Category Archives: Student Advice

Time Management

Lucas Perin, TMMBA Student

The TMMBA can be very demanding in terms of time. It’s very likely that you have a job (I think you must have one to apply, although keeping one is harder and harder these days), and hopefully, you have a life.

When I started the TMMBA, I had a wife and one son. Now I have two. Sons, I mean, I still have just one wife, although keeping one is harder and harder these days.

I should not forget: having a baby during the TMMBA is madness. Therefore, saving time is very important. Here are some tips:

  • – Pre-reads: yep, they’re useful. You read before the class, you’ll understand more of the class, and you’ll need less effort to catch up later. The challenge is to make time for them. I get to work early and read for about 30-45 minutes, it serves me well.
  • Amazon Fresh: It will save you some time, it has good stuff, it is sort of local, but some items are a little more expensive than Safeway, especially the “fresh” ones. Safeway is good for online groceries, too. The good thing about Amazon Fresh is that you don’t need to be present to receive your groceries. You can also purchase some items and have them delivered with your groceries (the service is called Amazon Now).
  • Get out of Facebook: I like it, but it takes too much time. Some people are still going to be friends with you even if they don’t say so in Facebook.
  • Comcast DVR: You’ll skip the commercials. But really, if you have time to watch TV, why are you looking for time saving tips?

And Life goes on…

Reetu Gupta, TMMBA Student

We are almost at the end of 2nd quarter. I can’t believe it. Time flies no matter how busy life is.

Actually 2nd quarter wasn’t so bad. I went back to watching “Lost” live on TV. It may be because after 1st quarter, you become a more seasoned student. You learn better time management tactics. You also learn how to skim instead of reading and trying to retain everything. You learn to compromise on quality when you have four different assignments due within a week’s period. These may sound like bad things but if you are a perfectionist like me, believe me, these habits bring you closer to reality.

Anyway, one thing to remember is that you don’t get discount in life just because you are in TMMBA program. Life’s ups and downs still happen. Nothing stops in outside world even if you lock yourself in a classroom. At the very beginning of 2nd quarter, my family got hit by recession lightening. My husband’s company shut down and he lost his job. Now I had one additional assignment of helping him find a job and keeping his morale up. My 5 year old got prescribed with eye glasses and gave me first shock of parenthood. My company announced a pay cut and let few people go. In a nutshell, these were hard three months that hit me and my family close.

Interesting part was, TMMAB helped me maintain my sanity. It helped me in some very unique ways. I contacted my classmates and alumni for my husband’s job. I was glad to see that finding a job for my husband became a group project. I have never so much support from so many people. In addition, knowledge I gained in corporate finance and accounting, I immediately applied to personal finances. I was able to maintain my cash out flow with only 45% cash inflow. Using newly acquired Marco Economics skills I was able to read various indices and was able to set my expectations accordingly. “Green shoots” in economy gave us hopes and labor index monitoring told us it may be a while when labor market improves.

I think going through an MBA program during a deep economic recession made it very fruitful and interesting. It’s perfect combination of theory and its use in practice. I think it was a once in a life time opportunity for me. Not that I’m crazy about economic recessions but if I was going thru MBA in a normal timings I probably wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the gravity of management skills.

Mother’s Day

Lucas Perin, TMMBA Student

When you join the TMMBA, you need a constant reminder that you need to plan ahead. If you don’t, it bites you back. The current example: we have a class on Saturday where we will learn something about the Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC), and we have to prepare two cases for Monday. In between, there is Mother’s Day. Most people in our groups have mothers (or children), and that becomes a little problematic. To add up, we also have a final paper for Global Management due on Monday and a Macroeconomy exam due on Thursday, plus everything I’m essentially forgetting about, such as the pre-reads.

If we detected the problem a month ago, we could have try to learn the subject on our own, or maybe we could have asked for an extension. Now we are in the risk zone. Come to think about it, the class this Saturday is about risk. It all makes sense now: in the TMMBA, you have learnings that you can apply directly to your life. It just may not be in the way you expected.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Lucas Perin, TMMBA Student

Given my current title of “Business Planning Manager”, you would probably think that I like to plan things. And, in the TMMBA, you need to plan. This quarter is curiously the opposite of our last quarter: we have a lot of deliverables in the beginning, followed by a long hiatus of deliverables.
Knowing that may make the difference between cruising or being very stressed.

There’s so much to learn and the subjects are so interesting that there’s the real danger of being overwhelmed. It’s like having a lot of top models fighting for your attention. Really stressful. Trust me, I know! Therefore, you need to plan and prioritize in order to get the best out of some quarters. The second quarter is one of them. Tips?

  • Assign a planner to your team.
  • Use Agilix Backpack to help you download updates from Blackboard.
  • Synchronize the TMMBA calendar with Outlook.

And, most importantly, keep going to the Keg after every class!

The Keg

Lucas Perin, TMMBA Student

My team, Espectro, has been tasked with the important responsibility of keeping the tradition of having a drink at the Keg after class. We have been going there regularly since the second week, and now we have more and more regulars joining us, especially after the accounting test.

I have to admit that I’ve learned way more at The Keg than I learned in class. This could sound like I should start reconsidering my investments, after all, The Keg offers free nachos if you go with six or more people. Maybe it is because I have been spending a lot of time there, too.

If you are negotiating the MBA schedule with your significant other(s), this is the best advice you will get: tell him/her/them that on Mondays (or Wednesdays, if that’s your section) class goes until midnight. It’s not going to be a lie.

Where there is a will, there is a way…

Reetu Gupta, TMMBA Student

It’s Monday, almost midnight. Clock is going to change to next date any minute now. How will be my tomorrow? Equally busy – probably. Better in some way – Definitely! Every day when I go to bed, I feel I accomplished so much in my last 24 hours that I’m a better person than I was yesterday.

I am feeling really tired right now after reviewing my group project report for Micro Economics class. I look thru my home office French doors. Glass doors have hands prints of both my girls, aged 2 and 5. I’m wondering how do I do all this. Is it because I’m crazy or because I’m smart? I like to think of it as latter. What is it that drives me? Is this that every human has in him/ her? I’m sure I have had it for a long time. I never realized it till I came into this program. Now I know that how much more time “24 hours” has. Now I know how much human brain can absorb. Now I know how we can stretch ourselves to the limits we never thought possible.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying you jump into ocean without knowing how to swim. I do believe though if you put your mind to it, you can do it. If I can do it, so can you. So here are few tips on how to prepare your self and your environment for this journey that you are about to take.

In March, 2008, I realized that I’m not using my full potential. All these years I had been looking for channels for my energy. I did find some like full time job along with community volunteering, project management outside my job etc. But all of that was not sufficient to make me feel “accomplished” at the end of each day. Then one day light bulb went off – “Why don’t I go for MBA?” That activated a different part of my brain. Excitement of going back to school, meeting new people, connecting with professionals and numerous other advantages set my mind in that direction. And once I made up my mind, there was no turning back. And I knew there is some fact to the saying ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.” That did it for me. Quitting was not an option for me. Even when it gets crazy, I never doubt my decision. One more thing that my neighbor told me just before the program “18 months will pass – MBA or not” is my new mantra. You have to think about it for it to sink in your mind.

In addition to preparing yourself mentally, you have to prepare your environment. That includes your immediate family, friends, co workers and the whole world that belongs to you. you have to prepare them in terms of their expectations from you.
Talk to your kids – They will have difficulty in understanding why mom or dad is gone so much. Even when mom is home, she can’t play with them since she has to finish her assignments. So talk to them before hand. Prepare them and make them understand. I have 2 and 5 yr old. It is harder with young kids but believe me, they get used to it if you prepare them well.
Take Vacations – In 2008 summer, after I got accepted in the program we took 3 big vacations where each time we went out of town for 4-5 days. That gave really good memories to whole family to live on for 18 months, before we take next big vacations.
Finish pending projects – We completed all near term home improvement projects. Minor things that need fixing and may distract you, while you are in the program, won’t be a headache if taken care in advance.
Organize – December 2008 was the spring cleanup and organization month for me.
Socialize – We did social gatherings in Nov-Dev, 2008 time frame and conveyed to all our close friends to expect less in terms of phone calls and get togethers, going forward.
Hire a house cleaner (if you can) – At least you won’t have to worry about dirty house. Calculate your time value in terms of money and I’m sure you’ll come out ahead with a cleaner option.

Overall, if you prepare well, you’ll thank yourself and you’ll be less distracted. If you need more tips, call me. Yes, I still have time to talk on the phone!

First things first . . .

Lucas Perin, TMMBA student

In the first post, we are usually supposed to talk a little about ourselves. But hey, if you wanted to know more about me, you would probably be stalking me in Facebook. So I am guessing that the reason for having a reader (hi mom!) is because you want to know more about the TMMBA. Is it hard? Is it good? Is it worth it? Let’s see how much I can help. And for quick answers to those questions, my answers in the middle of the first quarter would be: “not that much”, “oh yes” and “I still don’t know”.

It may be helpful to know that the MBA starts “for real” on the day of the welcome reception, usually in mid-November, not on the day of the first class. In later posts, I’ll detail some parts of the experience before (and after) the first class.


Kalpesh Shah, TMMBA Student

In the early 1990s, I was taking courses in software development. After the first quarter, the instructor asked the class to give feedback on each student, with 3 areas of strength and 1 area of improvement for each student.

This was not done by secret ballot. Students would stand up one by one, and the class would voice their opinions for everyone to hear. When it was my turn, the majority of the class thought that I was intelligent, good at spotting problems and solving them and very helpful. When it came to the liabilities side of the balance sheet, the class was unanimous: I was rude. Of course, this was shocking to know. When I was pointing out their mistakes, I thought I was helping my classmates. I did not realize that I was perceived as being rude.

A big part of a manager’s is to get things done through other people. Being rude will not make things easy. Therefore, I have looked to improve my people management skills ever since. After attending the TMMBA program, I certainly feel that I am a better manager than before. Specifically, “Managing People in Technology Companies” and “Negotiations” are two subjects that have helped me along the way. I also attended a 12-week seminar from Dale Carnegie that helped me be a better person.

Remember: “Perception is reality in the mind of the beholder”.

Looking back over the past year: Winter Quarter 2008

Tom Mackey, TMMBA Student

The TMMBA class 09 has begun their journey, and our class is into our 5th of the six quarters in the program.

I’d like to share some thoughts, some memorable moments, and some tips.

The Residential was both intense and enjoyable. We left with a draft team charter, and the start of a good team working relationship. I understand that this year’s residential lasted an extra day and took place right before classes started. Our’s was the first week of December, then we had the stats workshop sessions, Christmas break, and then our classes started. I’m not sure which I like better.

Stats Workshop:

Speaking of the stats workshop, ours was given by Russ Fish, and he gave me permission to share the web site he maintains.

Russ Fish home page:
Stats workshop:

In the tmmba_stats page, near the top, you will find a tips and tricks link, and a keyboard shortcut link. There is a lot of good info there and I thank Russ for making my everyday computer work much easier. If you haven’t loaded and started using stat pad yet, do so now. I find that I use it regularly in my job, and even for personal use such as tracking and graphing blood pressure readings (More on that in my next post).


Martha is a great stats instructor and I am grateful for her efforts and help. I downloaded all her notes from blackboard and refer to them fairly often.

In general, take advantage of everything that the instructors post on blackboard. Some of the text books come with a CD or a web site where you can download extra information. Again, if you load the info on your laptop, you can appear a lot smarter than you are in meetings and so forth… Ask me how I know

Hint: In both Stats and Micro Econ you might find yourself needing to write complex equations in MSWord. Here is a link that explains how to add the Equation Editor toolbar into MSWord, and use it to make techie looking output. Sweet!!

Micro Econ (and Strategy)

Micro Econ is an interesting class, and much more math-intensive than I had expected. Since I like math, that was a good thing. But since I was a bit rusty on derivatives, especially partial derivatives, I made sure I attended all the Thursday study sessions. Hint: Micro Econ concepts form the basis of Business Strategy — but we didn’t hear that directly until this quarter in Global Strategy. It makes sense, and I think it would have helped in both classes if I had started to make that connection earlier.

Memorable moment with Ali: The morning he came in after taking his wife out for their anniversary dinner, and then going out for a night cap after — he made some mention of his indifference curve going higher and higher — until they decided to take a taxi home!
More fun with Ali: try counting how many times he uses pizzas as examples in class

Financial Accounting:

I’m not an accountant, nor based on my grades in this and the later Managerial Accounting class, will I ever be one! That said, I really enjoyed the class. Frank does a great job of trying to cram his vast experience into our heads in a short amount of time. The course is a lot of work. It is the first time that many of us experienced the time warp that occurs while taking an accounting exam. What warp is that you ask? Well, when Frank and his TA say that the exam should take you 6 hours, plan on a lot longer than that in real time. A lot longer. It will be interesting to hear what Frank has to say about the planned demise of GAAP in light of the recent scandals here and abroad. I know he has championed GAAP, and according to what I read last fall, IFRS is the coming thing. Web search GAAP vs. IFRS if you are interested in seeing lots of people argue about the differences. Hint: Pay special attention to the discussion on WIP. I came away not really understanding how to handle WIP and paid dearly on my exam…

Well, except for Teamwork, which I more or less covered in an earlier post, that wraps up my first quarter of the program.