My Déjà Vu MBA experience yesterday …

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So, yesterday (Wednesday September 2, 2009) I was on a flight from Hamburg to Frankfurt am Main, and I was reading the Financial Times (paper version).  On pages 16-17, Companies and Markets section, three news stories caught my eye (all on the same double-spread page), as well as a further story on page 14:

  • “Skype set to carve a future of its own” (page 16)
  • “Marvel’s illusive ‘Ike’ is a key character” (page 16)
  • “Boeing shakes up Dreamliner team leadership” (page 17)
  • “Bankruptcy blow for SkyEurope” (page 14)

Apart from appearing in the same newspaper on the same day, these stories appear to have little connection. Except, for me they do.

As with most MBAs, a large part of the coursework and discussion was case study based.  Each of the above stories relates back to a case study that we discussed during my MBA.  of course, things have moved on in the intervening 2-3 years – back then the stories were around:

  • Skype’s acquisition by eBay (and the seemingly crazy price paid by eBay at that time, especially given write-downs such as Time-Warner’s write down of AOL, etc. (Corporate Strategy class)
  • The restructuring of Marvel, and the roles played by Carl Icahn, Ron Perelman, etc. (Corporate Restructuring class)
  • The Boeing/Airbus duopoly (Corporate Strategy class)
  • The exponential growth story of SkyEurope (Marketing class, and Corporate Restructuring class)

In one sense it seems a little ironic (or coincidental) that the news stories should all re-appear on the same day.  Thinking about it slightly differently, perhaps it is not be seen as such a surprise – (i) the MBA covered many more case studies (which, I didn’t notice re-appearing on Wednesday September 2, 2009), so it was just a coincidence that on that day these particular stories cropped up, and (ii) the MBA focused on high profile companies which had a story to tell – it is perhaps not surprising that over time the same names keep re-occuring as being those with an interesting history that newspaper readers might be willing to read about.

So apart from an element of coincidence, what does this story tell me?

Well, I’d like to think that it indicates an elevated sense of awareness and knowledge management (perhaps not gained entirely from my MBA, but rather developed over time).  I don’t claim to have a skill that others don’t have (in fact maybe it is a skill we all have, but I think it is one that is at least worth reflecting on).

At the very least, my MBA encouraged me to look at specific selected case studies in a deeper more meaningful way than how I appraise some other news stories (eg, headline skimming). Yesterday’s developments also reminded me that the case studies were still very much in my thoughts (more subconsciously – I haven’t recently had problems waking up in the middle of the night worrying whether eBay and Skype could find synergies to justify Skypes purchase price …).  In fact, I believe that these are also skills that are highly relevant to my job, whereby I’m very focused on news stories relating to clients (past and present).

In any case, speculation on the reasoning aside, I found it interesting and fun to reflect in the space of 10 minutes on four different situations from my MBA. Time is passing since completing the MBA, but it obviously had a strong impact on me.

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