Moving Along

12 06 2013

Module D is almost over, and I’m almost out from under my pile of finance classes. Blogging has been far lighter this year than originally planned; this blog started as part of a marketing fellowship for Hult, and it’s gone through a few rethinks since then, but I’ve decided that I need to take it in a new direction. Before we get to that, though, a few updates:

-iTV-Asia and it’s new sister site, iTV-Vietnam, will soon be back online. We have 40 new content contributors signed to the company, and a few new employees in Ho Chi Minh City who will be taking over a lot of the day-to-day maintenance. I plan to start contributing China Author Forum book reviews again.

-while no timetable is yet official, I plan to move back to the US by September. Exactly where I’m going has yet to be decided- finding a position with a company is a higher priority. If you know of any openings in strategy, marketing or business development with an IT or telecom firm (established or funded startup), or in strategy, marketing and product development consulting, please contact me- I’d be very interested in hearing more. If I don’t have a position or a solid lead by the time I graduate in mid-August, I’ll probably be moving to either the San Francisco or Seattle area to begin my search.

More in a few days…

[edit: I’ve decided I should probably reserve this blog for concerns more directly related to Hult, China & Shanghai; I think anything else would probably not fit the tone.]

 





Online Coursework and Hult

3 05 2013

This open letter from the San Jose State University’s philosophy department, published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, has been floating around the internet for the last few days and is igniting controversy- is it’s argument that live faculty are necessary for real university classes legitimate, or is it simply a case of turf protection?

Clearly, if it’s simply a matter of information transfer, having live-taught classes with full professors is probably a waste; books are a much more efficient medium for data, and software tutorials and simulators are better for teaching the preliminaries of hard skills; beyond that, the basic questions that come up and the sort of nuts and bolts of practical application can be taken care of by teaching assistants. Lecture-based learning is functionally obsolete- why take a lecture class from Dr. Joe from the University of Wherever when you can watch a lecture by the greatest living (and in some cases deceased) scholar in the world? In the case of this letter, they’re reacting against the Justice course taught by Michael Sandel… one of the foremost ethical philosophers on the planet. It’s easy to see how he could be a tough act to follow. (And I’ve watched a few of the lectures… back in my English teaching days, one of my colleagues used excerpts from them in his classes for advanced students.)

 

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CSR and Strategy: Mixed Signals?

2 05 2013

Module C has drawn to a close here at Hult, and most of my classmates have said goodbye, off to one or more of Hult’s other global campuses. I’m not rotating- Shanghai Campus offers plenty of good classes, and while it could have been fun, it just struck me as an unnecessary expense that I can’t afford right now. Anyway, I’m probably more valuable here (as an “old hand” to Shanghai life) than I am elsewhere right now. Module C of the Hult MIB program is mainly focused around two core classes, Strategy and CSR, that essentially serve as the capstone classes of the Hult core curriculum. After going through the basics of accounting and management in Module A, and tearing through finance, economics and marketing in Module B, these last two classes (before the electives of Module D and action project in Module E) put it all together, framing how the material we’ve covered so far goes together to create a corporate strategy, and the ethical implications and considerations that should be taken when designing and implementing one. Having now gone through the Hult core curriculum, it’s become obvious to me how much the school’s roots in management consulting influence it- the whole thing is essentially a course in how to be a consultant- a useful set of tools to take into any business role.

The two professors we had for these classes- Dr. Cheng-hua Tzeng, from Taiwan, and Dr. Farzad Rafi Khan, from Pakistan, couldn’t have been more different… except that they shared a very surprising bond- both earned their Ph.D.s in Strategy and Organizational Management at McGill under management theory legend Henry Mintzberg, and even shared the same cubicle as grad students! It was uncanny- and apparently coincidental- that they ended up teaching the same students, at the same time, at Hult… yet what a contrast.

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We’re #21! We’re #21!

18 12 2012

Not too shabby for a school that (despite the claim of the logo) is less than a decade old.

Hult reached 21st place on The Economist’s list of North American MBAs, once again taking first place for largest salary increase (bringing large numbers of young professionals from the developing world to the developed will have that effect), and putting it within striking distance of the top 20, breathing down the Duke Fuqua School of Business’ neck.

Here in Shanghai, we’re days away from going on winter break; for the MIB cohorts, everything is finished except our final accounting exam. We’ve received our class assignments and syllabi for next module and it looks like an exciting and busy term is coming up in January – Financial Management, Global Economics, and International Marketing… all of which I’m looking forward to eagerly.

Provided the world doesn’t end the day after my accounting final.





Why China Will Eat Your IT Company For Lunch: The Kingdom of Mao Bell, Two Decades Later

21 11 2012

“It works in the West, the Chinese must want my service!”

 

“I can outperform a Chinese competitor. I am smarter than they are and have more money.”

 

“My product is globally accepted, the government won’t have a problem.”

Famous last words, says Hult guest professor and e-business entrepreneur Toine Rooijmans. The Chinese ecommerce space is famously littered with the corpses of foreign companies that thought they had it figured out, only to find themselves a smear on the pavement of China’s crowded information superhighway. And we’re not talking about small-time entrepreneurs here- eBay, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Groupon and, most notoriously, Google, have all found themselves shut out of- or crushed by- the Chinese market.

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China Doesn’t Want You

2 11 2012

To my fellow Hult students, and anyone else in a business program who aspires to come to China:

It’s not easy here.

Bloomberg Businessweek’s article “Looking to Get Ahead? China Doesn’t Want You” summarizes just how difficult it can be for aspiring entrepreneurs and young professionals in China, from non-Chinese backgrounds. Between legal hurdles, linguistic challenges, the saturation of most Chinese markets, the slowing economy, and a general anti-foreign prejudice, China can be a hard place to “make it”, and many MBAs and MBA students who came here expecting to become investment bankers, expat managers, or run a start-up straight out of the gate are often disappointed.

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Auditing your Time

30 10 2012

I’ve got a problem.

In one month, I’m scheduled to take the Chartered Financial Analyst Level 1 exam. In case you’re not familiar with them, the CFA exams are reputed to be the most difficult exams in the finance field, requiring a mastery of a vast amount of material across several disciplines, including:

-Accounting & Financial Statement Analysis

-Economics

-Securities (Equity and Fixed Income)

-Portfolio Management

-Derivatives

-Options

-Technical Analysis

-Quantitative Analysis

-Alternative Investments

-Ethics

… and a dozen things I’m sure I’m forgetting.

The pass rate is around 40%.

I’m only halfway through the curriculum.

It’s time for an audit… a time audit.

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Hult: Disruptive, Entrepreneurial Innovator

23 10 2012

Came across this article in Forbes regarding Hult from Giovanni Rodriguez, who recently guest-lectured at the San Francisco campus:

Hult Breeds Disruption in the MBA Market

Seems that Mr. Rodriguez understood what Hult is about:

“Walk onto one of the campuses and you will be struck by the physical elements.  Open, clean, and driven by the most advanced ideas in work/leisure space that first inspired companies like Starbucks and, later, workplaces like Facebook.   Long desks, where people sit side-by-side (instead of opposite one other).  Classrooms in a mostly crescent formation, adding a light touch of theatricality (just enough) to learning and teaching.  Administrative offices behind clear glass and accessible to anyone. The faculty member who invited me to speak introduced me to the Dean within minutes after our class.”

Some think that these qualities are a bug, rather than a feature… yet I beg to differ. Business schools need to adapt to reflect the modern workplace; transparency (quite literally in Hult’s glass-walled case), flattened hierarchies, fast-moving ad-hoc teams rather than traditional establishment organizations- these are characteristics that are all reflected in Hult’s 21st-century approach to B-school.

“But third is the less obvious yet-more-important message that the world of business happens outside the four walls of any school. MBA programs have struggled with their reputation for breeding entrepreneurs; they are better known for — and perhaps more capable of — breeding managers.  And with Hult’s dedication to social entrepreneurship, the school may be positioning itself to serve a new market for business students.”

Business schools have traditionally been “management” schools, and management theorists like Peter Drucker (all due respect to the brilliant man; Post-Capitalist Society is a book that never ceases to amaze me in it’s precognition) often pointed out that there’s little difference, really, between public administration and business administration. But there’s a lot more to business than administration, and even the nature of administration has been changing greatly in recent years. Today, your boss might not be down the hall- he might be sitting in a café or apartment in another country. Your co-workers might be at a desk next to you- or on the other side of the planet. You’re not going to work in the same function for the next decade; you might not even work the same function from day-to-day. This is the new reality

Some critics of business schools don’t think them suitable to entrepreneurship at all; b-school critic Josh Kaufman being a key example. Kaufman points out, rightly, that business school is often a costly investment, and not even necessary for would-be entrepreneurs. To some extent, I completely agree with him. It is expensive. Many business schools do teach models and curricula that aren’t helpful to entrepreneurs; and, lastly, there are plenty of businesses that you can easily start by yourself, out of your home, with no credentials at all- for which a business education wouldn’t be an asset at all.

On the other hand, however, losing your shirt with a business that could have otherwise succeeded had you had a balanced education in entrepreneurship is pretty costly, too. Having ready access to a network of fellow entrepreneurs who are currently devoting all their efforts to their future career, being able to take a year to just develop your skills in a conducive setting where everyone shares your goals… these are the sort of things that can make the difference between success and failure, and change your career for the rest of your life.

There’s definitely a case to be made for entrepreneurship education. Over the course of the coming year, I’ll be talking to entrepreneurs at Hult and beyond, and hope to tell you more here.





Seven Rotations – October 17th, 2012

18 10 2012

(A day late, unfortunately, but I was tired last night and needed a rest.)

Busy week, as usual. Just finished up the “Toolbox” module at Hult, which consists of preliminary workshops and classes to get everyone on the same page. The Hult MIB and MBA programs being as diverse as they are, they don’t only attract people with a variety of different nationalities, they attract people with vastly different educational backgrounds. There are many business majors, economists and accountants in my class- but there are also scientists, engineers, doctors, Chinese literature students, English teachers- and even one lonely political science major-cum-researcher-cum-administrator-cum-desk manager-cum-teacher-cum-journalist-cum-entrepreneur. So, obviously, not every class could be interesting and enlightening for every student. Those with finance and accounting backgrounds found the “accounting boot camp” extremely basic; but the class also contained students who had never seen a balance sheet. I’d never taken an accounting class before, but my father taught me to read a financial statement and do basic bookkeeping when I was very young, so there wasn’t much that was new for me. Though I understand and support the principle- the other classes won’t make sense unless you have the foundation.

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Seven Rotations – October 10th, 2012

10 10 2012

(Seven Rotations is my “week in review”/narrative link dump. I’m going to try to post it every Wednesday- we’ll see how that goes.)

National Day break? What National Day break? While others tried to get out of Shanghai; I decided to stay in- after all, it seems like a bad idea to travel when a billion other people have the same idea. (EXPAT PROTIP: If you want to travel during a holiday, leave the country.)

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