Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Cases

For the past days, I've started hitting the books again. Or more specifically, I've started studying and analyzing cases. See, the Darden School of Business is one of the few business schools (including Harvard Business School and Ivey) that utilize 100% case study method. Instead of sitting through lectures where professors lead the class discussions, Darden students engage with each other in a collaborative setting through case analysis and discussions. The way I see it, the professors are class mediators, stimulating the discussions and steering it towards the right course or direction. The bigger class role relies on the students and their inputs towards the case discussions.

We have had around five live cases already in the past four days and I'm feeling a bit dazed. Two months of unemployment right before school started and five years from undergraduate school have made my brain rusty. But I'm liking it so far. We've discussed cases on Target, Samsung, British Petroleum (BP), etc., touching on the most recent corporate issues and concerns. The best part was actually seeing and interviewing the CEOs or representatives of these top companies after our case discussions. It was amazing hearing them answer our pressing questions on their corporate dealings and actually hearing first-hand their future plans. It was the closest thing to picking their brains and I'm not complaining.

They said that the success of case studies and case discussions rely heavily on the students' preparedness and level of participation. So far, I'm enjoying my class discussions and the richness and diversity of our inputs. Coming from an Accounting/business background, it's very refreshing to hear ideas and points of view from lawyers, pilots, doctors, bankers, consultants, athletes, etc. You're seeing more than just the other side of the coin. It's more like seeing the other five sides of a cube really. And I'm trying to do my end of the deal by speaking up and adding a thing or two to our discussions. Hopefully, those made some sense to my classmates.

A famous Darden professor, Peter Rodriguez, told us in his welcome remarks for International students that in a case study environment, you must not be afraid to "open your kimono." Don't be afraid to share what you know and how you think. Open your kimono. Just let it hang there.

Well, that last line might be more applicable to guys. But hey, we're only 30% of the population anyway.

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