Last Set of Classes

Hello again, everybody, welcome back. So I’ve talked a lot so far about extracurriculars, recruiting, etc, but one thing I haven’t done to a great degree is talk about my classwork, which is likely relevant to an audience of future grad students. So I’ll go briefly into the six classes I’m taking this semester, as they will be the last six accredited classes I will likely ever take.

Advanced Strategy – Tools, Professor Sonia Marciano
This is the main follow-up class to the core strategy class that almost all MBA1s take. It’s almost entirely filled with MBA2s, many of whom are taking Professor Marciano for the second time. The class uses cases as the basis for discussion, and focuses on the process of strategic analysis and strategic planning. So far, we have gotten deep into industry analyses, resource alignment, global strategies, and competitor analysis. The class has been intellectually challenging and never boring. This class also features some really great guest speakers. Some of our speakers this semester include a Vice President of Content Acquisition at Time Warner Cable, a Deputy Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Economics, the President of Career Builders International, and a few more.

Competitive Strategy in the Marketplace, Professor John Czepiel
This class is a bit of a hidden gem within the Marketing department. It is designed to be a really practical class that gets students to perform deep strategic analyses and provide tangible, insightful recommendations. The structure of the class is as follows. On the first day of class, students form teams and choose one of 11 cases to analyze for the rest of the class. For the first few weeks, the class is lecture driven, and gets to the main content of the course. Meanwhile, groups are working together to put together a series of recommendations for the client they chose. The clients are frozen in time – all data to be used is from the case that the group chose to work on. Starting in early April, students in groups of five or six begin giving presentations, and for each group that presents, another group has been assigned to basically act as their “bosses” – they know the case, and they’re responsible for asking tough questions of the presentation. Having come from a consulting background, I would say that this course really effectively simulates what it’s like to work on a client project and then present that information to clients. The expectation of rigor is extremely high, and students are held accountable to own their recommendations, like they would on the job.

Business Law for Managers, Professor Richard Hendler
Professor Hendler is as unique and interesting a professor as any I’ve ever had. Each day of class generally starts with an open forum where we can ask whatever legal questions we like. Some things that have come up have been landlord/tenant disputes, foreign speeding tickets, and some other things my classmates have been dealing with. Professor Hendler will use these questions as a way of conveying an interesting legal concept, or even giving general tips. Yesterday, we learned how to be found not guilty of a traffic violation in New York City. I wish I had taken better notes on that. After a little time in this open forum, we learn about some of the big legal issues that managers may face, or that we as individuals could come across in dealing with businesses. The class is really interactive, full of Professor Hendler’s bizarre true stories of situations he’s dealt with, and often features candy and/or pizza.

Conflict, Collaboration and Negotiation, Professor Seth Freeman
I’m a bit late to take this class, as it’s one of the classes that Summer Start students take in advance of the first semester. This is another really interactive, hands-on class where you learn more by doing than any other way. The class is taught as six three-hour blocks for 1.5 credits, and we’ve done at least one negotiation simulation in each class so far. After each negotiation, we debrief as a class and talk about the different strategies we each used to get the outcomes we did, be they better or worse than our classmates.

The Performing Manager, Professor Patricia Bower
Professor Bower is really a performer at heart, and this class is the closest thing I’ve ever taken to an acting class. The class is extremely interactive. How interactive, you ask? Well, we spent a majority of the day on our feet, doing mirroring exercises, moving our bodies around, and actually giving speeches in front of our classmates. If you get anxious about presenting, which many people do, this class provides a great way of breaking out of your shell and learning to feel confident in your presentation skills.

Investment Strategies, Professor Richard Bernstein
This class actually takes place during the second half of the semester, so it has not yet started. Therefore, I really don’t know much about it, other than the course description. So here’s the course description:
“This course is a subjective approach to security analysis. Topics include industry selection, market timing, and interpretation of market history and cycles. Illustrations range from applications of the Dow theory to interest rate analysis to contrary opinion theories. The goal is to blend current market, political, and economic factors in with standard firm financial data to make better investment decisions.”
Sounds cool, right?

So that’s how I’m spending my last 13.5 credits at Stern. I’m doing a mix of strategy, finance, law, and communication classes. This is all made possible by the flexibility of the Stern curriculum. Since I’m not required to specialize in anything, I can get as broad or as narrow an education as I want. I’ve decided to go broad with mine, and I’m thrilled to be learning so much about so many different topics.