Monday, November 2, 2009

Integration Week - Thoughts

Readers of the Unseen Trail will have noticed that there has been a significant hiatus by the author. The short answer explaining this would be: Its an MBA! Or as one of my friends on the course said "Dude, how do you even have time to blog?" The long answer would be that in the last three weeks, I finished off Block 1, completed Integration Week (more in a bit) and took a week off to recuperate... I mean, review. Yeah, that's it. Anyways, now that the grind has started again, I thought I'd take some time to recap those manic few weeks.

Week 4 of Block 1 pretty much flew by - see previous post for a relatively accurate description thereof.

Integration Week was a very different story. The aim is to "Integrate the three disciplines together" through a series of time-constrained exercises. However, for me Integration Week was more about learning to work together as teams, being able to divide up tasks quickly and then later integrate individual work into the group report / presentation. Over and over. Throughout the week we were focusing on analysing a single company, through the three different lenses of Accounting, Quantative Methods, and Information Management. Monday we had four hours to prepare a presentation with an accounting focus; while those four hours sped away, it seemed like a huge luxury later in the week since we only had two hours to prep on Tuesday and Wednesday. Each day we also had to give a 5 minute presentation along with our written report, which was another good takeaway from the week overall. It really gave people who are not comfortable presenting opportunities to get comfortable with the process, as well as enough situations for everyone to participate. We also started moving away from "Death By PowerPoint" by using different presentation techniques such as a News Interview.

Thursday flipped up the game again. In the morning we spent an hour or so making collages about how to integrate information. To be honest, I didn't see the point of this particular exercise, but then again, I haven't been much for collages at any point. The second half of the day was given over to making a two minute commercial on a topic none of us had seen before. We had five hours to decide on a message, a style, storyboard, shoot, and edit. Got off to a slightly slow start, but once we hit our stride we really managed to get it together. I don't think we left ourselves enough time to edit, so the finished product was a little rough, but we were all pretty happy with the result.

On a side note, we didn't finish in the top 5 videos shown that day, but a lot of people told us later that they really enjoyed our video, and that we were robbed. Ahhh, artistic genius is often appreciated by the masses but rejected by the critics. After the judging, the entire class (along with a few professors) went out for drinks to a local pub, and proceeded to drink perhaps a little more than they should have. Overall though, it was a great evening, incredibly relaxing after the hectic week / month, and a great way to unwind, and share experiences and thoughts.

So, to kind of wrap up, what did I think of the first Block of my Cass MBA? Good in parts, frustrating in parts, and challenging in parts. I think the course overall was perhaps a little slow to get up and running, but I can understand that is more to ease people in a bit and get them used to what is expected. I'm looking forward to the increased challenge in Block 2, stay tuned for more updates.

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