Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On apples, consumption, and giving back ...

Another weekend, another final. Term two comes to a close 11 days from now, bringing us a third of our way towards our destination. Last weekend we got done with our macroecon finals. As expected we had really interesting questions on the final, including Abel's trademark two-period apple consumption/allocation problem. Speaking with him over lunch, I learnt that multi-period consumption models are an area of research of his, which is probably the reason we get to consume apples at all his exams. Its pretty awesome how one "toy problem" (as Ziv calls these) can highlight so many aspects of real life macroeconomic issues such as tax rates, interest rates, binding borrowing constraints and social security. On being asked about his other areas of research, he tried to dumb down and explain one of the other topics he was working on - "optimal inattention to the stock market" which seemed quite fascinating as well. It would have been great if we got more time to interact with our faculty to learn about their areas of research and how that applies towards real-world problems. Zander from our class got a tshirt designed for Abel with apples in front and "Extreme Consumption Smoother" at the back, and we gifted it to him at the final  lecture - was pretty cool! As Kent mentioned to me tonight, Abel should be glad that we didn't give him the parting gift that we gave Kent - classrooms plastered with posters that deify all the "demons" that he made fun of in class.

The two-period consumption/allocation model serves as a good metaphor for the two years at Wharton for all of us as well. How we allocate our time across the two years - when to get burnt out, when to conserve energy, when to accumulate "brownie points" at home to use efficiently when needed, how to partition workload at work between the two years .. it is actually not a bad approximation, coming to think of it. Speaking of multi-period models, we had, in my view, one of the most interesting sessions in the program so far in Ziv's class over the weekend where we discussed a risk management case for hedging against oil price shocks through different insurance contracts. That was followed by a lightning drive-thru through PERT and CPM time-to-completion analysis and job completion times. It would have been interesting to have this as a full-credit class spread through the term so we got a better opportunity to internalize and learn more about these fascinating topics.

After that cerebral weekend in school, I ended the Saturday at a class 34 alum's house party with many class 34 students. Was great to see them again after the holiday party last year and their subsequent graduation. It was interesting to see that it was better attended this year - now that the class had graduated and had fewer opportunities to meet. It was also interesting to see how many of their careers had evolved in the past two years. Can't wait to see how the paths of class 36ers course-correct and accelerate over the next 16 months.

Though a good chunk of this post focused on academics, we're hardly all about classroom experiences. Here's a sneak peek at some of the cool stuff my rock-star classmates have been upto. After the gruelling weekend, some of them had international flights to catch, to travel to their first client meetings as part of the Global Consulting Practicum - one of the great experiences of the Wharton program for those that are interested. On top of the insane hours we need to put in into Term 3, these troopers like Monica have signed on to work with an international client, and students from an international MBA program to advise the firm on a consulting project. Hats off to them, and good luck!

Continuing the tradition of the earlier classes, class 36, under the leadership of Wendy are planning to extend and expand on the NonProfit Board Leadership Program in its West Coast incarnation. Call for applications has gone out and we will have training sessions coming up next term for the individuals who will join the Boards of different local nonprofits starting next June. Another project that's progressing pretty well with serious involvement from classmates like Chandan is Energize The Chain - an awesome project that aims to solve cold-chain issues in vaccine storage in developing nations by innovatively using cell towers. Its amazing to see folks devoting time towards giving back to the world around us through initiatives such as these even in the midst of their busy lives juggling work, home and school. Kudos to you!

Many of you might have read about Wharton's overhaul of its curriculum as announced earlier this week. Watch this space (or the official EMBA blog) for updates on the implications of this for the EMBA program. Thats it for the penultimate update for 2010! Roundup of term 2 and the year coming up in two weeks!

1 comment:

  1. They are having many things at a time.So they are too busy in finishing their work so in this respect a person who can always stay here can be loaded as well.

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