Tag Archives: MBA

Data Analysis and Statistical Modelling exam

I’m studying for my DASM exam tomorrow. The study is not going well for two reasons:

  1. I’m a terrible procrastinator when it comes to exams
  2. I’m sitting on 80% of 55% for the course so far i.e. I’ve got 44/55 and tomorrow’s exam is worth the remaining 45% of the marks. So if I just pass I’ll get the credit I need to keep the my course average up.

This is not good because it would be good to get a distinction.

Additionally I’ve changed jobs two weeks ago. I’m tired, grumpy and need a break. I’ve done the least amount of work for this subject that I’ve done for any of the subjects so far.

It’s hard to keep plugging away tonight when there are things I’d rather do. Surely work-life balance comes into this?

I’ve also really enjoyed this subject. Those of you following me on Twitter will know that it really appeals to my inner geek. What’s not to like? I learned how to develop models to forecast things based on historical data. It’s a shame the real world isn’t more like that. Mind you the real world is like that if you have enough data and the correct model. 😀

MBA Update 2008 Term 1

So this term I’ve been doing my first Organizational Behavior OB subject: Managing People and Organisations. I’ve received two distinctions so far on the assignments, despite being ridiculously busy at work. Now I have to knuckle down and review in preparation for the coming exams.

The subject matter is exciting and fascinating on both practical and intellectual levels.

Two major aspects for me are “It’s always about leadership” and a model of Compliance < Understanding < Internalisation

I’ll write something on them later.

Why do an MBA?

Surely that’s a dumb question to be asking myself right now. I had to answer it on the application. I’ve committed the money and time to it. I’ve even started the first course – Accounting and Financial Management.

That first course is looking to be as easy as I thought. Which on one level really frustrates me. Why am I paying to do a subject I am already unconsciously competent at? It’s a good way to ease into studying again after all these years.

Strangely I found myself wondering about some of my fellow students. They don’t seem to understand the broad accounting aspects of their businesses. Maybe it was me, but all my career I’ve been interested in the Profit & Loss Statements and Balance Sheets of my employers.

Back to the question at hand. Why do it? Career prospects? More money?

For me it the answer is to change my life. To understand business and industry with a new depth and rigour. To use to time to change my world-view and internalise my studies in a way I could not appreciate when I was an undergrad. My business interests are in fast-growth, entrepreneurial firms. That is where my MBA is leading, although I can’t say exactly where yet.

Feeling uncomfortable but doing it anyway

I attended the AGSM New Students Day yesterday. I met graduates and faculty as well as some of my fellow students.

There was an fun little moment were we had to congratulate ourselves and each other on getting in. How the students reacted was interesting. There were those (mainly marketing types) who got into it. There were some who refused to do the “silly” bit – must be the accountants. Then there were the one’s who were obviously uncomfortable but did the exercise anyway. I realised that I want to get to know that group. These are people who are out of their comfort zone, but willing to try something new in the hope or belief they’ll learn or grow.

I’m not sure how to deal with the one’s who withheld participation. On the one hand they are confident enough in themselves to march to their own beat. But did that mean they were more scared of appearing stupid? Or were they that pragmatic that they didn’t want to do any of that feely-touchy stuff? Either way I can find that sort in most places and my initial reaction is to avoid them as inflexible.

Obviously I can get along famously with the party animals who’ll try anything in case it’s fun.

Interestingly I’ve decided to kick off the MBA with only one subject Accounting and Financial Management. One of the adjunct faculty members said she got the least value out of the term when she did two subjects. All she focused on as doing the required reading and barely kept up. She was aiming for internalising the subjects. Really considering the issues and allowing herself to come up with her own thoughts and attitudes on the subject.

Another vote for “the MBA is the journey” school of thought – which I am rapidly converting to. Who cares if it takes me longer to finish if I am changed by the experience. Heaven forbid I do all this work and all this study to emerge as the same person and the same skills as I started with.

This will be a life-changing experience.

Angus & Robertson Scandal: Demands cash from 40% of suppliers

Angus & Robertson letter to unprofitable suppliersAngus & Robertson sent a letter to 40% of their suppliers demanding cash payments and rebates as a condition of continued business. The scandal broke at Susan Wyndham‘s Undercover blog over at the Sydney Morning Herald, firstly in Bookshop chain puts bite on small publishers and then in more detail today A&R Dumps Books.

A friend describes it as “Bookselling, The MBA way”. This is bound to be one of the case studies I’ll use in my MBA.

Here is the text of the letter for the screen readers and the blind:

 

Angus & Robertson

30th July 2007

Michael Rakusin
TOWER BOOKS
Unit 2 / 17 Rodborough Road
Frenches Forrest
NSW 2086

Dear Michael

I am writing to inform you of some of the changes to the way we manage our business.

We have recently completed a piece of work to rank our suppliers in terms of the net profit they generate for our business. We have concluded that we have far too many suppliers, and over 40% of our supplier agreements fall below our requirements in terms of profit earned. At a time when the cost of doing business continues to rise, I’m sure you can understand that this is an unpalatable set of circumstances for us, and as such we have no option but to act quickly to remedy the situation.

Accordingly, we will be rationalising our supplier numbers and setting a minimum earnigs ration of income to trade purchases that we expect to achieve from our suppliers.

I am writing to you because TOWER BOOKS falls into this category of unacceptable profitability.

As a consequence we would invite you to pay the attached invoice by Aug 17th 2007. The payment represents the gap fro your your business, and moves it from an unacceptable level of profitability, to above our minimum threshold.

If we fail to receive your payment by this time we will have no option but to remove you from our list of authorised suppliers, and you will be unable to complete any further transactions with us until such time as the payment is made.

I have also attached a proforma for you to complete wand return to me, with your proposed terms of trade for our financial year commencing Sept 1st 2007. We have the following expectations:

  • All agreements contain a standard rebate, a growth rebate and a minimum co-op commitment to enable participation in our marketing activity.

  • Growth rebates activate as soon as our purchases with you increase by $1 on the previous year.

  • All rebates are paid quarterly for the previous quarter’s performance, you must make sure that your remittance, with calculations, is received by us by the 7th of the month following the preceding quarter. Any remittances not received by this date will attract a daily 5% interest charge.

I am also including a copy of our ratecard, and our marketing calendar, to enable you to begin planning your promotional participation now.

If you would like to discuss this with me in more detail, I am delighted to confirm an appointment with you at 1.00pm on Friday 17th August for 10 minutes at my offices at 379 Collins St, Melbourne.

Best Regards

[signed]

Charlie Rimmer
ARW Group Commercial Manager

Enc: A&R Ratecard
A&R Marketing calendar
Trading Terms Proforma
Invoice

Executive MBA application

I’ve applied to do an Executive MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM). Long-time readers will know my advice from October 2003 to hire MBA’s rather than become one.

I fear most MBA’s are blatant credentialing, especially if the school accepts people who lack industry experience. However the AGSM is consistently ranked at the top of Australian MBA’s which in my view puts just behind the top tier American B-schools. Applicants must have 2 – 6 years experience in managerial roles as well.

MBA’s were originally designed to teach engineers, chemists and other technical people the basics of business. Therefore I saw my undergraduate degree as equivalent. However the world has changed as has the degree structure. Some of the subjects look interesting and I have both professional and academic interest in them.

I will have to do a course in Accounting and Finance Management which looks painfully easy, so the goal there is to get a high distinction.

This is an Executive program which means I’ll earn a Graduate Diploma for the part-time course work and if I maintain a credit average I can progress to the second year and take an MBA. Also the “executive” focus means I apply the work directly to the business I’m running. So there should be significant take-home value.

Some of the desire stems from discussions I’ve had with I-bankers and VC’s recently. Their job is to say no to most deals. I suspect the time has come that postgrad qualifications are another box to tick in evaluating a management team. My goals eventually lead to board roles and so I might as well get a good grade from a great Australian business school.

Of course that’s assuming my application is accepted.