Entries in U Washington (3)

Power of Math to Yield Business Insights

Anne Ruybalid (Turchi) writes in her BusinessWeek MBA Journal at the start of her second-year about her growing appreciation for the power of math to uncover business insight as she integrates her non-profit ambitions and her MBA skills:

In my second year of business school, I've noticed an interesting correlation between two variables. Let X equal the degree to which I am afraid of math and Y equal the degree to which I am mesmerized by the seemingly magical world of business. Stay with me here. The relationship goes like this: The more comfortable I become with math, the less strange and mystical the business world is to me. Not only can math prove "hunches," but (more importantly) it can disprove them and ferret out opportunities like nothing I've seen before. If that weren't enough, math can be a powerful persuasive tool.

This is not to say that I enjoy math. In all circumstances, I'd rather curl up with the latest Billy Collins book than even the sexiest Excel spreadsheet, but I do enjoy learning from what math can illustrate. Business school has allowed me to tap into the incredible power that comes from "running the numbers." I've realized the power that can come from calculating objective value and costs, quantifying unquantifiable things, and working with spreadsheets.


Posted on Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 02:35PM by Registered CommenterPeter Regan in , | CommentsPost a Comment

Fast Pace and Confidence at U Washington

Anne Turchi writes in her BusinessWeek MBA Journal about the mixed backgrounds and fast pace of first-year core courses

Some people in my class are CPAs but have never supervised staff before. Others come to the program with a BA in Economics, but couldn't tell you the difference between a balance sheet and a balance beam. For this reason, our classes begin with the basics and take off from there. The trouble is, it seems we're covering from freshman level to graduate level material in one quarter. Perhaps I'm exaggerating, but the first two sentences out of my economics professor's mouth covered the entire quarter of preparatory economics I took at Portland Community College.

She focuses in on the issue of confidence as a key to first-year survival:

All of us here have spent time fighting off lack of sleep, brainwashing, and insecurity demons during these last few weeks. Lack of sleep and high demands make those little voices in our head louder — whether they are telling me, "You can't do math!" or telling another student, "Nobody can understand you when you speak English!" A large part of the MBA core is getting us to confront these voices and reject them. To realize that our insecurities consist of 90% lack of confidence and 10% lack of skill.

Quant Prep at U Washington

Anne Turchi writes last year in her BusinessWeek MBA Journal  about on-campus quant prep and the importance of confidence at University of Washington in Seattle:

Math Camp (AKA Jumpstart) was a weeklong introduction to accounting and statistics. I was pleasantly surprised with my performance. I had expected a very full, serious week trying to get us up to speed in these very difficult subjects. Instead, it ended up being a relaxing confidence builder. I found myself exclaiming, "Hey, even I knew that!" Seriously, we spent time calculating the mean and median of a list of data.

Math Camp's message was clear: "Hey — you can do this!" I finally understood that this layer of confidence in my own abilities was far more important than any mathematical or statistical principle that I would learn in a week. The message was, "This is going to be hard, but it's going to be hard for everyone. Don't let your lack of confidence in your abilities limit you." This is only my third weekend in business school and by Monday morning I'll have put in over 16 hours of coursework. Pre-Math Camp, I would have excused myself from the difficult quantitative stuff. Now, I'm intrigued.

Posted on Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 01:54PM by Registered CommenterPeter Regan in , , | CommentsPost a Comment