Finding the right balance

Alex Martin
13 May 2013
Alex Martin - April 2013Alex Martin is writing a series of blogs about studying part-time for an MBA. You can find his previous entries here. My fellow students and I returned to a moderately sunny Geneva in April for an intense module in finance and management accounting. The regular five-hour drive from Mannheim in Germany was not too bad, and although I had left my winter tyres on the car in case it was still a little snowy in Switzerland, thankfully I was wrong. Carried over from March was my assignment in macroeconomics and, as with all the previous modules, there was also a lot of preparation to be done for the next one. I had bought a very good book Financial Accounting for Managers by Leslie Chadwick that had been recommended to me, and had printed off a full lever arch folder’s worth of case studies, financial accounts and the module’s syllabus. Before the module, my knowledge of business finance was limited to what I have learnt through my career, CIPS and GCSE business studies. But I felt comfortable with the subject and was even more positive knowing we had an experienced professor to guide us through the course. Our professor is a CFO and lecturer at IMD business school as well as at the European Institute of Purchasing Management where I am studying my MBA. The week started with an introduction to accounting, balance sheets and profit and loss accounts, followed by financial statement analysis. On reflection Monday was my favourite day and, due to the complexity of the sub-content the rest of the week got increasingly difficult. For me, this is one of the most important modules on the whole programme as every business must have correct and balanced accounts, and understanding this is fundamental as a manager, consultant or entrepreneur. Although I’m still at the early stages of this programme, this is one of the more interesting modules from a practical perspective. Learning how to breakdown a product over various cost centres and understanding its contribution to margin was very interesting. Other topics covered also included; total cost of ownership; supply chain finance; budgeting and forecasting; and decision-making. At the end of this module I feel I can better interrogate a company’s financial statements and have more in-depth conversations with my own employer’s finance function and its policies. The overall assessment of the finance module was through an exam on Saturday and an assignment to be completed over six weeks. I’m currently finishing my macroeconomics assignment, and have already received an email to prepare for the next module at the end of this month. Away from the classroom, I ate dinner with some fellow students and discussed our management dissertation topics and research, which we will start working more seriously on over the next few weeks. Some students and I also worked out how we are going to travel to China for a module and some sight-seeing next year. I’m really excited about this and already liaising with classmates and the EIPM team in Shanghai. The reality of studying an MBA is it’s extremely busy juggling it with your day job, but you’re also having to balance the individual modules as they overlap and the researching/working on your dissertation which lies on top. And waiting for exam and assignment results while travelling to and from campus. Sometimes I wonder, why am I doing this again? ☛ Alex Martin is IT business service principal consultant at SAP. He welcomes comments and LinkedIn connections
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