Much like Winter quarter, there was only one core class to deal with in the Spring, leaving a lot of room for electives. I fully intended to remain a Club-22 member for my final quarter, but a few weeks in, I realized I was killing myself… I dropped a couple classes and achieved a much better work-life balance, but I probably dropped one class too many. It would have been really helpful to stay in CS 142, but I lost momentum in that class and decided to quit.
Once again, it was proven that the workload – credit-for-credit – is much more intensive for Stanford Engineering classes than for GSB classes.
Here’s my Spring Quarter schedule:
- GSBGEN 520 – Frinky Science of the Mind – Prof. Baba Shiv
- STRAMGT 351 – Building & Managing Sales Organizations – Prof. James Lattin & Lect. Peter Levine
- STRAMGT 355 – Managing Growing Enterprises – Lect. Jim Ellis & Kevin Taweel
- AA 241X – Design / Construction / Test of Aircraft – Prof. Juan Alonso
CS 142 – Web Applications – Prof. Philip LevisDropped… ME 220 – Introduction to Sensors – Prof. Tom KennyDropped…
MSx CORE CURRICULUM: Spring Quarter came with a realization that we were getting close to the end. I think the entire cohort felt that we had been drifting apart over the Winter Quarter, so it was nice to take the core Operations class all together – as a whole cohort (minus a few folks who opted for the OIT 364 – Global Operations class due to experience or schedule conflicts. Our social events tended to be well attended – plus, the strong BBQ talent had already been identified and were now put to work at every event. Our official cohort gatherings also started to include weekend events (which are really hard for off-campus people to get excited about – so keep that in mind). We also started to see people taking lots of weekend trips away from campus and the bay area, so it was often difficult to meet as study groups.
OIT 269 – MSx: Operations: Whether you like Operations or not, Hau Lee is a very engaging and entertaining lecturer. He always has practical real-life examples to sprinkle liberally through his lectures. His extensive experience as a business process and operations / logistics consultant was evident and made his material highly credible, if a little dated. The problems he solves in class include: offshore manufacturing, managing table utilization in a restaurant, inventory -vs- just-in-time manufacturing, FIFO -vs- LIFO, postponement, localization and rationalization of SKUs.
For folks who are destined to pure finance roles, investment banking, fund management, etc., this class is probably the most painful thing imaginable. But for me, this class was pretty core to what I wanted to learn. I would have preferred a little more depth and exposure to practical tools, but this class is clearly taught at a strategy level for the executive, not for a logistics or manufacturing practitioner. I suspect those kinds of Operations classes might be taught at the MS&E department or schools with a strong manufacturing / engineering management pedigree.
This is your last core class – so hang in there with your study groups. It’s really easy to group up with your close friends and people you know you will work well together – so there’s no excuses for having a bad experience. Be sure you form groups with at least one person that has practical Operations or manufacturing experience if you want a dose of reality.
GSB Electives: By now, you will have had the chance to meet many MBAs (mostly MBA2s unless you had the opportunity to meet some MBA1s on a global study trip) – please make sure to include them in as many of your study groups and social events as possible. The best possible thing that can happen to the MSx program is to break down the remaining walls between the cohorts and encourage more cross-pollination. The MBAs are incredibly smart and motivated – the MSx’ers have fantastic experience and wisdom – combining the two should be a strong synergy.
Because it’s your final Quarter, choose courses that you will enjoy – nothing worse than senioritis combined with dreading your least favorite class. Also choose courses that might help you find your next job, get that VC term sheet or help you find co-founders for your next entrepreneurial adventure. If you will be interviewing, be sure to leave a little time for yourself to network, search for opportunities and prepare for your interviews.
GSBGEN 520 – Frinky Science of the Mind: I had the opportunity to meet Baba Shiv on the New Zealand Global Study Trip – he was our faculty
chaperone advisor. Spending 10 days in an idyllic environment is a much better way to get acquainted with a faculty member than in the classroom – but after that trip, I knew I wanted to take his class.
Baba’s (he doesn’t like to be called Prof. Shiv) class is basically Neuroscience – the study of the physiology and bio-chemistry of the brain, and how it relates to learning, motivation and performance (this is my definition, maybe not anyone else’s). His class is taught in the 2-week intensive short class format (meets daily for 2 weeks) – but his material could easily have been taught in a 1 day seminar. The rest of the time is filled with small group exercises to try some of these methods and an entrepreneurial adventure at the end.
It’s a fun class, light on the workload and lighthearted in the classroom – but more importantly, with an all-around great guy for a professor.
STRAMGT 351 – Building & Managing Sales Organizations: I’ve worked in sales organizations before – and even have been a high-performing sales rep – but I don’t think anyone ever taught me how to sell. In fact, prior to this class, I don’t know if I really knew how to sell at all – or if it was pure accident that I could sell. I also don’t think I ever had a sales manager who I thought did his job particularly well…
Well, this class starts to teach how to sell, but focuses more on how to manage salespeople (as a sales manager) and how to manage an entire sales department (as VP of sales). It is taught in a combination of engaging methods – of course, there are texts and articles to read, but there are also case studies with guest speakers – and perhaps most interesting, a series of sales simulations. As is typical for GSB case study classes, the guest speakers are probably the best part of this class.
But, the simulation comes in a close second! I won’t go into too much detail – don’t want to give away any secrets. Suffice it to say, it gets very competitive and, at times, a little frustrating (and occasionally quite absurd), but it’s a lot of fun while you’re learning. This class is of particular value to people who have never sold before – but it is also a good test of seasoned salespeople / sales managers to see if you have good habits or bad.
STRAMGT 355 – Managing Growing Enterprises: Please please please click on the link to this course description in Explore Courses – then totally ignore what is written there… This is a fan-fucking-tastic class, but it has nothing to do with the course description. I totally registered for this class based on the hype around it and the fact that it always fills early in the super-round process. You WILL need to super round this class to ensure you get in.
But let me say it again – this class is NOT about the course description… This class is about having difficult conversations that come up because a company is growing. It could be that you hired your best friend to be your VP of Sales – but now he isn’t performing up to standard – How do you talk to him about this? Do you need to fire him? Will you still be friends after you fire him? Or, maybe you just purchased a family-owned business and your product kills a customer, your female employees are complaining about sexual harassment and your CFO is embezzling money – Now what?!?!?!
See what I mean? This class covers some great examples THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED TO SOMEONE – AND THAT SOMEONE IS USUALLY A GUEST SPEAKER THAT SHOWS UP IN CLASS!!! How often do you get to read stories like this, let alone directly question the judgement of the protagonist to his face? It is simply a great class – and the Ellis / Taweel teaching team (who taught the section that I took) is phenomenal. They are incredibly successful entrepreneurs – and they will invite you to a class party held at one of their homes.
These guys are a class act and teach a great class.
That’s it for now! I’ll save airplanes and dropped electives for my next post!