Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My 5 Best Courses at INSEAD

For most modern MBA programs, you choose most of the courses you take. So what you learn during an MBA might be very different from what somebody else who did the same program did. Like most other things in life, this has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is obvious, you don't have to sit through advanced cost accounting (my apologies to all accountants out there, I appreciate the sacrifices you've made in espousing this noble profession). But at the same time, you have to prioritize on your major fields of study. And cost accounting might be more useful than it sounds if you're planning to be, lets say, an entrepreneur.
So, here are some of my favorite courses and professors. There might be many others that are as great or even better that I did not have to attend.
1) Microeconomics:(Prof. Vlad Mares) - My first class in Economics that opened the door to a fascinating new world for me. Vlad has his typical style, some people love it, some people not quite. I just worship the guy! Maybe it depends on your learning style, but Vlad's teaching style gets straight to my thinking and internalizes the learning. Micro is of great use in understanding most industry dynamics, and (I'm gonna say it even if I have to hang for blasphemy afterward ) most of Strategy is nothing but Economics mixed with Game Theory.
2) Market Driving Strategies: (Prof Steven Sweldens): MDS is a class based on a computer marketing strategy simulation creatively named.............wait for it.......Markstrat. The simulation pits different teams in class against one another over 9 periods meant to represent 9 years for growing their market shares and having a strategic entry into a new market. So I feel as if I've been a CMO of a company for 9 years. It was a fascinating class, especially the simulation, where adrenaline pumped and hearts thumped was we tried to beat everyone else with our products and marketing.
3) New Business Ventures (Prof. Rupert Merson): Rupert has his own style and spills linguistic gems such as "Investors are like lemmings, they tend to follow each other, sometimes over the cliff". The class that introduced me to the world of angels and VCs, nail biting suspense on whether the company will fail or eventually sell for billions, was a great initiation into the world of entrepreneurs.
4) Industry and Competitive Analysis ( Prof: Javier Gimeno): This is the subject that finally dealt with real strategy formulations for real firms in real markets facing contemporary issues. The biggest take-aways from my MBA lay here. Javier does a good job of defining the market conditions and invoking a discussion on the situation and possible courses of action.
5) Your First Hundred Days: (Prof. Patrick Turner): We are not allowed to share much about this course except that you live the life of a team that has just bought out a small company and started to run it for the first hundred days. Patrick does a wonderful job of covering most of the issues and pitfalls that new owners face, and also makes you feel the pressure and prestige of being a CEO or CFO in a surprisingly lifelike elective.

There are still others that I would like to talk about, but the title says "My 5 Best..." so have to stop here. However I will mention the honorable mentions Advanced Game Theory (Vlad Mares again), Uncertainty Data and Judgement (Theo Evgeniou), Macroeconomics (Antonio Fatas).


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