My last few blog posts were all written at the end of semester 1 of the Warwick MBA. Shortly after this I enjoyed a wonderful two-week break away with my wife and son to Menorca, which was a great opportunity to have some work and study-free downtime, and also gave me the first chance to read a fiction book since I started the course! Having experienced the first 6 months I would thoroughly recommend that all students plan some proper relaxation time between semesters – the batteries will definitely need recharging.
After returning from holiday I was able to get started with the semester 2 modules, firstly by listening to the induction sessions that were recorded on wbsLive (they had taken place whilst I was on holiday). These took a similar format to semester 1 – introducing the structure of the modules, highlighting their importance, and introducing the individual tutors. One difference this semester is that there was also an additional wbsLive session for Marketing that was a proper lecture for the first lesson. This was a really nice approach, and I hope this is repeated for other lessons and modules, as it was good to be taught the content rather than just to read it (although I acknowledge that this is also a matter of opinion).
These are the modules we are studying this semester:
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this module – I assumed it was going to teach us how to run a manufacturing operation or something similar. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that, although this is where the module originated, it’s remit has increased significantly to include both manufacturing and services organisations, and also non-manufacturing functions such as purchasing, distribution, and potentially even sales and finance. This was emphasised during the induction wbsLive session, and probably quite a relief to many of the cohort who don’t work in the manufacturing industry.
There is an overall structure to the module based around the 4 D’s – Direct, Design, Deliver, and Develop:
- Direct – This looks at how an operations function is linked to both the organisational strategy and the market it serves
- Design – Linking to the strategy, this considers how to design an operation, covering areas such as structure, processes, and supply chain
- Deliver – The day-to-day running of an operation is discussed here, with topics such as capacity planning, scheduling, and work allocation
- Develop – The final topic looks at how to improve an operation from its current position, including the important concept of quality management
This is one of the modules that I have been looking forward to studying since I started the MBA, mainly due to my exposure to various marketing concepts over the last few years whilst working for my current employer. However, I have since found that the remit of marketing is far wider than I originally imagined, encompassing the 4 P’s:
- Product – goods/services definition, development and lifecycles
- Price – factors to consider when pricing, new-product pricing and price-adjustment strategies
- Promotion – integrated marketing communications and using different promotional tools
- Place – marketing channels, logistics and supply chain management
In addition to these concepts, the module also looks at the broader topics of strategic marketing (ie. producing a marketing plan), analysing buyer behaviour, segmentation/targeting, and marketing through long-term relationships. Overall these topics look very interesting, and it will be very interesting to assess these different concepts with common household name goods and services.
Modelling and Analysis for Management
The focus for this module is looking at how models can be used to make better business decisions. It intends not to teach us how to use the modelling tools (except at a high level), and instead concentrates on being able to interpret and analyse the results of the models in a decision-making scenario. As you probably expect, this is a very mathematical module, and so I am hoping I will find the content straightforward (although not necessarily easy) given my mathematical academic background.
This module also studies four broad concepts (although this time not all starting with the same letter!). These are:
- Descriptive models – describing reality
- Predictive models – assessing potential future events
- Experimental models – experimenting with simulations
- Optimising models – determining the best action
Assessment for Semester 2 modules
The final point to mention here is that the assessment for all of these modules (unlike the first semester) is through a formal exam at Warwick University (although exams can be taken in-country for students studying abroad). The main impact of this at the moment is my style of note-taking has changed – this needs to be suited to either an open- or closed-book exam, rather that having notes to trigger points to explore when writing an assignment.
The other main change (other than trying to remember the content over the course of a few hours) is going to be answering the question on paper. In addition to rarely using pen and paper now (even meeting notes I try and record on my iPad), it is now common to develop an answer and then restructure when you have written all the content. Having to write the answer in the correct order from the start is going to need some practice – I expect I’ll write a blog post on this later in the semester.
That’s it for this blog post – time to return to my studies, although of course I will need to make some time to watch the Olympics over the next two weeks. I hope those who watched the opening ceremony enjoyed it, and everyone manages to find some time to cheer on their home country in a few events.