Regular readers might have noticed its been four weeks since my last blog post … so much for writing a new post every two weeks! However, as I’m sure all MBA students (past and present) will appreciate, sometimes you have to just put your head down and focus on getting through the course, which is exactly what I’ve been doing. I’m now just over halfway through the semester, and am very pleased to have almost finished the Management Accounting content (just lessons 9, 10, and the final TMA to complete), as well as being two-thirds through Management of Change (with both TMAs completed). Although this may sound like I’m considerably ahead given that we’re still in April, I have to make sure I finish these two modules about a month early so that I can complete the pre-reading and attend the residential for my face-to-face module, Complexity, Management & Network Thinking.
Last week was the Warwick Week for this semester, but the structure of the Warwick DLMBA means there is no requirement or option to attend Warwick Week in the third semester. This has its advantages (I’ve been busy with work recently, so taking a week out for study would have been challenging), but it does make this semester feel quite long; the Warwick Week is a really good way to break up the semesters, and has a motivating effect which we’ve not had this time round. However, I’m looking forward to the face-to-face module in June already.
Executive Conversation Training
On a positive note, not needing to go to Warwick Week meant that I could attend an employer-sponsored training course, run by Executive Conversation. The course was designed to help participants understand how to more effectively engage with business leaders and senior executives working at our customer accounts, focussing on how to articulate a business-value message relating to their key strategic objetives. The reason that I mention this here is that the second day was of particular interest from an MBA perspective; we spent four hours looking at ‘the numbers’ – including topics such as analysing financial statements, calculating ROI (Payback Period, NPV, IRR), and capital investment budgeting – all of which have been covered in Accounting & Financial Management or Management Accounting. We didn’t go into the same level as detail as the MBA syllabus (it was only a two-day course), but the session was facilitated by a very experienced CFO (Rich Vaswani) who provided an extremely valuable view of the real-life practicalities and implications of these topics. That’s not to suggest that the MBA doesn’t focus on real-life scenarios (as it does), but having insight from someone who has spent 30 years doing the job was an excellent complement to the academic viewpoint, especially given that I have no exposure to the accounting industry or job function.
Earlier this week we were also informed of our final assignments for the modules. This caught many of us by surprise; previous modules have generally been quite prescriptive in the assignment question, providing either a case study or a specific topic to focus on. In comparison, Management Accounting and Management of Change both have very open questions where we are to choose the area of focus and scope for the response. This has both positive and negative aspects: it means that students can focus on an area of interest rather than the whole module, and gives scope to apply to real-life activities. However, it also means that the assignments are somewhat ambiguous, relying on the student to find a topic that will allow them to really demonstrate their understanding. To the credit of the tutors, they have set up a discussion thread to validate individual students’ planned topics, so hopefully this will address the concern for most students. One of the tutors also made the comment that this will allows us to further our knowledge in an area of the subject matter that interests us – a very valid point, and I already know of some areas of the subject matter that I would like to put some more thought and investigation into.
A second concern is that the answer (for Management Accounting) ideally needs to be linked to current practices within our own organisations. I expect this will present more of a challenge for some, as this information is not always easily available. However, there appears to be some flexibility on this requirement, with the tutors willing to discuss on a one-to-one basis with students if required. Overall, I think that when we get past the challenge of defining the initial scope to discuss, these should be quite interesting assignments to complete.
Two weeks ago I also participated in a recruitment session for students who have applied for, or are considering applying for the DLMBA starting in July. This was a really interesting session, run virtually using the wbsLive platform, with over thirty potential students. I was one of two existing students participating, along with a WBS MBA alumni, and we provided our thoughts on the structure of the MBA, learning approaches, Warwick Week, and workload, amongst other topics. For those of you who joined that session – I hope you found it useful, and please feel free to ask any questions in the comments area below if we didn’t answer your questions on the call. It was also a very valuable exercise for me personally, as although I’m used to presenting to groups of 10-20 people, these are very well planned and rehearsed. In comparison, many of the answers in this session were unrehearsed, so it was good practice for “thinking on my feet”.
That’s it for this week, good luck to all those applying at the moment, as well as those on the course who are starting on the different assignments for this semester. Until next time…