Thursday, April 23, 2009

Leadership and Diversity - Learning from Rosseau

Today in our SY class "Leadership and Diversity through literature" we discussed the works of three well renowned philosophers - Confucius, Machiavelli and Jean Jacques Rousseau. The class is all about reading popular stories and ideas that influenced many and drawing leadership lessons from the same. Its about examining the question "How as character would you act differently now that you have read this story" in the words of the popular faculty Dr. Alec Horniman who runs the class. 

Philosophical works and ideas have always influenced me but today I was intrigued with Rousseau and his relevance to the socio-political thought prevalent in the world today. I find it unfortunate that though I had some knowledge of his work, I never read them before. In the passages we read, Rousseau makes a distinction between Natural liberty and Civil liberty. Man wants to be free, wants to act on his own and this "unlimited right to everything" is his natural liberty. However he benefits by his interactions with the society and wilfully gives up a part of his natural liberty for civil liberty. Natural liberty according to him is bounded only by strength on an individual while Civil liberty is limited by the general will i.e. majority vote or opinion in an democracy. He comes to this conclusion through systematic analysis of nature of Human behavior as well as interactions in society. 

There is lot of debate on whether the current trends socio-political approach will indeed limit the freedom and liberty of individuals.  I believe that Rousseau's philosophy can aid us in examining if a political and social structure best meets the needs of the diverse wishes of the citizens. I often hear that following a structure of a more socialist or rather left leaning state will encroach on liberty of individuals. However, if one considers the view that taking care of the basic needs for many would probably provide them opportunity to pursue much more than they are able to now. Question is that will the meritous and ambitious lose out? Maybe they do gain from a more peaceful co-existence. Is a more equitable and peaceful society less desirable?

In class, our discussion focused more on why these ideas have survived the test of time and why they were so popular. I concluded that they addressed a fundamental problem of the society at the time in a way no one other did, they got some acceptance and shaped thoughts going forward. I think that we are at a point where a fundamental problem regarding social organisation has been raised again. We have faced this time an again in the past, and I believe this will be a constant recurrence in the future. What is the answer this time around and who is going to provide it?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Post Graduation plans

Can't beleive that I am graduating in almost a month. As I indulge myself in social and recreational activities going on almost every day this last quarter I am also enthusiastically planning my travel plans post graduation. I plan to backpack Europe for about 2 months in June and July. Here is what the plans are looking like

I plan to travel by rail so this is the image I have in my mind. 

Not sure if I am more excited about graduation or my upcoming Europe trip. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

These are few of my favorite SY classes

First Years are about to bid for their SY courses and they must be wondering which ones to consider. Also, admitted or prospective students would might like to know more about the Darden curriculum. So I thought I would write about some of favor tie Second Year classes. Just so you are aware, at Darden, the entire SY is elective and you are required to take 30 credits i.e. about 20 courses. There are some restrictions so that students try to get a General management perspective and don't just take entirely finance etc based classes. Other restrictions relate to choice on credits from alternate programs such as research, business projects and case writings.

Here are my favorite classes

Thoroughly enjoyed and found very useful
Management Decision Models: The most difficult class at Darden. Its also known as the supercharged DA. It has some interesting concepts, cases and analytics that you can use both at work and in your life decisions. 
Small Enterprise Finance: Finance course about managing issue of a small business taken by a very witty professor. Very cool to do back of the hand calculations to figure out issues and remedies
Entrepreneurial Finance & Private Equity: Very well designed class on private equity and venture capital valuation and investment strategies. The cases are very interesting and speakers add great value. 
Global Business Experience - Barcelona "Strategy as design": The only GBE I participated in but honestly loved it. Barcelona is an amazing place to visit from every dimension i.e. cultural experience, visual beauty, architecture and night life. You see most of the architectural sights on class time. The course provides a very different view of looking at strategy. This GBE is both enjoyable and educative.
Operations Strategy: Though the topic may sound boring this course is not. In fact is a very strategy view at operations with very interesting cases. The professor is ex consulting firm partner and is great at makes this practical and tangible

Interesting and useful
Managing International Trade & Investments: A very well designed course that teaches important concepts related to trade and trade policies. Its a great way to understand the issues that are currently making headlines and very useful if you are working for multinational or will be involved in international business.
Leadership & Diversity through Literature: Learning about leadership through stories and epics. Makes for very interesting and insightful class discussions.
Bargaining and Negotiating: A different experience where you spend every class negotiating the deal. Great to get hands on experience and put some theories to test.
Managing Turnarounds and Workouts: This all about rescuing companies in distress and I would think very well in the current context. Its a a great course for managing smaller companies or entrepreneur as it gives good insights into what you need to do to run a business.

Pretty Good
Advanced Managerial  Communication
Valuation in Financial markets
Marketing Intelligence
General Management & Ops Consulting

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