Ok – I will try to make sure I break down these classes with a little more granularity in the future, but for now, I’ll cover the Summer Quarter at a very high level and give some advice to future MSx’ers (e.g. Sloan Fellows). By the way, even with the rebranding, it will be difficult for us to not think of ourselves as Sloan Fellows. Class of 2014 were admitted under the label of Sloan Fellows and most of the Stanford community knows us as Sloan Fellows… For future cohorts, hopefully the MSx brand will start to gain some recognition…
Summer Quarter started in early-July in a flurry. The pace was very brisk – not only academic, but there were many workshops scheduled for Wednesdays (traditionally, very few GSB classes meet on Wednesdays so they are available for group meetings and one-time events). We were assigned to static “sections” (half the cohort in each section) and “study groups” (between 4-6 students per group). Every student in a given section had an identical schedule and took all classes together. The static sections allow for rapid familiarity at the cost of not getting to know the other section quite as well – same with the study groups. Some groups were less functional than others, meeting only two or three times the entire quarter.
My group happened to get along reasonably well, so we met two to three times per week (usually for 1 – 3 hours per meeting). The thing to realize: depending on your group composition, your group experience could vary widely. Don’t expect to be able to dictate a work ethic to your group-mates – they will already be predisposed to work hard or not – simply quickly identify what you’re dealing with and find a way to get along. That being said, if you see something you don’t like, don’t brush it under the rug either – discuss frankly, openly and without too much emotion and people will either change or not.
Executive Modules (one to two day short sessions – not for credit, but mostly mandatory):
- Team Building
- Critical Analytical Decision Making
- LEAP 360 Assessments & Coaching (much better than you will fear)
- Joint SEP / MSx dinner/social (read the SEP bios and be interesting!)
- Center for Entrepreneurial Studies / Center for Social Innovation info sessions
- Career Vision Workshop / Career Management Center info session
- Executive Coaching Workshop Communications Coaching (optional, but not really optional)
- Executive Mentoring Workshop
- Delivering An Effective Elevator Pitch Workshop
- Student Government info session
- CES / Startup Garage info session / d.school info session
- d.school Leading Innovative Teams Workshop
Ethics: The ethics class covered both Behavior Ethics (what you do and why you do it) and Moral- Philosophical Ethics (study of ethical systems and frameworks). Frankly, I think this course is too short. But it is a good introduction to the material with a professor that occasionally forces you to really explain your positions – without being judgmental about them. If this subject interests you, read up on Kant and Friedman before Summer Quarter begins.
Microeconomics: Ok, for those of you out there who have not taken Micro before, you will have a much more enjoyable summer if you get some basics down before you get here. I was an economics major as an undergrad (granted, it was 20 years ago) and I found the pace of this class very challenging. You will cover 2 semesters worth of material over the summer. Make sure you have a decent grasp of supply, demand, price elasticity, supply elasticity, short-run – vs- long run, etc. Prof. Oyer has an excellent sense of humor, but it doesn’t always come out in this class – he’s much more interesting in the Strategy class (Autumn Quarter) so try to get him to laugh / tell jokes / talk about his online dating experience! Word of advice – in both this class and Statistics, do not fall behind…
Organizational Design: Here, you’ll think about company culture, policies, practices and leaders. This is a fun class and gets you in the practice of talking about B-school cases. You’ll read the cases and find that class discussion will vary widely – your classmates will surprise you with the varied perspectives that come from reading the same article. People talk about how the GSB is a “safe place” for you to experiment with your style – this class helps give you structure for exploration (e.g. helps you decide what you might want to change and how it might be perceived).
Negotiations: You’ll probably either love or hate this class. Personally, I thought this would be an area that I would need to learn a lot. But, in actuality, it turns out you just need to learn a little and practice a bit to drastically change negotiations outcomes. Prof. Neale is a larger-than-life personality in the classroom – but she’ll explain how she is really an introvert and puts on her “teaching persona” for class. This class is highly experiential – almost every class will require you to exercise newly developed negotiations skills against (and sometimes in collaboration with) your classmates – the challenge is that you never will know when it is a zero-sum or collaborative exercise. Perhaps that’s the most valuable lesson of the course.
Statistics: Well, good news and bad news… Good: Prof. Hasan is the best statistics prof I’ve ever had. Bad: I’ve taken statistics 3 times now and still only barely get by… The pace of this class, much like micro, is also relentless. Unless you know this material well, DO NOT fall behind… If you’ve never taken stats before, make sure you learn some basics before you arrive: mean, median, variance, standard deviation, hypothesis testing – you will be at a serious disadvantage if you do not understand these concepts before class begins. When I took stats as an undergrad, it took an entire semester to learn these topics… You’ll cover them in 3 lessons and be expected to apply them regularly. Almost all the calculations can be done in MS Excel, so no need to get super fancy. Mac users will need to install a free plug-in: StatPlus LE for Mac
Beyond Markets: This class is all about the things that are not within your immediate control as a manager. Government regulations, political groups, the public, etc. Some of this will be a bit difficult for foreign students if you’re not familiar with the US system of government. Concepts that are helpful to know in advance: USA is a Federal Republic, not a pure democracy – with jurisdiction split between the Local, State and Federal governments. Federal government is comprised of Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. Legislature is split into the House of Representatives (based on population size) and Senate (2 per state). Lobbyists / Special Interest Groups / campaign contributions to candidates are all legal and are used in various ways to influence politicians. If you like politics, you’ll probably enjoy this class. If you dislike politics, you’ll probably not enjoy it so much… If you’d like to get a taste of what the class will cover, you can watch some TV and get a dramatic version of it here: House of Cards on Netflix
After the Summer Quarter is completed, the entire cohort went on a sponsored trip to Washington, DC and New York, NY. We met with business leaders and lobbyists that really put a nice cap on our Beyond Markets and Organization Design classes. But I’ll discuss the trip in a separate post!