Spring Quarter Recap—Summer Quarter Intro

Well, I was really busy during last quarter and didn’t post much here on the blog. Sorry! My workload toward the end was pretty heavy; I had 3 group projects due in about a two week time frame. So I’ll tell you a bit about each of them. Enough with the excuses already, right?

Spring Quarter was great; I really enjoyed my classes. One of which, Global Marketing and Sustainability, won’t be offered next year, according to our professor, Scott Griffin. As is the case with some of my classes, Prof. Griffin does not work in academia, but the actual working world (he works for Greif), and he thinks his travel schedule isn’t going to allow him to teach next year. It’s disappointing for me, as this was a very inspiring class. My project here was for a nonprofit organization called Brand Aid, which works with Macy’s to sell Haitian artwork. After the horrible earthquake last year, the artisan community in Haiti has been trying to continue business, mostly by selling to overseas markets, which is where Macy’s comes in. You can buy it on Macy’s website—they call the initiative “Heart of Haiti”. The artwork made from reused steel oil drums is something I particularly like. We examined how Macy’s could improve the Heart of Haiti program and keep the struggles of Haiti in consumers’ minds.

Next up is my project for my Government Regulation and Business Strategy course with Prof. Lance Schneier. Like Prof. Griffin, Prof. Schneier is not also in academia full-time; he is retired from the energy industry. Our group examined the obesity epidemic among children and found that the regulations for determining what is served in federally-funded school lunch programs do not cover beverages. Kids could be drinking many calories in flavored milk or soda that don’t need to be there; sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are the culprits. We examined how the soft drink industry could be incentivized to help schools eliminate sugary drinks from their cafeteria and encourage schoolchildren to be more active.

Last but not least was my class in Lean Enterprise Leadership, co-taught by Professors Peg Pennington and Peter Ward. They are part of Fisher’s Center for Operational Excellence, which partners with businesses to improve their operations management. This was not a class where we sat around and listened to the professor lecture.  There were day and night sections for this course, and we all spent one day on-site at several local businesses (Coca-Cola, OSU Medical Center and Exterior Portfolio by Crane) to examine one business process that could be improved through value stream mapping. This is a process developed by Toyota as part of the Toyota Production System. I first learned about this in the Operations core MBA course. You draw a map of the current process and this allows you to see waste. My group examined the international shipping order process for Exterior Portfolio and found some ways that this process could be streamlined, eliminating some delays. The day we spent with them, we were told this process needed to be done once a week or so. Exterior Portfolio, however, had been acquired and just recently began shipping many more products internationally!

These projects were fun, but it can be difficult to coordinate with my group members sometimes to meet. In the Working Professional program, my groups have generally gotten together on Saturdays. My group for the Haiti project, however, was made up of mostly full-time MBA students (I was the only one in the WPMBA program), so we tended to meet during the week. What’s great about group projects, though, is that you don’t have to do the whole thing yourself. Also, group members have differing strengths. A finance-oriented type can do the NPV analysis; another person with good PowerPoint skills can put together the presentation, and so on. I have good language skills, so I’ll often volunteer to edit the whole report once everyone’s sent in their write-ups.

Summer Quarter is my last before I graduate in August. I am taking the final two core MBA courses, one at a time over two five-week spans. First up: Global Environment of Business, then Strategy Formulation and Implementation. It will be nice to be able to concentrate on only one subject at a time, and since I have had global business and strategy courses already in the electives I have taken, I feel like I will be ahead of the game a little. My reading load is doubled for each class, essentially, but it also means that I don’t have to worry about making sure one class’s work doesn’t dominate the other’s.

Many in the Working Professional program are just starting their very first classes now, taking Accounting and Organizational Behavior this summer. They’ll enjoy easier parking on campus during this quarter, and hopefully will be able to find time to enjoy themselves in between work and school. My advice is to take it slow and don’t run yourself ragged. Stressing out over grades won’t do anyone any good. Do your best and you’ll be just fine.