Category Archives: Academic

Alumnus Entry

First, thank you for inviting me to write a guest post on the official UBC Sauder MM Blog. It feels just like yesterday when you could find me sucking down double doubles from the Tim’s at Henry Angus at 7:30 AM each morning with incredible zeal, steeling myself for the day’s barrage of intense MM classes and dreaded group meetings – you know what I’m talking about.

In honesty, I look back on my days at Sauder with much fondness and believe that the MM program was a cornerstone decision that’s had a tremendous impact on my life.

I want to take this opportunity to offer a few words of advice and encouragement to those currently going through the program.

  1. Embrace your diversity in background, don’t shy from it.

I think many start the the MM program with a bit of self-doubt. I know in my year, we were only the third cohort coming out the program, so there was really a lot to think and be skeptical about. Wedged somewhere in between the rigorous academic foundation of a BCom and the work experience of an MBA, would I really be ready?

About half a decade out now, it’s very clear how little I had to fear. I still remember many of the stimulating conversations and incredible personalities from the MM program. I really enjoyed the dynamic natures of the people I went to class with, coming from various nationalities and academic backgrounds, who offered up perspectives on our courses and business cases with a perspective different from mine filtered from Science, Liberal Arts, Engineering backgrounds and more. Rarely in business is there only one way to tackle a problem, so learning to see so many different sides of an issue was a great lesson for me.


There have also been practical benefits to the MM experience. In the working world, now more than ever, creativity and new ideas are celebrated. At least in the technology and advertising world, many were fascinated by the story of my Music and Business background and often it’s kept the interviewer’s interest after they had slagged through 100 resumes with the same information, over and over. It shows we MMers have diverse interests, we’re willing to forge a unique path and if nothing else, that we’re interesting people (at least I’d like to think so). Breadth often breeds respect. I’ve noticed that stacking knowledge from different disciplines often enhances and rarely hinders your value to an organization.

  1. The UBC Sauder network is full of incredible connections. Use them.

One of the greatest things about being a graduate of UBC Sauder is that you’ll soon be joining the ranks of our amazing alumni community. A quick LinkedIn search will show you that we’re a global bunch, firmly established in almost every industry under the sun, whether in finance, tech, health, or entertainment – you’ll find us there..

Through the alumni network I’ve made many lifelong friends. I’ve found mentors to help me brainstorm through difficult business and career problems, I’ve secured job interviews while looking for new careers and I’ve found great friends and travel guides to meet up with when I’m visiting new countries, such as Tokyo, NYC and Seoul. Of course, I’ve also done my part to pay it forward when I can, helping make connections and introduction where possible. The reciprocity found in the Sauder community always surprises me and I’m grateful to be a contributing member.

  1. Life is a journey, don’t forget to enjoy the ride

The late nights, myriad exams and numerous networking and study sessions can seem incredibly arduous at times, but let me assure you that it will all be over in a blink of an eye. Very soon, you’ll be walking across a stage, shaking hands with the Chancellor in the Chan Centre and it will all feel like a dream.

So carpe diem. Will yourself to go to all the networking events, take part in the TREKs the school provides, make a few extra visits to the Career Centre, have a couple late nights out with your cohort and drink it all in (pun intended), leave no stone unturned because – to reiterate – it will all be over faster than you think. Say “yes” to more often than saying “no.” Make the most of your time in the MM program and leave no stone unturned. I assure you, it will be worth it.

All the best to this year’s MM cohort and a big shoutout to the amazing UBC Sauder alumni all around the world.

Feel free to connect with me whenever on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/leungalexander/ or read more about my travels, work and life at my blog leungalexander.com

Always willing to help a fellow MM-er in need.

 

Photo: Checking out the Angkor temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia


Written by Alexander Leung ’12

 

Business for Creatives

I took a different path than most of my cohort did to get to the MM program. I think that my story will help show one of the strengths of the MM program as well as hopefully inspire others to push their boundaries and try to gain new skills, so bear with me for a minute.

When I was a kid, I was never a big fan of school, especially anything that involved numbers. I spent a lot more time playing with cameras and computers than I actually spent paying attention in high school. For the most part, I took the easy route with a singular vision in mind – going to design school. After 3 years studying graphic design at MacEwan University in Edmonton, I graduated with a certificate and a diploma and immediately landed a fantastic internship as a designer in a construction company’s communications department. I’d never seen myself working in an office, but I quickly fell in love with it.

I knew that my new career goals would require more education than a diploma, so the following year I went to Royal Roads University in Victoria and completed my BA in Professional Communication. However, as I was completing my undergraduate degree I felt like something was missing. While I had gained a lot of great skills, I lacked the ability to quantify their value. I also lacked business acumen as well as knowledge of key areas such as commercial law and financial reporting.

I had never taken a single quantitative course in university. With increasingly high aspirations, I knew that I wanted, and needed, more. To make a long story short: I worked my butt off brushing up on my quantitative skills, wrote the GRE, and applied for the MM.

While I had some basic quantitative experience from investing as well as summer jobs in construction, starting the MM three weeks after finishing my undergraduate degree was daunting. The first period included courses in Economics, Statistics, and Financial Accounting. Looking back, I realize what a difficult job the professors had catering the material to a class that ranged from very little to heavy amounts of quantitative experience. One of the great things about the cohort model was that I’ve never been alone. I’ve constantly badgered my classmates for help in my weaker areas (thank you, if you’re reading this) and I was able to push through the courses. Plus, with the exception of a B- in Statistics, I’ve done very well.

Moving forward, I see endless possibilities for my creative background combined with my graduate business training. A lot of employers are seeking well-rounded individuals, which I can now certainly claim to be. While I don’t see myself becoming an accountant or a financial analyst, I have gained confidence and knowledge that helps me communicate with people from various areas of businesses. These skills have already proved invaluable in my conversations with potential employers.

The moral of my story is that you can earn an MM, whether you studied science or art. You can earn an MM even on the off chance that, like me, you haven’t taken a single quantitative undergraduate course. The MM is designed in a way that will help you succeed. All it takes is your dedication and a few late nights. Luckily, your cohort will be right there with you.

– Nick Larson

nicklarson.xyz

@NRWL

From Arts to Business

How business education shapes your world..

I always knew that some day I would like to wear a suit, smoke a cigar, and talk business. I might have exaggerated that a little bit, but it is true: I always wanted to immerse myself in the business world. I believed, and I still do, that business education would open doors to opportunities, leading me to companies that I longed to be a part of. When I was deciding on my undergraduate major, I chose to first invest four years of my life in the liberal arts education, believing that it would change the way I perceive the world for the rest of my life. I never regret.

My subconscious, however, kept telling me that I also needed knowledge and skills that could be more directly applied to careers in which I was interested. After thorough research, I chose the Master of Management program to build a broad foundation upon which I can further solidify my business knowledge and skills through work experience in the future. Now that I have completed 60% of the MM program, I can tell you that business education goes beyond finding a job: it will also equip you with another lens, enabling you to deepen the knowledge about the world.

Prior to the MM program, inadequate exposure to statistical theory made me skeptical when I read academic journals or articles on the newspapers. “How could they draw conclusions that represent the majority, from 1,000 samples only?”, I thought. It could be just a coincidence! However, Professor Jonathan Berkowitz introduced me to essential theory about statistics, its reasoning, and applications, in a unique way. He turned ordinary conversations or dialogues in movies and poems into statistical works of art. And the way I see this world has changed. Statistics has now become an additional tool that aids decision-making, personally and professionally.

Each jigsaw puzzle piece that the MM courses offer will provide you with different useful lenses to be used in different scenarios. The concepts of costs in Managerial Accounting might change your buying behaviour. Design thinking from Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship might redefine your perception of failure. Whichever lenses you use, a more versatile way of thinking, a big picture of business, and the link between your business career and your undergraduate degree will develop along the journey.

– Phaokan Thooptong

BLACK(M)MERLE

Courses you take during 9 months of the MM program are very intensive and challenging. However, these courses will definitely equip you with necessary tools that you would need in order to become a successful entrepreneur. Your learning experiences would be perfectly utilizable if you have some idea of your own venture before you come into the program or are even better when you have a business already. I can assure you of this because I am speaking from personal experience.

During my undergraduate years at Queen’s University, I majored in life sciences. Nonetheless, I knew that deep inside my heart the one thing that I was always passionate about was fashion. It is something that I have been putting my heart and soul into ever since my childhood. After graduating from Queen’s, I finally decided that I would start my own clothing brand, and to aid the process of building my own business, I applied to study management at UBC. After a lengthy but super enjoyable preparation, designing, sampling, and manufacturing process, BLACKMERLE (blackmerle.com) was officially launched on September 1st of 2015, which was the start of our MM program as well. 12625779_10153209303546059_821982769_nBeing a designer and starting your own fashion brand may look glamorous to some people but it is a really challenging venture and industry since there is a lot more business involved than what it seems like on the surface. Although I have taken care of all the beginning administration tasks and basic business side of the brand at this point, such as creating the online presence, marketing both online/offline, or making creative content, I was still faced with more tasks and strategic managing in order to move forward. Courses I have taken so far during the MM program and help from the Business Career Center have been guiding me and pushing me forward with my venture.

I have to admit that marketing is the biggest challenge in most start-up ventures. Marketing courses taught by Ann Stone and Yi Qian will definitely help you plan out and execute several important marketing tactics. Financial and managerial accounting gives you the important technique in tracking where all your precious investment is going and, more importantly, gives you the right mindset for dealing with cost, revenue, and profit. Real life case studies that you will be reading throughout the whole program give you great insight by analyzing other company’s mistakes and successes. Entrepreneurship class gives you some of the most direct advice you can utilize right away to build your own start-up. Lastly, resources and help from BCC are very precious since they can give you the most “tailored” advice. It is incredibly amazing opportunity when you can apply what you learn in the classroom right away into your own business. Concepts that might seem so abstract to some students are better understood when you can relate it to your own business.

You only live a short life. I always feel like there is not enough time. If you have a dream of building your own business empire, start now. Although it may be different from person to person, the MM program can help you gain some essential skills in order to achieve your entrepreneurial dream. As I always mumble to myself, “know thyself” and follow your heart.

–  Terry Shin

BLACKMERLE

Academic-Life Balance

The MM program offers 24 intensive courses over the course of 9 months. Although this might sound like a wonderful time, I was mostly attracted to the program because of its location in stunning Vancouver. Vancouver and the greater surrounding area has something for every adventure seeker, and in order to best balance books and life in the city without losing your sanity, it’s very important you master the art of work-life balance. This is a skill that will continue to prove useful throughout your career and will lead to reduced stress, anxiety and overall a more pleasant life. Perfecting work-life balance comes down to setting personal priorities. Not just ‘Should I watch the new episode of Suits or the Bachelorette?’ – in which case the answer is always Suits. Rather, setting priorities involves critically questioning the type of person you are, what you want out of your life and where you want to be in your final days. Do you want to be the wealthiest person in the world or live a healthy, prosperous life, surrounded by those who love and care about you? There’s really no one right answer, as I mentioned, these are personal priorities and you cannot judge yourself based on the priorities of other people. Therein lies the key message I’m trying to convey: don’t judge yourself using scorecards made by others – you’re doing yourself a disservice. Remain focused on your priorities and don’t let other’s sway you from them. By no means does this happen overnight; knowing what you want is a long process which can involve years of self-actualization. While you’re setting your priorities consider this: What type of lifestyle do you want in the future? How will you take care of parents, siblings or anyone else who made you who you are today? Will you have time to care for other loved ones, a spouse or even kids? It’s pointless to plan every detail of your life, as such plans are bound to change, but thinking about these questions will allow you to figure out who you want to be.

Like in business, focus is crucial when trying to achieve certain goals in your life. Whether it be finding your dream job or a partner who loves trap as much as you, priorities will help you focus on the important things and stop sweating the small stuff. For example, if you realize you’re here to save the planet and prevent humanity’s certain doom, you’ll stop worrying about that C you got in Stats. So fellow and future MM students, if you ever find yourself getting stressed about school, work or any other facet of life, take a step back and breathe. Ask yourself if what you’re worrying about is really a priority or if your life will continue to progress without it. In my limited 21 years of experience, I find most people stress themselves out by comparing themselves to certain metrics created by and meant for others, be it friends, family or total strangers. As I often do, if you find yourself guilty in this matter, remember these words echoed by the great Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

– Samuel Arulnathan

Should I Take the GRE or the GMAT?

When thinking about the application process for the MM program one of your key decisions will be whether to take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Both tests are standardized testing methods that aim to evaluate your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing and your critical thinking. Your results from one of the tests must be submitted with your application, so let’s try and help you decide which one to take!

The GMAT test is primarily used for graduate programs at business schools such as the MM and MBA programs. The structure of the test is broken down into four sections: verbal, quantitative, analytical writing and integrated reasoning. The GRE is primarily used for graduate and doctoral programs from varying academic disciplines and contains verbal, quantitative and analytical writing sections but does not include the integrated reasoning section found in the GMAT.

The integrated reasoning section is the only major difference in content between the tests. It is a new section on the GMAT that aims to evaluate your ability to evaluate data presented in multiple formats from multiple sources. However, your score on the integrated reasoning section does not contribute to your overall GMAT score. The GRE has an experimental section that could be either verbal or quantitative that tests new questions so therefore is also not part of your overall score. Apart from the content of each test, the total test time is comparable at 3.5 hours for the GMAT and 3.75 hours for the GRE. Your results from both the GRE and the GMAT are valid for 5 years after your test date, but the GRE is cheaper at $195 compared to the GMAT at $250.

The overall perception of the two tests is that the GRE focuses more on vocabulary rather than grammar, the quantitative section is easier and you can use a calculator. However, the best thing to do is to take a practice test of each and see how you score and how you like each test. Pick the one that you think you can improve the most in to reach those goals sooner! Also, it’s also a good plan to think ahead – maybe you’re going to apply to another program after the MM, which also accepts the GRE! Whichever test you pick, the online or in class prep courses give you great study tips and materials to help you reach your desired score. I hope this answers some of those burning questions so you can pick a test and get studying! Good luck!

– Samantha Bisnaire

MM Finance Stream

Are you interested in working in finance, consulting, or marketing? The MM program offers a unique stream which offers the following intense courses: Corporate Finance and Investment Theory, which prepare students for the challenges ahead in their future careers. Five weeks per course may seem like a lot to handle but, in reality, the key takeaways from these challenging courses may be invaluable for our future careers. Students learn to adapt to a steep learning curve as they are submerged into real life examples in finance from day one. A background in business is definitely not required as the MM program is designed for students without a business background. The quality of students is high and the chance to work with the diligent and clever classmates around you is definitely what makes the finance stream an attractive option.

Does taking the finance stream REALLY help you towards your future career in finance, consulting, and marketing?

This is a question I get asked a lot and, to be honest, a question I asked myself a couple times throughout my own studies. Not surprisingly, my answer would be definitely! Let me give you some examples to support this claim. Taking the finance stream has allowed me to list these courses on my resume and my LinkedIn profile. Most big financial institutions, although not requiring candidates to come from a financial background, prefer candidates to demonstrate their interest in finance and prove their analytical skills. What better way to show these companies your desire to excel in finance and your strengths in mathematics than taking courses such as Corporate Finance and Investment Theory? I have been interviewed by four of the largest financial institutions in the world and the question that always comes up is: Prove to me your interest in finance. Indeed, some banks even asked me to define financial terms and compute financial equations which, without the knowledge I’ve obtained from the finance stream, I would have had a difficult time answering.

All in all, the finance stream is both challenging and rewarding in my opinion. Although five weeks is brief, the amount of extra work you put into these courses will pay dividends in your future career and have a huge advantage to your future job search in finance, consulting, and marketing.

–  Eric Li

Trek Toronto and the Career Path Conundrum

TrekTorontoBlogpost

Students at the TD Tower in Toronto with Jeff Balin, MM Career Manager

The question that many new MMs are faced with regularly is pretty common in our society: “So what do you want to do?” Most of us have a pretty good defense sound byte that we can repeat on command but what we’re really thinking is “I’m not sure – that’s why I’m here!” Obviously this isn’t true for all of us, but it sure was for me.

Much of the way we are classified in terms of our future career is based on what industry we each want to work in. For certain industries you write different cover letters, focus your resume to highlight particular traits and attend industry-based info sessions. For me, one of the toughest parts of the job search has been figuring out what industry I want to work in in the first place! The trick, in my experience, has been diffusing the concept of “industry” and looking at the problem with both macro- and micro-scopic lenses.

Micro

I had the chance to be a part of the MM crew that participated in Trek Toronto only a few weeks ago to meet with companies in the downtown for four days of info session-style events. After seeing a dozen companies – some of which were in the same industries – I can tell you that my logic in choosing the “industry” I wanted to work in was flawed as a result of one assumption: that all companies within an industry are roughly the same. As it turns out, they can be vastly different. This was news to me. Learning this first hand in Toronto helped me realize that my employment search should be undertaken at the level of the company and not the industry.

Macro

This realization brought me to my next set of questions: “What kind of companies do I really want to be a part of? What things will I value the most in the first part of my career?” Through this reasoning and a little self-reflection, I discovered that I am, above all, longing to work for a company with a fast paced, strong entrepreneurial culture where I can exercise my creative skills, take initiative in providing excellent deliverables and be accountable for the quality of my work. Guess what? This culture is not limited to any one industry. In fact, I saw it first hand in Toronto at Deloitte and Google, among other companies. As a result, I’m currently scouring the earth for organizations in several industries that claim to sustain this cultural environment along with a healthy opportunity for experiential learning. I just narrowed my search and I’m feeling pretty good about it because now, in response the question “So what do you want to do?” I can answer straight from the heart.

If you’re leagues ahead of me at this point and you already know all of this stuff, then thanks for reading this far. You’re a champ. For everybody else, the lesson that I learned is simple: in order to find a really great job you have to know yourself, you have to know what’s out there and you have to show exactly who you are to the employers that you think align with your values. To any current, past or future job seeker, MM or not, my advice is to take any opportunity possible to get out there and actually see what companies are really made of! Trek Toronto was my wake up call and thankfully the BCC was there to provide that experience.

– Adrian Dingle

3 Months In

Sauder Image

 

Coming into the MM program, despite poring over all the marketing materials, I was still nervous about what the program would really be like. Taking on this degree was a big step for me. Having a background in Science and wanting to pursue clinical work, I was unsure how I could have a completely different degree work in my favor. Many questioned this next step of mine. However, something felt right when I read the description of the program two years ago.

Not knowing what the coursework in this program would entail, I was quite nervous. Meeting everyone in the class and getting to know them all eased these nerves quickly throughout the first weeks. I was quite interested in everyone’s backgrounds and knowledge, which they brought to the program. However, this program has been life changing in multiple ways.

Most importantly the type of information I have been learning in the classes has changed me as an individual. I have more confidence in my ability to succeed and I have become a better professional and public speaker over the past three months.

The marketing, accounting, organizational behavior, and finance classes have changed my perspective on how I approach thinking about organizations and even the world. Even after this short time, I am able to understand how businesses are organized, the varieties of companies and how they operate, and the difference between company structures. In a short period of time this program has matured its students in understanding what it means to be a business professional.

This program is life-changing from the students to the staff. Everyone cares for one another and are willing to help those around them. It is amazing to see how interconnected you can become with a group of people in a short time and have it change your life.

– Gurjot Dhaliwal

View Gurjot Dhaliwal's LinkedIn profile View Gurjot Dhaliwal’s profile

Nice is Nice

Earlier this year I wrote about the Exchange Possibilities that the MM program provides you with – and here I am, sitting in Nice, France having just finished mine!

It went by so quickly! I attended EDHEC Business School. It was in such an amazing location, overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean. My experience was great, I took two courses on the European Union and the school had set up many company and city visits. One of the greatest ones was visiting MANE, a perfume and flavour factory that makes all the scents that you find in every daily product you use. That L’Oreal shampoo you use? MANE created the scent for it. The YSL perfume, MANE’s as well. What really elevated this visit was spending time with Monsieur Mane himself, he set aside an hour for us to ask him any question we could think of, and joined us for lunch after. We received such a holistic overview of the MANE organization, from manufacturing to leadership; it was a very well planned trip by EDHEC.

Being on this study abroad also provided me with the opportunity to travel to amazing places. I visited small villages on the French Riviera, as well as Monaco, Cannes, and Barcelona. I also met many other international students. Although our class was only 18 people, everyone had very different backgrounds and we had a great time getting to know each other throughout the course.

I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the study abroad opportunities that the Master of Management program offers. I truly enjoyed the educational experience in another country, as it offers new perspectives – and you get to travel! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Off to eat more croissants, au revoir!

 

Maddie

http://ca.linkedin.com/in/maddieholeksa

Community Business Project

Hello again! 🙂

In my classmate Mursal Shamsi’s post — “A Taste of the Real World,” he provides you with a broad overview of the Community Business Project (CBP), its significance to our self- and career development, and the matching process that the Business Career Centre (BCC) used to assign students to projects. And so this post will focus on my CBP experience.

We’re now in the home stretch of this 6-month project and in the midst of preparing our final report and presentation for this coming Friday. I believe I speak for many people when I say that I can’t believe we’ve somehow managed to arrive to this point!

Our client is Options Community Services Society (OCS) in Surrey, BC — a non-profit registered charity providing social services in the Fraser Region — whose vision is to improve child care access in Surrey. My team is composed of 3 members, including myself as Project Manager. The other 2 roles are Client Liaison and Faculty Liaison. As Project Manager, my core responsibilities included creating a project schedule to meet objectives and deadlines efficiently, coordinating and delegating tasks based on team members’ strengths, and maintaining effective internal communication to ensure information consistency within the team.

The challenges faced by my team fell under 2 umbrellas — issues with (1) team dynamics, and (2) project tasks.

Throughout the 6-month duration of the project, we had to produce several key deliverables while simultaneously working on multiple other team projects for other courses. As can be expected, the challenge was how to maintain high team performance to meet deadlines, in the face of competing commitments and fluctuating motivation levels. Stress only served to magnify the gravity of perceived problems — an important point to remember for my team. It’s okay to be frustrated at times, but focus on what you can do.

My experience in this project highlighted and reinforced several lessons in team management. You may find them “common sense,” but it’s very easy to forget when you’re in the centre of things.

  • A critical skill to have as Project Manager is the ability to think long term and set realistic goals. There’s much you can do to minimize overall stress by properly prioritizing tasks and setting weekly goals for your team members.
  • From the outset, the team should set some ground rules that all members understand and agree on. This lets everyone know what is expected of them and is an important tool for maintaining efficiency. Also, don’t be afraid to remind them of this agreement when needed. Team meetings should focus on brainstorming, discussions, and decision-making — they’re not time to work on individual tasks.
  • The combination of strengths and weaknesses will not always be ideal, and so you may find that the balance of work may not always end up equal. You just have to make it work. Don’t be quick to judge your team members. Strive to identify individual concerns and address them. I found that to be an effective way to raising my team’s performance because sometimes it’s just an issue of self-confidence. The key is to really understand each member’s strengths and weaknesses, but concentrate on the strengths because that’s what you’ll need to effectively delegate tasks. Sometimes, you may find it necessary to personally guide a struggling team member to get things done because it’s better than not doing anything at all.
  • While it may seem to go against your instinct, trust your teammates. Ensure that everyone is on the same page, but give your team members the latitude to deliver their assigned tasks. Just because it’s not perfect in your eyes doesn’t mean it’s not quality.

With regards to the project itself, the main challenge came from negotiating a feasible project scope and set of deliverables that could be achieved within the time limitations. A lot of teams faced this difficulty because the project scope changed from what was initially proposed during the organization presentations. However, being able to negotiate a project scope is an important skill to possess, as the BCC and our supervisor have reiterated. The required commitment is three hours per week per student, but depending on your project, you’ll likely find yourself putting in many many more hours. Don’t be afraid to offer your insights and suggestions to your client. Utilize your resources — the BCC, your supervisor, the librarians, to name a few.

Now on to our project scope… The City of Surrey has been curiously resistant to actively supporting child care, and so our client wanted to look into gaining support from the business community instead, as a temporary solution. My team’s project scope involves developing a business case about the economic benefits to Surrey employers of providing an affordable and quality workplace child care program. Important goals of the project are to create an operating model for setting up workplace child care facilities and to conduct a survey on Surrey employers’ perception of and willingness to support employee child care needs. Certainly, there were several challenges associated with our project scope. However, the value of the CBP project for me wasn’t in how much business knowledge or frameworks were required to complete the project but in the soft skills it has helped me to develop.

Aside from project team management and scope negotiation, working on this project gave me insight into the layers of complexity that organizations have to constantly deal with, such as grey areas and political factors. In addition to dealing with our client, we conducted several informational interviews with various organizations. You may walk in to a meeting with certain expectations of how it would proceed or of what you want to get out of it, but you may quickly realize that the real working environment is less structured than what you supposed. For me, it was particularly interesting to observe the nuances in people’s interactions. As a person who likes order, my takeaway is to prepare as much as I can but be adaptive when things turn out differently from what I expect.

Okay, I’ve probably lost all my readers at this point, stopping now. Well, I hope my ramblings have been or will be useful to you. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment below!

Until next time,

Rachel Lim (LinkedIn profile)

An Engaging Classroom

It didn’t take me a long time to realize the huge difference between North American and Chinese classrooms.  Active learning is one of the most exciting features that can be both challenging and refreshing for international students.

Our marketing professor in the first period was excellent at creating an atmosphere of active engagement in the classroom. I remember back to the very first class when we were asked to speak a little bit about where we came from and what our first language was. I was shocked by the cultural and lingual diversity in the classroom (one of my classmate’s spoke 5 languages!).

The first case of active learning was the observation of consumer behavior at a local Starbucks store. The project required my team to observe how customers make their ordering decisions. Observations we made included:

  • As customers came into the store, what was their first reaction?
  • What did they order?
  • Who were they with?
  • What was the service and layout of the store?

Instead of telling us why Starbucks was so successful, the professor let us figure it all out by ourselves. Two surprising observations we made was how feminine the decoration in the store was and how many people came into the store to use the bathroom.  The key concept our instructor introduced in class was how to brand ourselves and how to position a product which provided us a new way of thinking about marketing and ourselves.

Of course, not all the instructors are this enthusiastic in class. To clarify, our professor for Business Strategy had great class engagement in a low-key way. I enjoyed his class because of the broad examples he used and the excellent analysis he illustrated. Further, comments from my classmates in his lectures were very well organized, clearly communicated and rich in content. An example was how he used case analysis to help us digest what we had learned in class. Further, he created a blog with different topics for students who were not comfortable expressing their opinions in class.

It has always been so enjoyable to listen to different comments and opinions in class (the creative and hilarious presentations don’t hurt either!). To close, the student-faculty interaction and active engagement in the MM program has truly enriched my academic experience.