My favorite course this semester: Emerging Technologies and Business Innovation

I started a Tech MBA so I could “speak and understand” technology, but mainly to use it as a tool to face business challenges and scale solutions. I am enjoying the program as the mix of courses is accurate for this goal. There are incredible courses related to business and others to technology. There are many special courses, but my favorite one has been “Emerging Technologies and Business Innovation,” dictated by the professor Alex Tuzhilin.

This course wraps up what every person who wants to develop a career around innovation would need to know. It starts explaining innovation as the interaction between business, technology, and regulation. With this in mind, we discussed a framework that was present all over the course: the can-do/ should-do. This is a useful perspective to understand how and when to use certain technologies considering their feasibility, context, ethics, and business sense.

We reviewed the history of innovation and technology, watching how certain technologies faced a phase of hype due to an excitement of the market (many times overreaction), but then they lose its attention (and its capital) because they are not useful. Sometimes they just die, or sometimes they come more solid and disrupt markets. Getting to see this in a conceptual analysis, with a big picture perspective, is useful to be able to understand the nature of innovation and use it.

After this framework, we analyzed technologies that passed through the phase of gloom and now are succeeding. These technologies have the potential to shape many fields in business and human activities. We saw virtual reality, big data, knowledge management, and artificial intelligence. In each case we reviewed what industries are impacted and the challenges around them for the present and the future. We saw industries like healthcare, education, work, among others.

During the course we not only studied these conceptual topics, but also reviewed cases around each topic and received guest speakers to put what has been learned in perspective. I really enjoyed the course because it was totally conceptual – now I feel more prepared to analyze our fast-moving world. I feel I have the tools to feed my curiosity looking to the future with a more structured framework.

Learning to Lead: An Overview of My Favourite Spring Class

Only three months into the Tech MBA program at NYU Stern, my classes have already played a large role in impacting my future career as a professional and leader. 

Our Spring semester was packed with many business core classes such as Accounting, Economics, Business Communication, and Leadership. Among all of these great classes, Leadership in Organization (LiO) – the opening class of the MBA, taught by Professor Petitt – specifically stood out. Not only because it was a very engaging class, but also because it’s centered on a topic that all of us can relate to. No matter what point of your career you are at, no matter if you are in a tech, creative or strategy team, Leadership will be the key to unlock your success at its maximum potential as well as the success of your organization. And, a bit more surprisingly, this course also taught me that strong leadership skills are critical to helping your personal relationships flourish. 

But first, let me start by addressing the most common question that people ask themselves (including me) when approaching a Leadership class: “Can I really learn Leadership in a classroom?”
The answer is rooted in the notion of leadership itself. Leadership is the ability to create change in a given environment; this could be your organization, your team or your family/friends.
We are all naturally capable of creating change by making decisions; if you think about it, you make hundreds of decisions everyday, with various degrees of risk. This course provided me with the right tools to analyze difficult situations and opportunities to act and to make difficult decisions to achieve the best outcomes for a set goal. And when I say making difficult decisions, I literally mean decisions that impact your actual life – not a business case, not a simulation. So yes, you can learn Leadership in a this classroom! 

So what was so good about this course? 

– Content: human, social and organizational aspects of leadership
Throughout our six intensive sessions, we have explored all the different dimensions and aspects of leadership, from individual motivations to group dynamics inside and outside the organization, touching on cultural differences in business interactions and ethical dilemmas. We covered a wide range of interesting topics, yet went deep enough to be able to embed these learnings into our professional lives. 

– Methodology: pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone
The greatest aspect of this course was the “experiential” component that enabled us to test our leadership skills in many different situations – I won’t spoil anything here, but get ready to push your limits and face some challenging situations! And – bonus point – while doing so, you will get to know your classmates better and also have fun!

– Outcome: increased self-knowledge
Because of the way the course was structured, through each session and each assignment we had the opportunity to reflect on our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to leadership and take actions to improve some of the key areas that are critical to become a good leader. I learnt about the theory and the frameworks, but most importantly I learnt more about myself, how to recognize my biases and how to overcome them, as well as how to leverage my current skills to improve my leadership style.

Mix all the above points with the enthusiasm and humor of Professor Petitt, and you will get all the ingredients for a memorable, game-changing class! 

My Stern MBA List

It’s hard to believe the year is coming to an end. We’ve got just a couple weeks remaining to wrap up spring semester courses before we’ll emerge as the latest class of Stern MBA graduates. As you consider applying to the Tech MBA program – or if you’ve already been admitted – I will offer you some utilitarian (and quite frankly, kind of boring) advice, but advice that I hope will be as helpful to you as it has been for me.

My advice to you — prospective or incoming Stern MBA — is to make a list of knowledge, experiences, and things that you want out of your time at NYU. For me, it’s fun to look back on now, but my list was a helpful tool that provided me with strong footing when I was presented with the many diverging paths and opportunities available to students here at Stern. From classes you want to take, knowledge gaps you want to plug, or extracurricular and professional experiences you want to have, going through this exercise helped me set goals and provided structure to ensure I was making the most of my time on campus. Amidst the new and promising opportunities available to me, referring back to my list was a helpful way to check in with myself on whether or not I was staying true to my reasons for coming back to business school. In many cases, it helped me recalibrate my focus, and in others, it allowed me to reflect and sometimes change my mind, indicating both personal and professional growth, which is what pursuing graduate education is all about.

To give you an example of my list in action, it was a few months ago in October 2019 and Stern had entered the course selection period for the upcoming spring. As I went through the course catalog in search of electives I wanted to take, I identified more classes than I had room for in my schedule. I conducted a ton of research through talking with other students, reviewing syllabi, and reading course reviews, but to no avail on any narrowing decisions. I was considering an intense finance class, higher-level strategy courses, a pricing strategy class, a few interesting entertainment and media courses (just for fun), and more. I clearly couldn’t take all of them, so I decided to refer back to the list I created prior to arriving on campus because I remembered that it included knowledge gaps I wanted to fill through my Stern coursework.

Upon review, one of the items on that list was to learn strategies for pricing a product—in my previous work experiences I had never priced a product or service from scratch, and I knew there were many strategies and techniques to do so. My list became the tiebreaker in my elective selection, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision. I have learned so much while taking the pricing class in which I enrolled, well beyond anything I could have initially imagined. The professor, Masakazu Ishihara, is amazing not only because he’s an expert in his field, but also because despite our classes going remote, he’s been incredibly dedicated to making each class session engaging and interactive. Also, the classwork and projects have been some of the most practical applications of the concepts we’ve learned that can be used across many industries. It’s become my favorite course this semester, and I feel well equipped to re-enter the workforce and apply this new knowledge.

The point I’m trying to make here is not to tell you to take a pricing class or model your list after mine, since that might not make sense in the context of your reasons for pursuing your MBA. But whether your list includes traveling to a new country, working with one of Stern’s professors, meeting a business leader at a campus event, or simply just speaking up more frequently in class, I think you’ll find that creating this list is a helpful exercise in keeping you on track toward your goals—it’s helped me achieve mine, and it’s a reassuring feeling in the last few weeks wrapping up my great experience here at Stern.