GST – Gorilla Standard Time

My draft post, dated 3rd March, only took 4.5 months to publish. This wasn’t because it was held up due to editorial review, strikes, or even Brexit. It was due to a phenomenon called Gorilla Standard Time (GST).

Imagine Asian Standard Time but located near some really strong gravity, like a black hole, thus slowing time itself down. This is basically a watered down version of Gorilla Standard Time. Somebody who’s on GST is so far behind, they would turn up 4 years late to a wedding, only to find that they left something home and have to go back to get it, and subsequently miss the 20 year anniversary and the graduation of the 2nd child.

Occasionally, even super incredible Cyber Gorillas fall victim to GST. It’s an unfortunate and regrettable incident of tardiness, but hopefully one that won’t be repeated anytime soon!

So, what’s been happening in the last 19 weeks (it almost doesn’t sounds as bad when put like that, almost). I’ve been working steadfastly on TMAs (Tutor Marked Assignments), actual marked assignments, and a 24 hour exam. Yup, you read that right, a 24 hour period of sheer hell and misery that was a bit like stepping on LEGO on the way to the cupboard only to find out somebody has eaten all the Jaffa cakes, and your last Rolo. I attended my first Warwick Week as well! This also marked the end of semester 1, here are some numbers to sum up first 6 months of the Warwick DLMBA programme:

3 modules
4 books
Over 10,000 words
Pain (ok so this isn’t a number, but it’s pretty accurate)

Semester 1 has proven to be very insightful, laying a firm foundation in accounting, economics, and organisational behaviour.

Coming from a complete non-accounting background, I found the Accounting for Management (AFM) module to be exceptionally useful. The use of real life accounts, going through the annual reports, and learning how to piece together a narrative through the financial statements was hugely insightful. I can confidently say that I no longer run away in fear (not that Cyber Gorillas ever run away in the first place) from a set of financial statements. What was really interesting was the focus not just on getting the right numbers, but the actual analysis behind it. Understanding why operating profits have come down is as important as getting the correct figure for operating profit. A constant point that was hammered across was that managers should not forget why they are doing the analysis that they are. A point that can often get lost when you’re up to your neck carrying out a Du-Pont analysis.

The assessment for AFM was a 24-hour exam(!). The paper involves carrying out a full analysis within a fictional scenario. There are two other questions that usually include some kind of management accounting, financial analysis, and an essay based question. Though the exam was exhausting, I found it to be an exceptionally unique method of assessment. It encourages students to slow down and think carefully, whilst still ensuring that you work quickly and effectively.

Where AFM looked at telling the financial story of a business, Economics of the Business Environment (EBE), looked at the external and internal dynamics of business. By exploring the macro and micro context, and looking at how an increase in oil price might affect public sector borrowing, or how a competitive advantage secures supernormal profits, economics provides an overarching view of the business environment. The use of real world examples to illustrate economic concepts underscored the relevance of the theories and demonstrated their practical application. The module was assessed via assignment which involved conducting an economic analysis of a company of your choosing, looking at both micro and macro elements, and compare it to its competitor. I chose LEGO. I found it fascinating to view LEGO’s strategic and operational activities through the lens of both micro and macro economics, and learn how it secured it’s success.

Finally, Organisational Behaviour (OB). Though far more qualitative than the AFM and EBE, OB explored the internal dynamics of an organisation through different frames; political, structural, HR, and symbolic. Each of these frames gleans a different set of solutions to the problem, and often the ultimate solution will come as a result of selecting the appropriate frame to view a problem. Within OB, we also explored leadership, motivation, and culture. Again, the module used real life cases and scenarios to demonstrate the theories involved, and the final assignment asked us to examine the organisational behavioural problems of a company that we’ve worked for/are currently working in. This practical method of assessment encourages students to not simply view OB as a purely academic exercise, but rather one that has real and far-reaching impact.

Warwick Week was pretty incredible. When studying on a distance learning programme, it’s very easy to lose sight of the fact that there’s an entire group of you that are in this together. The first time I stepped into the main lecture theatre and saw the near 200 other students, it was immensely humbling. The range and breadth of experience, nationalities, and backgrounds was truly spectacular. We spent sessions working within syndicate groups, meeting other people, and learning across 5 intensely packed days. My only regret was not staying on campus.

As well as being part of a larger cohort, each student is also part of a smaller sub-group; in my case, the ever-awesome Group 16 (I didn’t pick the name). Within my group, I feel like I’ve found a bunch of lifetime friends. Everybody is intent on helping each other, whatever tips one student has is shared to the rest. It feels like everybody is genuinely committed to each other’s success as well as their own. Not to mention the diverse backgrounds and experiences; I’ve found that I learn as much from my peers as I do from the lecturers themselves. Talking about lecturers, I have to say that the quality and style of teaching is exceptional. Particularly for AFM and EBE. I did not think I’d find these subjects as enjoyable as I have, and I put that down largely to the lecturers and the constant support coming through.

I think that’s about enough for now, I’ll be back very soon (promise!). Next stop, Semester Two: Modelling and Analysis for Management, Marketing, Operations Management.

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