Thursday, November 02, 2006

New Job

I guess the title says most of it... I'm actually just shy of 3 months into it, now. Yes, I no longer work for a Pretty Big ManufacturerTM, in Nashville, TN. ;-)

In short, for a variety of reasons, I started looking around some this past spring. Not in a very serious "must-have-a-new-job-now" sort of way; just seeing what was out there. I ended up with two fairly attractive offers to consider. In the end, I went with one that's taken me to Phoenix, AZ - yes, a long way from Nashville, TN (to the tune of 1,700 miles or so). I may try and post more detail of my decision process, et al, on that one at a later date, but for now, this is the brief.

I think it will be a really good move for me - clearly I wouldn't have moved cross-country otherwise, and it definitely seems to have been thus far. It's taken me out of supply chain systems and into project management - though I still hold that life's just one big supply chain; it's all in how you look it at. ;-)

Anyhow, I like to play a bit coy with exactly who my employer is (past and present) on this blog, though if you try hard enough (and not really that hard), you can probably find my entire employment history. I will say that the position I ended up taking was a direct result of a connection via the MBA program.

Clearly, then, I have found some benefit in the program. Additionally, though, the fact that it was online gave me the freedom to consider a cross-country move without disrupting my school schedule - had I been attending a physical location, I would have been much more "chained" to my (now former) location.

So - that's it for now. Hardly an excuse for my paltry updates, but hopefully it explains some of why I slacked off - I've had just a few things going on. ;-) And now that we're out of Finance - taught by a prof who is widely agreed to be the toughest in the program - I'm hoping to publish updates a bit more frequently. But I guess we'll see.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Innovation Challenge

Okay, I'm insanely remiss in this poor blog - I'm beyond even trying to make an excuse - but I thought this warranted an update for all 3 readers.

Myself and several of my cohort-mates particpated in the Innovation Challenge recently. Another team from our cohort also formed, making 2 of the 3 teams from ASU being online teams.

Coincidentally, both teams got assigned the Amex OPEN option.

Long story short, we placed #14 of those that chose the Amex OPEN option. Though I really, really wanted a Top 10 placement, this isn't too bad. We beat out a few teams from some very notable schools - MIT, Duke, SMU-Cox, Vanderbilt, Rice, UT-McCombs, UVA (with as many teams as they fielded, as the host school - that one's not very statistically significant) and the like - so I'll take it.

2006 Innovation Challenge Amex OPEN Results

And just to harp on my previous post - a healthy number of top-50 finishing teams (in all "options") were based in India, with a majority from ISB. I really think this speaks to not just the "technology" (engineering et al) education gap, US v. India, but the overall education gap. The quality of the Indian education is clearly not to be taken for granted, yet the quantity of output is still staggering. This will have interesting and far-reaching ramifications, to say the least - but it's far too past my bedtime to continue pondering on them. Perhaps later. ;-)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Connected Learning Gains Ground...

... in India.

Connected learning gains ground

Nothing otherwise unique about the article; it's a quick read.

My thoughts: It's intuitively cheap to deliver online education (contrary to what my tuition bill might reflect! ;-) ...). Institutions in lower-cost countries will accept lower margins - and indeed, US/European institutions might accept lower margins in order to deliver to them.

So, advanced degrees - MBA's in particular - get commoditized. I kind of figured this was coming in the US; heck, it's part of why I opted for online. The MBA is fast becoming the new bachelor's degree - it will matter less and less where (or how) you got it; you just need to have it. It's not as much of a differentiator anymore, at least in and of itsself. But it's not just the local populace - it's the international populace.

Read: It's not just programming and engineering up for out-sourcing before too long - better differentiate!

Take note, my friends!


Friday, July 21, 2006

Quick update...

First off - apologies to anyone who actually reads this. I've been quite remiss in any proper updates. For better (or worse!), I can attribute the bulk of that to school! ;-) The time commitment really turned up some with Organizational Behavior in the spring. As much as I enjoy putting excrutiatingly-detailed reviews together, they definitely take time.

That said, I'd planned on picking up the slack this summer. Clearly, that hasn't been the case. ;-) I just returned from 2nd Year Orientation last weekend - which was a blast, if not too short - but we'll be cranking back up with Marketing on Monday. I've had a few personal things going on as well - some really good; some not-so-good - that have sucked away the time, and will likely continue to for the near-term. So, sadly, I don't see much more detailed posting in the interrim - I'll try, but I apologize in advance.

Anyhow - it's a paltry offering, but since it's somewhat related to the above, here's an interesting take on work-life balance and the online MBA by the Telegraph.
Going online for a better life-work balance

To me, it's all in how you define "work-life balance". If it's not having to move, being able to study from geographically flexible locations (e.g. home with the baby; on an aircraft carrier; whatever), and maintaining a full-time salary, then yes - an online MBA definitely provides for a better work-life balance.

However, if you define or include "personal time" as a component of "work-life balance"... well... let's just say the MBA doesn't take zero time. ;-) As well it shouldn't take zero time. My personal take at this juncture - halfway there! - is that yes, though an online MBA allows you more flexibility, depending on the "compression" of the program, is that it can actually erode work-life balance, at least considering personal time. As in - great; I don't have to stop work, and I have the freedom to study from anywhere, but it for darn sure takes up some time, which is a key component of "work-life balance", especially if your life includes a significant other(s - for those with kids!). ;-)

This is not to say I'd have it any other way - less-rigorous, less-compressed, not now, or anything else - but to me, deciding to pursue a part-time MBA is deciding to do so knowing that your work-life balance will definitely change for the duration of the program.
You're accepting the reduction in the "personal time" component of the work-life balance, understanding that (a) that's temporary, (b) it affects other areas of your work-life balance less than other options, and (c) it will hopefully improve your work-life balance in the long run.

Bottom line: It takes time. Don't think that it doesn't. :-)

Friday, March 10, 2006

CNN/Money: Earning a degree online just got easier

From CNN/Money: Earning a degree online just got easier

I've got mixed opinions on this one. The short of it is:
Slipped into a $39.5 billion budget package that passed both houses last Tuesday was a provision that repealed what used to be known as "the 50-50 rule," which required colleges and vocational schools to offer at least 50% of their courses in traditional bricks-and-mortar classrooms before their students could qualify for federal loan programs. Now that the 50-50 rule is history, long-distance learning is accessible to many more students.
The particularly good part of it is, the funds will only be available to accredited colleges. Now, it doesn't make mention of who does the accrediting - a question you should always ask - but my assumption is that it's one of the "Big Six" regional accrediting bodies.

Personally and speaking for myself - I wouldn't yet want to attend any online school without a "brick-and-mortar" existence. A large part of this is due to my educational goals - I want to be taught by faculty that do research and other academic field work. My inclination is that, at this juncture, a purely online institution generally won't have much of that to offer. This doesn't take away from the quality of the education provided, but it does somewhat limit the type or nature of education that can be provided.

Then there's still the issue of general acceptance. Though I still believe online education is becoming more and more accepted, I still don't think many people are quite ready to accept a purely online institution. With a "brick-and-mortar" institution, they might know the name, the sports team, their buddy that went there, that they've been around for 100 years - all these things add legitimacy. That's unavailable with a purely online institution.

Note that the above, to me, does not detract from the quality education that can or will probably be able to be obtained there - just don't expect a purely online school to carry the same name-value of a "brick-and-mortar" institution anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

BW: Online Education Never Felt So Real

An interesting read (chat transcript, really) with some students in the online program at Instituto de Empresa in Madrid, Spain

BusinessWeek: Online Education Never Felt So Real

One well-to-note point about their program is that at least part of it is synchronous (as opposed to asynchronous) - so you do have to be logged in at a specific time.

There were two particularly good quotes/insights that apply to online education in general that caught my eye, both by David Standen:
The truth is, businesses have been demanding more of this kind of program for a long time. They run their entire operations in a blended format -- presentational and online -- and are used to maintaining relationships using online media. They have no problem accepting this like any other MBA program.
From my side, one of the places we've seen a big difference is in the level of networking after graduation. In a traditional program, students are used to seeing each other every morning, so when they disperse around the world, they don't maintain close contact because they're not used to the daily Internet communication.
Anyhow - give it a read!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lehigh goes online

I'm in the middle of finals week for Operations & Supply Management - which consists of a team and an individual portion - and my brother is getting married this weekend (far, far out of town, of course), so I'm quite busy!! Thereby, this one's just a quickie - Yet another school going online with their MBA - Lehigh:

MBA program makes move to online

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Growing By Degrees

One of my fellow online students posted a link to Growing By Degrees (pdf; 280K), an interesting-looking paper by faculty at Babson (another institution very big into online education) and the Sloan Consortium. I have yet to read the whole thing - it weighs in at 28 pages - but another fellow student had this comment, which I thought was well-put:
I think we all had the foresight that distance learning had growth potential and we took the chance. Institutions that denied this market potential are presently in catch up mode. All the while, the WP Carey Online staff has had the opportunity to perfect their delivery model, and now have references (grads) to back up the program. ASU and the Online MBA staff have much to be proud of!!! The business risk paid off, and everybody will benefit from the program.
Anyhow - That's it!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

AP: Some Students Prefer Taking Classes Online

Thanks to one of my classmates for the pointer to this, via our class forums:

Some Students Prefer Taking Classes Online

Interesting article. The profile a senior working on his undergrad in Business. The article seems to unofficially focus on undergraduate degrees online. Personally, I think for your traditional college undergrad - 18-22 years old or so, no exceptional circumstances - in-person is more valuable, if nothing else because it takes care of the discipline for you. Yeah, you actually have to wake up and get out of bed, but that's about it - between taking attendance and knowing that may be the only way you'll get the material, you have plenty of external motivators to participate, without self-discipline of your own accord. With your average 18-year-old undergrad, discipline is not usually the first thing on their mind. With online, you must have much more discipline - You have to overcome the "I can just do it later", or "There's no attendance" factors. This is also noted in the article:
Then there's the question of whether students are well served by taking a course online instead of in-person. Some teachers are wary, saying showing up to class teaches discipline, and that lectures and class discussions are an important part of learning.

But online classes aren't necessarily easier. Two-thirds of schools responding to a recent survey by The Sloan Consortium agreed that it takes more discipline for students to succeed in an online course than in a face-to-face one.
Personally, having done both, I feel qualified to agree with the Sloan Consortium' findings. ;-)

Anyhow - The aforementioned profiled student did do his first two years of school in-person - this is more amenable to me. A lot of maturing goes on in those first two years. I did take one course via distance (old-school - by video) while pursuing my undergrad, in my third year or so. It also took more discipline - I did it while co-oping - so after a full day's work, I had to come home and pop in a Thermodynamics lecture - not exactly your exciting evening entertainment. ;-)

I'll close with one last quote, from ASU:

Administrators say the distinction between online and traditional is now so meaningless it may not even be reflected in next fall's course catalogue.

I know I've said it 963 times, but sometimes I enjoy beating a dead horse: Online continues to gain more acceptance, and universities not distinguishing like this is both indicative of that and enhances that acceptance.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

SHRM: Employers Warm Up To Online Education

A good read over at - the Society for Human Resource Management:

Employers Warm Up To Online Education

The main point that I found interesting was noted by PHH Mortgage and Drexel:
Even though the company also supports an MBA program taught on-site, employees favor the online school.
Sure, it's just one company and one school, but to me, that speaks volumes on how equitably those employees must view the programs.

The article also has several links to other articles referenced, which look like good reading, but I haven't had a chance to plow through them yet.