Yesterday, an acquaintance asked me this question:
I have received an admit into XYZ college for the two-year MBA program with specialization in marketing. I have a month’s time before I join the college. Is there something useful I can learn in this one month?
Based on my experience, here’s what I think you could do:
Understand how to use Microsoft Excel. You don’t need to get down to the programming level. A broad understanding of Excel’s features and capabilities is sufficient. If you have the time, you might want to get down to using basic functions. I recommend that you purchase the book “The Microsoft Excel 2003 Bible.” I haven’t checked if there’s a 2007 edition available.
Improve your presentation skills – both as a speaker and as a Microsoft Power Point user. You will be using Power Point most of the time. Read up on blogs that specialize in professional presentation design (for example: Presentation Zen).
Analyze or try to gather more information about news that you read in a business daily such as The Economic Times. Try and form your own opinion on the topic at hand. Effective research and analysis is a differentiating factor that can help you stand out.
What ever you do, don’t blindly jump in and start studying an academic subject.
Following the completion of our graduation ceremony on April 20, 2007, we’re officially business graduates. It’s been a wonderful year of learning. I’ll miss everything about SP Jain. A few photos from that day:
D (prospective CIO and my roommate), Myself, and V.
Myself, D (prospective CIO and my roommate), and another V.
Having completed my two-month internship, I thought it would be a good idea to document my learning. In summary, I found the internship experience to be highly satisfactory as it gave me an opportunity to work on real business problems (in solving which I got to apply what I learnt over the past year), to assess the company I worked for, and to judge my role fit.
Over the past two months, a very effective technique I picked up is the concept of a story board.
What is a story board?
A story board tells a story. You can develop a story board to outline the solution or approach for a given problem. You can apply this technique even if you need to just understand the problem on hand or to organize your research findings and analysis. A story board is a straightforward way to explain your ideas to senior management. Given the story board (rather than the final deliverable, such as a presentation), I observed that senior managers can easily pick assumptions or flaws in your reasoning. It also brings clarity in your thinking by avoiding sensory overload.
How to construct a story board?
A story board is simply an adaptation of a flowchart. Again, it simply spells a story. You use the same rectangles, decision boxes, and connectors – but with a lot more freedom. For example, you could define an action inside a rectangle and link to it a comment box with additional information. A story board should be developed in an iterative way, with each iteration bringing more concreteness in logic.
I used to construct my story boards using Microsoft Visio, which comes with an amazing variety of shapes and connectors that can be used to get your idea across. Visio can save your drawings as JPEGs, which you can then email or print.
Let me know if I have educated you or confused you. If it is the latter, I’ll try and come up with an example.
Don’t be afraid to try something different. It pays to think different from the herd.
For the final project during the Business-Smart IT Applications course, Vinayak and I were assigned the McDonald’s IT mega-failure case. The objective was to research the case and present a case analysis via a presentation. If you are interested, you can download some reading material here.
This was the presentation we came up with. The background and a few images appear distorted; I guess it’s a processing problem with slideshare.net.
Here’s what we did different for this presentation:
On slide 2: We used a single image covering the entire slide. This unorthodox approach instantly captured the audience’s attention and was very effective in building up the story.
On slides 3, 4, and 5: We used quotes to effectively illustrate the magnitude of the failure.
We varied the font size and font color within a single sentence to highlight key facts. This helps your audience to zero-in on what is really important.
While speaking, we would pause for a second to stress on key words such as “most expensive,” “mega,” etc. I recommend that you practice voice modulation in front of a mirror before unleashing it in public.
The opportunity presented, we used expressions such as “It’s what we call a beautiful lie” for maximum impact. This was an expression I had read the previous week in a book titled “Traders, Guns, and Money.” It really pays to be well read.
I have often received requests for a single package download of the presentations from Dr. Lakshmi Mohan’s course on Business-Smart IT Applications. Thought it’s a good idea to publish the same here. Feel free to pass on the link to whoever you think might be interested in this awesome content.
Pay special attention to the Cisco case. Everyone talks of Supply Chain Management (SCM) – it’s a hot and happening buzzword. But that’s just one side of the equation – the push. Shouldn’t we focus equally on Demand Chain Management (DCM) – the pull?
After a significant gap, it’s time once again for another awesome presentation from Dr. Lakshmi Mohan’s class. This time around, it’s about how companies can use the Internet as an effective business medium.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107-204, 116 Stat. 745, also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 and commonly called SOX or Sarbox; July 30, 2002) is a United States federal law passed in response to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals including those affecting Enron, Tyco International, Peregrine Systems and WorldCom (recently MCI and currently now part of Verizon Businesses). These scandals resulted in a decline of public trust in accounting and reporting practices. Named after sponsors Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Representative Michael G. Oxley (R-Oh.), the Act was approved by the House by a vote of 423-3 and by the Senate 99-0. The legislation is wide ranging and establishes new or enhanced standards for all U.S. public company boards, management, and public accounting firms.
Let me know if you’re finding this stuff informative.
In the midst of my relocation back to Bangalore (yippee!), I haven’t had much time to blog. The last few days have been pretty hectic. I’ll be submitting my last assignment in an hour’s time and will be making my last presentation tomorrow morning – we’re presenting a case analysis on IT failure at Nestle and McDonald’s.
In the meantime, here’s another presentation for your learning; this time it’s about Basel II. It’s a topic everyone needs to be aware of and hence a MUST read.
Basel II, also called The New Accord (correct full name is the International Convergence of Capital Measurement and Capital Standards – A Revised Framework) is the second Basel Accord and represents recommendations by bank supervisors and central bankers from the 13 countries making up the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) to revise the international standards for measuring the adequacy of a bank’s capital. It was created to promote greater consistency in the way banks and banking regulators approach risk management across national borders.
Our professor for this course was Mr. Girish VS. His depth of knowledge about the banking industry is astonishing. Watch out for more knowledge from his class.
With all the humdrum about ERP systems, you would be forgiven for thinking that organizations – big and small – know how to implement it right. Turns out, a majority of them don’t! Consider the nightmare Nike went through after it’s ERP implementation. Philip Knight, Nike’s Chairman and CEO, blamed the “complications arising from the impact of implementing our new demand-and-supply planning systems and processes” for the shortages of some products and excess amounts of others as well as late deliveries. How’s that for a mouthful?
Implementation is the challenge. Peruse this presentation – another one from Dr. Lakshmi Mohan’s class – on how to implement ERP the right way.
Perhaps the most important lesson we learnt during this lecture is the concept of “Satisficing.” Satisficing means, to select a satisfactory decision with limited information in a limited time instead of searching for the best solution entailing more time and information. A good Decision Support System (DSS) can give you information in great depth, but it’s up to you to draw the line somewhere. It’s prudent to not fall into the “analysis paralysis” trap in striving for the ideal decision – there usually isn’t one, because a business environment is quite complex and dynamic. The trick is to know when to stop drilling down and this knowledge comes with experience, as you become responsible for more and more decisions.
That said, I believe that decision making is the most important trait an individual must have. And remember, when you own the choices (or decisions) you make, you also own their consequences.
We’ve just completed a subject titled “Business-Smart IT Applications,” taught by Dr. Lakshmi Mohan. For a review of her teaching, read this entry on Vinayak’s blog. I’ll be posting presentations from Dr. Mohan’s class over the course of this week. I encourage you to browse through them – even if you are not pursuing an MBA – for the wealth of information contained. You are guaranteed to learn something new.
I have previously written about SlideShare’s PowerPoint sharing service. I was very impressed back then, and I am still very impressed right now, because SlideShare just helped me gather a structure for my Managing New Business Initiatives assignment. I was specifically looking for “Business Model Templates” and just look at the gem I found:
Here’s a quick presentation we put together for one of our classes. The objective was to select a cutting-edge technology and explain it to a technology and business audience within 15-minutes. My PowerPoint skills have vastly improved in the past twelve months.
A commendable achievement by Baba Amte at Anandvan is the establishment of special schools for deaf, dumb, and blind children. These kids are indeed special. They have learnt to accept their disabilities, but do not let that fact hinder their creativity and capability. They are happy and content in their little world at Anandvan. They do not get to see many outsiders and so an outsider visit such as ours is greeted with big smiles and a warm heart. It’s really a touching scene.
Here is one creative guy. His real talent at sketching is featured below. He had a book full of sketches – KR Narayanan, Swami Vivekananda, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Lokamanya Tilak, Subash Chandra Bose, Gauthama Buddha et al. Fascinating!
A sketch of India’s President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. If only Dr. Kalam could have a look…
And not to be left behind, our shirtless hero Salman Khan.
They taught us the basics of Braille and made it sound so simple! English and Mathematics – these kids quickly do it in Braille.
Now this is strange. I wrote that I am “Off to Wardah, Maharashtra,” but how am I coming back from Warora, Maharashtra? It’s simple. Our trip itinerary read: Mumbai – Wardah – Warora – Nagpur – Mumbai. Baba Amte’s Anandvan is located in Warora district. I did not know this fact when we left Mumbai.
I have a great deal to write about and I should have started on it today. But I spent the evening roaming around Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai (thanks to my classmate Ashima for the tip). Phoenix Mills is a great place to while away your time. I found a CottonWorld store and could not resist from picking up a T-shirt and pant. I am a sucker for anything cotton.
The best way to get me back on the blogging track is to predict my article list for the next week. And if I don’t, you can always take me to task. Here’s what I plan to write about:
IndiGo to 35,000 Feet
Trip to Baba Amte’s Anandvan – A Photo Collage
Baba Amte’s Anandvan – Photo Set #1 – #4
MBA Placement Interviews
Anything else that catches my fancy
Creating the photo collage should see me give Google Picasa a run. I’ve been wanting to try this feature out since quite a few days. Let’s see how it goes.
We’re off to Anandvan – The Forest of Bliss, Baba Amte’s ashram in Wardah, Maharashtra on a social service program. Wardah is a three-hour drive from Nagpur.
Excerpts from a previous trip report (by another batch) featured on PagalGuy.com
SPJIMR students visited Baba Amte’s Ashram and stayed at Anandvan, with the objective to develop social consciousness and study the relevance of management in social work.
For the first time in the history of Baba Amte’s Ashram, students of a management school visited and stayed at Anandvan, with the objective to develop social consciousness and study the relevance of management in social work. It reiterates the novel pedagogic innovation in management education, which is the hallmark of the S P Jain Institute of Management and Research, where out-of-classroom learning is focused on inculcating in participants the sensitivity to real-world issues.
As a part of the project, the students studied the various self-sustaining units including the agriculture, plastic recycling, eco-friendly building, biogas, water management, forestry and other environmental projects carried out in Anandvan, the headquarters of Baba’s Maharogi Sewa Samiti. The students were also awed by a live performance by the immensely talented physically challenged members of Anandvan’s orchestra, Swaranandan.
Expect another photo-essay once I am back on the 26th. Till then, have fun and miss me!