The Best MBA Courses? The Class Of 2018 Share Favorites

Harry Kraemer in a Northwestern (Kellogg) classroom.

“One of the ingredients for a great course is a great professor. Harry Kraemer’s Managerial Leadership course had just that!  It is a course filled with core leadership concepts, self-reflections and leadership lessons from successful business leaders. I truly appreciated our weekly guest speakers.  These prestigious executives from various industries shared their career pathways, struggles, lessons learned, and personal leadership guiding principles. I was in awe and enjoyed the opportunity to learn as much as I could from them.”

Meg Kelleher, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

The Global Immersion Program (GIP): Spanning visits to China, India, and South Africa, this was definitely the highlight of my Wharton experience. The GIP is designed to provide a survey of the economic, cultural, and geopolitical factors that affect geographic regions integral to the global economy. Through attending faculty lectures and traveling abroad to meet with CEOs, government officials, and Wharton alumni, I had the opportunity to learn from local leaders while simultaneously immersing myself in different cultures. Whether meeting e-commerce and global conglomerates in China, visiting venture capital firms and NGOs in India, or learning about Apartheid in South Africa, I learned how to tailor my problem solving approaches to local markets.”

 Tomer Meir, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School)

Emory’s Klaas Baks

“One of my favorite MBA courses was titled, Venture Capital & Private Equity, taught by Klaas Baks who founded and runs Emory’s Center for Alternative Investments. You hear a lot of news out there about the alternative investments space, but prior to taking this class I had no structured or formalized understanding of how it worked, how people raise funds and receive money for their businesses, who the major players are, etc. As someone who aspires to become an entrepreneur and run my own company someday, Klaas’ class was fundamentally critical in helping me feel confident navigating the space and developing an understanding of what it takes to successfully receive funding from VCs and PE firms in the future.”

JP Ortiz, Emory University (Goizueta)

Advanced Corporate Strategy. This course extends beyond traditional discussion on market strategy to cover topics regarding business responsibility for topics which range from the opioid crisis to athlete activism. The biggest insight I’ve gained from this course is that it is integral, as a leader of consequence, to understand the cross section between my personal ethos and that of the organization that I will lead. I also learned how both of those considerations should color my perspective in the context of making decisions that will have a broad impact.”

Julian A. Gordon, Duke University (Fuqua)

Venture Capital and Private Equity by Professor Heinrich Liechtenstein – throughout the course, Professor Liechtenstein utilized a combination of cases, lectures, and guest sessions held by experts from the industry.

The deep practical experience of Prof. Liechtenstein and the guest speakers helped elevate this course from a mere demonstration of investment theory and tools to a true portrayal of the industry’s fundamentals and best practices. This wasn’t a course about what you “should” be doing in PE or VC; it was about what successful institutional investors actually do on daily basis to get to, and remain, where they are today.”

Ahmed Bakr, IESE

MIT’s Zeyep Tom

“It’s a well-known fact that MIT Sloan has strong academic offerings in operations management. Prior to attending Sloan, I had relegated “operations” to be merely the implementation of strategy, and critically, not a true differentiator for outsize performance. Zeynop Ton and the late Don Rosenfield’s Operations Strategy (15.769) directly challenged this view.

The current zeitgeist of business school has fostered a sort of escapism from developed companies in favor of newer ventures, where people are alike and cultures and policies are malleable. Operations Strategy brings to light the difficult task and high calling of being a business operator, leading to my insight: operational excellence has the opportunity to break the seemingly certain descent into long-term mediocrity. Instead of fleeing to “flashier” environments, there is the difficult but rewarding opportunity to improving traditional industries.

Operations Strategy brings MIT Sloan’s mission statement to life – to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Advancing practice, to me, means not accepting “just the way things are,” that our current understanding of business is not an immutable truth.”

Jason Liu, MIT (Sloan)

“My favorite MBA course was “Introduction to Financial Statement Analysis and Valuation” with Professor Jim Whalen. I did not have a business background before coming to Kelley and was amazed at how much we can learn about a firm from the financial statements. This was the second accounting class I took and I have recommended it to all of my classmates regardless of their major. In the class, we learn how to analyze a firm and evaluate its health. Professor Whalen has a passion for accounting that comes through in the way he teaches us and is able to engage us in the classroom. My biggest takeaway was how he taught us how to read between the lines of the financial statements to reveal deeper level insights that don’t immediately jump off the page in order to better value a firm.”

Gregory Toupalik, Indiana University (Kelley)

UCLA’s Melody Akbari

“My favorite course was Business Strategy with Sonia Marciano. The most important insight I received from this class was the essential need to backup qualitative assessments with research and data. It was interesting to be able to break complex business problems down into simple frameworks and then form responses and plans through thorough analysis and academic understanding. Professor Marciano taught us how to approach problems and how to form data based solutions that are realistic and defensible. Additionally, she has extreme mastery of business strategy in a way that can only be described as being a savant or virtuoso. Listening to her lectures always makes you feel like you are getting the full value from your tuition.”

Francis Varrichio, New York University (Stern)

“My favorite class would have to be one of Professor Terry Kramer’s classes: Technology Management. I am currently in this course and every week we look at the ever-changing and iterative nature of technology—from tech disruptions to the daily risks the industry takes to move forward and innovate. We explore incredible topics like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, over the top content, and autonomous vehicles and beyond. The biggest insight I’ve gained from Professor Kramer’s class is to make sure I look at every problem with a bird’s eye view that takes into consideration the full contextual analysis of the key enablers at hand ranging from technological challenges, consumer behavior and trends, changing competitive landscapes, public policy hurdles, etc. Alongside this, Professor Kramer’s class has encouraged us to always consider the “so what” of every point brought up, allowing us to better form our thought processes and overall recommendations for each problem or challenge we face.”

Melody N. Akbari, UCLA (Anderson)

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