Allow me to explain…
I’m currently in the throes of prepping for my transition from brain dead, autopilot but employed 9-to-5 life in sunny Los Angeles to rigorous, stimulating but broke student life in Philadelphia–talk about a shift between polar opposites. In many ways, it hasn’t completely set in that I’m leaving yet. I largely attribute this to the fact that having gotten into Wharton during Round 1 means that I’m 4 months into this without any actual changes in my day-to-day life. Apparently, my subconscious doesn’t believe that anything is changing yet; it hasn’t drank kool-aid.
I’ll assume that’s the reason why I’ve procrastinated on locking down an apartment in Philly. I hope that doesn’t end up biting me in the butt. What I haven’t procrastinated on, however, has been following all of the steps and pre-arrival business that the school mandates that we take care of.
- Deposit in? – CHECK
- Background check complete? – CHECK (so to speak)
- UPenn computing account set up? Wharton email acquired? – CHECK. CHECK.
- Signed up and active on SPIKE? – CHECK
- Opted in our out of Core Curriculum Waiver exams? - CHECK
- …and I’ll be bopping down to the doctor’s office to handle those immunizations next week.
Why I’m Studying
So, the reason why I’m back in a GMAT-like mode again is because I’m preparing for the core waiver exams noted above; I’m also reviewing pre-MBA math camp material. My goals?
- To waive statistics (STAT613) and operations strategy (OPIM611) from my core so that I can a) take a customer analytics course from Pete Fader and b) move into my advanced OPIM classes faster (I’m eyeing 3 of them).
- To test out of the math so that I don’t have to sit through the math review class during pre-term (thus, more time for settling in, lazing around, drinking, networking, working out and working on pet projects–a peculiar mix, I know)
While I made an “A” in stats during college, that class was about 16/17 years ago; umm….yeah. Still, I’ve had enough math for a lifetime and do not see the need in taking that particular course. There are plenty of other courses that will not only reinforce stats, but distill the most relevant formulas and concepts from it; and that will be what I choose to focus on and retain about the subject.
Regarding basics operations strategy, I kinda don’t want to be bothered with that either. Eight and 1/2 loooong years of drudgery @ UPS gave me more than enough process, process, process. On the more interesting side of ops management (which I still do in my current job, just with software), I’ve studied lean/agile software development as well as both lean startup and lean (Toyota) manufacturing methodologies.
While I’m no expert on these things, I get them and don’t see the need to invest very expensive Wharton credits sitting in class to learn about them ad nauseum. I’d also like to jump into more specific operations discussions on IT and innovation as they tie directly into my interests and will help me with startup development.
Then there is the math deal. Again, I’ve had enough math for a lifetime–pure math, that is. I’m fine with using it in other disciplines, I just don’t want to have to sit in a class that is exclusively focused on math where I will have to perform computation after computation—especially if I don’t have to.
The Personal MBA is a Bunch of Baloney
A about a year ago, I purchased the book The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman. In it (and in dozens of passionate talks that he has given all over the place), Kaufman claims that everything that you need to get from b-school can be read in his book.
I call bullshit.
Now, full disclosure: I have yet to actually read the entire book. It sits (rather ornately) on my bookshelf and I skim through it from time to time. For whatever reason, I have commitment issues when it comes to actually reading this book because I’ve read at least 7-10 others since I bought it. Still, I do know what is in it. He walks you through the basics of all of the primary business disciplines ranging from management theory to marketing to accounting. And even though we all know that the network/experience and other intangibles are the most valuable parts of business school (rather than the classes), the content in his book wouldn’t even substitute the remedial intro classes at Wharton.
I’m saddened by this, actually. I really wanted to believe that he was right. His gross aggrandizement of the breadth and depth of his content, however, dashes my lofty aspiration of reading the book over the summer and then being amazing in all of my course classes; yeah, so much for that. Next dream.
More Networking and a Wharton Professor Sighting
On a lighter note, I’ve continued my Godzilla/T-Rex–like networking run on the Wharton Community. I can’t say that it has been a goal, because it hasn’t; but the people are interesting/amazing and I kind of keep meeting them one way or another. So, I say let the good times roll.
About 8-10 of the LA Wharton admits met up in Orange County for beers and school/work talk and beers a few weeks ago. Then a couple of weeks from now, a slightly larger group of us plans to meet up for beach barcycle.
Two evenings ago after work, I had the opportunity to hear Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader give a talk for the Wharton Club of Southern California about 15 minutes from my job. I had spoken to him via email and phone, but this is the first time we got to meet in person.
Though I had already read his book and was familiar with his philosophy, I was still blown away by his talk on customer analytics and how current trends in data bode for the future of business and marketing strategy. I also ended up being his ride back to The W Hotel in Westwood so that he could get some rest before getting back up early the next morning and give a similar talk elsewhere.
Prof. Fader’s talk and the folks that I met at the Wharton club only solidified that much more that Wharton was the right and best choice for me. As an aside, the CEO of the company that hosted the talk, JibJab (Wharton MBA ’99) turned out to be someone who I knew from the gym (Gold’s Gym, Venice Beach); small world.