What I learned in b-school: Week 4

It’s getting a little more intense here in b-school land. In addition to classes (and hours of prep for said classes), companies have started coming to campus with tchotchkes and Power Point presentations designed to convince us theirs is the BEST company in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD to work for after graduation.

More on those sessions later. But first, what you’ve all been waiting for, my weekly roundup of b-school learnin’:

B-school students are born b-school students. This weekend was Family Weekend at b-school, which meant there were a lot of proud parents roaming the halls and squeezing in the classrooms. In return for letting them sit in our fascinating case study classes, our professors asked for a little something in return: embarrassing stories about their offspring. The parents were more than happy to oblige and I learned that b-school students are born, not made.

Case in point: the guy who sits three seats down from me who insisted on wearing a blazer to kindergarten. Then there was the girl who sits next to me, a darling woman, whose brother said she boxed him out during their childhood Easter egg hunts. And finally there was the girl who memorized her Mom’s ATM pin code by age 3.

MBAs cannot solve the current health care crisis. Unfortunately. We had an Operations class this week about a rehab hospital. The class soon got frustrated by the fact that the hospital in the case was being penalized by Medicare and other insurance companies for improving efficiency and patient care. Because it was getting its patients out the door faster, it wasn’t getting paid as much. We spent the class trying to noodle out how the hospital could maintain its new, better methodology and improve its revenue while operating inside the current system. We didn’t come up with a great answer.

No one likes how they look on camera. One of our upcoming assignments is a two-minute speech in front of a class. This week the professors forced us to practice in small groups, videotaping ourselves and then watching the results on a massive TV screen for critique. I hate, hate, hate watching myself on camera. I did some local TV while working at the newspapers and I always looked more bloated/washed out/insanely coiffed on camera than I imagined myself to be in real life. I don’t like having my nice illusions shattered. So it was a relief to realize I’m not alone when one of my (male) colleagues groaned upon seeing himself on the screen, “Look at me. That’s just gross!”

It’s possible to be passionate about V8. I’m considering a career in marketing and this week I went to a session called Brand Management 101, hosted by Campbell’s Soup. One of the questions circling my mind has been, Can I really get excited about selling chicken stock? Or freeze-dried gravy? Or paper towels? So it was fascinating to see these brand managers from Campbell’s get pumped about soup, juice and salsa. I’m still not sure if that passion is born or bred and whether I’ve got it. But it was nice to see it in action.

I’ve never had a job where I’m really and truly accountable for anything. And that’s scary. Maybe that’s an overstatement, but it’s how I’ve been feeling lately as we craft resumes and try to show companies our worth in black and white. As a journalist, I was accountable for some big things – getting the facts right all the time, not getting beat by the competition, protecting democracy. But those things aren’t always quantifiable. I’ve never been accountable for creating a plan and then delivering a bottom line dollar amount at the end. I don’t know why that thought frightens me more than my previous responsibility to protect democracy. Probably because it’s a lot easier to measure.


About missmba

What happens when a language-loving, mathphobic liberal arts major goes jumps on the MBA train. Follow my adventures at a top 20 business school.
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