The agony and the ecstasy of the exam session

Exam season is now well and truly under way for all of the MBAs in Smurfit. On the Exec MBA we had four modules this semester, but, as Organisational Behaviour & Decision Making was 100% continuous assessment in the form of two major assignments, we have just three exams ahead of us. These finish up on the 12th of December and then it’s into town for our class Christmas party where hopefully we will be celebrating the successful completion of semester one rather than crying into our drinks.

First up though is Competitive Strategy. Again, there was a large amount of continuous assessment in this subject throughout the semester and as a result we have completed 55% of the marks, leaving 45% left to play for in the exam. It’s an interesting concept itself, as it’s a take-home exam that we have been given a week to complete. I have never done one of these before, but I have been advised that the difficulty is that you actually end up with too much time and therefore keep tweaking it at the expense of studying for other exams until you force yourself to submit it. I have decided to try and learn this lesson and get it completed first and then move on to the other subjects.

Next is Operations and Supply Chain Management, which also had a large amount of continuous assessment throughout the semester meaning that the exam itself accounts for 40% of our overall grade. Its hard to put your finger on this one but the past papers indicate that it’s a mixture of theory and essay based discussion questions so there is a little bit for everyone there. All of that is assuming that you have completed your last assignment, which is due this week also.

Finally, we have the subject that most of us find problematic, Financial Reporting, with 65% still at stake as the remainder was accounted for through continuous assessments. Its simultaneously impressive and worrisome to see the accountants in the class fill out the answers to the in-class exercises in seconds while most of us are still trying to find our calculators. This is not a subject that comes naturally to me but I have been told that it’s a matter of practice. We shall see on Friday…

Conor Connolly

Executive MBA Midweek Year 1

Running to the Corporate Finish

It is hard to believe that we are just over half-way through our second semester in Year 1. We are now all settled into our ‘new’ teams and working our way through our submissions and plans for the second half of the term. However this semester is more balanced towards individual assessment rather than group submissions and our first mid-term exam of the course took place on Saturday last in Corporate Finance. The mid-term was worth 20% of our overall grade and was definitely effective in focusing my attention on what we have covered in the module so far.

The Corporate Finance module has taught us many calculations, including how to determine the future and present values of cash flows and the cost of capital for a business. We have also focused on assessing market risk and return, and how to evaluate various investment opportunities for a business.

However as those of you familiar with this area know, there is a lot more to Corporate Finance than formulas and calculations.  This was reflected clearly in our mid-term exam of which at least half of the content was based on theory from the module material.   One needed to know the functions of financial markets and intermediaries and why market investors are not concerned with individual stock risks, as well as be able to calculate the value of a perpetuity, in order to successfully demonstrate their knowledge gained on the topic.

I found my revision of the module material during the last few weeks invaluable, while not infallible, in clarifying the module concepts and enabling me to embrace the topics we are due to cover in the next part of the term with a much greater appreciation.

We are all busy with the demands of the MBA and it is difficult not to regularly focus on what submissions are due. However this directed module revision has reinforced the importance of taking a point in time during the semester to reflect on my understanding of each module. Mid-term break seems like the perfect time to avail of this opportunity so luckily that is fast approaching.

Elaine Berkery

EMBA 2015