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Gerhard Mulder

Degree:

EMBA

Location:

Netherlands

Industry:

Not for Profit

Year:

Jan 2017 - Sep 2018

By Gerhard Mulder

R-squared

One of the criteria for professors to gain tenure at Saїd Business School is that they must be funny. This doesn’t feel like going to class, it feels like 8 hours a day of stand-up comedy. I don’t know what they put in the water here, but these guys are very entertaining. If you have not laughed out loud at least 4 times in any particular hour, the class is a dud. Perhaps they practice their classes at The Glee, a comedy club just down the road.

Even though all the professors we have had so far were funny, one professor stands out: Professor of Decision Science, James Taylor. He must be a legend. I can’t really tell whether he is a legend or not because every time I google him, I get 336.000.000 hits on the singer song writer James Taylor. The second module was largely devoted to Analytics, the topic that includes regression analysis, decision trees, t-stats, etc. Professor Taylor made us calculate portfolio variance on our first day. There are a lot of Greek symbols in that formula. Enough to intimidate even the techies among us ….

Another professor who spent a lot of time with us the second module is Professor of Organisational Leadership, Sue Dopson. She is also funny. But be aware all future students, she can be tough as nails. If you answer a question incorrectly you must perform 10 push-ups in front of the class. Now, the challenge with Leadership Fundamentals is that there are no right or wrong answers. So we are all at her mercy.

Pushups_OxfordEMBA

Back to Professor Taylor …. I wished I had him as a teacher at high school. For sure he would have showed me the love for numbers and I would have continued studying it in university. He would write this as P (GM Study Math | J. Taylor) > 90%. Having an inspirational teacher who believes in your capabilities can make all the difference. There is an interesting study in which two groups of students were randomly chosen: one group was labelled “talented” and the other not. The “talented” group performed significantly better than the other group, even though their capabilities were the same. Just telling that they were talented made them perform better. Similar studies have been done by the military, with the same results.

But he explained it all so brilliantly, that I am still astounded. And not only did he explained it so well, it was a performance: “okay, so what is R-squared? Come on, come one, come on, don’t let me down, think deeply … think deeply, any of the techies know the answer? Anyone? Alright .. alright …. it’s on the board … on the board!! Yesss … indeed …. R-squared …. it is the square of R!!”
Sometimes it is that easy …

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  • Antonio Potenza

    Hilarious? 👍🏻👍🏻 James Taylor is a Myth and surely a highlight!

  • Sola Afolayan

    Prof James is a rock star with an unbeatable standup comedy track record and a brain that feeds only on t-stats, r-square and all the statistician jargon. He has a way of making a non-techie person like me want to do a decision tree whether to become a Professor of Probabilistic Statistics as he is…hmm, there’s a thought!

  • Lex Lawless

    Prof James Taylor is a legend! Full of energy and passion for the world of Statistics. He’s equally as brilliant in his knowledge as well as how he teaches so that even the lay person finds harmony in the chaos!! 🙂