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Case Rip Cord Goes Shopping

The beginning of each EC term brings with it a period when students can attend as many classes as they like in order to see what they want to take, knowing full well they’re all shooting for the same three classes anyway. If you, the reader, weigh the pros and cons of Class Shopping, you may notice that you have much more class preparation to do–up to five or six cases a night. Then again, if you read this column, you know it just means more material for the Rip Cord.

Whipping out the cases for my first day, I was confronted with a case on Dell Computer. Wow. This shot them straight to the lead in career statistics for Most Times Used in a Two-Year MBA Program, with four. Or so I thought. Comparing notes with other classmates, it turned out fully three courses were opening with Coca-Cola cases on Day One.
While we’re talking about performance statistics, one of the Coke cases named Rome, Georgia as the city with the highest rate of Coke consumption in the world. The average citizen in Rome drinks three Cokes per day. Harbus News Editor Emeritus Rob Alford (OH) grew up in Rome, so I guess we’ve now solved the secret behind his constant eagerness. Actually, in speaking with Rob about this factoid, he said it’s not so much that he drinks a lot of Cokes today, it’s that his mother bottle-fed him with it. And she didn’t really want to, the Junior League just expected it of her.

i2 Technologies, Inc.: “The schedulers were a bunch of men and women in the basement of the building to whom no one else paid any attention. These folks had the Rodney Dangerfield complex-they felt they go no respect from the rest of the organization. … i2 created rock stars out of these schedulers. Following a successful i2 implementation, schedulers were often invited to make presentations to other companies. Many were also able to negotiate better wages or switch to other companies.”

Random quote of the week, from Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, “It’s terribly inefficient to turn your employees faster than you turn your inventory.”

Revere Street: Our case protagonist goes to meet a banker named Geraldine Smith to get a mortgage to buy a house on Beacon Hill. In the next paragraph Smith is repeatedly referred to as “He,” but then Geraldine’s back to being a female after that. What’s really happening on Beacon Hill?

The first case in Professional Services was on McKinsey & Company. Giving an example of a work team in their Sydney office, the case says “The business analyst was Jonathan Liew, previously an actuary who was embarking on his first McKinsey assignment.” Now I had to stop after reading this line and ask myself, “Didn’t I just go to Argentina with an Aussie from Section OC named Jonathan Liew?” So I ran to the classcards, and sure enough, Jonathan was a Business Analyst at McKinsey at the time the case was written.

Then I ran back to the case, eager to read about the experiences Jonathan must have written about in his application essays. But there was nothing. No further mention. I was very disappointed, until I realized there was actually no relevant reason the Sydney office was mentioned at all. Combining a few facts gathered in Buenos Aires about Jonathan’s behavior, I concluded what happened. The case writer finagled a nice boondoggle to Australia and felt he had to mention the office to justify the trip, as well as give props to the individual who took him out and showed him that most beers in Australia are better than Foster’s.

Regardless, congratulations to Jonathan for his appearance, and we hope to read more about his work next time.

In closing, whether you’re Class Shopping or attending classes normally, the Case Rip Cord would like to remind you of the old adage, “It’s not a lot of reading if you don’t do it.”

Please send comments on your cases to Uncle.Jordy@mba2002.hbs.edu.

January 28, 2002
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