It’s Friday and we just finished our final class for Business Foundations. We had the same 3 professors the whole week. For accounting we were taught by Benjamin Segal (Israeli); for Finance, Professor Pekka Hietala (Finnish, former INSEAD Dean); for Quantitative Methods, Ilia Tsetlin (Russian). I understand that one or two of them will be flying to Fonty to teach the same course next week.
For all 3 topics, I came out knowing a lot more than I did a week ago - even after doing some of the pre-readings. They throw in, conversationally, a lot of insight that you wouldn’t get out of the textbooks or notes.
I think many of us appreciated that Ilia would appear during our post-class group discussions to offer help if needed. He would spend as much time answering our group’s questions before moving on to the next group, so that was wonderful. Prof Hietala also made himself available on some days and gave us pretty good advice on what to expect in Finance 1 and 2, our two compulsory modules. I understand the big picture but need to work on the application of the right formulas. For accounting, things were hectic but once we were taken through different cases methodically, it started getting clearer to me.
For those in Fonty who are taking the Business Foundations course, it is still advisable to do your pre-readings first. The pace of the teaching is so fast that if you’re unsure about a basic concept, you won’t have time to go back and check on it, because by then the professor would have moved on to the next step. Of course, you can ask a question at any point in time, or speak to the professor after class. But you’ll be so busy learning new things that you shouldn’t be spending too much time figuring out the bare basics.
Group discussions were disheartening at first because I felt I was surrounded by super smart people who understood more things than me - and more quickly. After the halfway point, however, I realised it was also a blessing because it raised my own standards and expectations of myself. Also, the learning environment here is progressive. People try to help each other out as we’re stronger and weaker in different areas. You also bond with a smaller group of people. Overall, I am glad to have taken the course, even if it cost €1,500.
Just one week was enough to give me a different perspective on how financial markets work. Now, based on what we were just taught, I figure that INSEAD probably calculated the maximum profit and optimal price to make sure the course was worth running, financially ;-) If it was free, almost everybody would show up early and logistically that would mean getting lots more professors and other staff back to work earlier. When priced at this rate it helped to sift out those who didn’t really need it, from those who felt they needed it. I also have some new insight regarding my personal stock investments, but I think I won’t meddle with them until I have a deeper understanding of Finance in the periods to come ;-)
During the week we also got to meet our new Dean, Prof Jake Cohen, who was formerly from Harvard Business School. Incidentally, he appeared in this funny video by Italian students promoting their culture as himself. However, he told me he isn’t Italian but American :)
Re-assessing myself at the end of the week, I need to stay positive even if the workload is heavy and difficult. I also need more sleep, because I tend to be careless when I’m tired. My usual pattern is to burn the midnight oil until I’m too tired to be productive, then go to sleep. My new plan is to work faster and smarter during the day, exercise more and sleep early. One classmate has a practical plan of working on the questions first and referring to the reading when required, because it isn’t possible to finish all the reading we’re given every day.
Next week it will be back to French classes for me, and preparing for P1. Tonight we are having a Business Foundations survival BBQ party (OK, any excuse for a party).
Onward and upward!