Showing posts sorted by relevance for query iMBA. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query iMBA. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Whitman School iMBA, Syracuse

(Photo- iMBA January 2008 New Semester Reception. That's me at the food bar. "Food before you schmooze," that's my motto.)

I received a comment on the iMBA posting-
"Hi there-- I came across your site looking for information on Syracuse's iMBA program, as somebody who has decided to do an online MBA. Right now I’m seriously considering this program as my top choice, so I would love to hear about your views on the school's program as well as distance learning. If you have time to blog about this, it would be much appreciated! Thanks, Terry"

Glad to be of help.

First of all the practical matters-
Time and Expenses- The tuition is going to run about $6,000 per semester (for two classes), plus books, plus airfare to the residency, plus hotel expenses, plus time away from work. The residencies are at the start of the semester and last about a week. You return to take your final exams and to start the following semester.

You’re looking at about three weeks of residencies per year; one in January (spring), one in May (summer), and one in August (fall). If you don’t want to attend the summer semester, you still have to go back for one day to take your final exams (usually on a Saturday).

The school recommends taking no more than two classes per semester (including summer sessions) which puts completion of the iMBA at three years. There is an open door policy between the iMBA and the full time MBA program, so students can transfer back and forth between the programs.

At present there are about 250 students in the iMBA program, and the Whitman School has decided to keep that number steady for now, which may mean admittance just got a little harder. At a reception this January, I asked an administrator what they were looking for as they tighten up admittance and she said diversity. She said they were looking for people from different parts of the country, and from different professions, in order to add value to student interaction with cohorts.

Most classes have group projects along with your individual assignments, and you’ll spend time coordinating these projects with your cohorts via email and conference calls. Some people are very active in expanding their networks via the iMBA program, others aren’t. On the first day back, the school normally holds a reception at the Sheraton for iMBA, and throughout the week there are additional chances to socialize with your peers.
For the most part, people in the iMBA are open and friendly.

The first semester, a new student is required to take Strategic Management and Financial Accounting. These two courses provide a foundation for the rest of the program.

Of the two, I found Financial Accounting to be the most helpful. In it, you cover how to read a balance sheet, and associated financial statements, with an emphasis on the cash flow statement for the final. With all the scandals today, the course emphasis is on compliance, and how to determine if a company is really making money and healthy. The course doesn’t really dwell on debits and credits, but on how to make sense of all the information and how the data can be manipulated by ethically challenged managers.

Strategic Management covers different business strategies common in business and the vocabulary required to discuss them. It involves case studies and group papers.

After these two initial courses, you are free to choose your courses based on availability.

The biggest caveat is the time commitment-
The residencies are time consuming and expensive. Not only do you fact the explicit cost of travel, but the implicit cost of time away from work. Make sure you have support from your company and direct report on this.

Then there's the change in your weekly schedule to accomodate study.
The best way to manage your study time is to knock it out first thing in the morning on a consistent basis, which means you should be prepared to log 5 hours minimum per week. And then plan to have concentrated time on the weekends, particularly just before assignments are due. I also catch reading time on airplane flights or lunches.

The last thing I'll mention is in the area of course enrollment. The courses fill up very quickly (enrollment is online). Fortunately the administrative staff is willing to work with you, and tries to juggle stuff around after the fact. The school is aware of it, and is working on issue. This enrollment issue is one of the main reasons they’re looking to keep the iMBA at its present student level.

On the plus side, there are different residency locations offered like London, France or the Bahamas. For example this May, there will be a residency in London which will cover the London Stock Exchange and Lloyd’s of London.

I hope this info helps.

John P.

(PS- For additional questions, a good point of contact at the school is Pamela Suzadail, Assistant Director of External Programs who can be reached at . The school's iMBA site is- .)

Sunday, July 08, 2007


It's official, the little woman and I will start the independent-study Masters of Business Administration (iMBA) program at Syracuse this fall.

The Syracuse University iMBA is offered through the Whitman School of Management and combines in-person residency learning with distance learning. Each semester requires a one-week-residency at the start of the semester. The rest of the semester involves independent study and cohort work coordinated through internet resources and conference calls.

The residency travel, hotel expenses and time away from work make the Syracuse iMBA program pricier than other distance learning MBA programs; but we decided the residency added significant value in networking opportunity and was worth the added cost. The required travel also shakes up the status quo mindset.

The Whitman iMBA is listed as one of the top distance MBA programs by the Financial Times, and is accredited by the AACSB. The iMBA degree is identical to the MBA awarded to other Whitman graduates. (In other words, the degree doesn’t state “executive MBA,” or similar on the diploma.)

The Whitman School of Management has also been top-ranked in Business Week and U.S. News & World Report’s rankings.

If all goes well, we should finish up in 2010.

Go Orange!

This Fed Ex ad poking fun of MBAs cracks me up.

Post Note: For a fuller description and review of the program click:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

iMBA Fall 2009 Residency

The fall Whitman iMBA residency was fun and it was great to see our Syracuse friends again.
(Snapshot left- initial reception at the Sheraton)

This semester we’re taking Managerial Accounting with Professor Alex Thevaranjan (who prefers to be called Coach T by graduate students); and Investment Analysis with Professor Ravi Shukla, an engineer by training but now a PHD in finance, who is very passionate about trying to make sense out of the randomness of the market.

Managerial Accounting is focused on internal information that facilitates decisions about the future. It uses projection tools to sift out relevant information and identify risk and return before decisions are made. (By contrast Financial Accounting is after the fact and aimed at telling a story to people outside the company, usually investors.)

The second course, Investment Analysis, deals with the analytical methods to portfolio management. It touches on the different approaches to investment- Ad hoc (intuition), Bigger Fool Theory, and systematic approaches. It also addresses the different asset classes and diversification methods. One of the interesting subjects we discussed during the residency was the way poor quality mortgage securities infiltrated the US economy and produced last years economic melt down.

On the first day of classes, the faculty announced some changes during a town hall meeting. Future residencies will be shorter by one day to lessen the burden of travel, and as a result, classes will be extended from 90 minutes to a full two hours per day. The other major change involves new students. Previously new students were only required to start together with Financial Accounting and Strategic Management during their first semester. After that, they were free to choose their classes based on preference and availability. Now the school will try to keep students together in a cohort group for a longer period (I think it’s the first three semesters).

Students near graduation will be allowed early registration, and additional courses may be added in May to facilitate areas of concentration.

The bad news announced was that costs are going to continue to go up, an average of six percent per semester, despite the current state of the economy. This was an issue as many students complained that their employers were no longer reimbursing their tuition, as companies cut back on benefits. We also noticed the iMBA group looked smaller, possibly due to job losses.

During our week in Syracuse, we visited all our regular haunts- Lake Onondaga, Joey’s Italian Restaurant, Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub; and visited a few new places. We drove up to Lake Ontario for the first time, went hiking at Highland State Park, ate clams at the Clam Bar (on Brewerton Road) and shopped at a charming farm market called Ontario Orchards (in Oswego).

I want to also express special thanks to Dennis Hay, of Joey’s Italian Restaurant. After a very favorable experience last year, we postponed our 19th wedding anniversary dinner by about a week in order to celebrate it at Joey’s. Once again, my wife had flowers waiting for her at the table, and once again we had a great flaming desert of strawberries cooked in brown sugar and butter, yum. Kudos to Joey’s.

John P.

Professor Alex Thevaranjan (PHD in accounting) and myself after class. (Professor Ravi Shukla is in the top photo, fourth from the left.)

Me, Sari and Craig at the Whitman iMBA town hall.

Sue by some flowers at Highland State Park.

At Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub after hiking all afternoon at Highland State Park.

Click here for more information on the Syracuse University Whitman School of Management iMBA program.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

iMBA Fall 2008 Residency

(Finance Professor Pierre Yourougou, Keet and myself haming it up for the camera after finance class)

Once again we had a great residency in Syracuse.

Our first day back in Syracuse we had our 18th Wedding Anniversary dinner at Joey’s Italian Restaurant; which is now our favorite restaurant in Syracuse. I made the reservation with Dennis Hay at Joey’s, explained it was our anniversary, and he set things up for us. There were roses waiting at the table for my wife, and we had a great flaming desert prepared at the table (Strawberries cooked in brown sugar and butter). My wife was very pleased and I sent a thank you letter to Dennis once I returned.

The next day, a Sunday, we went to Green Lake Park where we took a walk in the woods and I played 9 holes of golf as well. My wife caddied, and an older gentleman golfer seeing this asked me what the secret was. He told me he had tried unsuccessfully to get his wife to caddy for him for years. We finished up the day by having dinner at the golf courses bar and grill as the sun went down.

During the residency we also visited the town of Skaneateles, local wineries, Onondaga Lake and Chittenango Falls.

This semester we’re taking Managerial Finance, with Pierre Yourougou, Ph.D. Visiting Associate Professor of Finance, and International Business Law with Patrick Cihon, Associate Professor of Law and Public Policy.

Facing a long putt at GreenLake; I've always found long putts on par fives to be excellent metaphors for life: "Everything will take longer to complete than your original estimate."

Here we are at Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub in downtown Syracuse. My favorite item on the Menu is the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage. They also have a great selection of beer, Irish Whiskey and Scotch.

Taking a walk at Lake Onondaga just before dinner.

Chittenango Falls is a great State Park within easy distance of Syracuse. It's a great place for a picnic lunch.

This is Pamela Suzadail, Assistant Director of External Programs. She is a good initial contact if you're interested in the iMBA program. She can be reached at , (315) 443-8384 . The school's iMBA site is- .

For a fuller description of the Syracuse University Whitman School of Management please see my February 03, 2008 Post.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Syracuse iMBA Residency August 2007, part 2

While in Syracuse for the iMBA residency, my wife and I visited Green Lakes State Park, tried several area restaurants and went to the New York State Fair.

The photo (on the left) is of me at Green Lake which is near Syracuse University. (I think there's a universal law which states all snapshots taken by a lake have to be blurry.) The lake’s big claim to fame is that it’s a meromictic lake, which means the lower and upper water don’t mix. It has a beach for swimming, a walking trail all around the perimeter of the lake, and a golf course. It was a nice place to walk, get some air and discuss the assignments.

We also found downtown Syracuse had a good and diverse selection of restaurants. Our favorite was an Italian place called "Pastabilities" on Franklin Street. We highly recommend it. The locals also recommended "Dinosaur BBQ," which we tried, but found a bit too crowded and over-hyped.

During our Syracuse visit we stayed at the Genesee Grande Hotel. Both my wife and I were very pleased with the helpful staff. The Genesse is not actually on campus like the Sheraton, but it’s worth the small walk to campus and we’re booked there again for the next residency.

The photo on the right is of Sue on campus. The weather was unusually mild and cool enough to wear sweatshirts for warmth.

Post Note: For a fuller description and review of the program click here.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Syracuse iMBA Residency August 2007, part 1

These are some of our cohorts from Strategic Mgnt class.

The tall gentleman in the back is Kueth Duany who led the 2003 Syracuse Basketball Team to a NCAA Championship.

To my immediate left is Sari Signorelli and Max Patino who work for the university and are earning their MBAs as well.

This handsome group is from Financial Acctg. On my immediate left is the class professor, Bill Walsh. Next to him is classmate Richard Lynch (who is in medical sales) and once again Mr. Kueth Duany.

Strategic Mgnt and Financial Accounting serve as a base for the rest of the iMBA courses. New students are required to take them first before moving on.

Post Note: For a fuller description and review of the program click here .

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Management Tips by Gucci

Robert Polet, Gucci’s chief executive, was featured in the January issue of Fortune Magazine.

In it he revealed a moment in his life in which a fundamental premise of decision making was formed. While facing a difficult situation at a former company, he called the main corporate office for some help. The answer that came back was simplicity itself, “Take a piece of paper, write down all the options available, and pick the best one.” The next morning he said to his wife, “They’re right. It’s only by going through tough experiences that you can grow.”

I read the article while on a flight coming back from a Syracuse iMBA residency. At that moment in time, I was pondering some personal and career change issues and what to do about them in 2008. The straightforward idea of simply jotting down all the realistic options available and picking the best one struck me as virtuoso genius. It cuts through all the noise and focuses the mind on execution. Within thirty minutes of reading the article, I had all my 2008 options neatly written down, and the beginnings of a plan of action.

I also found his method of managing the Gucci brands interesting. The bulk of the decision making has been pushed down to the brands. The brands are now responsible for their own products and profitability (where as before they were centrally controlled). The article states, “In exchange for their newfound control, the brand CEOs must sign a two-page document that spells out which issues need to be elevated to the group level, and every year they work through a strategic plan with Polet for the next three years. Every month they give him a detailed performance report, and the group’s top management gets together four times a year.” Polet calls it, “freedom within a framework.”

This method of management is aligned with his personal value system which states, “the family comes first.” By giving autonomy to his direct reports, he doesn’t get sucked into daily crisis and can better organize his time.

He’s adamant about protecting his time with his family. He turns off his Blackberry on Friday night and doesn’t turn it back on until Monday morning. He also doesn’t take business calls while on vacation with his family, unless it’s a true emergency.

When he first took over Gucci he was derided by many as a misplaced “ice cream” sales guy. (His former job was president of a global ice cream and frozen foods division at Unilever.) The New York Times publicly disparaged him by asking, “Can the emperor of ice cream survive under the hot lights of high fashion?”

However as he has lead the Gucci group to “three years of booming growth,” most the skepticism has disappeared. The realization now by his former critics is that the job was not about someone who could “design dresses,” but rather of one who could manage and coordinate the ten luxury brands of Gucci. Polet was quoted as saying, “I hit the ground running because 80% of what I’m doing is the same as what I have always done-it’s about leading and coaching people.”

John P.

(In all fairness I should disclose that I own a pair of Black suede Gucci moccasins that I’m very fond of. They’re extremely comfortable.)