IE Business School Online Masters
Ram Parasuraman Ram Parasuraman
Having accumulated a decade of Professional Experience working on and managing Embedded Software & Firmware projects in the Semiconductor industry, I decided to pursue my MBA from the prestigious IE Business School in Madrid Spain. I look forward to dipping in the vast ocean of diversity that IE is renowned for. The MBA degree has been a cherished dream for me and I finally got the best opportunity to realize this goal. I look forward to expanding my horizons, broadening my experience and making some really good friends through this program.

My background is in engineering, I have a Masters' Degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana and a Bachelors Degree in Engineering from University of Madras, India. I live in the gorgeous San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California and I love traveling, writing and video-gaming


Ram Parasuraman
December 18, 2010
Closing Remarks….

Congratulations Global MBA Class of 2010…

With those words from the announcer at the Graduation Ceremony, the 15 month metamorphosis from MBA students to solid Business Graduates was completed! But in a continuum, where there is a completion, there is a new beginning. We stand here at the completion of an indelible experience of interfacing with a diverse student group. An end to solving printed and prepared tough to crack cases in various subjects ranging from Finance and Marketing to Operations and Human Resources. We will replace one ball in the rigorous juggling of balancing work, family, fitness and studies, i.e. the last one, with facing real world challenges. We will replace printed cases with real ones, we will replace diverse student group with a diverse workforce. Change is in the air. So, it is only natural that we are taught Change Management towards the end of the course, taught by a fine man at that!

The most notable part of our final stretch was our Entrepreneurship projects, the capstone of the program, the evidence of the effectiveness of the programs on our critical thinking, strategic vision, financial valuation and business planning. Without any hesitation, I can say that all 10 projects that we had in our final presentations were great ideas! Some were not entirely new ideas, but brought in a new business model. Some were just plain hit out of the park whilst others involved out of the box thinking or solving an unfulfilled need. Not only were the Business plans themselves great, but also the way the presentations were delivered were mindblowing! Being a member of the penultimate group to present, I was genuinely impressed by what I saw and at the same time, very, very nervous! 😉 This is hard core stuff!

The 2nd period of our face to face interaction was much deeper, much more involved than the first one, where we were starry eyed newbies trying to make sense out of the complexity of our classmates’ names. Now, not just the names, but also what interests our classmates, their opinions about key issues or even their final forum posts are all stored in “instant recall memory”. It was a rewarding experience meeting everyone, reliving battle tales and some fond memories. We made promises to stay in touch, to act as sounding boards for each other, to discuss an odd case or two if we get too nostalgic and to meet up when we are in any of our friends’ towns or countries.

The gentleman who delivered the keynote speech for our Graduation ceremony said, “your true friends are those who you can call at 4am to discuss anything!” and a well known networking expert said, “if you can identify 5 friends at the end of your MBA program, who you will keep in touch with for 5 years or more, consider the experience as a grand success!”. On both counts, I can easily say, the Global MBA transcends its format and we have had a very successful experience on any count! I have made some true friends in this program who I have no doubt, I will keep in touch with regularly.

For current students, I only have one message, “Enjoy your experience to the fullest, succeed and help succeed”. MBA and life at large is all about teamwork, without a solid team behind you, you are nothing! This experience is not about competition or proving your point, it is about seeing the world with different eyeglasses, at different angles, zooming in from diverse perspectives and at the end, learning a boatload from each case, each course, each period and the MBA program.

KEY ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS & CREDITS

My dear friends from S1 and S2, it was my true honor to go through this remarkable experience with you. I have learned so much from you all that I need 15 or more months to remember and test what I have learned ;)) In particular, my dearest cohorts in the 3 groups that I have been a part of, The Red Pandas of Period 1, The Dragon Warriors of Period 2 and the EDUpreneurs of AKASA, you guys totally ROCK!!!!

My heartfelt thanks to Alvaro Garcia, our patron throughout the program, the man who gave us “courage” when we needed it, “encouragement” when we were stressed out, “empathy” in dealing with all the issues that life during an MBA throws at you, a “cultural tour” of his birth city when we came in and “rewards” when we achieved results. The amount of dedication that Alvaro brings in to the Global MBA is unparalleled and we are fortunate to have had him on our side. Alvaro, you are the best program director of any academic program I have been through over 3 degrees in 3 continents, Kudos Alvaro!!

Many thanks to Stephen Adamson, Director of admissions for his help and patience in answering all questions that we had during the admissions process and then on, for being a “friend, philosopher and guide” for all of us throughout the program. My thanks to Regina Venegas, Crystal Taylor and Martha Teacher for their professionalism, thoroughness and prompt communications on all enrollment, coursework and graduation requirements. My thanks to our friendly neighborhood IT specialist at IE Help Online, Jesus Poza! Three Cheers to Jesus!!! Where would we be without Jesus on our side? Cheers Jesus for all your help in preparing our online presentations, polls and for timely resolution of all technical issues and for the countless “testing” we have done under your tutelage! Thanks a lot!!! Thanks also to IE Virtual Librarians and Student Office personnel who have sparked into action the moment we report a problem or seek their help. These technology players are key to the success of an online program!

Most of all, thanks to all our dear professors who have made this experience as rewarding as it is. Without their selfless exposition of their knowledge and experience, where would we be? They have played a great role in making this a learning experience for us.

And with those words…. I will conclude my final post as student in this blog! Do keep in touch with me via email: ram008@live.com for any IE related questions I can help answer. Thanks Sanela for giving me the opportunity to contribute and hope that I have lived up to your expectations!


Ram Parasuraman
December 7, 2010
Oops I Did it Again?

Blog or Facebook updates from my friends and also former authors in this blog about the MBA experience and not just in IE, goes like this… “If I had to do it again, I’d do it in a heartbeat!”…. It is certainly neither the first time or the most recent time that phrase has been used in the context of the MBA but it certainly got me thinking about it. Clearly whatever I am going to write below this line is my personal opinion only and does not intend to generalize or offset any other valuable opinions.

So, “Would I do this again?”

For me, in the MBA experience, there are things I would readily sign up to in a heartbeat and other things that I would shy away or hesitate. For instance, would I jump on board to a Global platform where you have access to the brightest minds, debating real issues and challenging your comfort zone each day in a year? For sure! Would I like to participate in the World’s most diverse class discussions? Without a doubt! Would I like to learn things I never knew about? Yes and forever Yes! Would I like to interact with people from different backgrounds? It can never hurt! And so on… the answers to several questions are a thumping YES!

But now, some of the personal issues that have been nagging me for an entire decade begin to cast doubts… “Would I be able to maintain the same energy level, intensity and passion on the discussions?” At this stage, I am not sure. “Would I be able to sell it to my family, friends and employer?” Don’t want to say “NO”, but I’m not feeling too confident about it to put it lightly! “Would I give up a real life, a real vacation or even a real weekend for an entire year and a half?”. Well it depends.. some things are worth giving up these factors for. “Would I be willing to put my career in a cruise control mode for another year?” NO.. and this is why I joined IE, where I could complete my MBA in one good length Anaerobic workout! I know several people take different approaches to a Part Time MBA, but for me, it was intentionally more than Full Time, because I only wanted to do this once.

But transcending all the mundane factors.. “Would I like this experience that is just about to finish.. to be replaced by any other?” NO NO NO!! I want this experience to stay with me throughout my life! A lifelong relationship with these memories and experiences! To give these experiences a whole new meaning, it is time to put them into practice and do this class and IE proud!


Ram Parasuraman
November 30, 2010
It’s a Final Countdown!!
This is it!! Home stretch is here and the expectation is growing!! The anticipation is building… and the Countdowns are raging FURIOUS in over 30 countries where GMBA 2010 students are located!!! Each one counting what is most convenient to them! Some like a large number, some like it smaller.. but all like one number12.17.2010 that’s when the 18 month journey reaches fruition! For the first time in more than 15 months, we are busy tracking one number more than the number of “Unread Online Forum Posts”… it is the number of days or hours remaining. We are almost at the culmination of a tough road dotted with stones of compromise, missed social engagements, battle scars in the form of sacs beneath our eyes from lack of sleep…  each one will have their stories to tell..

Here are some examples…
Time Countdowns
– 17 days
412 hours
24762 minutes
1485777 seconds

Video-Conference Countdown 2 Conferences to go!
Forum Post Countdown: — 18 Posts to go!!
Online Session Countdowns4.8 Sessions to go!!
Saturday Countdowns2 Saturdays to go (only 1 with classes!)!!
Effort Countdowns: ~80 hours to go!

You name it, “We’ve got a countdown for that!“… one thing is sure… whilst all countdowns are going down, the excitement is going only one way… UP!!! At times though, it feels nostalgic, a bit of melancholy sets in to think that on the 3rd Monday from today, there will be no posts online waiting to be answered, no team members looking for inputs to a presentation, no stage to take on a live videoconference. The comfort of the training ground ends here and it is time to face the real world, real challenges. Can’t imagine how life would be without “ready-made Exhibits” at the end of a case filled with juicy data waiting to be squeezed and consumed. We got a taste of this in our entrepreneurship course already, but life in the real world will be even more severe as we immerse our professional lives with our newfound knowledge and experience in this MBA. But what is life without a challenge, without dynamism or change and without adventure?? Isn’t it what made us come into this MBA in the first place? IE has equipped us well and it is time to use it full time in real time!

“The Final Countdown” is the one standout song that comes to mind…. This is for my friends in GMBA 2010 S1 and S2! What a ride it has been guys!!! Can’t wait to see you all in Madrid shortly!

The IE Global MBA 2010 Ram Parasuraman


Ram Parasuraman
November 6, 2010
Tense Time — No Future!

Hey again!! This is an exciting time for the "tenses" a la English Grammar! Why?

Tenses: Past, Present and Future. 

Right now, in our GMBA Class of 2010, there are no "Future" courses in our Course list!! There's no future! Does that feel good?? In many ways, YES!! As it puts into perspective how far we've come… thinking back a year ago, "Everything was in the Future", there was no "Past" and 2 in the "Present"!! Talk about a total "phase reversal" or a 180-degree shift! 

In terms of recent development, we just finished a couple of exciting "Penultimate" module of courses on "Supply Chain Management" and "Marketing Strategy". Both were a roller-coaster ride with expert professors who kept us on the edge through each session. For someone who has mostly worked on Technical Management, both these courses were eye-openers. Many of my classmates might be wondering how much more of my "eye" there is to open. I have said this for Finance, Economics, Operations, parts of Marketing and Strategy and Organization Psychology. I know you are probably thinking I must be totally oblivious to a range of subjects, but I think there is a trend and perhaps without too much generalization, we can conclude that the MBA is most beneficial to someone who has had a career of "deep" but not "wide" experience and by extension, for someone who has worked on "one field or industry" but not many, someone who has lived and worked in one country but not many. 

Whichever way I think about it, my decision to do an MBA and to do it at IE seems fully justified considering the amount of learning. My toolbox which at the beginning had tools exclusively from my prior experience and academic preparation has molded over the year as a more balanced toolkit from my experience and my prior coursework. The final stretch is upon us, many of us are tired, but draw inspiration that the countdown to graduation day keeps ticking on… we are getting real close now, just 2.5 courses to go now!!  

Until next time… Adios Amigos!!

The IE Global MBA 2010 Ram Parasuraman


Ram Parasuraman
October 13, 2010
Cousin of INSEAD?
A typical dilemma that we IE students incur in North America is how to "position" IE in the US, where it is relatively (& unfairly) unknown to many, especially in the West Coast. "An Elevator pitch", the few seconds you get to make an impression to a CEO or any influential person is critical to construe. You can't really describe IE with a lengthy description about its FT, BW or WSJ Worldwide MBA rankings or click on furious links on a Smartphone, as elevators don't usually have good 3G signals. So what do we do?

For me, this has evolved over the months from IE, a renowned Madrid based Entrepreneurial Business School, to a "Spanish cousin" of INSEAD! This gets instant recognition amongst several higher-ups… it is a different matter that IE beats INSEAD in several rankings these days, but INSEAD is surely richer in terms of its network in North America and hence its recognition. But I see the "I"s in Europe, IE, INSEAD, IMD, and IESE being quite similar in terms of their program duration, diversity, length and value. What differs of course is the methods of instruction, format of program, focus of the program, e.g. IE takes pride in its Entrepreneurship program whilst INSEAD is Marketing heavy, etc.

So, how do you describe for IE in your respective elevator pitches? Would you mind sharing it?

The IE Global MBA 2010 Ram Parasuraman


Ram Parasuraman
September 20, 2010
The MBA Circle of Life
Those who have seen the Disney movie, “The Lion King”, would probably know what I am talking about in the heading, “Circle of Life”. This refers to the circular characteristics of life, as do the characteristics of a day from dawn to dusk and then a new beginning, a new dawn… The life of a Program Director, the Admissions committee, the professors and even this blog, is no different. In late September each year, there are new “faces” and “names” that pop up in Online Videoconferences and forums.. talking just as feverishly as we were, a year ago, about “The Case Method” via the “Dashman Case”.. they are instantly immersed into working with their teams, learning about the online ground rules, how to respect each other, etc. They have a real fun road ahead of them, the same one we walked. They may take a footstep here or there and explore into the woods through unchartered territory, but the experience will be totally enriching and eye-opening!

After a year, much has changed! In contrast to the rather “innocent” or “innocuous” cases that we were exposed to at the start of the course, we now dwell into each case and each assignment in a much deeper analysis. We value firms, we design organizational structures, we understand behaviors, we talk about leadership. A year in the GMBA seems like 5 or more in the real world outside it. You are exposed to so many topics, subjects, cases, reports, presentations and issues that some of us would have never seen in our entire lives before and perhaps will never see in our forthcoming professional experience. The variety and intensity of the issues never waver. They just keep getting better and better, even if harder.
This has already been an experience of a life time, which I got to share with you, my readers in this blog via my various posts. But as with the “Circle of Life”, as dusk is upon my MBA experience, new bright and aspiring blog authors, who will no doubt have a much fresher experience will have to take my place in this blog. I hope that these posts have been informative and useful to you in one way or another. So, from me, it is  “au revoir”. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions on the GMBA or just want to say “Hi”. Please write me at ram008@live.com or follow me @r008 in Twitter.

Update: I will blog on until Graduation as per request! So.. game still on! 😉

The IE Global MBA 2010 Ram Parasuraman


Ram Parasuraman
August 19, 2010
The MBA Conundrum
"Does a part time MBA really work?" "Does it add the same value as a Full Time MBA?" 

I get asked this quite often during the holidays as I meet "new" people, i.e. those who I have last met only before my MBA began 😉 And of course, as in any other discussion, it is important to have all sides on the table. I had the chance to meet up with a Full Time MBA student from Fuqua Business School who was interning here in the Bay Area over the summer and another MBA student who had begun a "Weekend and Evening" MBA program at the Haas School of Business, Berkeley and we had a fond friend who had completed his MBA from HEC a few years ago. This was a good deal of diversity amongst programs (2yr Full Time, 1yr Full Time, 3yr Part Time, 1.5 yr Online)

As you might expect, there were usual discussions on differences between programs, their duration, content, focus, specializations vs generic, etc. However, one thing that we all converged on was this: "The Ultimate Value of the MBA is directly proportional to 5 factors: 

             a.) The preparation you put into courses/discussions, 
             b.) Your immediate cohort group and the intensity/rigor put forth into discussions and projects,  
             c.) The dedication and quality of experience of your professors,
             d.) The three dimensions of diversity: breadth, length and depth of experience of the class.  
             e.) The three dimensions of network: reach, influence and potential of alumni networks.

I think the above points answer many questions on why Full Time is perceived as better than Part Time. It could be because Working Professionals who form a part time class aren't able to put in as much dedication as the full immersion that full time students put in. Or perhaps the quality of faculty assigned to Part Time programs are not the "cream of the crop" at Business Schools. 

Take another common question that you might ponder as you find yourself in the fork of choosing an MBA program: "Executive MBA or MBA?" — Here again, data will show you the average age of students, the industries, countries they represent. So, it might give you some idea on a, b, d and e above. Executive MBA will feature elder candidates, who are in senior or powerful positions in their organizations and this improves factors d and e, however the time they are able to put into studies or projects might be constrained by those same factors. This is in no way meant as a generalization, but it could be a logical inference and perhaps experience teaches you to do "more with less". 

Another question: "Why does a Full Time MBA allow people to change careers more than any other format?". Well, the answer again is right there. A Part Time MBA student is more attached to his job or profession, having one foot grounded in it. A full time MBA student is in orbit as are others in his group. So, their discussions and plans are more open-ended, it is like getting a fresh start. There is nothing to say that a Part Timer cannot change his profession, just that he has lesser time and a has to overcome a higher resistance to do so. Most Part Timers also spend some time in the industry and are more conversant with their industry than those who have never worked before. 

As many posts in this blog indicate, one can never under-estimate the power of a group. In a way, a large part of your MBA experience, i.e. what you learn, what you contribute and what you take with you, depend on your groups and the class at large. A professor in a case based learning curriculum is most of the times, a facilitator, someone who brings out and coordinates discussions. The class generates the content, the extremities in the class help you see different points of view. Experienced professionals in their respective fields stretch the limits on learning and this is why diversity is so important. In our discussions, when we discussed Finance topics, I found myself contributing very richly to discussions, much to the surprise of my Tuck friend, who had known me from long ago. He said curtly, "Your class seems to have some financial geeks all right!" 😉 

One thing you can be sure about in a program like IE is its diversity and its quantitative/analytical focus your thinking will be challenged by folks. Carefully crafted discussions maybe torn into bits within seconds of discussion, forcing you back to the drawing board. This is the power of an MBA, you unlearn what you know and develop a new mindset. That was a useful discussion and one could really understand why AdComs go on the record saying, "An MBA is an MBA, no matter the format". Indeed it is. It is a tool chest where you acquire your spanner or wrench in a different method, but once acquired, it relies on your brain and experience to wield it as you so desire.

The IE Global MBA 2010 Ram Parasuraman


Ram Parasuraman
August 11, 2010
Withdrawal Symptoms
The transition into holiday mode is now complete! It wasn't easy and took some work and yes…. there were "FORUM WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS". My classmates no doubt know by now that I am a "Forum Freak", someone who almost lives in the Online Forums throughout the day, making it almost a "Double Time" MBA for me. At home, work, outings, via mobile — all Check! I am always on the forums… why? By sheer habit. I just hate having to read 100 emails or in this case, posts at the same time. I am much more comfortable with 5 or 10, no more. My attention span is quite small. I can't spend too much time on any one subject for too long. So, I end up multi-threading several tasks and making steady progress on each. After our Operations Management course, I am coming up with ideas to improve via process batching as the "switching costs" (not in strategy parlance) are turning to be quite high. 

But over the past two weeks, I am left with a weird void… nothing to switch to! No forums, no classes, no projects, not even friends on chat!!! Would you believe it? In the first week of vacation, almost each day, just out of sheer muscle memory, I went online into Campus online only to remember that it was down time! Luckily I was not so crazy as to spend more than a few seconds online. But this is the classic equivalent of the feeling we get on campus, when it is vacation time and I am the last one waiting for my train back home. Only here, there is no train to catch 😉 Murphy's law however would ensure that down time in campus would be a peak time at work.. so have not been completely switched off, but am getting plenty of time off in relative terms. Over the course of several professional interactions, I find myself changed considerably over the past 11 or so months. The way I listen more, the way I frame my arguments, the way I think, the facts I demand, etc.

This vacation experience almost gives me a preview of how boring it is going to be in the life after MBA and after the celebrations, vacations and parties. In short, the MBA experience rocks!!

The IE Global MBA from an adVENTUREous California GMBA Q&A


Ram Parasuraman
July 27, 2010
Global Eyes and Ears
I got to experience this when we were doing the Benihana case. The professor asked us to visit the restaurant to get a first hand experience so that we could enjoy a lively discussion throughout the week. As we have no doubt made clear, our class is located all over the globe. So, when the instruction goes out from the Professor, each of us is going to try and hunt down the nearest Benihana to give it a glimpse. For me, it literally meant just a glimpse as I'd get little to eat in a Japaneses restaurant being a veggie who neither ate meat nor seafood.

The discussion was lively indeed and although I agree with the professor that it would have been splendid to sit in a Benihana together discussing operations, we would have missed a Global perspective. Instead of discussing operations at 1 Benihana, we now got a chance to discuss the Operations variability or Consistency across several WW Benihanas. Isn't that what the Global MBA experience is all about?

The IE Global MBA from an adVENTUREous California GMBA Q&A


Ram Parasuraman
June 22, 2010
Putting it all Together
As you can garner by the decreasing frequency of the blogging, things are heating up down the stretch! But we're continuing to have fun! It is much more involved now, and this is where we hit top gear, thinking as managers, not merely hustlers who are out there to close a sale. We now have to think beyond transactions, beyond a single line of products, beyond just the competitive landscape. We have to put these things together! 

One such course that employs all our skills to date is our Operations Management course. Since Operations is all about converting a set of inputs into a finished product or service, it involves multiple sets of basic business skills that we have learned during the first half of the course. Putting it all together has insofar only spanned sessions within a course and like watching David Villa score 2 goals against Honduras in 3-D, there is a new dimension added. 

Each of us puts things together in a different way, drawing our own skills and experience with our favorite courses. We then apply our learnings from Marketing to Strategy through Quantitative Methods and Accrual Accounting into a simulated game, where we manage our own factories. It is very interesting to see how each of our approaches differ. It has been an immense learning experience already. Those of us that have been only used to service industries are getting a taste of the challenges in the manufacturing sector and those in the manufacturing sector are getting to see real world implications on metrics such as Marketshare and Demand Service levels based on their decisions. We find out how simple and silly mistakes cost us dearly and how accidents actually help us as well as how to deal with adversity and totally unexpected and uncontrolled situations.

Can you imagine the level of discussion and tug of war that can result when people with different backgrounds and different cultures are involved in a pricing decision? It is intense! Risk appetites vary, strategies range from protecting the turf to attacking one's home base. It is all just like the World Cup that we are enjoying at this very moment. Some teams dominate on offense, others on defense. Some strikers are repeatedly flagged for "off-side", whilst others do very well advancing the ball with short and quick passes.

As they say, the real experience comes from putting things into practice. I would add one step in between putting and practice. Putting things together and then putting everything into effective practice. Multimedia and Distributed computing has indeed worked wonders for those that are willing to learn. Happy to be a part of these times and thanks to all my Classmates for making this experience a very rich one indeed!

The IE Global MBA from Debt-Laden California GMBA Q&A


 
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