The thanksgiving break gave me some time to reflect on the Kellogg courses that I have taken so far, and what I have learned from them. So I decided to do a rundown of the courses I took, specifically relevant to anyone applying to Kellogg or anyone at Kellogg deciding between courses. These are Fall 2009 courses; will analyze other quarters in subsequent blog posts.
Leadership in Organizations (MORS-470): This is a compulsory, pre-term course that students take with their sections. The main lessons taught in the course are related to decision-making, persuading and motivating people, making change happen, culture and negotiation. This course discussed several topics from some of my favorite books on leadership. Since one does not get to choose the professor for the course, I was glad I got Professor Galinsky for the course. He has done extensive research on several topics taught on the course, and manages class dynamics very well to make for a very entertaining class environment.
The only problem with this course, and with other MORS courses in general is that it takes a while to change one's own habits to incorporate everything learned in the class. Some of the lessons can be applied immediately. As an example, I used some of the things I learned around how to structure where people sit to build the right kind of environment, in last year's MIT Sales competition.However the other lessons are still in the book/coursepack, waiting to be applied. If only changing habits was easy. Still, lot of Kellogg Alumni have told me that they remember and use lessons from MORS courses more so than any other course.
Business Strategy (MGMT-431): This course serves as an introductory course to Business Strategy, again compulsory for all Kellogg students. You take this course with your section; in my case, I took it with my MMM section. The format is one lecture and one case per week. The course teaches basics of Business Strategy, including competitive strategy, competitive advantage, industry analysis, horizontal and vertical integration, and game theory. In essence, it teaches one to apply basic strategy framework to solve problems.
One interesting part of the course was a final project in which we were allowed to choose any company interested in launching electric cars, and analyze and critique one part of their strategy. My team and I analyzed the launch of the Chevy Volt, and came up with several interesting hypothesis. In the event, we made the argument why Chevy Volt should not accept the initial suggestions we had; the professor was OK with that sort of positioning, as long as we defended it well.
Again, I got lucky in the fact that we got Professor Busse as our teacher. She was by far one of the most prepared and enthusiastic professors I have come across. Her slides and examples were amazing, and helped me tremendously in preparing for consulting interviews. I referred to the slide that I put together for the finals of this course often during the interview.
Marketing Management (MKTG-430): This course is an introduction to marketing concepts such as 4Cs, 3Ps, STP etc. One of the biggest misconceptions that people with a non-marketing background like me have that marketing was all about advertising and PR. Instead, the course teaches marketing from a strategic perspective; how do you determine which markets to enter based on your competitive advantages, how to segment and select the right targets for your products, how to price products etc.
My professor for the course was Professor Hennessy, who in my opinion, is one of the best marketing professors in the world. She combines years of experience as a senior marketing executive, practical experience in consulting with clients such as Microsoft and Target, and her awesome sense of humor to create a very engaging environment in the classroom. I hardly ever looked at the clock in her class; the hour and a half went by so fast. She also invests a lot in helping students; her last class is always a guide on how to market yourself in recruiting.
One of the questions that I often get is what course should a first year student take in the fall if he/she is recruiting for consulting - Marketing, or Finance? I strongly recommend Marketing; several cases tend to have a big marketing component, from New Market Entry, New Product Launch, Profitability analysis etc.
Accounting For Decision Making (ACCT-430-0): Accounting. You always need it. It's almost never fun. That being said, I did get a great teacher, Professor Sridharan. He is very patient and teaches the concepts several times, which is very helpful for someone coming from a non-accounting background like me. He is also very nice, and I felt bad if I was ever behind in class because of that!
I have not covered two half-credit courses that I took in the first quarter; Analytical Methods for Operations, and Design. Both of them are MMM specific and have changed substantially even in one year.