Nearing the summit of the mountain

Alex Martin
7 May 2014

8 May 2014 | Alex Martin

Alex Martin is writing a series of blogs for Supply Management about studying part-time for an MBA. You can find his previous entries here.

Alex MartinSo it’s the penultimate MBA module and I’m deep into my project. I have one more module this month before returning to present my project to the judging panel and a small audience. I’m tired, but was excited about March’s module on ‘strategic information systems’ (SIS).

Andrew Walker, a former consultant at Deloitte and currently a professor at Grenoble School of Business and the London School of Business and Finance, was our extremely knowledgeable tutor. Not only is professor Walker a subject matter expert, but his teaching style of mixing learning with his beloved mountain climbing gives his classes an edge.

We were examined in two parts – a group activity to conduct research on a set of questions and then present our findings back to the class, worth 40 per cent; and a final, more familiar exam on Saturday morning, worth 60 per cent.

SIS was not only IT systems and tools, as I had mostly thought, but is actually the intelligent management and application of data gathered through behaviours, processes and tools and systems. I realised many companies’ IT departments talk of being strategic, yet lack a chief information officer on the board despite the importance of using information to create and maintain a competitive advantage through innovation, cost and differentiation. The key takeaways were most definitely the case study on Tesco (information systems in multi-channel retailing), IT project failures and why, and the digital economy (the ‘black’, ‘boiled’ and ‘bald’ scenarios).

As I’m nearing the end of my MBA experience I didn’t have so much free time to socialise, but a group of us had an evening of dinner and French wine with the professor with some excellent conversation. I’m not quite sure I want to start climbing the Himalayas just yet, though, as I haven’t yet reached the summit of my project!

Throughout the other evenings I spent my time catching up on my day job and working on my thesis. After the Saturday exam I left with a colleague for the four-and-half-hour drive back to Mannheim dropping him off in Basel.

☛ Alex Martin is IT business service principal consultant at SAP. He welcomes comments and LinkedIn connections

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