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Make your part-time MBA work for you


Have you currently graduated from a part-time MBA program? Do you find it difficult to capitalize on your MBA? Well……you are not alone. Recently, one of my colleague, who has finished her part-time MBA, asked me similar questions. Though she has finished her part-time MBA, she was not recognizing any benefits from it. While I don’t have magical solution to make your MBA work, I have few suggestions which can help you.

Communicate with your manager:

GenerationXIf you are like me, and if you are also working on your MBA while working full-time, then you should communicate your intentions to your manager before you even think of starting the program.

Some of you might be hesitant to share this knowledge with your manager, since you might be afraid to see the reaction from your manager. While some managers will see this communication as an effort from your side to change your existing job, 90% of the manager see this as a potential growth opportunity for their employees.

What can happen here? Either your manager will be impressed by your initiative of pursuing further education to help towards your job, or he will just neglect your entire conversation. Well……you don’t have anything to loose here. But if you don’t have this conversation with your Boss, then you have everything to lose.

I remembered, when I had this conversation with my boss…..he was not only impressed by my decision to improve my knowledge, but he also took the initiative to find out more information regarding the tuition reimbursement program in my company. As a result, I ended up paying only 30% of my total tuition cost for the entire program.

Implement your learning at work: 

Most of the people who pursue their part-time MBA want to get a head in their existing job, so that they can get promoted to the next level. Though the idea behind this thought process is very nice, they lose their focus in middle of the program.

I have seen numerous MBA students, who get busy in their day-to-day coursework that they forget to implement their learning at their workplace. Thus, at the end of their MBA program, they have this knowledge which they can’t apply to their existing job, and hence think of changing their job instead of growing within the same company.

By implementing your learning at your current workplace, you will not only practice your knowledge and get better at it, you will also increase your visibility within your peers. Imagine, if you are working in software company as a software developer and going for your MBA in finance. Though these two subjects are completely different, you can still use your finance knowledge to assess the business impact of your new project. Wouldn’t you look more prepared when you are presenting your next development idea to your VP, and providing him with all the stats on how this project will help the organization to succeed?

Thus, you should always try to find opportunities where you can practice your MBA learning at your work place.

I hope these examples were helpful to uncover the full potential of your part-time MBA program. In the meanwhile, if you have any other ideas through which you can make your part-time MBA work for you, then please feel free to share those here.

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
 

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Why part-time MBA is more worth than a full-time MBA?


Business Week Ranking

This is a long lasting debate. Some people prefer to do a full-time MBA as compared to a part-time MBA. Though you can’t say which one is better over another with utmost certainty, I would recommend part-time MBA for working professionals as compared to a full-time MBA. Obviously, there are various reasons why you want to do a part-time MBA, but some of the primary reasons are as follows:

Cost savings: Unless you got accepted to an Ivey League University for your full-time MBA, I would recommend you to do your part-time MBA from some local University. It will save you some tremendous amount of money. Let’s say, if you were to do your full-time MBA from some University. In that case, you had to quit your job for couple of years. Let’s say, you are earning $50,000/year right now. That means, you are losing $100,000 in two years of your education period, because you won’t be working full-time during that time. In addition to your loss of income, you have to pay for the tuition from your own pocket, which might be anywhere between $50,000 to $200,000. In short, you would be losing on an average around $150,000 ($100,000 + $50,000) during these 2 years of your full-time MBA. Let’s say, you somehow magically find a job in this economy with your full-time MBA, which pays you $15,000 more than your previous salary, then also you will take at least 10-15 years to cover that cost. Isn’t that right?

Minimal risk: Other than the huge cost savings, part-time MBA comes with other additional advantages. And one of the most important advantage is – minimal risk. If you are a working professional, then chances are …… your current employer might be covering partial or full cost for the entire program. Thus, you don’t have to come up with the tuition amount from your pocket. Let’s say, you started your program and in the middle of it, you somehow didn’t end up liking it. In that case, you can just quit, since you haven’t invested much of your personal money in this initiative. In addition to this, you don’t have to spend much time studying for GMAT or GRE, since most of the part-time programs (like Harvard Extension School) offer few classes as Grad Special, and if you perform well in those classes then you get to enter in to the program without giving your standardize tests. This will ensure that you like the program before you actually get admitted in to one, unlike the full-time MBA program.

Understand the other side: When I first thought of doing my MBA, I wanted to do it to understand what my Boss does. Being from a technical background, I always had a problem understanding the strategic decisions taken by my company. I was much more involved in the technology as compared to the business behind it. My part-time MBA provided me with the opportunity to understand the business perspective better. I am not saying that I couldn’t have learned the same thing through full-time MBA, but if I were in the full-time MBA program, then I wouldn’t have the opportunity to connect this learning to the current work environment. Most of the times, I would learn something from my MBA classes, and I was able to directly apply that learning at my work place. And that has helped me retain approximately 60% of my concepts, which I wouldn’t have otherwise remembered due to lack of practice. And maybe, this is the key reason why one should prefer part-time MBA over full-time program.

I hope these tips will help to choose between full-time and part-time MBA program. Do you have any other reasons due to which you would prefer a part-time MBA program over a full-time option?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
 

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How to clearly define the scope of your project?


ProjectScopeHave you ever wondered about …… What exactly does the ‘scope of a project’ mean? …..I have…. I kept on hearing this term from the time when I started my career. Though I have learned its meaning over the years; people around me still describe the term vaguely. Thus, I am  going to provide you with some simple tips, which can help you to clearly define the scope for your project.

The deliverables: Let’s say, you are one of those project managers whose projects are very complex, and you don’t know where exactly to start for defining the scope of your project. If you are not sure about how to move forward with this process then you should at least try to define the deliverables of the project. Don’t stress yourself too much. Ask your customers to provide you with tangible (I mean tangible) deliverables that they would like to see at the end of the project. Once, you figure out the final deliverables of the project, you can then go ahead and try to define the interim project deliverables. These defined deliverables will tremendously help you to better understand the project.

Project boundaries: Once you got some handle on how the project should look like through its deliverables, you should now define how it shouldn’t be looking. For example: Chris is going to look for a software third-party provider within the US. In this case, third-party software providers from China are out of scope. If Chris was considering the needs of the entire global company, this would not have been a good boundary statement since he could not have stated a good out-of-scope statement.

Project Features: Once you have described the deliverables and the boundaries, you have completed high-level scope. Now, it’s time to describe the physical characteristics of the deliverables, called features. If you were building a software framework, for instance, most of the functionalities would count as features. These might include the number of GUIs (graphical user interface), number of APIs (application interface), etc. So, follow the top-down approach and start defining project’s features from its well defined deliverables.

Project Functions: Once you finished describing project’s features, now you need to describe how people interact with a deliverable and how a deliverable interacts with other deliverables. For example, if you need to change invoicing and billing transactions, most of the requirements could end up being process oriented. This would include how billing transactions move from orders to invoicing to accounts receivable. Basically you are defining the information flow in this phase. Thus, make sure to involve all the stakeholders, who will be affected by this information.

I hope these simple tips will help you to better define the scope of your project. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can make this process simpler. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
 

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Reduce your employee turnover rate by hiring fresh graduates


In my last blog, I have discussed about how you can save some money and re-training costs by hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. In this blog, I will provide you with few other reasons why you should prefer fresh graduates over an experienced person.

Flexibility: In my experience, I have found less experienced people more flexible as compared to very experienced professional. For example: I had this one intern, let’s call him Mr. X, who was very self-motivated to learn. Thus, Mr. X will come early every morning, and read all the required process documents and training documents before he started his work. He would still work his core hours with some of my other experienced team members, but he was always willing to put in some extra time to learn new things. His hunger for learning new things helped me a lot, as he would come on weekends sometime and finish some of the important tasks of my projects.

Happier workforce: I am not saying that fresh graduates are always happier at work. I am saying that……….. Since they don’t have any past experience to compare their existing job with, they wouldn’t complain as much as few experienced professionals would, who might have worked in different companies and have seen different company cultures and practices. For a fresh graduate, your culture and practices will become his primary bench mark, since he will grow with your company, and learn all the practices and procedures established by your company. Also, smaller incentives like free bagels, donuts or lunch will go a long way for him as compared to other people, who might have seen different (better) days.

More growth opportunities: Obviously, you can have various growth opportunities for your experienced professionals depending on your company’s policies. But trust me, you will have way more opportunities for your employee’s growth, if you hire a fresh graduate. For example: I work in a Software Industry. In my company, we have various job ranks for our engineers. Ranks go from 1 to 6 depending on their experience and capability. Let’s say, if I hire an experienced professional on “Engineer Level 5”. Unfortunately, after his promotion to the next level, “Engineer Level 6”, I might not have clear defined path for his growth. And that employee will feel stagnant in my company, and might try to leave for another job. Imagine, if I hire an “Engineer Level 1”, a fresh graduate, for the same position . I will have more opportunity to grow him within the company in a given hierarchical structure of the company. Thus, I would recommend you to hire a fresh graduate, if you already have few experienced people in your team to provide a direction.

I hope these tips will help understand the importance of hiring a fresh graduate in comparison of an experienced professional. Let me know, if you have any other reasons why you would prefer hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. Please feel free to share your opinion here. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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Why should you hire fresh graduates instead of experienced professionals? (Part 1)


I have seen many companies investing their millions of dollars in hiring experienced professionals for their company. Though I understand the need for hiring experienced professionals, I think that companies should invest more dollars in hiring fresh graduates. For example: if you already have few senior engineers in your team, you should not look for more senior engineers. You should instead think of hiring fresh talents. Following are few reasons, why I would hire fresh graduates over experienced professionals.

Lowering costs: This is one of the primary reasons why most of the companies hire fresh graduates. On an average, fresh graduates cost 20-40% less than an experienced individual. I am not saying to hire them just because they are cheap, there are various other cost benefits for hiring graduates. For example: You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars in the talent search program. You can partner with some of the local universities in your areas, and take benefit of their career center, which will be more than happy to find out a talent match for you. Or you can participate in Career Fairs of few schools and interview people right there and then. This will also reduce all the traveling and lodging costs, which you might end up paying for inviting an experienced person for an interview.

Easy to train: Imagine, if you hire an experienced professional, who seems to provide you all the answers that you require. But have you ever considered the cost of re-teaching him your culture? Since the person is experienced, he would be familiar with the culture of the last company that he worked for. So, before even teaching him your culture, you need to make sure that he forgets some of the aspects of his old culture, and dwells in with your existing culture. On the other hand, if you hire a fresh graduate then you don’t have to reteach him anything. He will basically learn everything from the beginning, and grow with your company. It’s like writing something on an empty white board, you can write anything without rubbing off any previous prints. Thus, unless you are looking for someone from a different culture/company to come and change your existing team dynamics and your existing work practices, I would recommend you to hire someone fresh and new.

I hope these tips will help understand the importance of hiring a fresh graduate in comparison of an experienced professional. Let me know, if you have any other reasons why you would prefer hiring a fresh graduate instead of an experienced professional. Please feel free to share your opinion here. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to design an internship program that works for you and not for the intern?


InternshipHave you ever been in a situation, where you have invested so much time and money in hiring the cream interns, but they never chose to work for you after graduation? This is not true in today’s economy, where students are thankful to have any job. But still……..I am sure, most of you must have seen a situation where your intern accepted a job offer somewhere else, and your time invested in him/her didn’t pay off for you. Through this blog post, I will provide you some high level ideas through which you can design your internship program to help YOU.

Summer Interns: Don’t get me wrong, but I am a huge fan of pay offs when it comes to business. I understand that you want to help your interns to grow his skillsets. But at the end of the day, you should also be benefited from this relationship. After all, you are investing your time and money to train this intern. Thus, to take the best work out of a summer intern, I would advise you to provide him with few smaller standalone projects. For example: projects related to testing, nice to have projects, bug fixes, etc. This practice will ensure that your work gets done, while giving you an idea of work ethics, self-sustainability, and leadership skills of your intern. I would also go further by saying…..you should hire only those students, who have only one semester to go. This will give you an opportunity to hire that candidate without disrupting your work flow too much.

Full time Interns: Most of the companies don’t offer this program. But I would highly recommend to include this program in your internship. This kind of internship means…..hiring someone part-time, probably 20 hours a week, while he goes to school. I would prefer to hire a local candidates over out-of-state candidates for this kind of internship. This will not only improve your relationships with local Universities and help you to get better full time candidates in the future, but this will also give you an opportunity to get out of paying unnecessary relocation costs. For this kind of internship, I would hire anyone from senior to about to graduate. Since, their working hours need to flexible due to their school schedule, I would assign them projects which require minimal supervision and are of lower priority.

CO-Ops: This kind of program is neither famous nor talked about. But this is my favorite internship program. CO-OP, formally known as cooperative education program, gives an opportunity to the employee to hire someone for an entire year to work for full time. In short, this is like hiring an inexperienced contractor for an entire year. I would mostly hire this kind of interns for a specific projects, which requires medium supervision, and which can be done within a year, OR some manual effort like testing, data entry, etc. I would recommend you to target those schools, where they offer online classes. Thus, if you really like this person during his contract period, you can then keep him as your full time resource, while he simultaneously finishes his school. Try to hire a Master level candidate who is about to finish his school in the next semester. In this way, you will get a resource who is mature but flexible.

I hope these tips will help you in making your internship program work for you instead of working just for your interns. Let me know, if you have any other ideas through which you can improve your internship program, so that you have a reasonable pay-back on your investments. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi

 

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New manager’s guide for the inventory check


Have you ever taken over a completely new team? Have you ever had a hard time in finding out what your team has to offer? Well…. in this blog I am going to talk about how to assess your team’s inventory as a new Manager.

Human capital: Most of the new managers always start their inventory count by assessing their tangible items first. For example: computers, machine parts, etc. I would definitely recommend against it. As a new manager and a new member of the team, one should  familiarize himself with all the team members in the group. You should identify their job description, skill sets, work history, recent projects, and major accomplishments. Find out under what circumstances your team will be given access to any additional human resources, such as outside contractors or assistance from other teams. Find out under what circumstances human resources will be drawn away from your group or reassigned to other teams.

Raw materials and office supply: Once you are done with all the human resource information, you should start assessing all the tangible items available to you. For example: computers, furniture, special equipment, office supplies, work space, hardware, software, etc. You should also identify finished products on hand, and try to get estimated values of those products (if possible). While you are going through the process, it would be nice if you can identify future inventory requirements for your current projects. This will not only help you in better forecasting your inventory needs, but it will also give you an idea of how efficiently your raw materials are used.

Shared inventory: Most of the managers fail to count their shared inventory during this process. I would recommend not to do that. Try to determine if there are any other managers who have ownership over any parts of your team’s current projects. If there are, then you can introduce yourself to these managers so that you can begin to develop good working relationships with them. Ask these other managers to explain how your roles intersect and overlap; ask them to describe what they expect you to do (and not do).

Future supply: Once you are done assessing existing supply, you need to identify any new initiatives that your team has planned for the future. What does your team plan to focus on? When do they plan to begin these new initiatives, and when do they hope to finish them? What business need are they trying to serve? Etc. This will not only help you to better predict your future inventory needs, but it will also help you to determine a roadmap for your team.

How would you access your inventory, if you took over a completely new team?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2012 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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