Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Half Way Point

It's the beginning of April and Term 2 is over and I've almost run out of holidays before Term 3 starts. The days are finally getting longer and a bit warmer and there are daffodils absolutely everywhere.

There isn't really all that much to write about the last few weeks of term 2. There wasn't much that was new, just more lectures, more learning team and another set of exams. Our orienteers had warned us that for most people term 2 is the low point and I can see why. The novelty has worn off, the work load is about the same as term 1 but you also have to start working on your CV and job applications and the weather is really quite lousy.

The one thing that was a bit different was our project management week. I've done a little bit of project management in the past but it was taught in a really interesting way. One whole day was a simulation to project manage the building of a warehouse and we were judged on how close we came to our original estimate in terms of time and money and how much profit we made. We had to track our actual budget against forecasted, ensure labour and materials were ordered in advance of when needed, assign resources to tasks, etc using action forms that represented a week.

Sounds simple enough but to make it more realistic, the simulation would throw in spanners like delays, slow progress or extra activities that threw out the whole schedule. In about week 7 (of a 20ish week project) the lecturers took 2 people from each team and swapped them into another team and we had to stay there until we were performing integral jobs in our adopted teams. The idea was to test that the systems we were using were robust and we weren't just relying on one or two key people. In the pictures you can see huge wall charts with lots of post its. That's because we weren't allowed to use any PM software like MS project to run our Gantt charts. It all had to be simple and visual to show that we actually understood how the process worked. Our team did well, topping Blue stream and coming 3rd overall.

On the social side, there was the usual Thursday night socials and WAC parties and a few birthday parties to keep us busy. The Picasa album has a few photos from John's 40th which was a very fun night. The best party though was definitely the night of our last exam. I think we were all just so glad to get to the end of term 2 and have some holidays.

On Easter Saturday, about 40 MBAs and partners went on the ski trip to Flaine in France, right next to Mont Blanc. For almost half of us, it was our first time skiing or snowboarding. It was fantastic conditions to learn in - deep snow and constant snowing for the first few days then sunny days and fresh snow at night. On the last afternoon, our instructor took us right to the top of the resort and took us down the network of blue runs back down. Took us about two hours to get down but I've proved that I can now stay standing up on skis going down blue runs. Definitely a highlight of the MBA for me so far.

Term 3 starts on Monday and looking at the timetable I'm not 100% convinced that it will be much lighter than the last two terms although we have been assured that the toughest part of the MBA is now behind us. The majority of our subjects are now electives but we still have two compulsory subjects - OB and business law. Plus, working out what to do after the MBA!

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