It’s Not Just Stocks and ROI

“Wow you are doing an MBA at Tulane, what is that like?” You are going to get this question a lot once you start the program, from everyone. In my opinion there are lots of different ways to answer that question, and there is no one correct answer. It is always fun to talk about my experiences, but what I find most interesting after my first few semesters is the new perception others have about me.

When I start talking to friends about getting the MBA, I always get questions like: “Can you tell me which stocks I should invest in,” or ” Can you help me with my taxes ?” If you are not a business student, the assumption is we all crunch numbers and know everything about Wall Street and Tax Shelters. The truth is, we do know things about stocks and best practices for accounting, but those subjects are only a part of what we learn. We also learn about managing employees and companies. The MBA is not all numbers, it is a degree that trains you to handle very complex and difficult decisions. The numbers are important, but more so the values we use when we make decisions. We are taught to be as critical about the environment we are deciding within as we are about the process by which we arrive at our numerical projections. The fact is, numbers aren’t people. I can advise someone on what makes good financial return, however, I must always put it in context to that person. Business is not simply stocks, ROI, WACC, and dividends. Business is about people. People make the business run, not the measurements of stock valuations, ROI, WACC, and dividends. The numbers will follow the way the people in the business operate. You have to work with people, not the numbers.

So, to answer the first question people ask me: the MBA is learning about people. I learn about people from my professors, from the subjects we study, and most importantly, from my classmates. Class discussion is a majority of each class, and that is where people teach and learn from other people. The MBA program is not a simple cut and dry process, it is a living and growing educational experience that changes from a rectangle to a twisting geometric shape.

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