My Favorite Class: Strategy

As an MBA student there are number of classes we take in our first year designed to given us an understanding of a wide range of business aspects, from finance and accounting to data analytics and marketing.  As someone who came from the supply chain background I found these classes to be exceptionally in learning the about industries I had not previously had experience with.  There is one class in particular that students take in their second semester that I have found really show what the MBA is all about, that class is Strategy Formulation and Implementation.

 

In this class MBA students take all of the knowledge they gained in the previous semester and apply it to cases about real companies and the decisions they made to reach a level of success and what decisions they should make when at a strategic crossroads.  This class helps to put students in the CEO’s shoes and consider all the opportunities and risks they face when considering the decisions needed to maneuver a company through the marketplace.

 

Along with the in-depth case studies and discussion-based lectures there are computer simulations that let provide students with a company their own to run, and where they can see the outcomes of their decisions.  Something as straightforward as a manufacturers decision on its delivery schedule can have profound effects on its profitability and place in the marketplace.

 

Global Applied Projects

As a full-time MBA student at the Fisher College of Business, you will have the opportunity to take part in the Global Applied Projects (GAP) program.  On Friday, Feb 1, our class finally found out where we would be going, the projects we would be working on, and the organizations we would be working for. As potential MBA students yourselves, I want to give you some idea of what this process is and what it entails.

The GAP program is designed to allow MBA students to participate in a global consulting workshop where, rather than just classes and simulations where students are using theory and the outcomes are no more than a letter grade, this is an opportunity to work for a real company with a real problem and who are paying real money for a real solution. The fact that these problems exist in an international setting is definitely a perk. For example, projects this year are in areas as diverse as Ethiopia, France, Brazil, China, and Malaysia.

For a timeline on how the GAP program works:

  1. In the middle of the fall semester, students will be given the opportunity to apply to the GAP program. As this is a program that provides for free international travel and a stipend for living in country, it is extremely popular and thus it is very important students have their applications in on time.
  2. At the beginning of spring semester, students will be sent a list of international projects. Upon receiving the list of projects, students will then rank these in order of preference and ability. At this time, students will not know the companies or organizations they are working for or where the projects will be placed.
  3. At the beginning of February, Fisher holds an event to announce the makeup of the students groups for each project, the organizations they will be working for, and where they will be working.
  4. In the second half of spring semester, students will begin working on their projects at weekly meetings and alongside faculty advisers to come up with realistic and actionable solutions for their target companies.
  5. For most of May, students live onsite and in-country working on their projects, and preparing to present their solution to their clients. Each student is provided with a budget that covers airfare, and a stipend for room and board that they may spend however they see fit.

The GAP program provides a wonderful opportunity for Fisher MBA students to work in a true international setting and understand all of the challenges and opportunities that exist in a global business environment.  That said, free travel to new places to work on interesting projects and gain experiences outside of our comfort zones is definitely a perk.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

What is the GRE?

The GRE is one of the two possible qualifying exams prospective MBA students will be looking to take as they prepare to apply to the Fisher College of Business, the with the GMAT as the other possible exam.  The main difference between the GRE and GMAT is that while the GRE is used as part of admissions for a wide variety of graduate programs, such as business school, law school, or other specialized master’s programs, the GMAT is primarily only accepted by business schools. For the purpose of Fisher, either exam is acceptable.

How the GRE Works

The GRE is broken into three sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing, with each section receiving its own score. While the Analytical Writing section does help schools understand a prospective candidates writing abilities and logical thinking, it is the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections that will generally receive the most attention. The Quantitative and Verbal reasoning sections are scored out of a total of 180 points each, with many schools making their composite average score available for prospective candidates to view. For example, the Fisher incoming Full-Time MBA class of 2018, the average composite score was a 312.

How to Study for the GRE

The best advice I can give when preparing to take the GRE is to use books or online resources to practice the types of questions they give in the GRE, and understand what it is the questions are asking. One of the most important skills the GRE tests is the ability to read through entire questions and passages and understand what answer is being sought. There are a number of online resources you can use to find free practice tests and the general questions you can expect to see come test day.

One Last Thing

As you start studying for the GRE, remember that while a high score can definitely help a candidate, business schools will be looking at many aspects of a candidate including work experience and cultural fit. This means a lower-than-expected score does not necessarily place someone out of the running. And if you do receive a score not as high as you wanted, one of the best parts of the GRE is that it can be taken multiple times.

Easiest Lunch Spots

On the days where classes have been getting out at noon providing only a hour lunch break before the next one begins, and there are no job or club info sessions providing the ubiquitous pizza, the Fisher Grad student has been left with a simple question: What the heck am I doing for lunch?

Ignoring the overachievers who choose to pack, the rest of us are left to find our own way into the Fisher campus culinary experience.

Rohr Café

Starting off we have Mason Hall’s own Rohr Café, always good for a Starbucks coffee or espresso to get the caffeine boost one immediately begins to rely upon when Student becomes one’s job description. This quick café is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the crowds generally forming before 8:30 a.m. classes and around lunch. Offering a selection of sandwiches and other baked goods, it is a reliable option for a quick bite.

Panera

Only a five-minute walk away from Gerlach Hall, the Lane St. Panera has quickly become one the most popular nearby restaurants for lunch.  Offering a wide range of sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads, this lunch spot provides a nice change of pace for those looking for something a bit healthier than the universal Domino’s pizza.  Along with their Rapid Pickup app, allowing people to preorder and skip the line, it is a speedy and healthy stop for the grad on the go.

Bistro 2110

Located in the nearby and gorgeous Blackwell Hotel, Bistro 2110 offers a high scale experience at an affordable price and easy access.  Their lunch buffet, coming in at $12.95/person, offers a changing rotation of options, ranging from sirloin steak with butternut squash to a seared salmon over rice pilaf.  For those looking for a more specialized option their lunch and dinner menus offers a mix of made order items, the Blackwell Burger and Sriracha Fried Shrimp Tacos are always a solid choice.