Last year around this time I was out on seas sailing on a ship with the thought of pursuing an MBA. Squeezing time out of the busy routines on board, I remember digging deep into Smurfit blog and reading Richard Morris’ piece on his experience of GNAM at Yale! A year later, I couldn’t be any more excited to have got a chance to go through the same experience. Smurfit school is a part of GNAM – Global Network for Advanced Management.
Along with 5 other classmates, I was fortunate enough to virtually attend a module on ‘Behavioral Science of Management’ at Yale School of Management. On Monday morning we started with a session by Professor Nathan Novemsky on ‘Aggregating Opinions and Group Decision Making’. The insightful session’s key takeaway: When eliciting information from a group of people, it is important to make sure that:
1. There is diversity.
2. There is independence.
3. There is an incentive and opportunity for all knowledgeable people to contribute (all information is extracted).
Tuesday’s session, hosted by Professor Gal Zauberman, revolved around the concept of how companies use perks and novelties to improve consumer experiences. Remember seeing chocolate in the hotel room, which uplifts the mood almost instantly? Yes, Gal spoke about it in great detail and kept us hooked. The following afternoon Professor Zoë Chance’s lecture on ‘Key to Influence and Persuasion’ glued us all to the screen. Zoë talked about the time when she worked for Mattel (think Barbies) to understand the behavior of kids playing with Barbie dolls and how consumer behavior is important to make business decisions.
On Wednesday and Thursday, we had super engaging lectures delivered by Professor Shane Fredrick and Professor Nick Barberies. Prof. Shane’s lecture kickstarted with the classic ‘bat and ball question’: if a baseball bat and a ball cost $1.10 together, and the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost? Prof. Nick then weaved the trick question to ‘Dual Systems and Choice Architecture’ and elaborated about the subject in great detail. On the other hand, Prof. Nick’s session focused on behavioral finance; in particular, on applications of cognitive psychology to understanding investor trading behavior and the pricing of financial assets.
Amidst all these lectures, Yale’s team included a fun element: a trivia games session that served as a good platform to network with participants from other schools.
The highlight of Yale’s GNAM was the session on Friday by Professor Daylian Cain on ‘Negotiating Mindsets’. When it is all about price (win vs. lose), how aggressive should you be in negotiations? When should you stop pushing for more? The group of participants was divided into buyers and sellers, and both parties had to close a deal on a wooden bench for a certain price. I was matched up by participants from UC Berkeley and IE Business School and it was a fun 10 min negotiation. $1200 settlement for polished wood isn’t so bad (at least for a seller)–is it? Prof. Cain collected data of various offers and counteroffers, turned the data into infographics, and detailed on what we can learn from the personalized patterns of concessions. Oh yes! By the end of the class, we did learn to negotiate like a pro.
We bid adieu to our mates from all parts of the globe on the following evening. It had been an experience full to the brim with loads of opportunities to network, learn, engage, and negotiate better. We Smurfiteers did make the most of it even though it was held virtually!
—Naman Kumar, FT MBA 2020-2021