Just one more weekend to go before the end of the first year. What have I learned?
First year's takeaways
1st semester: the business world is not as efficient as some would have you believe. There is a lot of opportunity to do better than average, given the right skills, tools, and people.
2nd semester: there are a lot of analytical tools that can help in making sound business decisions. A good business decision process will use analytical tools to eliminate strategies that clearly violate principles, but will not find "the optimum" strategy. This applies equally well to operations management, marketing, or financial decisions.
3rd semester: there is an important distinction between strategy and tactics. First, figure out the overall strategy, making sure that it achieves your goals and is appropriate for your time horizon. Then, and only then, select the appropriate tactics that implement the strategy. Think strategically, act tactically.
The third one is probably my weakest point - I am much better at tactics then in strategy, and tend to jump into the tactic-selection process before having given sufficient consideration to strategic choices.
3rd semester's takeaways from classes
Marketing: STP = Segmentation (of customers), Targeting (picking the segments to go after), and Positioning (to reach those said customer segments). Perception is reality.
Finance: financing decisions should not influence investment choices. Pick what you business should invest in, and then choose how to finance it. One caveat - the tax system, which taxes different financing options differently, invalidates this approach.
Operations Management: logistics (inventory management, order delivery timeliness, etc.) matter and can make or break a business! Variety (of products, store locations, customization options) and short product lifetimes (e.g., freshness or technological up-to-dateness) make this a difficult problem.
Communications: everyone can improve even in a relatively short time by getting personalized feedback. Small changes in posture, opening and closing, and voice can make huge differences in perception.