Management Classes Reconsidered

7 Nov

“So what do you think?”

A market research firm trying to sell us some data had just finished giving their presentation to Helen (WE Marketing’s Planning Head as well as my boss), Patrick (Group Account Director), and me (the intern from America). All eyes were trained on me as my brain struggled to process the situation and come up with an appropriate response to Helen’s question.

A dozen things flashed through my head during the infinitesimal pause between her question and my response. Things like “I actually have no idea” and “I wish I didn’t skip breakfast” were quickly dismissed in favor of “Try to come up with something intelligent” and “I really wish I had paid closer attention”.

Why hadn’t I paid attention though? Aside from the hunger pangs, I was really struck by the “real-world situation” that I was in. Indeed it most definitely was one of those enigmatic “real-world situations” that Olin claims to prepare its graduates for so well. Throughout my freshman year, I had always questioned the usefulness of having to dress up and give presentations. But there I was, watching these poor souls pitching their very real product with some very real dollars yuan on the line. Suddenly, all those Management courses seemed worthwhile. While I, and many of my peers, feel that we are getting graded mainly on “fluff”, upon reflection, a realization comes to light. The content of the presentations that we do for class don’t matter as much as the manner in which we present them.

Of course, in the “real-world” content matters too. However, without the skills that we are developing now in classes such as Management Communication, it wouldn’t matter how great a certain product is if we are ineffective in demonstrating the virtues of said product.

As I looked into the apprehensive and slightly nervous faces of the presenters, I immediately felt sympathy. Negative feedback for me normally meant the difference between an “A” or “B” but this could cost them their livelihood. All at once I was overwhelmed with the sensation of how little knowledge I truly had.

The best I could come up with was: “It’s worth giving some consideration.”

by Jonathan Wu

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