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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Learning MBA Courses for Free! Part I

Irrespective of whether you are an MBA or a B School student or a B School aspirant or someone interested in learning more about business/management, there are a plenty of resources available on the web. For a person who likes to listen rather than read through, there are many video courses/lectures as well. In the next few posts, I will try to put together an MBA curriculum completely based on free video courses (either MOOC or pre-recorded) covering both core courses and electives. Today, let's start with core courses (MBA first year curriculum). An outline can be pulled from any B School website. In this post, I will specifically concentrate on Finance and accounting courses. 

Financial Accounting

Financial Accounting is a core course required for all the MBA students in their first year irrespective of the Business School they study in. Financial Accounting can be considered one of the foundation stones of any Finance course you take later. This is also one of the 'most feared' courses :) There are many free online courses or MOOCs on this topic. Here are three of them --

Introduction to Financial Accounting from Wharton is an introductory course offered within the Coursera platform. Overall, a great introductory course with a case based approach. I would consider this to be a crash course giving the high level ideas in Financial Accounting. If you are more interested in the topic, Wharton also offers a course on advanced topics as well as another course specifically on accounting analytics

Introduction to Accounting - I from IIM Bangalore is an introductory course offered in EDX platform and a favorite of mine since he was a Professor during my stint at IIMB  :) I would consider this to be slightly theoretical in nature. But if you are interested in accounting from an Indian/Asian perspective; this is a great course. It is expected that IIMB will be rolling out second part of the course later in the year. I am sure, it will take the route of advanced courses from Wharton.

Introduction to Financial Accounting from Brigham Young University -- I haven't taken this course. But this seems to be a good one too with a complete coverage of topics in Financial Accounting.

Management Accounting

Management Accounting or Managerial Accounting is the other side of accounting coin. Very important for manufacturing industry, this aims to provide better information for managers in implementing an organization's objectives in the most cost effective way. This provides an insider's view; while financial accounting is meant for an outsider's view.

Management & Cost Accounting Modules - The YouTube play list from Rutgers Accounting Web is a great resource to start with. It is a collection of over 400 short videos on this topic by Prof. Noel Cooperburg. He takes a strategic approach to managerial accounting rather than an accounting/numeric based approach.

Managerial Accounting - IIT Bombay is an NPTEL course from IIT Bombay taught by Prof. Varadraj Bapat. Slightly theoretical, it gives a good introduction to accounting as well a deeper view into cost aspects.

Finally, there is a set of two courses in Coursera from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I haven't gone through this and is yet to start. First one, Cost Behaviors, Systems, and Analysis is expected to provide the introduction and Tools for Facilitating and Guiding Business Decisions deals with advanced topics.

Corporate Finance

Corporate Finance is the next foundation stone of all Finance related topic an MBA student might take up. Often a good learning of corporate finance is a must to even start with advanced topics. If you look for a Professor in Corporate Finance, the most famous one in the web is Prof. Aswath Damodaran of Stern School of Business. All his corporate finance courses in video format is available for free and this is perhaps the best source for learning Corporate Finance (http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/)

Corporate Finance @ Coursera -- Two courses are available in Coursera - one from Wharton School of Business (Introduction to Corporate Finance) and another from IESE Business School (Corporate Finance Essentials)

Financial Markets and Institutions

In some MBA curriculum, I have seen a core course on Financial Markets. It overlaps with Corporate Finance in some instances. In my case, it was an elective offered. Though 5 years old, I think Financial Markets by Prof. Robert J. Shiller of Yale University is still the most comprehensive course on this subject. A Coursera offering is also available which I believe may be a shortened version. Another personal choice is the course on Introduction to Banking & Financial Markets by Prof. PC Narayan of IIM Bangalore. I was fortunate enough to attend his classes while at IIMB. Finally there is a course by Prof. Andrew Lo (Financial Theory I ; an old, but good one)

In the following posts, I will cover other core courses and electives in a typical MBA curriculum.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Five TED Talks for all MBAs and MBA aspirants!

TED has been a great platform to listen to some of the greatest minds and ideas. TED is so vast today that its literally impossible to watch all the videos from TED and TEDx. I thought to share with you five TED talks every B School aspirant, or MBA student must watch. As said, these are the ones I picked from the talks I watched during B School, before and after. I am sure there are many more that you can share with the readers. 

How great leaders inspire action by Simon Sinek 

MBA is all about leadership these days. Every curiculum and Business school try to impart on its students theories of leadership, and groom leaders. In this talk, Simon Sinek discusses about inspiring employees or followers to take action.Contrary to explain what we do - how we do and why why do (in that order), Simon argues that it should be always in the reverse order; and that's what makes an organization different. Making understand the employees, and customers the purpose of the firm makes the difference. He makes his points taking examples of Apple, comparing Wright Brothers with Samuel Pierpont Langley, TiVO and more.

How I harnessed the wind by William Kamkwamba

There are many entrepreneurship and inspiration related talks in TED. But this is one of my favorites. This shows how an idea and passion can really change people's lives. This a talk which will make you think how small ideas, the learning from your education can give back to society. Its a short talk in which he explains how he made a windmill for his village from scrap items and reading from a public library. Another talk that will poke you is How I started a sanitary napkin revolution! By Arunachalam Muruganantham.

Lead like the great conductors by Itay Talgam

It's a talk by leadership; its a talk about having a process. It's a talk about how to motivate and give a sense of ownership to employees instead of micro management. He talks the approach of showing sub videos of various orchestra conductors, their styles and what leadership learning we can take. I really liked this video because of then engaging factor and the topics/ideas he subtly put forth.

How to pitch to a VC by David S. Rose

A typical MBA type talk; discussing about Venture Capitalist presentation.He talks about what to say, how to say, how to create the presentation. Also he goes into depth of what VCs expect in these presentations.

How data will transform business by Philip Evans

If you are an MBA aspirant, this talk gives a feel of how the lectures on Economis and Strategy will be - with all the jargons, frameworks and high level pictures. In this talk, Philip Evans, a consultant at BCG put forth the idea of how data is transforming the thinking of business strategy. He touches on how fall in transaction costs, technology/internet reduces or kills intermediaries. It asks some great poking questions about how technology is forcing business models to evolve.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Book Review - Lateral Leadership by Roger Fisher and Alan Sharp

Lateral Leadership - Getting it done when you are not the boss is a leadership book written by Roger Fisher and Alan Sharp. To be honest, it was not a pleasant read because of the writing style of authors. This is in spite of the fact that it's a short book and Viva Books printed it in good quality paper even if it was a low priced edition :) I expected the book to be something catering to professionals in roles without having the authority ( like a Product Manager or Business Analyst). But the book tries to be lot of things.

 The authors take a two fold approach - first on improving the personal skills and later on to use them to improve collaboration and lead teams. At certain points, I felt it's more a personal skills training book than one on team building or leadership; may be it is due to the fact that it's all interlinked. The book is written in the three parts. First one introduces the topic of lateral leadership and what the authors mean by the term. The second part dives deep into the components of lateral leadership - how to first develop the personal skills required and then to pass on them to your team. Last part is a conclusive discussion on how to keep improving yourself with these learning.

The crux of the book is that we should understand the the real purpose of why we are doing something , make the team understand and own it; once this is achieved, cultivate a culture in yourselves and within the team to come up with thoughts, actions and ownership in achieving the goals. The authors also cautions about 'paralysis with analysis' often seen in discussions and also how to keep the team members engaged. Finally, there is a decent discussion on how to give and receive feedback as well.

Five things you will learn from reading this book are -

1.    How to develop and create a purpose - be it for yourselves, organization or a team undertaking
2.    How to set goals effectively
3.    How to harness collaboration and engagement in a team
4.    How to provide and receive feed backs
5.    Few frameworks, thought process aids guiding your journey in becoming a better leader and team player

Two things I wish the authors did a better job are

1.    A better writing style
2.    Cut short on unnecessary theory since it's meant more for a professional audience than academia. 

Overall, just a decent book to read.