Summer 2022, MGT-8803, 3rd Semester

Just finished with my shorter summer semester. With this, I am officially done with 1/3rd of my course. (Woot woot!).

Summer is a shorter semester. 10-12 weeks instead of 16-18 weeks in Fall or Spring. suggests that you multiply your workload by 1.5 to extrapolate your actual workload in the summer semester. So, I had taken up only one subject during this semester. MGT – 8803. Business Fundamentals for Analytics.

A compulsory course, a quick scan through the reviews of students who has taken this subject previously only confused me. It is a completely mixed bag from people who found this course to be the worst course of the degree to people who absolutely loved it. People who found it too easy and just skimming the surface to people who needed 40 hour weeks to cope up with the material. To be honest, I was going into the course blind.

One good thing however, was everyone unanimously agreed that the main instructor of the course, Alan Flurry was an outlying professor who actually cared about all the students. He was hands on and attended all conference calls and tried his best to resolve all doubts and make sure the students learn the best that they can.

Owing to the reason I am not from a business background; I took the reviews which stated the course was too easy with a grain of salt. I took just one subject this semester for the same reason.

I would like to point out that it is one unique distinction I am seeing between the technical courses and the business courses. The professors of the technical courses design the curriculum and are only seen once or twice through the whole semester, leaving the teaching majorly to the TAs. However, the business course professors are much more hands on. They like to interact with the students, introduce new material in conference calls and talk about the world around us.

The course started off like it promised – professor Flurry headed the call and told us what to expect and what not to expect. The course had 5 modules.

  1. Financial Accounting
  2. Finance
  3. Supply Chain Management
  4. Marketing
  5. Business Strategy.

However, as this was a shorter summer semester, the business strategy module was optional and did not account towards your final grade.

And then the mail arrived. The mail that said the whole Georgia Tech community was sad to say that Professor Alan Flurry has passed away. The guy who was on conference call addressing questions about student collaboration and communication channel had passed away the night before. The head teaching assistant had agreed to take over the job and the class will go on as usual.

For us, we were newcomers, but had heard a lot about the professor. It was a shock. It must not have been easy for the other professors who have been working with professor Flurry for almost two decades.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I personally did not have anything else to compare the course to. The weekly conference calls continued, albeit within the helpful face of professor Flurry.

The first module we tackled was Financial Accounting. Taking a breadth first dive into accounting principles both made me hate and respect accountants a lot more. Hate because to formalize a lot of the content, there are a lot of esoteric rules which do not really make sense. (I am sure an accountant will beg to differ). There can be so many loopholes which I am sure the companies exploit the hell out of when it comes to their bottom line.
Respect because, a company can survive or die only on the basis of how good their accounting team is. It is not an easy job. You have huge responsibilities on your shoulders. It is pencil pushing, but pencil pushing of the highest order.

Weirdly all accountants looked the same. They have  big foreheads, skimpy rimless glasses and almost a zero sense of humour. Needless to say, I did not like this module, but I learned to respect the profession.

The next module was Finance. Which took a more holistic approach to how a company financials work. It had a lot in common with accounting, basically we were talking about money, but Finance was way more intuitive and fun. It made sense. If there was a mistake, it generally was because of your own understanding rather than long defined principles.

However, we were doing a breadth first course. There were glimpses that it can get really hard really fast. No wonder that Finance is the highest paid and most sought after business degree.

The next module was Supply Chain. It was the same professor, teaching almost the same stuff as MGT 6203, different packaging. I did not get why both of them had to be compulsory. There was a lot of stuff in this module introduced in the conference call though. It was okay. I don’t have much to say about it apart from the fact that supply chain works a lot on assumptions. I don’t think real life supply chain problems are as simple as we solved on the course.

The last module that we needed to tackle was marketing. I would have really liked a deeper dive into this. Somehow, I am taking a fancy towards the intersection between marketing and analytics How the world has slowly moved away from traditional advertising approaches and now the targeted advertising is so strong that it is scary. I love it! Professor Buchanan holds a complete course on Digital Marketing, maybe I will take that in the Spring 23. Let’s see.

Although a lot of the course was to be mugged up, there was a very fun simulation, where you were the marketing manager and you were responsible for increasing the profits of your company over a four year period by beating out competing brands working in the same segment. Which was like a demo version of what we might need to do in actual life. I thoroughly enjoyed that.

There was a similar simulation in Supply Chain management, which I felt was way more restrictive and did not actually follow real world scenarios. It was more like a if-else conditioned game where the conditions don’t mimic the real world too closely.

Overall, it was a mixed bag. Some weeks I was cursing in frustration at the monitor and some weeks were genuinely enjoyable where I could connect the dots to what I see in real life. I do not know how I would have enjoyed Professor Flurry or his module – Business Strategy but may he rest in peace wherever he is.

Off to Fall 22. Where I am taking the apparently hardest subject of them all. DAV here I come.

Signing off.