As the second module started this week, I had my class in Financial Management, which is the continuation of the Financial Markets class I had in the first fall Module at GW MBA. The same professor is teaching this class as the previous one, so we were given our final exam papers back to review. I had a very pleasant shock: I got 100 points out of 100! There were some minor arithmetic miscalculations, but conceptually I got right all the questions, apparently even the one I did not have a clear idea about.
But there was something even more amazing about that grade than the pure satisfaction of getting the exam right. Over this summer I read three of Malcolm Gladwell’s books: Outliers, Tipping Point and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. In Blink there were some very interesting issues discussed on how our subliminal interferes and plays tricks on our consciousness, perception, behavior. One of those phenomena was the role of priming, when seemingly indirect or weak stimuli may have profound and lasting impact on our conscious behavior. The classic experiment involving priming is when the subjects were given a seemingly random list of words to read that included the words such as: retirement, Florida, old and the likes. After reading the list the subjects’ speech and even walk immediately after was slower, their posture was slouchy – all the visual signs of elderly people. The control group that was given neutral list of words were not exhibiting the same signs.
Another example was concerned with the stereotype threat. The gist of that experiment is that some minority groups may perform worse on IQ-type tests because of the stigma, or a stereotype, of intellectual inferiority associated with that group. If the members of the group were unaware of the stereotype or they knew that the stereotype was wrong, then they would perform better. A sort of self-fulfilled prophesy.
So you wonder what this has to do with my final exam grade in Financial Markets. If you read some of my previous posts, you might have noticed my occasional “rants” about quantitative courses, left-brainers and such. Generally, math is not my strongest skill. Or so I have been conditioned to think of myself and primed my self-perception accordingly. That’s why I sometimes had anxiety attacks related to the quantitative courses exams and quizes in my MBA program.
However, when I got my exam paper at the beginning of the class, I noticed during the class that it was quite easy for me to grasp the ideas and concepts presented by the professor. This is not always the case in my quants classes. But even more striking contrast was that one of my classmates got a very low grade on the exam as I could construe from the comments and general demeanour. The classmate was noticeably upset, and was asking questions about the class material that I would not normally expect that person to ask. I mean the questions were about things relatively simple.
That was quite a poweful reminder about the often neglected power of the subconscious. I think I should have made a copy of that front page of the final paper with the grade and look at it each time to get a confidence (and intelligence) boost when I study for quantitative MBA classes
As I was planning, I keep uploading write-ups of business cases analysis for the MBA coursework I have completed in my part-time MBA program at GW. This Nordstrom case is actually quite popular in the MBA programs. Not only this blog has been getting quite a bit of traffic from the search queries related to this business case, but in my own studies this case has been used in two different classes: Managerial Accounting and Managing Human Capital. Here is the link to my post about this back in the Spring term of my first year of MBA studies. The write-up I have uploaded is from the Human Capital class. I don’t think I have anything in writing on the solution to the case from Managerial Accounting. Anyways, here is the link to Nordstrom case analysis.
On a different note, the second module is getting in the high gear very quickly. I hope I will find time for short snippets to update on my MBA progress, but it is going to be tough. A good thing is that it will be over before the Christmas holidays, but until then it’s going to be mostly “bare survival” mode for me.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I had an early start for my Fall Module II at GW part-time MBA program this week. Professor wanted to review the major points of the previous course – Nature of Markets, as it is the foundation for the upcoming class. The second major point of an early start was give us head up on the PharmaSim – interactive online marketing management simulation. Once I get onto this simulation I will try to give a general overview of what it is all about.
I am going to have a total of three classes in the Second Fall Module:
- Consultative Processes, which I started at the beginning of the term, and will continue through the end, as it is a 3-credits course.
- Marketing Decision
- Financial Management
The last two classes are a build up on the previously taken classes in my core MBA courses at GW. Overall the module promises to be very demanding. Suffice it to say that the syllabus for Marketing Decisions alone is 13 pages! Professor also mentioned in the syllabus that we are expected to spend at least 10 hours a week to study outside the class. That’s almost one and a half times more than the recommended ratio 2.5-3 hours self-study to 1 hour in class. There are a lot of group projects to be completed in two of the three classes. I hope I will preserve my sanity and keep my day job in the process ;-).
This week was the end of the first Fall module in GW MBA program. I had my final in Financial Markets class on Tuesday. Of the ten questions, there was one (on spot rates, forward rate) which I had to retreat to Chinese approach, i.e “write everything that crosses your mind, and let professor choose the right answer”. The other nine were of varying degree of difficulty, but generally quite reasonable. Of course, spending my weekend entirely preparing for this final helped quite a bit too ;-).
I thought I would have a little breather before the first class of the Second Module, which starts next week. However I received the email from my professor in Marketing Decisions class saying that the first class will be this week on Thursday, i.e tomorrow. I liked the first class on Marketing which I took over the summer. I have the same professor this time, so I am really looking forward to it. Even though professor made the first class optional because of the early start, I am going to be there.
Today I made a cool discovery on campus. I went to the GW University pool before my class in Consultative Processes. I have known about the pool even from before I applied to GW part-time MBA, but in my first year my job did not let me come early enough before classes to take advantage of this. This fall however I started to work from a different office, and I can come a couple hours before the start of the class, if I want. So last night I went to the University Health and Wellness Center (I think this is what it’s called officially) to check out the facility. Today I brought my swimming briefs, goggles, etc and went to the pool before the class. That was really nice to have a mild workout. The pool itself is not very impressive. I guess I am too spoiled :-) by the indoor community pools in our county, with jumping towers, water slides, hottubs, steam rooms, lots of natural light, etc. The GW University pool is in the basement, with just three lanes. The pool is just 25 meters long. Very utilitarian, no fancy extras. But for the pure swimming workout pleasure – absolutely adequate. Plus it is covered by my Student Association fee, so I don’t have to pay anything extra. I felt great after that, now I am going to use it at least once a week. With the winter approaching, it’s a great exercise. The only thing I wish they had is a steam room. Alas, it is available only to VIP members for quite a steep annual fee. I’ll have to pass on that. Otherwise, I am loving it!