Module 2 - Statistics, Economics, Kingston Venture, Career Support, Personal Coaching, Exams, Elections, Clubs

. Sunday, June 14, 2009

The title pretty much sums it up. I have not updated my blog last couple of week, and have been feeling rather guilty about that. Anyway, I reckoned, it would be better if I wrote a summary of the entire module in this blog.

Module 2 consisted of Statistics and Economics.

Statistics: The course was taken by Professor Jeff McGill. As someone with very minimal statistics background, I was continuously 'catching up' with the class and at no point seemed to be 'in charge' of the course. In a one year program, it really helps to be ready for the course, rather than wait for the class to be taught, and then we follow up. This, in my personal opinion, is even more relevant with Queen's as the coursework, prereads and the assignments can be daunting at most times. My senior batches have told me that the worst is yet to come, but if this module was anything to go by, then I really have to learn how to stay ahead of the game.

The course overall was extremely useful. As I was telling Professor McGill one day, I have a new found respect for MS Excel. The thing with this course is, it helps you predict the future. :) Given the sample data, how does the consumer behaviour look in the future? That is one of the key roles of a Manager, and this course lays the foundations for that. We covered a lot of topics in this course, some of which being binomial and normal distributions, regression analysis etc. I particularly enjoyed regression analysis as Excel would do the number crunching, and we had to mainly come up with interpretations of the crunched numbers.

The course work was divided into 2 team assignments and 2 quizzes, each of 250 marks and contributing to 25% of our grades. The assignments were challenging and gave us a firm understanding of the concepts. My personal opinion is, if you find a subject difficult, and you realize that you might need an understanding for your career, become the lead for the assignment. I did not do too well in the first quiz but am very happy with my performance in the second quiz.

Overall, I think this was an important course, and I look forward to Business Decision Modelling, a course which I am excited about.

Global Environment of Business / Economics: The next course in this module was Economics, and was taken by Professor John McHale. I thoroughly enjoyed this course. Interesting would maybe be an understatement. I have been trying to keep myself updated with the global economic scenario for about over a year now, and I could see the impact of the same in class, as I was consistently able to contribute and grasp concepts fairly quickly. The micro economics part of the course can be quite challenging, but the macro economics portion of the course is quite easy.

My only 'complaint' (for lack of a better word) with this course is that I expected a lot more of comparison with the Asian economies. Economies like India have remained relatively insulated from the slowdown (*relatively*). While most business schools and economists acknowledge the possible handover of economic power to Asia over the next few decades, the course would be richer, if we understood what policies do these countries have, that insulated (*relatively*) them from the impact of the US slowdown.

That said, with 3 weeks in the module, it is indeed difficult to have a comprehensive course. A challenge that most 2 year programs might not face. In my opinion, if you want to contribute well to the class, blogs like the baseline scenario, Krugman's column etc really help.

The course consisted of a team assignment (25%), a presentation (25%) and and a test (50%). While each of these were time consuming and challenging, I would not call them as impossible. But when compounded with stats assignments, the prereads, and post reads, the cocktail can be quite heady. A word of note about the text books. The books for Econ was simple, lucid and extremely well written. For a novice like me, this book was fantastic. I wouldnt share the same passion for the Stats text though. :)

Kingston Ventures Tour: This was an extremely interesting one day visit where we visited 3 companies during the day. These are startups based out of Kingston. We visited a Biotech Firm, a firm that deals with boats (mainly fireboats) and finally a manufacturing firm started by a Queen's Alums. It was really nice spending time with these entrepreneurs and listening to their story. A common thread that bound them together is the sense of accomplishment and that glint of pride as they describe their journey. While I have never considered entrepreneurship as a Post MBA career, the day with these people gave me an insight that I never had. Entrepreneurship is tough, and to meet these people was humbling. In the evening, we had to present an elevator pitch about one of the 3 companies that we visited. It was particularly exciting as the CEO's of these companies were present as we presented the pitch. I gave the pitch on my teams behalf and it felt so good to stand in the podium. Home sweet home! :) While my pitch was not great, I was pretty happy with the experience. Some of the teams had some great pitches and the team that won had a fantastic pitch. It was my favourite pitch of the lot.

Career Support: We had our first few career support sessions in this module. We had a half a day sessions with some of our seniors from the batch of 2010 and a couple of wine and cheese parties where we met up with some other alumni. We also spent anothe 1/2 day session of resume writing. We submitted our editted resume and had a 1-1 meeting with our career counsellers. For the uninitiated, the career cell in Queen's is called the Business Career Centre (BCC). The two counsellors that we interact with are Julia Blackstock and Joanne Thompson. Julia is currently handling all the Finance and non Consulting resumes while Joanne is handling all the consulting resumes. I was reasonably happy with my first session with the BCC, but then the next few weeks will be important in understanding how the BCC operates. I shall write a separate post on the functioning of the BCC.

Personal Coaches: Queen's also offers its students, the support of a personal coach. Faculty provide the academic support needed for the students, while the BCC is supposed to take care of the career support, your teams will be helped out by your team facilitator. But an MBA is about smoothening those rough behavioural edges as well, and thats were personal coaches play a role. For example, I believe I need help with a couple of behavioural aspects of my personality. Sometimes it is possible to not know what help you need. A personal coach will talk to you, give you tips on overcoming those behavioural challenges. They are scheduled to meet you for 6 hours over the year (8 sessions of 45 minutes each). There is an array of personal coaches, each accomplished in this field. We can go through their profile and mail any one and ask them to be our coach. First, a telephonic call is scheduled, where you and your coach can talk. You can voice out your expectations, and in the process analyse if he/she is the right fit for you as a coach. I had my first face-2-face meet with my coach this weekend and was generally happy with the way it went. Have another scheduled this weekend.

Elections: We had our student body elections for this year. The election committee did a brilliant job at conducting these elections. Our student president is Jameel Lalji, Vice president for Internal Relations is Danilo Martins, VP Student Affairs is Matt Hooper and VP Finance is Geoff Lau. BTW, the VP Finance is in our team, so we are hoping to reap the fruits of having a exec member! ;-)

Clubs: The various clubs have started mushrooming in the last couple of weeks. Everyone is a member of atleast one club. We are having quite a few clubs this year. Most of these clubs have their elections this week. Below is *some* of the clubs for this year:
- Consulting Club
- Finance Club
- Marketing Club
- New Ventures Club
- CSR Club
- Women in Leadership Club
- NetImpact club (Need to confirm this)
- Toast Masters Club
- Biopharma club
And a few others...

Once the elections are done, I shall list the presidents for these clubs too.

That pretty much rounds up this week. Heavy module (5 weeks, 4 subjects) ahead. Time to catch some sleep that I will be missing for the next 5 weeks. :)


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