, and this blogpost – belated due to busy times – will attempt to sum up some of my key highlights and hardships of the winter.
First up was the course in accounting and its written exam in November. I must admit that I had expected financial reporting to be a mainly dry and exacting subject, but then I had not counted on Senior Lecturer Cohen’s wit and remarkable ability to translate arbitrary balance sheets and income statements into vivid stories about their companies’ state of affairs. For the exam, some cramming of ratios and bond discounting proved inevitable, but all in all the course was an eye-opener into the soft sides of accounting. We tend to look at financial statements as tables of undisputable figures, but through current and real examples we learned that key numbers in a balance sheet may be influenced by judgement and beliefs. As a consequence, managers may be tempted to tweak an allowance here and there in order to reach a performance target or shrink the tax bill, but after this course we are better equipped to spot any balance shenanigans.
The toughest part of the programme has undoubtedly been the Business Finance module, not because of its complexity, but rather because of the sheer amount of material that was covered in a relatively short period. Discounted cash flows, options, bonds, betas and portfolio matrixes had me burning the midight oil for several weeks before the exam in January, but taking time to do the exercises after each chapter was, for me, an essential part of the learning process. Ass. Professor Shapiro, and his aide, Dr. Rauch, laid down much effort to impart a good grounding in finance to us, but in the end there is no way around putting in a good measure of work in your own time.
As if sweating over capital structures and payout diagrams wasn’t enough, our presentation of Entrepreneurial Project was scheduled for the day after the finance exam. Slick slide decks and well pondered business ideas were to be prepared for a scrutinizing panel of investors – a format with some resemblance to the “Dragon’s Den”. Although our panel was as tough as any to convince, we got at least constructive criticism to guide our work towards the final business plan submission in March.
We are now well into our second year of the programme and our elective courses are henceforth up and running. I found Global Strategy to be a very rewarding choice in which Professor Sako encouraged informed class discussions about up-to-date cases involving well known brands, current issues, and no pat answers. We have been enlightend about relevant market – as well as non-market – strategies for companies operating in a multinational context, and we have studied frameworks that will help us assess how – or even if – we should enter a foreign market. As an example of the course’s timeliness, our final assignment was to develop possible strategies for Uber in China ¬– a question still very much unsettled. And with our Shanghai module coming up this spring, we will soon be able study business in emerging markets more closely.
Since we passed the halfway mark of the programme some weeks ago, the notion of life after graduation becomes ever more present in my mind, and not surprisingly, the images it conjures up look different now than it did a year ago, but more about that later. At the moment, the Strategy & Innovation course keeps me occupied with nascent markets and the long winding paths that separate inventions from innovations. And so the modules fly by…Back to top of article