Integrated Management Challenge

To describe the past four months as busy will be an understatement. Looking on the bright side, at least I’m not wasting precious time allotted to me in the world and am living life to the fullest. On the other hand, I don’t even have the time to stop and smell the flowers under a hectic schedule; and by the time I can sit back and relax, all the flowers have already withered in the harsh Toronto winter. How ironic.

My final year wasn’t supposed to be tough. I’m supposed to do a normal course load of 10 modules to graduate, rather than complete a FYP like most other students; but I’ve decided to take up a pseudo-FYP course called Integrated Management Course anyway.

Students formed into teams of four or five and each team was assigned a fictional watch company to operate. To make the simulation more realistic, we have to report to our respective board of directors, who are indeed real directors who volunteered to mentor and grade us in this course. We were also involved in labour negotiations with real union negotiators.

Sounds fun? Not if the directors expect us to perform at the standards of senior vice presidents of a big firm and grade us according to that and the union negotiators were veterans with more than 20 years of experience that literally squeezed every incentive out of the labour contract.

The course was originally designed for MBA students, and the Commerce department decided that it might be a good idea to offer a modified version to fourth-year students. However, what the department meant by modification was to compress a full-year project into three months without much changes to the course content.

We were only the third batch offered this course, but word has already spread far and wide about its brutality and only 50 students enrolled in it. The turnout was so low — 150 students were expected to sign up — that we moved to a smaller classroom for our lectures. And despite repeated assurances from the professor that the workload will taper off after mid-October so that we have time to catch up on our other courses, another 20 students decided to drop out after the first lecture.

It sufficed to say that the course workload was crazy, which was not helped by the fact that we had a three-person team after our last member backed out. We spent every waking hour doing regression analyses on available data, compiling reports and preparing presentation slides for the board meetings and conference calls with our board of directors. The workload didn’t lessen after mid-October as promised, and we had our last board meeting last Sunday, three days before our final exams started.

After all is said and done, it’s definitely a great experience. In any case, exams are now over and I can finally relax for a while.

It may be too late for me to smell the flowers; but at least now I can enjoy the beautiful snow-covered scenery, before passing vehicles and pedestrians turn the white fluffy snow into brown dirty slush.

13 December 2004 · My Life

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