All posts by hameda

The BIG Field

Hamed Ahmadi, TMMBA Class of 2012

To me, this fall quarter has been one of the best quarters in the program so far. There was a lot of enjoyable and exciting work. Specifically, the Operation and Inventory Management course by Kamran Moinzadeh.

Maybe it is my personal taste, but I enjoyed this course very much. Mostly because I love math, calculation, excel sheets full of data, manufacturing, and a few other things, all presented in this subject. Another reason for the success of the course, in my opinion, was how Kamran taught the material. It just gets into your head and you start using the concepts everywhere. My wife caught me the other day analyzing how many cashiers Costco should have; she was not happy that I did all my ‘calculations’ on the back of the chocolate box she was going to give as gift!

One of the highlights of the course for me was the lesson I learned from the “Little Field Technologies” simulation, a very intriguing practice of theoretical concepts taught in the first half of the quarter. And by lesson I mean something beyond the course material. Let me elaborate a bit more.

The simulation was about teams driving a factory for a few hundred simulated days (one real week) and whoever got the most money in the end was the winner. The competition was the spice to the activity and I do not believe people really cared much about its grade. What our team did was doing the calculations before the simulation started and then just monitoring the factory during the week. But I got carried away: I redid our calculation a few times and monitored the factory the first night until 4 AM! I was taking snapshots every hour to be able to analyze our performance; and finally too much doubt and qualm about our actions did what I was afraid of: I encouraged my team to change something that eventually put us behind most of the teams; then I was kind of depressed for a week after that.

Now, I imagine I was put in charge of a real factory; real money, global competition, eager stakeholders… Am I going to behave the same way? How am I going to handle pressure and high expectation? And a whole lot of other questions…

This simulation was a ”Big Field” I played a few of my tactics in and realized I have work to do. This was another addition to what I’ve learned about myself in this program, and for that I want to thank Kamran and my team.

Do you feel the difference already?

Hamed Ahmadi – TMMBA Class 11

The music has been always “rock and rolling” in my car and everyone enjoyed riding with me. Not anymore!

Well, unless you like to listen to all the business news broadcasted from reachable radio stations around the Puget Sound. I never thought I would prefer business talks over music. I even felt insulted the other day when my friend, sitting in the front seat of my car, changed the channel to listen to rap music while I was listening to NPR morning edition discussing the interest rates. I do not blame him, I had not anticipated that myself either.

That is a small example of the how my life changed since last December, besides not getting enough sleep or missing my soccer games. It is amazing how the “noises” I’ve been hearing all these years around various business topics are gradually turning into dialogs, talks, discussions, and decision makings … Right, because I can now understand it and be a part of it; and that feels really good :)

Good day to you.

TMMBA Orientation, December 2010.

Hamed Ahmadi – TMMBA Student (Class of 2012)

I remember the excitement I had before starting elementary school. I could not sleep well for a few nights before the first day of school. I was dreaming about all the new things that were coming up: the new friends I was going to make, new nice and colorful books, and most importantly, I could finally read the labels on the ice-cream packs.  

The history repeated itself after twenty years. When I got the orientation schedule and course packs, I felt exactly the same way. Of course, reading the label on an ice-cream pack would not make me excited anymore, but being able to read into a business certainly does. I was so ready to start my new journey.

There was a fair amount of reading in the orientation packet and we had about a month to prepare. It was a great adapting period for me to get myself into the “school mode” again.

The orientation was very compact; it started on Thursday evening and finished on Sunday evening. Honestly, I felt like I was running very fast on a treadmill after being out of shape for a long time (I felt that once when I restarted playing soccer after a year of preparing for college entry exams ;) ). There was a lot of interesting content being covered in a short amount of time and I wish we had more time for topics like effective teams and ethical leadership. Our team enjoyed the ethical leadership class so much that picked “Corporate Social Responsibilities” for the Microeconomics course paper this quarter, so we get a chance to read more about this topic. After the orientation, I went over the materials again and tried to summarize what I learned. That helped me to digest the content better.

So, get in shape before the orientation by reading extra papers and analyzing the cases before discussing them in class.

Like all other fun times, it flew by very fast, but left a good memory.

The golden rule of time management

Hamed Ahmadi, TMMBA Student (Class of 2012)

Most of us, the TMMBA students, have full time jobs; that is, at least 40 hours a week. Adding the time attending the classes and review sessions, and working on pre-class materials, assignments, projects and exams, we are easily booked up for 60 to 70 hours a week, which is almost 9 hours a day, 7 days a week! It is a lot of work, but I think well worth the time and effort.

When I tell this story, I always hear: “Wow, how do you manage that?”. I believe this is a question we already asked ourselves before signing up for this program, and most likely, we came up with different answers. The truth is there is no single magical solution to this problem that can make everybody happy. However, there is a golden rule: “find your style”.

One of the great advantages of the TMMBA program is that it helps you find your style. Although I just started this program, I’ve already gone through a similar experience. I found my style when I was a full time grad student and a full time employee for almost three years. That pressure made me recognize my two-word golden rule, which is driven by a well-known software development framework. This framework can be adopted by different people and customized for various uses. The words are “be agile”.

Let me elaborate the concept of agility in the context of time management.

If you’d agree with me, planning is the key principle of the time management. However, excessive planning may give the opposite result, and here is why: plans are made under assumptions about future and there are always variables involved in our assumptions that could change anytime (honestly, my degree of certainty about something in the future does not exceed %99!). So, the awesome plan we have in our hands right now may lead us to the wrong summit! In addition, people who put a lot of time and effort in the planning tend to strictly follow their plan and be less flexible about changes, even if necessary.

Now, you might ask how much planning is enough, or how far ahead we should plan, or when we know it is time to make a decision. Well, there is no right or wrong answer; it totally depends on your rule. In my agile world, I take advantage of a two-phase planning. In the first phase, I usually try to understand the overall picture so I roughly know where I am going. That means I have deadlines, important dates and events laid out. Then, I divide the whole period I am planning for into time-boxed iterations and set goals for each iteration, depending on what is going on in that time period. Nevertheless, the detailed plan of each iteration is going to be determined in the second phase, i.e. the beginning of the iteration. The short length of iterations enables me to plan with a high degree of certainty and also gives me the flexibility to try new things and adjust my routine from what I learnt in previous iterations.

In other words, I try to plan and make decisions in “the last responsible moment”! 

Good luck.