Here we go again. Second module, new expectations, different state of mind and a lot to look forward to: Financial Management, Design Thinking, Operational Management - three courses in three weeks. Financial management must be the toughest: two weeks, two exams. Let's see who survives.
It was wonderful to see all those familiar faces, classmates and friends again. It seemed as we were back from a school vacation and a new school year was about to start. We were not total strangers anymore. To some people we feel more connected than to others, but, in general, we are a bunch of great individuals forming a class, with all the good and bad things that come along with it. One crucial question that occupied our mind this time was: „Who will I be in a group with “? We got so used to our teams during the first module that the notion of changing teams was both exciting and worrying. As humans, we tend to lean towards a familiar emotion or circumstance. New set-ups and changes in team dynamics require a certain amount of time to find their rhythm and pace. Time to get to know each other from a different perspective and time to allow changes to happen. The same happened in our new teams. Once we let go of our old team’s attitude and accepted a new challenge, our minds switched and we became new teams.
Financial management. Strong title, imposing words, corporate significance, a certain Dracula mystery behind it. Well, maybe not for everyone, if we were to be completely honest. There are a few classmates who work daily in finance and this course was more of an easy task for them than for the rest of us. We traded chocolate for extra tutoring after class. Win-win. Prior to this course we should have read the book „Analysis for financial management “. In comparison to the accounting book that had 900 pages, this new book with only 400 pages was a piece of cake. So, let's say not many of us bothered to read all of the chapters assigned, never mind the whole book (a mistake, let me tell you!). Prof. Jim Ellert is one the most famous professors at the IEDC-Bled School of Management. In one word – he is a legend. He had a big plan for us: to make us fully understand the concept of NPV, deeply comprehend financial statements and figure it out what is good and what is bad in a company, what to do with the bad stuff and how to help companies grow, survive or change strategy. We also dove into the world of different performance ratios, beta(s), cost of capital, WACC-a and EVAs. Talking about the WACC, it felt more like singing Shakira's song „waka, waka”. Have we created value for ourselves? We will see. But in two weeks we managed to: get confused, become frustrated and find ourselves lost in translation. Prof. Ellert has a broad experience working on different financial projects and with his first-hand stories he made financial cases more alive and interesting. He walked us through different industries based on real situations in Nestle, Dell, Kellogg’s, Thomas Cook, Telekom and Krka. Prof. Ellert would always join us during coffee breaks, making time to talk to each of us personally. He wouldn't run away and hide from us but approached us openheartedly and asked questions. This is a true virtue of a good professor. Final exam was, as Prof. Ellert announced, a learning process. And, basically this is how every exam should be taken. It is not the ultimate goal only to pass the exam, but is to learn and understand, to take something with you. I believe we will appreciate this in many aspects of our lives.
The last week was composed of two subjects: design thinking and operational management, not a combination you would immediately think of. But it did make sense at the end. Design thinking was a great way to break through and to take our mind off the finance. With Prof. Salman Mufti we were motivated to go out in the field, do research and create crazy ideas. And we even got some pocket money to spend on ice-cream and chocolate. Who would not like this kind of course or this type of a professor? It was fun, it was relaxing and we even came up with some ideas we never thought we would be able to create (see the picture).
However, the fun didn't last long. The Operational Management entered the room and we froze. Literally. Professor Frazer Johnson is one of a kind. For this course we had to read a book „Goal“, a novel that walks you through the ups and downs of managing a factory, your team and your family. Easy to read, different aspects to conquer. But a great scenario basis for our role plays in class. Understanding where the „bottlenecks“ in a system are and presenting solutions how to deal with them were the peak of this course. Prof. Johnson organized a field trip to the Danfoss factory where one of our former MBA colleagues is a global technology director. With the safety vest, special glasses and Donald Duck shoes (see the picture), we were guided through different lines of production and entered in the world of real daily operations, somehow opposite to our novel-based reading. After this cartoon episode, we decided we deserved a good meal at the Open Kitchen food market in Ljubljana. Good city vibe, sunny weather, international cuisine and great colleagues – it was indeed the best closure for this module.
After this module taught mainly by three Canadian professors, additionally spiced up with some bowling nights and beautiful hikes in the Bled surroundings, we are ready for new adventures in September.
Have a great summer and see you all soon!