Entries in Duke (9)
Having recently completed several months of classroom teaching at Cornell's Johnson School and Dartmouth's Tuck School after supporting the intense summer online MBA Math rush of incoming students, I can now gather my thoughts. I am taking a break this year from teaching Professional Decision Modeling at Duke's Fuqua School during winter term.
Instead, I'll be refining and extending the MBA Math online course using ideas that have emerged from classroom teaching.
I recently completed teaching the second-year decision science elective Professional Decision Modeling at Duke's Fuqua School. Students work in teams to value an industrial asset involved in a spin-off negotiation. The case evolves over the six week course as it did in the nine-week project from which the case was adapted.
Second-year MBA elective teaching allows me to see just how far students come from their tentative return to the classroom for pre-orientation quant skills courses that I teach at Dartmouth and Cornell.
Those early days are as much about the social challenge of becoming a student again as they are about the quant mechanics of Excel, finance, accounting, etc.
When students walk into my second-year class, they have had a full first-year curriculum learning individual disciplines in short case-a-day immersions.
The challenge in my consulting practice course is to integrate across disciplines as needed and to stick with one problem for many weeks. Students will need ad hoc integration and project management skills to yield results in their post-MBA jobs.
I teach students additional decision science skills for modeling large problems, doing simulation of future scenarios, and optimizing resource allocation. Teams are responsible for pulling in their learning about finance, accounting, negotiation, and strategy from other courses.
Perhaps the strongest lesson this year for my Fuqua students was just how hard it is to craft a compelling presentation with less than one hour to cover hundreds of team hours of effort. The temptation is great to tell decision makers everything you've done but the most effective presentations focus on what the decision makers need to know to share your insights about the path forward.
The students were terrific, worked hard, and generated very professional results. Fuqua's physical plant has been upgraded from last year with the completion of Breeden Hall, which houses the new library among other improvements.
Regarding Excel and calculators in Duke's EMBA program, Rick Bollar reports:
In the Duke Global Executive program, all of our exams are open book and we can use class materials, notes, textbooks and computers (and of course Excel) to complete them. On the flipside, the exams typically take 8-16 hours to complete.I think most of my peers do not use a financial calculator, but I find it's easier to use my HP than Excel for most TVM calculations and I use it to crosscheck my Excel calculations.
I recently finished teaching my second-year decision consulting practice course Professional Decision Modeling to 46 Fuqua second-year students. They were fantastic--smart, hard working, diverse, likeable, motivated. I'll add brave because they took an unknown course taught by an unknown visiting professor. Commuting to campus each week (just like consulting), I stayed at the Thomas Center, which is next to the main Fuqua buildings and has accomodations and classrooms for executive education courses and the Durham residential component of the various executive MBA programs.
I stretched and reformatted the course from the version I teach at Tuck to fit Fuqua's term structure. The experience was energizing, forcing me to rethink priorities and try new things. Interacting with a large group of decision science faculty colleagues was also very stimulating although limited time on campus and the demands of teaching constrained my ability to make the most of the opportunity.
A course like this is far from the present concerns of prospective MBAs considering the MBA Math quant skills course in preparation for the first year core curriculum. Yet the experience of seeing these talented second-year students integrate the technical work (there was plenty of it) with the qualitative and interpersonal aspects of a real consulting case is what motivates my work with students on the more basic quant skills foundation covered by the MBA Math course.
I hadn't been on Duke's campus for about 12 years since I was a guest speaker in a decision science course. The Fox Student Center is a great addition to the day-to-day experience. Building projects abound on campus, including a major project to add Fuqua classroom space. The central campus quad is absolutely beautiful; it's hard to imagine it's only 80 or so years old. I enjoyed exploring Durham and Chapel Hill, with highlights including some bbq of course, open mic night at the James Joyce pub, dinner at Pop's, two trips to Tyler's Taproom, and a nighttime stroll through UNC's campus.
I'll be teaching my second-year decision consulting and valuation course Professional Decision Modeling at Fuqua during their Term 3 in January and February. The fall term Professional Decision Modeling course at Tuck starts next week and I am deep in preparation.
I look forward to working with students and faculty at Duke as well as spending some time in the Research Triangle area during college basketball season.
Blogging has been slow while I've been getting admitted students ready for their summer pre-MBA quantitative preparations. Cornell (Johnson), Dartmouth (Tuck), and Washington St. Louis (Olin) have purchased MBA Math subscriptions for all incoming students. Georgetown (McDonough) will do so in the next day or so.
Separately, admitted students from dozens of MBA programs have found their way to MBA Math on their own in recent weeks and are working through the twenty-two lessons covering Excel spreadsheets, finance, accounting, microeconomics, and statistics. Students subscribing in the past six weeks will be attending the following prominent MBA programs in the fall: Boston College, Carnegie Mellon, Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Georgia Tech, Harvard, INSEAD, London Business School, MIT, Michigan, Purdue, Rice, Rochester, USC, Stanford, UT Austin, Wake Forest, William and Mary, and Yale.
Discussion boards and regular office hour online chats provide communication between students and me and among students.
Here is a testimonial from Rick Bollar, an incoming student in the executive MBA program at Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and member of the MBA Math Board of Advisors, about his pre-MBA use of the MBA Math online quantitative preparation course:
I am enrolled in an Executive MBA program and I have been out of an academic environment for well over twenty years. While I did well in Fuqua’s quantitative assessment, I left my interview feeling as if I had holes in my experience and I wanted to make sure I had prepared as well as possible for the first semester.
Fuqua offers a quantitative readiness program and while it is good, I felt it needed to be augmented with additional drills, training and feedback - it also needed to be a program that could be done in short sessions from anywhere.
That’s how I came across MBA Math. MBA Math allows me to study and practice when I can between work and family obligations and I find that most of my work is done in 30 to 60 minute sessions. It’s easy to pop in and practice with just a few minutes time. In fact, most of my study time has been while I travel, from various hotel rooms.
I matriculate in May and I look forward to reporting my progress in the first quantitative classes.
I received the following response from a student soon to enter the Executive MBA program at Duke's Fuqua School:
1. Does your program suggest brushing up calculus skills before starting the first year?
2. Does your program provide any calculus pre-term teaching? If yes, is it done on campus?
No, but there are other recommendations – details here.
3. Have you used calculus in your MBA studies? If yes, in what classes?
Not there yet.