What do employees fear most? Is it making a presentation? Asking for a raise? Or could it be hearing their boss say, “Could you close the door” after they’re summoned to the office?
These situations would push almost anyone to reach for the Tums. Here’s the worst scenario of all: You’re trapped in a meeting when the big shots start talking finance. You know the drill. They’re tossing around terms like EBITA, net present value, and amortization. You may as well be in Prague deciphering Czech. Face it, you majored in the Liberal Arts; you’re better equipped to deconstruct Ulysses than calculate a breakeven point. So you put on a serious face and nod. You even perk up when you hear familiar terms like cash flow or overhead — even if you couldn’t explain them in any depth. All the while, you wonder if everyone else is faking it like you. Well, that and you pray that no one calls your bluff.
A FINANCE COURSE FOR THE REST OF US
You’ve probably heard that finance is the language of business. If you don’t understand or speak it, you’re the corporate equivalent to an illiterate. You’ll quickly run into a ceiling, with little opportunity let alone security. So how do you join those high level conversations on risk, revenue, and returns? You can start by heading back to class. You won’t find a better option than a new MOOC from Rice University: Finance For Non-Finance Professionals.
Why? For starters, the course is self-paced, so learners can master concepts at the speed and schedule that’s best for them. At the same time, the course covers the same concepts that full-time MBA students learn during their core finance course at Rice. The difference? It is taught with the premise that learners come to class with no finance background. As a result, the course focuses heavily on examples and practical applications — “a more intuitive approach on a very high conceptual level” in the words of Professor James Weston, the instructor who worked as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before he started teaching 17 years ago.
In a nutshell, Weston’s goal is to help students understand how financial decisions are made, so they can better engage in conversations with CFOs and controllers and understand the impact of finance across all levels of the enterprise. Taught through video lectures, the course runs four weeks followed by a capstone case. Here, learners act as a CFO and apply the tools they’ve mastered to weigh the tradeoffs between investing in new equipment to potentially grow the business or holding it to maintain cash flow. The course begins with a introduction to financial valuation before building onto more complex areas like capital budgeting tools (net present value, return on capital, etc.) and measuring cash creation and flow (where student explore the basics of financial statements). It also looks at finance from a Wall Street analyst’s viewpoint, with special emphasis on measuring risk and return.
COURSES IN EXCEL, SURVEY WRITING AND INNOVATION HIGHLIGHT DECEMBER MOOCs
This isn’t the only new course that takes professionals back to the basics. In December, PwC is launching Problem Solving With Excel to take learners from simple calculations to high level modeling and forecasting. The University of Michigan’s legendary Gautam Kaul also returns with a new course —Project Risk Assessment — that takes a more in-depth look at valuation. For marketers looking to benchmark their effectiveness, Emory University is unveiling Survey Analysis To Gain Marketing Insights, delivering proven nuggets on how to structure surveys and phrase questions to maximize insights. At the same time, the University of Illinois is launching the first of a two-part MOOC on Marketing Management that covers everything from brand strategy to pricing to distribution.
Leadership is also a popular topic during the holiday season. Wondering how to make your team more creative and strategic at the same time? Check out Innovation Management from the faculty of the Rotterdam School of Management. Thinking of opening a social enterprise but wondering how you measure impact without profit-and-loss? The Copenhagen Business School has you covered with Unleashing the Impact of Your Social Enterprise. These days, leaders speak about the need to create a “learning culture” in their organizations. How do you make that happen? Look no further than the University of Pennsylvania, which is coming out with Creating a Team Culture of Continuous Learning on December 19th.
To learn more about these courses – and register for them – click on the links below.