“You can’t learn business out of a textbook”.
I heard this statement so many times during my MBA application process and even more so now that I am completing my MBA. So, what does an entrepreneur get out of the Ivey MBA?
An intensive 12 month practical training program that prepares you to step into the shoes of the CEO or decision maker immediately. Ivey accomplishes this through a rigorous case study method that provides business tools you use immediately.
First, Ivey is 100% case study. We study businesses. Not just business theory. We study real life companies (Citibank, Southwest, Wal-Mart, General Electric, Nestle, eBay, Merck) and the list goes on and on. By the time we graduate we have studied hundreds of successful and unsuccessful companies. We study their industries and the political and economic environments they operate in, we study their financial statements, marketing strategies, operational strategies, leadership techniques and HR practices. We learn about the challenges they have faced and how they addressed them. We learn how they started, how they grew and how they thrived or failed. For an entrepreneur, this is invaluable. Every day of this MBA, I have taken lessons from small and large enterprises and gained tremendous insight into how to build my own company. I appreciate the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others.
Second, Ivey is practical training. We study management theory and we apply it right away to solve a business problem that the case presents. We step into the shoes of the decision maker everyday, who is usually a leader in the company (CFO, CEO, Marketing VP etc). As an entrepreneur/CEO/manager, you will have to make ALL decisions as the leader and Ivey we get this opportunity every day with 1-3 cases a day within every function of the business. There’s no focus on one function - this is the cross-enterprise MBA.
Finally, Ivey provides the tools to hit the ground running immediately. We are provided with so many frameworks for making decisions in every aspect of our business. This is not a lecture based program. It’s interactive and demands that you get engaged to get the most out of it. Every skill or tool I picked up, I applied to my business concept right away and by the end of the program, I completed a business plan ready for execution.
So, what are some of the skills I picked up during my 12 months:
Leadership: I defined my Mission, Vision and Value system to create a high performing and customer oriented culture in my organization. Culture is everything for success and Prof. Gerard Seijts makes the tools and techniques to create it are part of your DNA before you walk out of his class.
Strategy: I defined the high level strategy for my company and identified my resources and capabilities to achieve my goals. I quickly identified all the gaps that would present obstacles to my success and started thinking through what I needed to do to address them. More importantly, I have identified the core competencies that will give me a sustainable competitive advantage. Put simply, I understand how my company provides value for the customer. One my greatest learnings this year came from Prof. Rouse’s when he made me realize that business is not only about providing value for customers and shareholders but providing also value for society.
Finance/Accounting: My greatest achievement as an HR Manager in this program has been developing financial acumen. I now know how to raise financing for my company, develop my own income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement and most importantly, I understand how every decision I make impacts the bottom line. Today, I project my own revenues and expenses, manage my cash flow, calculate when I break even and conduct all kinds of analyses to understand how much how financing I need today and tomorrow and what type of financing (debt/equity) makes the most sense. Pretty powerful accomplishment in 12 months.
Marketing: Without a marketing strategy, there are no sales. I developed my entire marketing plan based off 8 weeks with Prof. Dawar. In addition to cases, we launched products in a simulation and measured our results. That experience alone enabled me to identify my customer segments and create a pricing, distribution and promotional plan to position my company effectively in the marketplace. Most importantly, I have developed a plan to grow the company brand and create a market driven company that is responsive to customer’s needs.
Operations: A great business plan is nothing without execution. Strong operations is what makes money. In developing my operating plan, I got down in the details of how to create a service delivery system that can operate efficiently and effectively to create a positive encounter for my customer every single time. I did this by studying automotive manufacturers (Toyota), restaurants (Benihana) and hotels (Four Seasons). By the end of the course, I had developed a detailed plan using the frameworks Prof. Menor taught us.
9 out of 10 businesses fail and poor management is cited as the number one reason for failure. The Ivey MBA provides entrepreneurs with the training ground to learn new management techniques and test them out without putting their entire business at risk. For some of us, this is proving to be the best investment we will ever make.
Contributed by: Adwoa Mould-Mograbi, MBA Candidate 2009