We live in interesting times

Yesterday as I was waiting for my study group at a nearby Starbucks, I couldn’t help but look around the store with my new found MBA student-wisdom and appreciate how the “Baristas” greet their patrons with first names. Starbucks was one of the first cases we did in our Marketing class this quarter. It was fascinating to learn how retail chains such as Starbucks measure “customer satisfaction” in $$$ value and then adopt marketing strategies to translate that into top line growth!

The Marketing course this quarter is entirely case-based, including the midterm and the finals. The class discussions also include occasional videos such as the cool BMW commercials we saw the other day, when the lecture focused on non-traditional marketing. For instance, I didn’t know that one of the most important pre-launch marketing campaigns for the “Z3 Roadster” was the movie “Golden Eye”. A 1.5min appearance with double-oh-seven had resulted in an amazing bump to the car’s sales.

Accounting is the other core course for first years’, and as Tim alluded, so far it’s been Practice, Practice and brutal Practice. I have an engineering background and feel that the whole double entry accounting is pretty darn counter-intuitive. One of my classmates quipped the other day during our evening shuttle ride back from school “Accounting is an art”! To tell you the truth, I don’t think I am very comfortable as an artist…

There is one unique thing about the accounting class though. Every lecture, the Professor starts with the week’s events in the financial markets, and then proceeds to weave that into what we’re learning that day. Certainly helps with the assimilation. Oh, while on this subject, I should really mention the accounting project, the “fun” (and more work) part of this course as we were informed. It consists of financial statement analysis of a publicly traded company which is going through some kind of a financial turmoil, whether it’s due to the current macroeconomic woes or a result of market structure or downright fraud (Enron anyone?). Each project has a team of about 5 people and we’ll be presenting our findings and “recommendations” to some of the Big4 Partners in the latter half of the course.

Just as things were starting to feel very MBA-like, I was dragged back into your typical student world when I received my grade letter for the past quarter. Let’s just say that I’ve done far better in my earlier academic pursuits:-( Anyway, as I work to maximize my ROI from the Haas (ad) venture, there’s a small group of people at school working quietly and relentlessly to make sure that I don’t get distracted by things such as finding/buying books (btw the cost of books is included in the tuition fee), managing parking permits (parking near the UC Berkeley campus is a nightmare), collecting bus passes, applying for grade letters, getting student IDs and dozens of other things which are a part of the going-to-school-package. This is the EWMBA Program Office. So if you’re worried about the rigors of balancing work and school and relationships, that’s good! But rest assured that there is an ecosystem in place to help you through some of the more extraneous yet essential tasks as a student.

A parting thought since we’re in the admissions season. Round 1 deadline is November 17 and Round 2 is March 2, 2009. And for those of you closer to pushing that “submit” button, make sure that you’ve used “spell-check” on your essays. I sincerely believe that one can paint a compelling picture with an essay; do you want yours to look unkempt? And here’s an error even the spell-check won’t catch. It really is “Haas” and not “Hass” School of Business!

I haven’t had a chance to write for a few weeks so this post may appear a little busy. Just wanted to throw out a bunch of things since we live in changing times. I am talking about daylight saving. Yeah, right.

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