Playing the learning game

Alex Martin
21 October 2013
Alex Martin - April 2013 Alex Martin is writing a series of blogs about studying part-time for an MBA. You can find his previous entries here. The end of September heralded the end of the summer, and October looked like the start of a cold, wet winter. As my friend and MBA colleague was moving house, I spent the first two nights in a hotel and realised - regarding cost - how fortunate I was to be staying with him. This is all part of the MBA experience, which includes giving lifts from their hotels to the campus for colleagues who have flown in from San Francisco to Salzburg. Before the week I had to read several papers from Harvard Business Review and IMD - some authored by our professor - in preparation. The first day began with an introduction both to our professor for the week, Corey Billington, a former supply chain and procurement vice president of HP, founding partner of e3 Associates and professor emeritus at IMD and Stanford University in California, and to the week ahead, which started on Monday with the ‘beer game’ in which I played the role of the retailer. The game offers a practical and fun insight into the distribution of beer in the supply chain, such as experiencing the bullwhip effect. This module is designed to introduce students to strategic and operational issues, and to the opportunities involved in managing the resources of an extended, global supply chain. As with previous modules, there were plenty of workshops in which teams worked together to create solutions, before presenting back to the class. It’s down to you and your team how you present your findings. My favourite workshop was based on another supply chain roleplay - the ‘Swiss time game’. Six teams represent six elements of the supply chain and one element has to be removed or consolidated in the chain. The results were interesting, demonstrating the accuracy of the course’s content and theories. The most valuable topics from this course for me were: procurement risk management and outsourcing; engineering a lower tax bill; developing the super supplier; services supply management; supply chain systems; managing variability; and supply chain strategy. My favourite was engineering a lower tax bill! This was really impressive, out-of-the-box stuff which left us all open-mouthed. As usual when you’re having fun, time flies. So, before my fellow students and I realised, we were preparing for our Saturday morning exam. This consisted of seven questions on the week’s lectures, six of which had to be answered. Immediately after the exam I left the campus in Geneva to head back to Germany, dropping off two colleagues in Basel on my way home. This is my last blog until December, as I’m delaying November’s MBA module until February 2014 to travel to China and meet student colleagues in Shanghai. ☛ Alex Martin is IT business service principal consultant at SAP. He welcomes comments and LinkedIn connections  
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