MBA Programs

Electrifying Electives, Part 2: MBA courses that will amp up your awareness

June 27 2011 By The MBA Exchange
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Top business schools set the bar high — and keep raising it — by offering innovative, engaging and truly exciting electives courses that augment the core classes. We’ve been poring through their curriculum to highlight — in a series of blogs — some of the most “electrifying” of these electives offered.

Michigan Ross

Organizing for Sensemaking and Meaning

How do people organize and manage meaning — both short-term (“sensemaking”) and long-term — in organizational settings? Events are typically complex and ambiguous, and therefore subject to interpretation. “For action to take place, the diversity of these interpretations must be reduced. For action to be coherent, these interpretations must embody direction. And for the meanings to be retained, they must be embodied in good stories.” Makes good sense to us!

Writing Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs

You’ll have an overview of basic business principles and you’ll get to write…write…write — personal biographical statements and product descriptions, value props and industry overview, target market analyses and mission statements. You’ll also evaluate business plans and solicitations for funding. Perfect for the quant jocks who silentlyenvy the poets in the class and would also like to be “qual” jocks.

Management Presentations

Not as basic as it may sound. Putting you at the podium, in this elective you will learn to design, develop and deliver effective management presentations. Emphasizing how to make strategic communication choices (to PowerPoint or not to PowerPoint?), improving and expanding your communication style, and adapting to others — especially your audience — you’ll make presentations by developing outlines, drafting speaking notes, adapting content as needed, and designing complementary materials. Stuff you can put to work immediately to impress the boss at your summer internship or first post-MBA job.

NYU Stern

Managing the Digital Firm

Learn to mazimize the business value of IT investments –about 35% of all business capital-investment in the US — that are changing the way people andcompanies are organized . Hear directly from the likes of management gurus at Google, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle on how to identify the challenges faced bytheir iconic companies; discover the technologies that will help them meet these challenges; design business processes to take advantage of the technology; and create procedures and policies to implement the required changes. Can you say, “ROI”?

Women in Business Leadership

By examining the “real-life” experiences of successful female execs you’ll gain a real appreciation of the potential of women in business. Explore the strategies that organizations can undertake to develop a more diverse and creative pool of leadership talent and analyze the historical, ethical and legal implications inherent in the exclusion of women from power positions. Best of all, this is a co-ed course that’s also open to enlightened males.

Corporate Branding & CSR

Marketing and ethics converge?Who knew?? In this study of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the context of corporate branding, look at the corporate need to protect long-term investments in brand image, the emergence of large segments of affluent, ethically sensitive consumers, and the imcompleteness of law and regulation, especially in global markets. Here you can discover how to do good, and do well.

CMU Tepper

Funding Early Stage Ventures

Learn to appreciate the art of the deal — and see how high-potential transactions get done in the real world. You’ll explore the complexities and nuances of creating successful investment transactions for the company, investors and founders starting with an analysis of risk and moving to look at the structure of the VC industry. Understand the process and context in which equity investors make decisions and how and entrepreneur can favorably affect that decision process. Then explore the due diligence process via a real-life case study: you and your team will negotiate the terms and structure of a deal, then compare your results with the actual outcome of the company’s efforts. How cool is that? Next stop: Silicon Valley.

Business Acting I

“This is not a course in professional lying.” What you will acquire, however, is the ability to communicate what you truly believe in live, face-to-face communication. You’ll learn then practice exercises and specific communication tools borrowed from the stage. In a participatory and experiential way, you’ll practice live communication in public space and learn empathetic listening and assertive influence. Ready? Action!

Trends and the Future of Manufacturing in the US

Examine the invention and use of technologies that support corporations in crisis as well as those that can improve competitive positioning. Through case studies of major companies in crisis you’ll learn how to utilize new or existing technology as a leveraging tool for recovery and growth. Technologies that will be considered include robotics, advanced medicine, novel energy technologies, mobile computing, advances in manufacturing (process and product) and forms of financial invention. A perfect place for non-engineers to discover and celebratetheir inner geek.

UCLA Anderson

Using Microcomputers for Strategic Information

How does personal computing support strategic analysis, decision making and management communication? Explore this in case situations in areas including financial analysis, personal information management, small business planning, and organizational design. Personal productivity tools and network resources can enhance organizational effectiveness by furnishing quantitative and qualitative info; you’ll see how in this hands-on elective. Ladies and gentlemen, start your iPads!

Great Ideas in Management

In this seminar, you’ll hear directly from senior Anderson faculty members as they discuss ideas related to their own research in one-hour formal presentations of ideas and a one-hour discussion followed by an informal reception for seminar members and presenters. Cutting-edge learning plus complimentary wine & cheese? We are so there!

Managing Processes in the Information Age

As a newly minted MBA, you may be asked questions like: “Should this company outsource? If so, which business processes should be outsourced?” and “Can you identify areas where IT could be used significantly to improve our business performance?” Learn how to answer them in this elective. Business leaders bear an enormous burden as they attempt to understand the challenges and opportunities provided by 21st century technologies in order to make intelligent decisions. Having the knowledge and confidence to make tough choices is what this elective is all about. Future CEOs, COOs and CTOs, this one is for you!

P.S. If you’re a current MBA student or fresh grad who has taken en elective course that you feel is truly “electrifying” then please tell us about it. Email The MBAExchange at and we’ll include it in the final blog post of this series.