My 2 cents on Q2...

One of the many reasons I picked Rotman (and am extremely grateful that it picked me too!) is the strength of its program.  The reputation of a business school, its position in the various rankings, the reputation of its dean & professors, the strength of its research, the cooperation & involvement of its admissions, program services & career development team - none of that matters, unless you are constantly challenged, and I'm very fortunate that Rotman offers all of the above.  I personally believe that unless I'm challenged, I'm really not learning anything new, and there's really no point in my taking two years out from my life to go back to school, unless I get real value out of it, unless I'm learning.  And if Q2 is any measure, it's been quite challenging, and drinking up a wealth of knowledge. The second instalment of Statistics for Management offered greater insight into how we could go beyond the confusing statistics from undergrad, and utilize & interpret the data to identify problem areas and possible opportunities for growth for a business, and at the very least, use the data to be more confident about our business decisions.  It even involved a group project, for which study group investigated the predictability of playoff wins in the Stanley Cup using regular season data.  Since both statistics and hockey were foreign to me, I'm infinitely grateful to my amazing group-mates for helping me understand both a whole lot better.  That's one thing I find really great about Rotman - its collaborative culture means students work together to help each other along, and compete with themselves to get better.

Jazz Hands with the hockey-loving statisticians! :P

The second instalment of Financial Accounting also involved a fair bit of interpretation, particularly with regards to a business' liabilities.  "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."  As far as possible, I've tried to adhere to that old phrase, both personally & professionally, and given the role of massive debt in the recent economic downturn, I naturally assumed that avoiding all forms of debt was the best way to conduct business.  While a debt-free situation would be ideal, it isn't always realistic, and this course was quite insightful in determining what kind of debt would be best suited to a business' needs, as well as trying to determine the real financial health of an organization from its financial statements and its debt holdings.

Continuing the train of quant-based courses was the first instalment of Finance.  Bonds, settlement dates, modified durations, strike prices, strip bonds, valuations, betas, expected rates of return, foreign exchange markets, deep connectivity of markets, options, Bloomberg, going long & going short - these were terms I had heard thrown about in the financial publications & news, and although I had a general idea of the concepts, the specifics & more importantly, the role they played in the financial & business world were new learnings for me.  It also involved a lot of learning by doing, in terms of the regular assignments & quizzes, and although the finance folks generally found it to be familiar territory, for a less financially-inclined individual like me, it was a little more challenging, and I found myself spending a lot more time on it in order to understand the concepts better.  But as my Grandmom used to say, "time spent learning is time well-spent," and I think I feel a little more comfortable around concepts & problems relating to capital markets and valuation.

Finally jumping off the quant train was the first instalment of Managing Customer Value, where a combination of lectures & case discussions had us understanding how the traditional 4Ps of Marketing (3Ps actually - Promotion plays a role in the second instalment) play a role in an organization's Segmentation, Targeting & Positioning decisions, determining what drives your customers, and how to best align your product with your customers.

One of the most refreshing courses for me personally was the first instalment of Strategy.  It went beyond the traditional "What is Strategy?" and "Porter's Five Forces Model" approach to actually analyzing industries, drawing insights, determining an organization's core competencies, and determining the best way forward.  One of the best learning opportunities came with the Case Analysis Project - where we were challenged with a live case, with an organization facing a current problem, and in our new random teams, we had to come up with our analysis, insights, and a recommended course of action that fit in best with the industry, the organization, its core competencies, its challenges, and its consumer base, and all in 29 hours!  It was an exhausting experience, and everybody went straight for their pillows after it was over, but I really liked the practical application of what we learned in class to a real, live business challenge.  This course wasn't all seriousness though; it's safe to say that I haven't laughed as much in all my classes combined as much as I did in Strategy, and the interactive learning approach was quite conducive to learning.  Using Beakers, Boats & Planes to illustrate effective Strategic Choices, and André Rieu's Opera & Cirque du Soleil's dramatic enjoyment to teach Blue Oceans were completely unexpected, but who said learning couldn't be fun?

Well, that's it for my two cents on Q2 at Rotman, I'm off to see some fireworks to welcome in the New Year, before Negotiations Week begins on Monday morning!

Happy New Year to all of you, and may this New Year be peaceful, prosperous, and passionately innovative for knowledge, joy & laughter for all of us! :)