Diversity: Everybody’s Business


Lin Yang

Lin Yang

Those who watch Mad Men will remember a scene from Season 3, where Pete Campbell, an advertising executive, corners an unsuspecting African American elevator operator to ask him why he purchased his RCA-brand television. In the 1960s, Black men and women were all but banned from the ranks of management, and those institutional barriers forced awkward confrontations, like that of Pete Campbell’s, for the sake of “market research.” Diversity at Anderson is experiencing a similarly awkward phase. A workshop at orientation and a couple of Organizational Behavior classes barely scratch the surface of the issue. Most students know discrimination is bad, but do not know what it means to celebrate and harness diversity. Often, the lesson is about avoiding lawsuits, rather than building an environment that allows those of a different race, gender, or sexual orientation to thrive.

This is precisely why Anderson students ought to participate in identity clubs and the events they sponsor. Anderson’s identity clubs, which include Out@Anderson, Latin American Business Association, and Asian Management Students Association, to name a few, play a critical role in building a community that is inclusive to all. These clubs host events that allow students to experience a different perspective. They educate and share everything from local business knowledge to cultural nuances. They help us understand those who are different from us. And they show us how to have a whole new level of fun. Not only is it enriching to participate, but it makes business sense. The fact is, our world is changing. There are now more women than men who go to college, which means the spending power of women will rise. China will become the world’s largest economy by the end of this year. Even conservative politicians, such as those in Arizona, bow to the economic power of the LGBT community. “You need people with cultural competency in these areas, who have a facility with diversity, and understand whatever market they’re trying to enter,” said Kim Freeman, the assistant dean for diversity initiatives. Understanding these markets starts now, and involves not only clubbing in Japan, but getting to know diverse communities right here in Los Angeles. However, the reality is, diversity is usually not the first priority for many business school students. Perhaps many of us want to believe that business is inherently meritocratic and market driven. Or maybe due to the fact that board rooms do not reflect the racial and gender makeup of our society, diversity’s importance is not emphasized. Many identity clubs have trouble attracting even members of their own group to join. For instance, the 2015 full-time MBA class has 17 students who checked the Latino box on their applications, but only five joined the club, according to Mayra Munguia-Herrera, the president of the Latino Management Students Association. “Those who go into businesstend not to be vocal,” said Munguia-Herrera. “They are more internally focused on doing what they need to do to accomplish their professional goals, but not so much their community goals.” This problem has been compounded from the admissions side, where it has been an uphill battle to find enough qualified minority and women candidates to apply. Dean Judy Olian, speaking at the White House in April, called it “a major, national performance issue” that women are still underutilized and underappreciated in the US professional workforce. Assistant Dean of Admissions Alex Lawrence, in a February blog post, lamented that “the pipeline is limited” for African Americans and Latinos on the MBA track. Many were the first in their families to go to college, and have no idea that an MBA is even an option, nor what careers they lead to.

So far, the push for embracing diversity through identity clubs at Anderson has been done in silos. Recently, ASA added the VP of Diversity and Inclusion position to try to tie all these efforts together. “There are so many individual efforts going on, including Parker, Women’s Business Connection, and Admissions,” said Jessica Kimball, who current serves in the diversity VP role. “But from the student side, there hasn’t been one cohesive effort to move all of this together.” That will change next year. Even though many clubs are small, they are striving to make a big impact in 2014-15, banding together to host a “Diversity Series,” a succession of events aimed at getting discussions of race, gender, and sexual orientation out in the open. These clubs will also work closely with both the Admissions Office and Parker CMC to build a pipeline of students from underrepresented groups coming in, and graduates going out.

The hope is that all students at Anderson will support this effort by either joining clubs, participating actively in these events, or helping the administration with its diversity recruitment and career initiatives. If all of us give diversity a second look, we will be closer to our classmates, and ready to take on a diverse and changing world.


John Kapteyn

Julia Hsu_2

Julia Hsu


Two years in business school can pass by very quickly. Just ask Julia Hsu, a second year student who came to Anderson in order to broaden her professional skill set and explore whether a career in human resources aligned with her personal goals. In the process, she also made a conscious effort to meet classmates outside of her normal social circles. “I pushed myself to take advantage of a free pass to meet a ton of people,” Hsu says. “I’d never had friends outside of people who were very similar to me.” She says these new friends and contacts led to some of her favorite b-school experiences. Hsu advises other students to push outside of their comfort zones and meet with people from different backgrounds. The payoff will be a transformative experience, and one that will create friendships for years to come.


Dan Brown


Dan Brown

Dan Brown

As we say goodbye to an exceptional academic year and begin to look ahead, I wanted to say that I am really excited to be the next Editor-in-Chief of the Anderson Exchange. Mike Hirshman has done incredible work bringing people together and driving this program forward, but he will now be moving on to serve as president of the Graduate Student Association. He and I have been working on the transition this quarter and we are eager to take the Exchange to the next level in the coming year.

Our team’s biggest challenges this past year were to resurrect this celebrated publication, figure out the logistics behind bringing your voices to print, build out an exceptional team, and finalize our operations. In entrepreneurial parlance, this would be our beta. For the 2014-2015 academic year, we look forward to rolling out a more refined, impactful product and will work on being more consistent on a monthly basis, sourcing monthly content that brings together both first and second year perspectives, along with those from the FEMBA program and the entirety of the Anderson world. We are fortunate to have an outstanding team that is prepared to continue to put in the time and effort that make this paper possible.

We also look forward to hearing your feedback, because our goal is to put out the best and most relevant product possible – and most importantly, one that you want to read. The team relaunched The Exchange to provide a forum for thoughtful discussion of topics here at Anderson and to spotlight peers who are doing phenomenal things. We have done that over the last year, and in many ways the Exchange has done that over the last forty years. We look forward to continuing that legacy next year.


Brian Schoelkopf


Brian Schoelkopf

Brian Schoelkopf

Reflecting midstream is difficult. The currents that carry you forward create a noisy, tumultuous state where clear mindedness is not easily attained.Both the classes of 2015 and 2014 are presently midstream. The 2015ers are in shock that one half of their time at Anderson has nearly eclipsed. While it feels like the 80’s party was last month, within three weeks we will be the second years and transition to the role of MBA upperclassmen.

Second years find themselves in an even more turbulent situation: forced to leave the enclave of Anderson and return to the world of the working. One can only imagine the horrified faces the 2014ers will don in the coming months as they rediscover a world in which the work week does not end at 4PM on Thursday, nor is the weekend heralded by frothy beer and a buffet of warm(ish) pizza! Of course, the pain of change is simply a sign that we are making progress, becoming stronger and better. Both classes are taking the next step on their path to doing great things and changing the world.

What reflections can be made at this point of transition? What is it that the Class of 2014 will take with them from Anderson to transform the landscape of the corporate  world and the public sector? What is it that the Class of 2015 will carry with them from their first year to their second as they become the leaders of this institution? The answers are as varied as our class is diverse. Some will find that mastering discounted cash flows has been of momentous importance, while others will discover that the confidence they found within themselves while “taking a stand” to have been utterly transformative. Yet even with this diversity of experience, there is one thing that every student here will take with them that will irreversibly change and improve the course of their life – the Anderson family. Family is a word used excessively in corporate and institutional rhetoric. It is used to imply an absent feeling of connection and loyalty that few businesses or organizations truly achieve. The word is made cheap. Here, I use the word family deliberately – it expresses a reality that is at the core of our school’s DNA.

Where would an outsider see the strength of the Anderson family? Last Monday, Parker released a list of 74 students (20% of the class of 2015) who will be dedicating upwards of ten hours a week as ACT Coaches to help the incoming class of 2016 find success in recruiting. Without pay. Adding a position to their resumes that 0% of recruiters value. Three weeks ago a group of over 80 students dedicated their weekend to execute A Days, with the goal of giving admitted students a taste of the Anderson experience. Those involved committed countless hours before the weekend to planning. Zero dollars were paid to these students. Zero recognition was sought by them. Walk into Il Tram right now. At least one table, there will be two students who barley know each other having a coffee chat in which one, with nothing to gain, is spilling every secret and tip that they have to help advance the other’s career and ambitions. In return, they might have a cup of coffee bought for them.

Where does a member of Anderson feel the strength of the Anderson family? Every time someone who was impossibly busy took twenty minutes to explain an econ concept to you. Every time your classmate who was still buried in recruiting took time to introduce you to someone in their network. These efforts happen everywhere at Anderson.

Reflecting on the year so far, I would say that we cannot take this blessing for granted. If you assume that our counterparts in other programs enjoy a similar strength of family, you are wrong. What we have here at UCLA, and what we take with us when we leave, is special. It is unique. It is Anderson. While we are MBA students for less than 24 months, we are members of the Anderson family until the day we die. Be proud of your family. Be loyal to your family. Do what you can to make your family strong, because its strength becomes your own.


‘Crushing’ AMR: The Secret to Success


AMR will be a major part of your second year at Anderson; it will have a significant impact, not only on your GPA, but on your overall experience here and your future relationships with your teammates. A little bit of forethought and discipline can ensure that you have a pleasant and successful experience. 

Why Should I Care? AMR gives you the chance to solve a real ‘MBA-level’ problem backed by the resources of UCLA. Succeeding here prepares you to succeed outside of school. 

Why does AMR matter? It’s a legitimate question as some students view Anderson’s thesis program as a collection of unimportant assignments, creating busywork in a second year that would otherwise be either a stress-free time on the beach or a marathon of recruiting. Beyond the fact that a thesis is required to graduate in the UC system and that AMR is worth 10 units (and, BTW, grades are individual, so your individual contributions matter), I suggest viewing the program as a chance to practice MBA level project management skills while making an impact that will benefit both you and your client. AMR projects can be messy, stressful and ambiguous; just like problems in the real business world. Regardless of whether you plan to go into consulting, marketing, renting surfboards on the beach in Bali, or whatever, practice with structuring an approach to a problem, executing on that approach, managing the challenges along the way and ultimately putting together a convincing deliverable will help you to succeed in your chosen field. Your AMR experience should produce real results, not only for your client, but for you as well. In addition to building relationships with your team, advisor and client, a strong performance has helped alums land jobs. For example, when 2013er Aspan Dahmubed interviewed at Amgen, the recruiter noticed that he had done research in China through AMR. Not only did Aspan have the opportunity to share a story and take control of the conversation, but he was also offered the job and now works for the company in a post that involves international projects. In short, AMR is worth caring about.

Positioning ‘FTW’ MBAs generally like to succeed; some planning related to AMR can ensure an enjoyable experience and reduce the stress level during your second year. 

Level with your teammates. Those of you currently in OB are likely learning about the importance of mutually aligned incentives. In forming or getting to know your team for what will be the largest academic component of your Anderson experience, be sure to ask some important up-front questions about where your teammates are coming from and what they want out of AMR. For example:

  • What do you want out of the AMR experience?
  •  How important is it to you to “wow” the client and/or get an A?
  • A re you anticipating any life events (like a wedding/baby) that might affect your project availability?
  •  What resources or skills do you bring to the table?
  •  What are you really interested in working on?

Asking these sometimes difficult questions at the front end of your AMR experience helps to set you up for success and can prevent some unpleasant surprises down the road.

Aaron Lee interviews Ugandan shopkeepers to discuss the feasibility and practicality of implementing their client Mercy Corps’ distribution concept.

Aaron Lee interviews Ugandan shopkeepers to discuss the feasibility and
practicality of implementing their client Mercy Corps’ distribution concept.

Prepare for three types of pressure. AMR teams commonly describe feeling three sources of pressure: i) client, ii) advisor and iii) team dynamics. In going through the process, you might sometimes feel like you have multiple bosses, but this is reflective of what many of us will experience in our postschool professions. While issues and stress in these areas are sometimes unavoidable, you can take steps to minimize friction. Client-related pressure can be minimized by clearly defining your project’s scope up front, keeping the client updated regularly as you make progress against the scope and knowing when to politely push back on out-of-scope or scope-change requests (your advisor and the program office can help with this). Friction with your advisor can be minimized by keeping your advisor updated weekly on your team’s issues and communicating candidly about project-related challenges. Finally, team-related challenges can be minimized by clearly setting expectations up front, equitably dividing roles and assignments to speak to people’s strengths and politely but honestly discussing issues as they arise.

Know there will be bumps in the road. Parts of AMR will be difficult or annoying, just like parts of projects in the outside world. If solving business problems were easy, post-MBA jobs wouldn’t pay too well. However, anticipating some of these pitfalls can be useful. Below are a few examples I observed going through the program:

Don’t half-@$$ the first six weeks — As a TA for the program, I saw some teams that really ‘phoned in’ the scoping and research planning phases of their projects. This left them exposed to major scope changes when their client or advisor pushed back on their early work and often resulted in a lot of painful scrambling toward the end, which could have been avoided by pushing a bit more on the front end.

Prepare to deal with paperwork — Because AMR is, ultimately, your thesis, some paperwork is a fact of life. You’ll need to do things like an NDA, primary research report and final written paper. The office really does try to minimize this and is always open to suggestions on streamlining deliverables. However, at the end of the day, this is an academic exercise intertwined with external businesses, so expect a few academic assignments.
Keep your advisor in the loop — Yes, I did mention this above, but keeping your advisor updated on your team’s progress, as well as any individual concerns you may have, is to your advantage. Team dynamics and individual contributions matter in grading and, since your advisor can’t see what goes on in your team meetings, it’s important to reach out to him/her with any issues worth discussing.

Your Friendly Neighborhood AMR Office. The AMR office exists to help you through the AMR process. Getting to know your team positions them to better help you. From helping your individual team with project-related issues to hearing your suggestions on improving the program overall, the AMR Office’s job is to make your life better (assuming, in this case, that your life primarily revolves around AMR). Dropping by their offices (in Student Affairs, off the D-Atrium) to say hi to Chelsea, Sendy and Yixin puts a face to your name and will help these intrepid staffers with some of the following functions:

Project-related issues — From helping you to pitch a selfsourced client to getting you a room for a client call, the AMR Office is willing and able to help you with a wide range of project issues.
• Helping you avoid nasty surprises — If you have a question like “can I get reimbursed for X?” or “how can I resolve my issue with person Y?” dropping in and asking the AMR team (or program TAs) can save you from an unpleasant “whoopsie.” Don’t worry; asking questions doesn’t affect your grade…
Improving the program overall — The AMR team cares a lot about student satisfaction. Student suggestions thus far have resulted in everything
from lunchtime sessions on project-related issues to establishing Wednesday mornings as a class-free time for AMR activities.

Picture 2If you have ideas on improving the program, let them know. Finally, beyond the AMR staff , UCLA has a whole range of resources available to help you with the AMR process. See above for a quick reference of who can help you with what: As a final note, feel free to reach out to me (as the outgoing program TA) with any AMR questions I can help with; otherwise, Andersonians, go forth and crush it.


Korn/Ferry: A look at the Past and Present

The Exchange editors sat down with Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry International, during his April 28 visit to Anderson. Korn/Ferry was founded in 1969 by Lester Korn (MBA ’60) and it is today the world’s largest executive search company. In 1988, the Anderson School’s main convocation hall was named after Lester Korn and his wife Carolbeth.

The Exchange: Here at Anderson, most students know of Lester Korn as the namesake of Korn Hall. Can you tell us about the history of the business that Lester Korn founded?

Gary Burnison

Gary Burnison

Gary Burnison: [We] were founded about 45 years ago. And Lester [Korn] and Richard Ferry both were at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co., and they had a vision about creating a global executive recruiting company, and they got together and started here in Los Angeles. And, you know, one thing led to another. From a very humble beginning and small office until today, a company that has a market cap of a billion and a half dollars, and we’re in 40 countries…

The Exchange: In your book, The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership, you talked about leaders having blind spots that stemmed from a lack of soft skills. What does Korn/Ferry do to measure those soft skills? Is there a methodology that you have within the firm?

Gary Burnison: We’ve both developed and acquired a tremendous amount of intellectual property around really what separates great from good. A lot of it anchors around one’s leadership style, thinking style, emotional competency. All of which we believe is really trying to get at the notion of learning agility and whether people really continue to have an appetite to learn and to grow. We think that that’s the number one predictor of executive success today.

The Exchange: Do you think that can be taught? In other words, is that a skill that can be imparted in a business school setting?

Gary Burnison: Well, it can be taught, but the person has to have a willingness to grow and to learn, so it absolutely can be taught. But there’s also a piece of it that comes down to insatiable appetite to listen to music, to read all sorts of different things. One has to have the desire to do that.

The Exchange: What are the challenges of leading a public company? How has the experience been for Korn/Ferry as a public company?

Gary Burnison: It really comes down to your strategy that you have for your business. If you believe that you need access to capital, to financing, then each business owner needs to make the decision on how best to do that. So you can find friends and family, you could go to venture capital, you could go to private equity, you could go to your bank, or you could tap the public market. I really think it first starts with where you’re trying to take your business and what kind of capital do you need to foster that growth. Then, you need to make a decision on what avenues [are] going to be the best [ones] for your company. For us, we do need access to capital to make our brand more lasting and to get into other types of businesses that reinforce the flagship recruiting business, so we need access to capital for acquisitions as an example. So we’ve done almost 10 acquisitions over the last few years. If we were not public that would be very difficult for us to do.

The Exchange: You mentioned in your talk [at the Anderson Speaker Series] that your business has moved beyond just search and that now only 60% is the core recruiting business. Do you expect this percentage to change over the next few years?

Gary Burnison: Well, I think that it’s always going to be the foundation of the business. There’s no doubt about that, but I see that there’s a huge opportunity to continue to build solutions and services for what the board or CEO really thinks about it. It’s great to get really good people in the organization but it’s a whole other thing to get them to work together and move in the same direction. So we’re trying to anchor our organization not only in finding great people but finding out who they are and then getting them to work together towards the organization’s, the client’s common purpose.



What Anderson Can Do to Improve Its Admissions Process


Admissions PlaqueAdmissions is a tricky process, which might explain why nearly every top business school has used the same formula to evaluate applicants for decades: grades, test scores, essays, recommendation letters and interviews. However, in recent years, some b-schools, including UCLA Anderson, have tweaked the process with varied results. From 2008 to 2010, Anderson tested a new requirement for a video or audio submission. Application volume subsequently dropped 31%. To be sure, we were also experiencing one of the biggest economic crises of our time. More recently, Anderson has seen a 32% increase in applications since last year, thanks to new changes to the admissions process, according to Associate Dean Rob Weiler. These include the elimination of one essay and one letter of recommendation, and more extensive email outreach to prospective students. While the average grade-point average of admits has not changed, the average GMAT score has increased by five points, suggesting that the quality of admits has also improved. This rise in applications has also led Anderson’s selectivity rate to increase to 17% from 22.3%. (By comparison, here are the approximate selectivity rates of other top 10 M.B.A. programs: Wharton, 19%; Chicago Booth, 21%; Kellogg, 22%; and Tuck at Dartmouth, 21%.) Going forward, Anderson might also want to consider eliminating written letters of recommendation, which are not an accurate representation of applicant quality. Four in 10 applicants say they write their own recommendations, according to a survey by the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC). Worse, admissions directors estimate that number is actually closer to 60%. Why not do away with written letters altogether and only conduct phone interviews with the recommenders of applicants who seem promising? Of course, there are potential challenges to any change. Admissions officers might find it too time-consuming to conduct phone interviews with recommenders. But we won’t know unless we try. By continuously innovating, we can increase our chances of attracting the best talent to Anderson.


A Feast to Remember


International Food Festival

The International Business Association’s International Food Festival in February lived up to its food-coma inducing reputation. Held at Alumni Plaza, the festival featured cuisines from Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, India, Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia and Jamaica. A record 330 students and visitors attended the event, which aims to educate the student body about the various cultures around the world. The Armenian food station was voted the fan favorite, while the Korean station registered the highest sales. Out@Anderson supplied confetti-sprinkled desserts and the Anderson Wine Club provided wines from different regions. The event concluded with open karaoke.


Robert Fagnani Is a Man on a (Ad)mission


Robert Fagnani

Robert Fagnani

Robert Fagnani (MBA ’15) leads the Anderson Admission Corps (AAC), which has a mandate from Anderson to increase three factors within Admissions this year: the number of applications, the quality of applicants and the yield (attendance rate) of those applicants. To this end, Rob oversees a recently recruited batch of 50 students who will be responsible for 80% of the student interviews for the Class of 2017 as well as Group Information Sessions for the coming year. Two “low hanging fruit” items the AAC will be pursuing this year include finding a way to better display the Anderson culture on a revised UCLA Anderson website to be unveiled this spring and improving the way in which visiting students experience UCLA. Many current Anderson students remember their campus visit, including a class visit, information session, and — most likely — a lot of down time. “The AAC wants to provide [visitors] with a more comprehensive day,” Fagnani states. This includes coffee chats, lunches and facilitating interaction with the centers that are of interest to each candidate. According to Fagnani, “Ultimately, it’s about finding prospective [students], communicating the Anderson culture to them and creating a personal connection.”


Thoughts on the 1st Quarter Workload, ‘Turbo Sections,’ & Online Courses



Senior Associate Dean Andrew Ainslie

The Exchange asked me to offer up a few thoughts on a few issues facing us. I want to start by stating that this is my personal opinion. We are governed as a complex mix of a democracy, meritocracy and occasional autocracy, so no one person ever gets to decide how our curriculum works. So, that said, here are my current thoughts on a few issues that The Exchange threw my way:

Thoughts about the First Quarter Workload 

OK, what’s the problem that we face? Quarter-based schools have a huge impediment right out the gate– we have 10 weeks to get our students prepared for internships, where semester schools have 15. So there is a tendency to cram a lot into those weeks. Let’s look at what we have: three fundamental classes which are widely viewed as prerequisites for classes like operations, marketing and finance: economics, statistics and accounting. Many would also agree that accounting is directly useful for many interviews. Next, people either need finance or a case based class. We found a solution that no other top 20 school has been able to pull off (ignoring Chicago… more on that later), by letting people choose either marketing or finance in their first quarter, thereby saving one class. But when we redid the curriculum a few years ago, there was also a strong feeling among interviewers, faculty, students and recent alumni that we needed to find a way to get two more things in there – an introduction to the career process and a communications class.

The results in our first year doing this were dramatic. We jumped 20% in students placed at graduation. So any time we consider moving stuff out, we do it with great trepidation, as we would hate to backslide on that statistic.

Where might we find some wiggle room? The potential places, as I see it, are: 1) To shift some material to before the beginning of the quarter one way or another, or 2) to move the half of the communications class into the second quarter. I have been meeting with faculty, students and the administration to find ways to do this. It’s not obvious, but if we could get clever with hybrid technology, or find away to get key communications skills out really early in the second quarter or get people to skill up more, that would be great. It’s one of my biggest priorities right now, and I urge all of you to send me an email, stop me in the corridor or set up a meeting with me if you have ideas on how we can pull this off. I am in agreement with those of you who feel that this needs to change. We just need to find a way to do it without compromising students’ ability to fi nd the best possible internships.

Thoughts about Advanced and Intermediate Core Classes 

You all know the issue – it’s your first accounting class, and you’re just trying to work out what the hell a double entry system is and why anyone would do something so weird when the person next to you puts up her hand and asks some convoluted question about working capital… and you don’t even know what working capital is. In stats, you’re just working out what a standard deviation is when the engineer next to you wants to know why we lose a degree of freedom when computing it…. Huh? Statistical slavery? What are they rabbiting on about freedom for? How can you get an A when everyone seems to have taken the damn class before?

This is a problem that dogs all of us in top MBA programs. The good news is the impact over the whole MBA is pretty small. We did huge numbers of regressions of all sorts of things against all sorts of others and it turns out that no particular background makes you more ableto get a higher overall GPA. There is a slight uptick for econ and business majors but it’s smaller than you’d think. Of course, you’re going to get a bump in your econ class if you’re an econ undergrad… but good luck beating out the business undergrad in Organizational Behavior or Marketing. I also personally do wish that more people would take waivers, and one of the things thatI am looking at is ways to offer tools to help people waive out. Something like a refresher class in statistics for someone who’s done stats, so they can take a waiver and get out of the class. By the way, this would be one way to relieve some of the pressure in the first quarter that I discussed in the previous issue! But it’s hard for us to force anyone to waive and a few people will intentionally NOT waive so they can get the easy A. I really don’t know how to organize this.

So… onto the idea of “turbo” sections. The first problem is it’s a logistical nightmare. How do I schedule one person with strong stats and econ backgrounds, another with strong econ and marketing, another with strong marketing and Organizational Behavior into some complex mix of turbo and ordinary classes? How do I even tell? Is an A at school 1 the same as an A at school 2? How do I compare them? And what do I say to the person who gets a B- after I forced them into the turbo class, who says that they really should have been in the normal class and now may have missed out on their dream job because their GPA was too low? It’s an incredibly tough issue in terms of equity, perverse incentives (for people to fake out that they’re dumber than they are to get the easy A), and logistics.

No school seems to have cracked this… other than possibly Chicago. And for some reason, no one has really emulated the Chicago model. There, students do not have a structured core the way other schools do. Every time we talk about revamping the curriculum, we talk about Chicago, and perhaps one day we’ll bite the bullet and do it. It has its own downsides – designing your own curriculum and bidding for classes before you even arrive at a school has to be terrifying – but it’s definitely an option. Once more, if anyone has thoughts, let me know!

Thoughts about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS)

OK, plenty of people disagree with me on this one… but I personally think MOOCS are a total waste of time. People talk about them, but all the numbers show that very few people ever complete them. Which begs the question, why? My starting point is to observe that MOOCS are not really all that diff erent from a textbook, and indeed usually require a textbook as a backup resource. It’s incredibly hard to sit down in a room on your own and learn stuff , no matter how it’s presented. And there has to be a strong incentive.

Photo 2We offer a really strong one here at Anderson – finish your degree, get a GPA over 3.0, and you join a club where magically, on average, your salary almost doubles immediately,and you get a payback on your investment within 5 or so years… not to mention often finding a far more satisfying career than whatever you were doing before. And your fellow students offer you a combination of two seemingly contradictory ways to help you get there – they motivate you to work harder (because you’re ambitious and cannot bear the thought of not being as good as them), and they give you help in study groups. This combination of exclusive club, motivation through peer pressure and exposure to wonderfully bright classmates who can help you learn faster will always make in-class MBA’s the very best way to learn. Or put differently, I have a low opinion of MOOCS and always will.

So, does online learning have a place anywhere? Most definitely! – first, for people whose only other option is to NOT get an MBA. They’re perfect candidates for our online MBA. Second, for preskilling classes. We’re beginning to roll out increasing numbers of these types of resources. And third, to assist with the in-class experience. This is something that I personally think we need to do more of. But all of these are back-ups, not the whole enchilada. We are definitely increasing the footprint of online resources in our curriculum, but at the end of the day, we want this to be quality material designed to help you do better in a conventional MBA, not as a replacement to what you are learning with us.