Sloan 2013 Orientation Notes

Spent the last weekend on Stanford campus for an orientation event ahead of the major transition back to school that I announced about two months ago. It is becoming very real now and thought I’d post some notes either for personal future use or for anyone just researching the Sloan program.

Classmates

The Sloan Class of 2013 has grown to 80 (from 67 the year before) and for the first time it will be broken into two groups of 40 for the core classes. This should encourage more inclusive conversations in class, I’m sure – but likely mean that you get the folks “on the other side” know a little less throughout the year.

About 50 people, mostly along with their partners had made it to the orientation and the group was as diverse as I expected (and hoped). US, India, China,  seemed to be represented with largest, yet comparable-size groups, followed by Japan and Canada. Singapore (population 5M) lives up to their reputation by filling full 10% of the seats in class, just as Brazil (pop 190M). Europeans come from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Estonia — and surprisingly no-one from the UK this year. New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Peru diversify things further.

Professionally the backgrounds range from heavy industries to serial tech entrepreneurship. We also have bankers, investors, insurers, government officials (SG in full lead again), tech corporates, materials and pharma scientists, hoteliers and game developers to name a few. And both US and Australian Navy! This is going to be different, and fun.

Academics

The updated 12-month Sloan program we are pioneering this year is divided into four quarters. We start in July with full calendar of 5 core classes:

  • Summer: Economics / Data & Decision making, Organizational Design, Strategy Beyond Markets, Negotiations and Ethics
  • Autumn: Accounting, Global Strategy, Leadership, Generative Leadership
  • Winter: Finance, Marketing
  • Spring: Operations

Last three quarters can accommodate 2-3 additional electives. These can be chosen from the Graduate School of Business itself (a good way to get to know some of the 800 2-year MBA students in classroom) or from pretty much any other school on Stanford campus around you – any “highly recommended” tips from alumni would be appreciated.

By intuition I am eying towards Engineering and Design Schools first to stir up my the topics mix, but am only beginning proper research here. More than one current student recommended a “Thinking Like a Lawyer” class taught by top Law School professors specifically for non-lawyers. And also there were almost cult-like references made to a class codenamed “touchy-feely,” a supposed embodiment of GSB’s organizational behavior strengths. We’ll see.

The biggest issue around electives will be time management and prioritization. By testimonies, a single elective can add anywhere between 2 to 15 hours of reading, writing and study group time per week on top of the time in class. Even multiplying the midpoint by 5-6 classes will easily get you to a full Saturday. Which many said will happen anyway, but one still needs to fit family and some social life / downtime in.

Homemaking

Speaking of family, we made a decision to at least start the life on campus, in a family apartment in Escondido Village. That was probably the biggest shift in direction the orientation brought, as I’ve been researching off-campus options around Palo Alto for many weeks already. As a side remark, with the kind of money flowing in Silicon Valley this very moment in aggressive recruitment, M&A and IPOs, the market is just going bezerk, which was starting to become worrisome. Think 7000 dollars and up per month for a 3-bedroom place you won’t likely get anyway because someone beats you to it with an upfront cash payment for a year.

Talking to current students, everyone was so clearly underlining how you will value every hour of day – and while renting a place off campus, if you’re lucky to find anything in time, would give us double square footage and more privacy, I wouldn’t be there to enjoy it anyway. Going just 20 minutes bike ride out would virtually cut out any possible drop by home for a quick meal with wife and kids between classes and study groups. Also, living on campus helps a mile towards sorting out the kids school places and gives Ede access to some of the amazing facilities Stanford has to offer. So, even if we are still unsure how moving from our quite comfy home to an oversized dorm room with quite communal living will work we decided to give it a try. “And after all, it is just one year,” as was often repeated. A true family adventure it will be.

To conclude, I’d really like to thank the Sloan Class of 2012 folks that made themselves available for questions and tips throughout the weekend. The officially presented parts of the program were mostly substantial as well, but the honest and helpful conversations around them just invaluable.