The penultimate term of the Manchester MBA is well underway and the tick-tock of the job clock inexorably eats away at my last six months as a student. The university’s spin around the term is that we’re given more breathing space to get to grips with the job hunt. The reality, however, is that I seem to have less time than ever. Group projects, individual papers and team assessments are lining up ominously with the spectre of pitches for our International Business Project pitches in early December following close behind.
Despite the toll on your time, this term is the only one where you can select your own electives which means it is possible to shape your learning to your personal needs. So far, a few weeks in, I’ve certainly found it more intellectually stimulating than some of the more basic modules of the first year.
An indicative list of electives for reference can be found here but an overview on the ones I’ve been taking are below:
Corporate Recovery and Turnaround – The premise of this course is studying the reasons why companies get into trouble, how to take them back from the brink and planning for the longer term post-crisis. Teaching is not just done by the lecturer but also by a turnaround professional and a simulated crisis management exercise run by professional consultants. I’ve now finished most of this course (bar the simulation) and found it thought provoking – it would certainly be useful if thrown into a crisis situation. It is, however, hot-housed over 4 crammed days which does leave you reeling a bit by the end.
Business to Business Marketing – This module looks to move your marketing thinking away from the classic 4P’s consumer marketing and toward different models that are more relevant when selling to businesses. Assessment is done via a group project on a real client brief (provided by BASF this year) plus a long written assignment.
Digital Economy – If you’ve ever wondered why ebay, Amazon, Microsoft and Google structure their products as they do then this is the course for you. It has been the most stimulating and interesting of the electives for me so far. We look at business models and the strategic and mathematical reasons behind them. Assessment is intense (three papers and a group presentation) but I think the module will end up delivering the most practical for me, allowing me to speak knowledgeably about this growing areas in interviews.
Venture Capital & Private Equity – This module has a fair amount of overlap with the VCIC and EBPY activities of the first year but will hopefully also provide an insight into the world of Private Equity. Teaching is mainly done through external speakers from the industry so avoids some of the frustrations of other courses (i.e. rigid insistence on academic norms, huge reading lists, etc).
The greater practical usefulness of these modules means that the term will be a balancing act between learning as much as possible from the academics and leaving enough time to do all the networking and research needed to secure a full time job. It’s going to be tough but the next time I write you’ll have a better idea if I’ve managed it.