The Favorite Courses Of MBAs

VC Finance taught by Professor Emmanuel Yimfor, was my favorite MBA course. Although Professor Yimfor was an accomplished private equity researcher, he never raised a fund or built a company. Instead of pretending and giving us just his theory, he secured four fund managers to provide a real perspective of the concepts and challenges we were learning about in class.

We heard from the likes of Charles Hudson (Precursor Ventures) and Kwame Anku (Blackstar Fund) about the duality of investing in early-stage companies while also running an early-stage company as an up-start fund manager. We also got insight into how two differing strategies to investing could both be successful. For Charles, he believed in a “picking winners” strategy where he invested in founders and connected them to other people as needed. Kwame believed in a “making winners” strategy where he had a more hands-on approach as a partner in business development moving forward. Finally, the class’s final assignment of finding an actual company to invest in, building out the investment criteria, and pitching in front of our classmates based on the concepts we had learned all year was a healthy way of putting our knowledge to the test. Completing this class before my summer internship gave me the confidence to share my thoughts in investment meetings with Roy and the team during investment conversations.”
George Okpamen, University of Michigan (Ross)

 

“The Venture Creation and Technology (VCT) course enabled me to establish strategic goals and execute experiments that demonstrated traction for my venture, Home Team. By leveraging digital advertising experiments on platforms like Meta and Google Ads, I validated that out-of-market sports fans had a desire to connect with like-minded fans who attended watch parties at sports bars. I collaborated with four Boston sports bars to host 14 test events that attracted roughly 700 participants, yielding valuable insights that are informing my development of a minimum viable product (MVP). The course’s action-oriented learning principles have been key to my successes.”
O’Shae Bridges, MIT (Sloan)

 

“My favorite course was the Doing Business in… South Africa course in Cape Town. During the two-week experiential learning course, we learned about entrepreneurship, food security, and business in South Africa – and specifically Cape Town. The course allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of Cape Town and the broader South African business landscape and featured phenomenal guest speakers, business executives, and entrepreneurs who are disrupting business in South Africa’s emerging market. The DBi was an interactive, eye opening and impactful experience about the different business and social challenges South Africans and South African businesses are facing today.”
Doris Lynk, New York University (Stern)

 

Storytelling to Influence and Inspire quickly became my favorite course. I believe that, as humans, we love good storytelling because we see ourselves in the shoes of a relatable character. The characters in movies, books, and even commercials overcome challenges, learn new skills, make new friends, and most times achieve their goals. Their journey is relatable and thus we are captivated by their struggles, while learning from their lessons. Leaders can use storytelling to drive inclusion and Dr. Heidi Shultz created a classroom environment where I felt comfortable speaking my truth as a means for leading and inspiring others. One of my favorite moments was when the class drafted their personal six-word story. I’ll always remember when Dr. Shultz shared her story with us: “Once my student, always my student.” I always believed in the power of storytelling, but I now have a stronger interest and desire to incorporate stories into my leadership.”
Kevin Tareq Ortiz Perez, University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

 

“I loved taking New Venture Development, part of Kellogg’s entrepreneurship ‘launch pad’ with Professor Rick Desai. I partnered with two of my classmates, Tim Pusateri and Jialu Zhou, to create, build, and launch a business from scratch. Our venture is called Rhapsody Room, and it is a social club that helps connect musicians who are tired of singing or playing their instruments alone. All three of us are hobbyist musicians who have always struggled to find other people to sing and play with, so we created the solution ourselves. During the class, Rick Desai and a fabulous lineup of guest speakers helped us develop our brand, create a website, launch digital advertising, and host two live events with paying customers. The class even provided us with some funding to test hypotheses. I learned so much about actually starting a business and had a great time in the process.”
Michael Manzano, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

 

“My favorite class during my MBA program was Judgement, and there are three main reasons why. First, it was a smaller class with a roundtable format that encouraged active debates and discussions between my classmates, the professor, and various industry leaders who were invited as guest speakers. Second, the class structure and teaching style were unique. We were given four cases that presented one side of a decision, and we had to work our way backward to analyze all the assumptions and scenarios that led to that judgment. We then presented our findings to the class, followed by a discussion with the company leader who had made the actual decision. This approach allowed us to learn in real-time and see if our thought process was accurate or missing critical pieces. Lastly, I enjoyed this class because it challenged us to think beyond traditional methods of making judgements and to ask the tough questions that need to be answered.”
Kasey Kram, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

 

“In addition to Healthcare Business Ecosystems, my other favorite course at McCombs was Operations Management. This core MBA course, while incredibly challenging, offers the opportunity to truly test your problem-solving skills at the next level. In short, this course can be described as assessing systematic designs, operations, controls, and how to improve business processes. I developed many analytical techniques in this course, such as risk pooling, waiting line analysis, and network diagramming. This course taught me how to manage processes in the real world. Since completing the course, I had the opportunity to apply these concepts to evaluate and improve the functions of an interprofessional healthcare clinic actively being used by the Dell Medical School.”
S. Ryan PiersonUniversity of Texas (McCombs)

 

 

 Marketing Management with Professor Abhi Biswas has been my favorite course so far. The content was so engaging to me! The discussions of market trends with human behavior were my bread-and-butter. Biswas delivered the course content through lectures paired with lengthy and relevant conversations about what we see out in the world. This tactic made the material meaningful and intriguing. It was the first course that got me excited about numbers. Before marketing, I wasn’t eager to work with numbers or draw conclusions from data. But after the course, I find myself seeking opportunities to use numbers in order to make decisions when it comes to marketing decisions in my elective courses.”
Carolyn Duke, University of Texas at Dallas (Jindal)

 

“My favourite course as an MBA was Catastrophic Failure in Organizations taught by Professor András Tilcsik. The course is based on his research and book Meltdown – What Plane Crashes, Oil Spills, and Dumb Business Decisions Can Teach Us About How to Succeed at Work and at Home.

While most MBA courses focus on how to succeed, grow, or turnaround a company under “business as usual” conditions, this course took the opposite approach. It was aimed at teaching students to better understand what makes organizations vulnerable to catastrophic failure or “black swan” events, and how future leaders can make organizational choices to prevent these events from occurring. We analyzed a plethora of interesting cases, from historic catastrophes such as NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, to the more recent meltdowns of Theranos and FTX. Professor Tilscik taught the material in a very thought-provoking way, and in a world where black swan events seem to occur ever more frequently, I couldn’t recommend his course and book enough.”
Andrew Noskiewicz, University of Toronto (Rotman)

 

“My favorite MBA course was the CFO for Technology Industry Immersion. This is an all-day experience from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for five consecutive Fridays in the winter quarter. Each week begins with a top CFO as guest speaker, who briefly shares about their career path, fields questions, and then presents a live-case study from their experience. We break into small teams and have one hour to develop a solution, build a presentation, and finally present back to the CFO. The class then breaks for a short networking lunch and resumes with another guest speaker in the afternoon. I can think of no other instance where I have had such an opportunity to question such accomplished leaders about their thought processes or professional advice. The cases also provide an exciting opportunity to demonstrate what we know (and can learn much more) about financial topics such as fundraising, M&A, capital budgeting, and cash flow analysis.”
Lucas Haskins, UC Davis

 

“My favorite class has been the Japan Global Immersion: The Business Environment and Opportunities in Japan course taught by Professor Mariko Sakakibara. The course included a week-long session in Japan, where we visited different companies such as Panasonic, Costco, BCG, DeNA, and more. I learned a lot about Japan’s strong technological and cultural base, how Japanese companies are prioritizing innovation, and insights on Japan’s competitive position in the world. The trip to Japan was one of the best trips of my life and I learned a lot about Japan’s cultural differences and how to be a better international businessperson. My biggest takeaway from the class was that while it is important to recognize and appreciate cultural differences, there are more points at which we are alike than different. The mindset that is needed to succeed internationally is to realize that it is more productive to look at our similarities and commonalities and build on those when working with other people.”
Stephen Jesus Mendoza, UCLA (Anderson)

 

“My favorite business school course was Paths to Power, taught by Professor Peter Belmi. The course focuses on how people acquire success and influence in organizations and how we, as future business leaders, can learn to use that power effectively. I found Paths to Power to be incredibly valuable because it helped me become more comfortable setting boundaries and taking up space, both in and out of the workplace.”
Megan Huntsinger, University of Virginia (Darden)

 

Digital Marketing Analytics. This class was a great deep dive into the world of digital advertisement. We started by taking a look at the digital marketing landscape and getting to know the many types of companies that provide each layer of the ad tech stack. Then we toured the main types of ad formats that can be used like search, display, and email. After that, we went all-in on A/B testing and measuring the effect of advertisement on customer behavior. The class was fun and very data-driven, we learned many statistical hard skills while also flexing our managerial muscles with “no-right answer” open-ended questions.”
José Mario Peña, University of Washington (Foster)

 

“I have been lucky to enjoy all classes at Olin, but my favorite course was titled Global Institutions and Values. It was held in Washington, DC, at the Brookings Institution during the Global Immersion program. During this week, we heard from leading experts in international relations, immigration policy, health care and public policy, and technology. This helped me gain perspective into the diverse policy environment, both domestically and internationally, and how these issues can impact business. Seeing this play out in real-time in the next few weeks abroad provided a unique opportunity to bring the classroom to life, and that experience was invaluable”.
Elizabeth “Elle” Berger, Washington University (Olin)

 

“Before coming to SOM, the Discovery Project was a class that I knew I wanted to take. The course is offered through the Yale Center for Consumer Insights and gives students the opportunity to work with a client on an applied behavioral science project. My team was asked to look into how our client could make their product more interesting to a younger demographic. We conducted interviews in the field and ultimately came up with actionable recommendations for ways in which the client could improve both their infrastructure and messaging to better connect with millennials and Gen Z. We used behavioral science frameworks to dig deep into the data we collected and generated insights about shopping behavior. I learned so much through the process, and still use those same frameworks to think through problems. It was such a great experience, and I was able to use the applied behavioral science strategies during my internship at GEM this past summer.”
Victoria Bush, Yale School of Management

 

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