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Attendees have enjoyed a wide variety of practical examples and the casual and approachable nature of our faculty. In the words of one prospective student, “being able to experience how the transition to virtual teaching looks and getting a good idea of how that engagement and interaction will play out is invaluable.” Below is a taste of a few of our recent MBA Masterclass offerings.
What Should the Objective of a Corporation Be? with Raghuram Rajan
Professor Rajan begins his class with a poll in which he asks prospective students to think about what corporations should be responsible for and to choose from a list of options. He explains that this issue is especially important because of the current societal problems we are facing, many of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Right now, there is enormous pressure on corporations to do more than just produce a good widget at a cheap price. How should firms prioritize stakeholders? Do firms have to be nice to everyone because it is politically correct?
Professor Rajan discusses Milton Friedman’s view that there is only one social responsibility of business: to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits. He then begins to peel back the onion, asking students more difficult questions and providing real-life examples that show what a difficult question this is to answer, thus highlighting the difficult decisions corporations are faced with. When should a cause be advanced by a corporation versus the government? Recognizing societal trends connected to your business can be good for profits, but fighting for change not connected to your business may not add value to your corporation long-term. Corporations need to make clear who their important stakeholders are and why they are choosing one choice over the other choices. At the end of the session, students retake the same poll they took in the beginning, and may be surprised to discover their answers have changed.
Prospective students say:
“Professor Rajan thoughtfully addressed a topic that is relevant to current events and applicable to business - I liked that he brought in economic theory and assessed it in the current context.”
“I liked the simplicity in which Prof. Rajan brings concepts in a really ‘down-to-earth’ mindset. I also enjoyed how he challenged the point of view of the class with the questions at the beginning and end.”
“I loved how masterfully Professor Rajan was able to take a question and unravel & reveal the complexities behind that question. He challenged listeners to think beyond the immediate effects of a decision, pushing us to consider the long-term/waterfall effects of that decision. This talk was so eye-opening & thought-provoking - it really reiterated why I want to learn how to think more critically through the Chicago Approach and from Booth's renown faculty.”
“I have been a big fan of Professor Rajan and his work in finance. The class shifted my perspective on what a company's primary objective is: realizing profits. As a social impact person, I sometimes over-index the corporation's imperative to achieve social outcomes but this class helped me ‘see’ my own expectations versus reality.”
Making Investment Decisions with Kathleen Fitzgerald
In this class, Professor Kathleen Fitzgerald discusses how we decide what investments to make, how we should estimate value, and how to decide whether to proceed with an investment. She walks prospective students through these questions to provide background before proceeding with the question at hand, which is whether you should invest in an MBA. Professor Fitzgerald presents financial concepts in an easy to understand manner for those who have not studied finance before, but also provides a look at the more complex calculations a student would encounter in an advanced class.
Prospective students are prompted to think about the goal of a firm in terms of maximizing shareholder value, to apply that to themselves, and to think through how an advanced degree allows them to invest in their own human capital, in terms of experience, skills, and talent. Students learn the different ways value can be calculated and how we might decide to make an investment. Through a wide array of polls, students engage in an interactive discussion. Professor Fitzgerald points out that the decision to pursue an MBA is not just a financial one and discusses the utility that an MBA may provide. She provides students with a worksheet that lets them customize and play around with the financial calculation part of this decision equation, allowing them to input cost of living, salary, expected retirement, and many more options. Ultimately she helps students boil down how to assess the financial part of this investment decision and discusses ways to incorporate non-financial aspects into the decision making process.
Prospective students say:
“I love that we got to participate in multiple polls throughout the class and could see the data-driven approach to decision making in action.”
“I found the use of ‘making an investment decision for an MBA’ as a test case to be particularly interesting. Further, the use of a model to quantify all the aspects of decision making was quite insightful. It gave me a sense of how Booth's classes adopt a data-driven approach and what to expect e from other classes at Booth in case I get the opportunity to attend.”
“The surveys throughout the class were a great way to make the session interactive. Overall, the session was a great chance to experience the content and flow of an actual Booth class.”
Recordings of previous MBA Masterclass sessions can be viewed here. Check back regularly for more class offerings and to register for your own Chicago Booth classroom experience!