Top MBAs Share Their Favorite Classes

best mba classes

Isabel Charise

“My favorite course was International Business because it required us to take the core business skills we’d learned so far, and then figure out how to implement them in the midst of very real and growing globalization challenges. The key insight for me was that context matters, and corporations should be informed and flexible enough to be creative in these varying contexts. What your company does is important. However, consideration for where the company operates, who it operates with, and the impact of operations are equally important to sustainable success.”

– Isabel Chirese, Texas A&M (Mays)

“When I think about insight, I think about what I will be able to recall and apply years after I graduate. My favorite course has been Strategy Implementation with Ned Smith. Business school focuses heavily on creating the right strategy based on studied frameworks from Porter, Christensen and others. Less often, we talk about the underlying organizational and social structure that allows companies to execute on those strategic goals and create value. It was fascinating to learn not only the business strategy but the human psychology and sociology piece as well, which was presented by Ned in a dynamic and challenging, discussion-based environment.”

– Adam Maddock, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

“My favorite course is one I’m taking now called Global Business in Artificial Intelligence & Robotics (also co-taught by Simon Johnson). I believe this is the first course of its kind to integrate business and AI. Each class is a completely new experience. I do not have a technical background and it is absolutely fascinating to explore how AI impacts, and will continue to impact, the future of business, governments, and society. We go beyond the surface level job automation dinner conversation and dig deep into the definitions of AI, machine learning, and deep learning so we can understand the possibilities and limits. I cannot think of a more relevant topic for business leaders to learn about in this day and age.”

– Carolyn Escobar Kent, MIT (Sloan)

“My favorite MBA course was Strategic Management. I had an amazing professor who was extremely engaging and inspiring, but would also challenge each student to think differently and more analytically.  Although I learned a number of strategic frameworks that I will use throughout my career, an important insight I learned from his class was about company culture. While I had considered a company’s culture previously, I hadn’t given it much weight in terms of importance. Because of his class, I realized that culture is extremely important to the overall success of a company and must be considered in every decision, at every level.  A strong culture can allow a firm to withstand various challenges and also allow innovative and unconventional ideas to grow and take root. Today, I would argue that company culture is one of the most important aspects of a company’s strategy and longevity.”

– Katie Philippi, Boston College (Carroll)

best mba classes

Katherine O’Hara

Strategic Management, taught by Dr. Gwen Lee, was hands down my favorite course in business school. Dr. Lee used innovative cases with clear takeaways for any student aspiring to leadership in the business world. In a case related to the wine industry, she talked about the concept of a “blue ocean” strategy which has stuck with me since. When competition is too fierce, find a way to innovate and differentiate that gets you out of shark infested waters and into a blue ocean.”

– Katherine O’Hara, University of Florida (Hough)

“My favourite course is our Entrepreneurship project. I have an incredible team of five working to develop a smart wallet for use in East Africa. I have always wanted to start my own venture, and I always thought it was down to the idea that drives success. While the product is critical, listening to guest speakers, such as Keith Davis of Zoona, and Chad Larson of M-KOPA solar, I realize how much success comes down to execution. As someone who has been so product focused, it’s forced me to shift my thinking to the operational strategy as a whole.”

– Ashley Thomas, University of Oxford Said Business School

“My favorite course was Global Social Entrepreneurship: India, a project-based class that included a ten-day field visit to rural Maharashtra. Through GSE, I had the opportunity to work with a woman’s empowerment bank to help them develop financial products for an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF). The course taught me the tremendous complexity and potential of applying business analytics to nuanced social issues.”

– Kaitlin Koga, Yale SOM

The Carlson Consulting Enterprise (CCE) was by far my favorite course. In it, I was able to work on three engagements spread over two years in which I spent many hours a week fully engaged on a client problem. With its unique combination of classroom skill building followed by real life application, I’m confident that it would be tough to find a better learning opportunity at another school. Moreover, the Twin Cities has 17 fortune 500 companies and many of which are clients of CCE. Therefore, I was able to immediately apply the classroom lessons in a structured, safe environment with a challenging level of responsibility. My best lesson was a combination of client service and modeling. I quickly found that a big, hairy problem can be broken into component parts that keep me equally engaged in excel and with the client. I learned to put a stake in the ground with my assumptions to get to a hypothesis then work backwards with the client to fill in the holes. That way we get out of the mud quickly and bring the client along as we go.”

– Danny Plooster, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Jamen Kyle Miller

The Luxury Approach with Professor Ketty Maisonrouge. Professor Maisonrouge is a legend in the luxury goods industry. She leveraged her reputation to connect the class to a pro-bono consulting project for a luxury hotel in NYC. She also hosted nearly a dozen senior executives from the luxury goods industry including leaders from Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Ferragamo to name a few. The class changed my perspective on my professional interests in the industry. It also provided an incredibly practical outlet for the information we learned in class by incorporating the pro-bono consulting project.”

– Todd Wisman, Columbia Business School

Negotiations was the best course I’ve taken while at UNC Kenan-Flagler. The course is a practical approach at developing basic negotiation skills. The biggest insight from the course is how five basic strategies in negotiating everything from business deals to personal compromises can lead to drastically varying results. In the world of business, there is always imperfect information between parties, and the one that can best leverage the available facts will be exponentially more successful.”

– Jamen Kyle Miller, University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Power & Influence, with Dave Nussbaum (or Heather Caruso), was my favorite class. Managing and influencing people is one of the unsung skill sets that many MBA’s have an opportunity to improve while in the program. This class relied on case studies, history and academic research to reveal how individuals can leverage their reputation, their resources and their network to influence others in a positive way. This class was especially helpful for me going into my summer internship because it taught me practical strategies and tactics to be effective as a newcomer at a large corporate organization. I would highly recommend that every MBA at Booth take this or an equivalent course at some point during the two years.”

–  Victor Ojeleye, University of Chicago (Booth)



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