Trying to remember how to study. It's been a while, but I used to be pretty good at it. Guess, it's the same as any other skill - use it or lose it. Right now I am feeling something similar to what I feel on the dance floor - I know I used to be able to do this and that, but now I either can't or am much worse at it! It is getting better, though, and I have 1.75 more years to practice.
Management - it's interesting how many of the cases are intertwined with real life. This morning we had a case about Automated Travel Systems, an end-of-the-nineties startup. The developers were holding the founder and then the CEO hostage asking for higher and higher raises or threatening to quit. And they weren't paying too badly - the chief programmer (chief, but still programmer, not manager) was getting $180K plus equity! The company was trying to build an engine to search for the best price for airline tickets, with customers like LowestFare.com and Priceline.com. Incidentally, nevsky works for their direct competitor, so I was somewhat familiar with the industry, which was fun to share. After about an hour long discussion of the case, the professor said that we had a guest in class, who turned out to be the company's founder! Here we were, a bunch of know-it-alls talking about solutions to his problems and he was just sitting there listening all this time. It was quite humbling and yet very insightful to talk to him. Seth Perelman started the company at age 20, after having dropped out of Brandeis, and now, with ATS gone (it was sold on not very good terms in the summer of 2000), he has started another company, which he hopes to be much more successful, building on his prior experience. I mentioned nevsky's company again, and he said that competition was one of the motivating factors at the time - his chief programmer was a CMU grad working against a bunch of MIT grads up in Boston. Guess, MIT won!
On to the Cisco case, talking about the Cisco strategy of buying startups both for their new products and the people. Well, what do you know, a friend of mine has gone through a Cisco acquisition and told me how it went from the inside. The case was talking of the acquisitions of the late nineties, but his company was acquired in 2002, so I shared my knowledge of the story and it was fun comparing the then and now.
Other companies seem to come up time and again in various readings, known for the same qualities:
Nordstrom - customer service
Southwest - reinventing the airline industry
GE - be #1 or 2 in each industry
McKinsey - retaining of good relations with former employees
IBM - strong culture
International Study Tour - we thought we could just go anywhere we want. Well, not that simple. We, as a class, can only choose one of four regions, with Wharton choosing the city within the specific city within the region:
1) Northern Europe - London, Amsterdam-Brussels, or Paris
2) Central-Southern Europe - Frankfurt, Milan, or Madrid/Barcelona
3) North-Eastern Asia - Tokyo-Osaka, Shanghai, or Hong Kong-Guangzhou
4) South-East Asia - Singapore-Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok
It's interesting how our choices change. Given these choices in Russia, I think most would have chosen region 1. Here and now - the least likely candidate, in my opinion. It's just too boring. Well, I think I've made up my mind, and will be participating in the class selection committee. Any thoughts while I try to catch some sleep for the 8am Econ midterm tomorrow morning?