Top MBAs Share Their Favorite Classes

best mba classes

Sally Lambert

“Leadership Lab: Leading Sustainable Systems” was my favorite and most influential class at Sloan because of its powerful, relevant content and its practicum component. The class uses tools of inquiry and reflection to explore how to drive long-lasting, sustainable organizational change. It is an “Action Learning” class, where a team of students is paired with a company and works on a real business problem during the course. We apply the tools we learn in class in our teams and in a three-week on-site visit with the host company. We could practice these new tools in a lab environment, getting immediate feedback from our classmates on how effective we were. The biggest business insight I gained from the course was the importance of inquiry at all levels of business. On an individual level, inquiry enables me to continue my personal and professional growth. On a team level, inquiry creates space for effective dialogue and relationship building, which in turn help create high performing teams. On an organizational level, inquiry is essential for understanding habits of thought and action, vision and current reality, and fundamental systems, and this information is essential if you truly want to drive deep, long-lasting organizational change.”

– Sally Lambert, MIT (Sloan)

“My favorite course was Customer Loyalty Management with Marci Armstrong. The course is designed as a project-based course in which students analyze loyalty program data from American Airlines and make recommendations to the President of the American AAdvantage Program. The process of successfully analyzing the data, pulling insights and generating recommendations requires a team with diverse talents. Each phase of the project required different skill sets and the teams with the most diverse skill sets performed the best. This project reinforced the importance of diversity of thought in business.”

– Michael Jay Orr, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Building and Managing Brand Equity (Dr. Timothy Halloran). The biggest insight I gained about business is that just like brand managers do, managing a business is learning how to effectively connect all the dots between departments and functions, without necessarily focusing more on one than the other. Each business function is interconnected with the rest and understanding the impact of every single one of them is critical for us to become successful business managers.”

– Laura Gonzalez, University of Florida (Hough)

“During my second year, I took a course with David Dodson, Gerald Risk and Jim Ellis called Entrepreneurial Acquisition. The course describes models of entrepreneurship through acquisition, primarily inspired by the Search Fund model started at Stanford several decades ago. My biggest insight from the class was that there are many ways to be entrepreneurial that are not limited to starting a company from scratch, which was refreshing in the context of Silicon Valley. The class reaffirmed my interest to do something entrepreneurial in my career and inspired me to be creative in how I do this.”

– Sebastian Serra, Stanford GSB

Negotiations, which is taught by Charlie Trevor. This class was such a fantastic practical application of both the hard and soft skills that are necessary in the business world. Negotiations really demonstrated to me the importance of recognizing your own communication style and embracing it to effectively create and claim value. You don’t get very far when you force a style that isn’t natural to you.”

– Jesse Wright, University of Wisconsin

best mba classes

Christian Johnson

“My favorite MBA course was Managing Global Catastrophes taught by Jeffrey Garten. Each week, we read and wrote about a raw case on different disasters, from the BP Oil Spill to the U.S. financial crisis to the Ebola outbreak. While I learned a lot about leadership under fire, the course made clear the importance of effective and authentic leadership communication to build trust and confidence in the aftermath of a disaster.”

– Katy Mixter, Yale SOM

“My favorite MBA course was New Venture Management taught by Dick Chandler, former founder and CEO of Sunrise Medical. Dick bridged his real-life experience across entrepreneurship and investing to teach us skill sets such as delivering an effective investor pitch, acquiring patents on innovative technologies, evaluating a company, and negotiating acquisitions. We also led a project in class to develop a new business strategy for a startup. I led a team to partner with the President of BioFiber Solutions International. We developed a strategic plan for the President to sell his sustainable biobased products direct to consumers through an ecommerce platform. We also developed the ecommerce website for the President, which he still uses today for his company. I loved this course because it was practical and enabled me to reflect critically on my own startup experience co-founding a healthcare clinic and nonprofit.”

– Christian Johnson, U.C.-Irvine (Merage)

Corporate Competitive Strategy taught by Charles Hill. It not only helped me to understand how major companies from Microsoft to FedEx were able to cultivate a competitive advantage to dominate their industries, but it also made me realize that the area I wanted to pursue post-graduation was business strategy. Plus, Charles Hill is one of the most entertaining and insightful professors I have encountered.”

– Vanessa Kritzer, University of Washington (Foster)

Game Theory is my favorite MBA course. The course gave me an insight on how companies make decisions depending upon competitors’ actions. It helped me to understand how firms decide the quantities and prices of their products, when do firms merge, and what will be optimal locations for the stores. It has practical applications in almost every major industry and can help managers to make wise decisions.”

– Ravi Teja Jagarapu, Purdue University (Krannert)

Negotiations and Bargaining Elective – with Dr Gillian Ku. Essentially this week of negotiations practice and theoretical training reminded me how business transactions are actually just magnified home discussions (rows, task splitting). It’s all about the power of information, understanding the other side and remembering the power, rights, and responsibilities at play.”

– Dr. Nick Deakin, London Business School

best mba classes

Paul George

“My favorite MBA course is Strategic Innovation Management, taught by Professor Raj Echambadi. Key Insight: Most people spot a problem and come up with an idea. They then invest time and resources to develop the idea. Finally, they release the product into the market and then talk to users for feedback, only to realize that the solution does not meet user needs. On the contrary, successful companies do not focus on creating solutions to problems (as most observed problems are just symptoms), but on insights obtained by observing target users and by walking in their shoes. To survive in a VUCA world — a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity — companies have to implement such elements of design thinking and agile leadership to disrupt or to respond to disruptive threats in an industry.”

– Paul George, University of Illinois

“As a former scientist, I had never had much exposure to business or strategy in my previous school experiences. I think I entered business school with a very naïve idea about how business worked. As a scientist, I probably was a bit arrogant about business being ‘simpler’ than science! Our Introduction to Business Strategy course was eye-opening. I learned more about the considerations and choices that go into running a business in three weeks than I ever thought existed. Coming right at the start of business school, this course let me know that I was in for a much bigger challenge than I expected. However, it also got me excited about the two years in front of me.”

– Helen Hartung, USC (Marshall)

* Go to next page to learn about popular courses cited at Northwestern Kellogg, Chicago Booth, Columbia Business School, MIT Sloan, and Yale SOM.

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