Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Orientation week

The official orientation starts with a much crowded place. It kind of surprised me when I am within 167 students since I am more or less used to be among the 70 students in the pre-MBA session. Immediately when I walked into the Olin hall, the main building for MBA students at Babson, I felt the much more intense atmosphere. I think it's really a culture difference. In Beijing I am facing a much more crowded environment but I do not have that intensive feeling described above. On the contrary, American students seem very used to it. They start talking with each other almost right away. I also tried to talk with nearby American student, greeting each other, asking some basic questions and start a short conversation. But I really felt I am not used to it. Especially when I can't find a topic that both parties are interested in. Those experience, plus those happened in following networking event further helped me to set my goal: try to meet two or three person and start a deeper conversation.

We are divided into three sections with 50-60 students each. I am in the section with Professor JB Kassarjin and many who are not in my section told me they missed him. Some other events also organized to help students in the same section getting to know each other but I think the "ice break" event we'd had in pre-MBA is much more effective than the "Fun Facts" we had, which is give each of us a sheet with a personal fun fact sent by all of us as required. Then we need to find out each fun fact belongs to whom. There are interesting stories but overall I'd rather to have another "ice break" event.

No surprise, Babson gave a lots effort on our future career. CCD, the Center of Career Development, hosted several events include general introduction, AMP program introduction and Executive on Residence. AMP means Alumni Mentor Program so you may figure out what it is all about. Many Babson MBA alumni are willing to give their time to build relationship with current MBA student by a one-on-one way. That's really great to share their experience, knowledge and network, if you can manage it right.

One of the Executive on Residence that gave us a presentation is co-founder of McCormick & Dodge. It's not well known for many but it's the 2nd largest software company when IBM main-frame dominated the computer world. I am very happy about those passion and willingness among those people who don't have any responsibility to give their most valuable asset, time, to us. And I am really looking into the time when I can learn which alumni I will work with.

The biggest part and also the most important part of the orientation week is, the "tech mark". It's a computer simulated game that provides many business data to help team to make decision to win a competition among 5 teams. Each team has 6 or 7 member and each group has 5 teams to compete against each other. Every team needs to do product R&D based on consumers' changing preference, set price, manage inventory and choose best place for factory. Marketing and sales force management is also very important. We are having a very intensive schedule in three days. Each team has to decide own strategy about all above areas within 60 to 90 minutes and submit decision via Internet. Then we will be given a 30-minutes break during which computer program will be executed with data from all teams. Professor Mulligan will hold a short session to give us a brief introduction about the importance of various factors during the decision making process since the team that meets all requirements, profit, inventory rate, debt ratio, ROA and ROE, will win.

After the introduction session, we will return to our own room with computed result of the last period. The sales, profit, marketing share, customers' preference and inventory and so on are quite overwhelming. We don't have a good start but we did a great job to catch up. Unfortunately, we, as also several other teams of other groups, were failed to meet the inventory target. But one of the final 3 winning team had set a new profit record since 2001. That's awesome. It's also a fantastic team working experience. Among the 7 members in my team, Male Mexican, Indian, me as Chinese, American Chinese, male and female white American as well as black American. Initially I thought would be more useful if we organize into different group since so many decision needs to be made and so many data need to take care of but others give it a veto. We actually working on every decision together though people slightly focused on different area. It could be a sign about the democracy tradition in US. We realized how important time management is, how useful Excel is and how nice we felt about each other and the team at last. I think one important factor to determine whether you had a great team is at the end how good you feel about each other and whether you want to team together next time. BTW, tech mark was invented by a Babson professor, Robert Eng. Many of us believed t hat the reason to have Tech Mark during orientation is that Babson want to give us a wake-up call, " do not think you are very good on business!", before the school starts. And many agreed Babson done a good job to make us believe so.

The school finally started on Aug 28th and I'd made a big decision to write diary for my 1st year, at least. I believe this two-year study will be one of the most important parts of my life and since no one is willing to do a documentary film with me, like the movie "", I'd better to write down my story myself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it's kind of funny to see what your orientation is like when it's reaching the end of the semenster...