A blog of anonymous Baylor MBA students writing about their experiences while in graduate school.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Top US MBA Schools

Today, Amazon launched a new service called UnSpun. UnSpun is a community based system allowing users to rank anything from music, to who they believe is the most influential person of the 20th century.

The community created a ranking of the Top US MBA Schools. Baylor is currently ranked #36. This puts Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business — MBA program above USC and Texas, and just trailing #34 UCLA's Anderson School of Management.

For those of you who know personally how strong the Baylor MBA program is, go to UnSpun now to vote for the Baylor MBA program.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Semester Review

Some past semester MBA events/news:

To keep current, MBA news and events can be found at the Baylor Graduate Business School web site.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Build New, Not Up!

Currently there exists a proposal that the Hankamer School of Business (HSB) facilities will undergo some remodeling. From how it sounds, the building will include an addition of two extra floors on top of the current 5 story tall Cashion building.

There is no question as to why this is needed. The undergraduates overwhelm the facility occupying all rooms possible leaving the graduate business students little to no room. In true business style, a survey was sent to the students asking for feedback as to how to best utilize the addition of two more levels of floor space. Unfortunately though, the survey did not ask the real question that needs to be answered, why don't we just build a new business school?

Hankamer which was built in 1959, went through a similar remodeling period in 1988 when the addition of the 5-story tall Cashion building was added to accommodate the need for additional space. So you ask yourself, why is the proposal to build up (all 2 floors that is) and not build new like Baylor did back in 1988 with Cashion? Well, that question this author cannot answer but this author can provide some reasons as to why Baylor should build new and not up (on top of Cashion that is).
  1. What is 2 floors going to accomplish? Yes, it will give some additional space but is the benefits of the extra space worth the cost of building up?

  2. Re-energize the business school. HSB has numerous distinguished facility, nationally ranked business programs yet a business school that many students feel is overlooked by the administration. There are countless reasons why a business program for any university should be near the top of the priority list. Business schools are where a university produces the next corporate executives. Executives who will then be able to donate personally, or through their company, large sums of money to a university. Furthermore, name recognition of a university, as this WSJ article alludes to, is largely tied to overall recognition of that university's business school.

    With this in mind, no single example is better than that of the Law School. Once Morrison Hall was the home of the Law program which for comparison reasons was ranked similar to that of the business school. But now look at the program. Baylor Law Program rivals that of the top 10 law programs in the nation. Since the addition of the new Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center in 2001, Baylor Law has become a yearly host to the Texas Supreme Court, Baylor Law School hosted President Bush's 2002 Economic Forum, hosted Programs for Texas Prosecutors and much more. When a university has great facilities, people want to use it. It's that simply. People do not want to use a building that looks like it has been "bandaged up" in an attempt to accommodate the need for more space.

  3. Vision 2012, the vision of the university for the current and coming years ahead has out of the 12 imperatives 5 that directly tie to facilities and why the business school should build new and not up.

    Imperative I -Establish an environment where learning can flourish. Now yes, the Bloomberg room is amazing but when there exist graduate level class that in the first few weeks of class, students had to literally sit on the floor (yes, no chair) because their wasn't room for the student in the class is unfortunate. It disrupts learning and inhibits in-class discussion, which is a critical learning element for any graduate level class.

    Imperative III - Develop a world-class faculty. Just imagine how much easier it would be to recruit distinguished facility if we had a great building. Large offices and classrooms delights the eyes of any professor.

    Imperative IV - Attract and support a top-tier student body. A similar argument is made about imperative IV that was made for Imperative III. Students more now than ever are looking for top academics, as U.S. News & World Report indicate, as a reason to choose a university over another. And if one university has recognition for having a top facility, that's even more reason why that student would choose Baylor.

    Imperative VII - Provide outstanding academic facilities. Now there isn't a more explicit reason why to build a new facility for the business program than this imperative. Imperative VII directly details why providing top facilities for facility, staff and students is important. And this imperative should not be under valued.

    Imperative XI - Emphasize global education. With new business facilities for students, Baylor would more easily be able to host international exchange students. And in turn, Baylor would be able to send students to those corresponding schools in return.

It's amazing how such an event as building a new business school can transform an entire university. It is for those reasons listed above why this student strongly believes in the idea for Baylor to Build New, and Not Up for the Baylor Business program.

Links of interest:

Sunday, December 11, 2005

MBA, a Positive NPV?

A question that many people have been talking and writing about lately is whether or not an MBA provides a positive net present value for the person. Well, I'll answer that question right up front. It depends.

Why such a vague answer you ask yourself? Because there truly is no single answer to this question. It depends upon: your age, the industry you want to go into, whether or not you plan to start your own business, how much you were earning prior to graduate school (and project to earn after graduate school), the opportunity cost of lost promotions that you could have attained while not in graduate school, are you even paying for graduate school, and the list goes on-and-on...

I could go through a simple example calculation of the financial benefit (or loss) for graduate business school; however, it would be exactly that - a simple calculation. As detailed above, many variables exist in the decision process. One can only hope that you weigh the benefits vs. the costs for graduate business school prior to applying and taking on such an endeavor as a MBA program. Certainly, as with many graduate programs, a person will only get out of the program what they put in. If you are not truly committed to graduate business school, ask yourself whether or not it is what you actually want in life.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Best of 2005

BusinessWeek has a write-up of what they consider to be the Best Leaders and Best Ideas of 2005. The best leaders include such people as Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo from Nokia, and Jeffrey Immelt from General Electric. Some of the best ideas include that of green technologies and corporate blogging.

It is interesting to see how the Internet is being used as a great resource to corporations. After reading through the list of best leaders and ideas of 2005, one can quickly see the impact it has had on BusinessWeek's best-of lists. As many of us can remember how in the 1990s corporations had unrealistic ideas for leveraging the Internet, it seems that now corporations are finally grasping how to effectively use the potential of the Internet to improve their business.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Business & Investing Books

With the holidays just around the corner giving each of us hopefully some free time for reading, I thought I would post Amazon's current most popular Business & Investing books.
  1. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
    by Thomas L. Friedman
  2. Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
    by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
  3. Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
    by Malcolm Gladwell
  4. Empire of Debt : The Rise Of An Epic Financial Crisis
    by Bill Bonner, Addison Wiggin
  5. Jim Cramer's Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World
    by James J. Cramer
  6. The Little Book That Beats the Market
    by Joel Greenblatt, Andrew Tobias
  7. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
    by Malcolm Gladwell
  8. Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great
    by Jim Collins
  9. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
    by Jim Collins
  10. Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money--That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
    by Robert T. Kiyosaki, Sharon L. Lechter
It is my understanding that MGT 5325 (International Management) requires everyone to read The World is Flat, the current best seller in the Business & Investing category. And even though it is not directly listed on Amazon's best seller list, Strategy requires everyone to read Jim Collin's Good to Great book.

Amazon's entire Business & Invest best seller list

Fortune's 13 Unconventional Investments

Fortune has a gallery of 13 "uncoventional investments" from over the years. The gallery includes success stories like the purchase of the Coca-Cola formula, to some suprising failures made by no other than investment guru Warren Buffet.

This is just another example of the true meaning of investment risk, and the required return associated with such an investment.

FORTUNE's "Believe It or Not" investment gallery.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Google's Ten Golden Rules

Newsweek has a delightful article for any person who believes in the teachings of late Peter Drucker on how Google manages their business through using Drucker's management principles. The article details how Google hires employees, promotes creativity, and much more.

As the article mentions, a trend in business is certainly going towards what is now known as "knowledge workers". A companies employees are its most valuable asset. Newsweek's article on how Google manages its business is an excellent depiction on how to manage the modern day knowledge worker.

Newsweek's Google: Ten Golden Rules article

Monday, December 05, 2005

Proposal: Change the MBA Curriculum

After much thought, I want to propose some ideas as to how to improve the MBA program. One such way I believe would be to restructure how our curriculum is structured.
  1. It would first involve taking exams on Friday. Now I know this idea will not go over well with my classmates, but our class time is valuable. Spending an entire class period devoted to taking an exam is nothing other than lost class time that could be spent on learning new material. By moving exams to Fridays, it would promote the ability for professors to lecture more, provide more in class discussions etc.

  2. I need to preface this next suggestion with a disclaimer. I greatly respect all professors in the MBA program. I value no professor more or less than another. With that being said, and with the idea that for an MBA student - typically graduate business schools focus on finance, operations and marketing, it has caused me to reconsider how our classes are structured.

    Currently ISY, OB, and ECO are full or equilavently full semester long classes. I believe these classes could each be condensed and accelerated into a 1/2 semester long courses. The motivation being to provide the students more oppurtunities to take elective classes in their field of interest. This would provide the means to add additional classes to the core curriculum as well. Since having 3 half-semester long classes is unbalanced, leaving an empty slot to fill a full semester, a 4th half-semester long class could be added, such as negotiations.

    By moving these classes to a half-semester long structure, it has numerous benefits. It frees our curriculum up by 1 full semester class since we are now taking the classes in half the amount of time. It gives students more oppurtunity and flexibility in there schedule as to which electives they can take. The students wouldn't be taking more hours but would allow students to take more classes, thus learning more material and ability to apply that material learned to new problems to solve. With the additional class that is freed by moving to half-semester long ISY, OB and ECO courses, students could take more FIN, Operations, MKT classes or whatever classes one is interested in.
Some other ideas exist, but I'll wait to another post to write about those ideas. I would greatly enjoy hearing a discussion about what people's thoughts are on these ideas.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Strategy + Business = ?

Many of use know what business is. Many of have an idea what strategy is. But what happens when you put business and strategy together, and what exactly is strategy? It seems only natural to combine strategy into the core competency for your business. But does combining strategy and business equal success? Well, maybe. Let's see why.

After having read enough HBR cases to make any grown person ill, I start to think to myself ... does the success of a company rely at all upon the strategy of the firm? I have read time-and-time again about successful company's and unsuccessful company's. Both with similar if not identical "strategies" and the company's who succeeded had good strategies, and the company's who failed did not.

A successful strategy, be all that it is, could be measured solely on whether or not the company is providing returns in excess of that of the market risk for the firm. But what that is really measuring is not, or at least I would argue is not, measuring strategy at all because one has no idea if the strategy of the firm contributed to the success of the business.

Strategy can, and should, involve much work. One must align business units towards a common global goal. Prevent "active inertia", provide continuous improvement etc.

But ultimately, don't all we care about is if the company makes higher than expected returns, and we really don't care about the company's strategy at all? Jim Collins and others go on to say that we have such things as level 5 leaders and other such "mumbo jumbo". But really, if I'm an investor, do I care if the CEO is a level 5 leader? I say no. What I care about is the fact that the company is successful. And success is measured by returns. Returns that are higher than expected for that risk class.

What I'm looking for is a CEO that comes in and says he/she is going to increase market capitalization by $X billion. And how they do so, as long as it is legal (and ethical), is irregardless to me. Of course, how they accomplish this goal, is the strategy of the firm.

The CEO comes in and thinks of their stint of employment as a project, not a tenure at the firm. Let me say that again, they come in knowing their stay at the organization is only as long as it takes to complete the project, and it is not a tenure. They come in knowing that they will be in for a given amount of time and that time table is determined in advance. They do their work. Then leave (and leave early if they are NOT successful).

Thinking of executives length of employment as a project is a completely different mind set than that typically found in corporate American today. What this now means is that the strategy of the CEO to complete his/her project will, and probably should, be different than that found in any academic book or NY Times best seller. This is because each project is different. It might be the CEO is brought in to increase market share, or lower costs, or improve overall profitability, or what I personally prefer to hear ... increase market capitalization hence returns. Because I'm money driven. America is money driven. Capitalism is driven by the desire of individuals to have more. And what the CEO gets is a percentage of the increase they provide to the company. For instance, market cap. increased by $X billion and the CEO and his team of executives gets Y % of that. We don't complain about how much we give them. We measure them on their success and are willing to pay for that investment. Even if it is hundreds of millions of dollars. In return, the CEO is measured on a very simplified metric system. Did the CEO deliver:
  1. On time;
  2. Did the CEO meet or exceed expectations;
  3. If it makes sense to talk about budgets, were they within budget.
Now, thinking about executives on a purely project level status. It brings me back to the original question of what is strategy and why is it important. To me, now, strategy is whatever it needs to be to complete the project. We can only rate the success of the company's strategy on whether or not the firm was able to successfully complete the project. Because, as how we just defined businesses today - it cannot be said that a company had a successful strategy but poorly implemented it. Because strategy involves the implementation and completion of the desired goal.

So what does all this mean. Maybe nothing. Maybe something. What's important to me is that CEO's should be less complacent in what they do. Ultimately, in my mind,

Strategy + Business = CEO

or, what might seem more intuitive

CEO = Strategy + Business

in order to complete the project. Whatever strategy, if any at all, it takes for the CEO to complete the project is the strategy of the firm and that's why it is important.