Get The Most Out of Your MBA

So here we are, half way through our Duke Cross Continent journey, and at this point we know what to expect when The Box comes or what Finals week looks like during a busy work week.  We know how much we enjoy Residencies and team meetings during Distance.  So we have been posed with a question from other MBA hopefuls to find out what are some ways to get the most out of your program.  Here are a few tips that our Duke CC-MBA 2012 class has compiled and my best attempt to give some advice on how to put them into practice.

Tip #1 – Always say YES when faced with a new opportunity. – from Debbie Barabe – Throughout the MBA process and in your career you’ll often be presented with the chance to do something different and out of your comfort zone.  When you signed up for an MBA you more than likely signed up to add a skill set to your résumé.  So when opportunities come along to do something that is out of the norm for you, take them.  If you’re a CPA volunteer to do a Marketing case.  If you’re a Marketer, volunteer to do an Accounting assignment.  It’s only by saying “Yes” to a new opportunity that the new skill sets you’re aiming for with an MBA will be obtained.

Tip #2 – Gain perspective. Be open to new and different ideas. – from Kevin Wakefield – The Duke CCMBA program takes us to new and exciting locations, but if you go into each place looking to embrace the similarities you still only walk away with one angle.  By being open to new and different ideas you get to look at the same place with a new slant.  That same philosophy can apply to an organization.  If you only look at an organization from your team’s point of view or are only interested in following your processes you will not be able to approach the issues in the bigger picture.  Instead, try to put yourself into a “foreign land” and look at each issue from the perspective of another team or even from your customers point of view.  By learning to think like this in your MBA program you can grow leaps and bounds in the work place.

Tip #3 – Make the most of the time spent with your classmates! – from Tyler Roehm – When we wrote our entrance essay we were asked to share what about our backgrounds would benefit other students.  One hundred fifty of us wrote an essay on that and Duke thought the answer was pretty good.  So when meeting your classmates and talking to them, make the most of that time and find out what some of those reasons are.  A conversation you have today about someone else’s work may be something that becomes a door to another possibility later on.  If nothing else you’ve gained another great friend in your MBA program.

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How Accounting Explains the NBA Lockout

After many weekends spent this term on accounting and missing my beloved football games, I couldn’t help but think that there must be a way to bring the two together.  Accounting and sports.  A match made in heaven?  Well, maybe not quite, but I was able to enjoy a brief break from reading the Journal Entry of the Week by looking at some financial statements that were a little more interesting.

First, let’s start with the NFL.  It wasn’t too long ago that we were all on pins and needles about the NFL lockout.  What would happen if we had no professional football?  My fantasy football league can’t play itself.  I don’t own an X-box….yet….and if I did, would seeing a virtual Dirty Bird suffice?  No, it would not.  But why oh why would these players walk?

The claim from NFL owners was that they needed to reduce the player’s salaries by 18% ($1 Billion) because there was a loss in revenue.  Was that valid?  Wellllllll, in reviewing the financial statements that were leaked revenues in 2010 are down by $21.4M from 2009.  Hmm..we’ll need to keep digging though.  Ahh…the answer to why the owners are complaining is of course in the notes.  “Note 5- Debt & G-3 Stadium Program” explains that the program that gave low interest loans to teams to build stadiums ran out of money in 2007.  So the league isn’t loaning money anymore to owners and owners have loans to repay to the league for stadiums in huge amounts.  Team revenues are down, and owners need to cut costs.  Players’ salaries account for the largest portion of operating expenses, therefore to increase Net Income, owners wanted to…cut salaries.  Wow, I think I just had an accounting breakthrough.

Alright, alright, well, the NFL Lockout is a thing of the past, and I can turn on the Thanksgiving Day games and watching the nail biting Cowboys v Dolphins game.  The NBA Lockout is really what we are focusing on.  Once again, player’s salaries are on the firing line as the league claims that the teams are losing revenue.  The NBA claims that 22 out of 30 teams lost money in 2010.  So what do the financial statements reveal?  In this case, there may be some truth to the owner’s claims.  The leaked 2009 financial statement from the New Orleans Hornets the 2008 season resulted in a $17M loss.  The team recovered in 2009 with a $1.8M profit.  So you say, “Wait, they were positive again in 2009.  How’d they do that after such a bad year in 2008?”

Then you use some Schipper-like detective skills.  Salaries went down by $3M, but hmmm…what is this weird line in 2009 of “Gain on modification of relocation” in the amount of $4M increase on the Income Statement? Note 10 in the financial statements gives the answer.  When the Hornets moved from Charlotte to New Orleans they had to pay a relocation fee.  This was being paid out in installments.  However, in 2009 they were granted a deferral of $4M.  Ahhh…so without this deferral the Hornets would have been about $2.2 in the red again.  The owners also gave short term loans to the franchise, but then issued Long Term loans to repay those borrowings (see Note 15).  Hmmm…I dunno…on the fence on this one.

I’m not happy so far because accounting is explaining way too much of this story.  Salaries, salaries, salaries.  Let’s see if accounting can explain this.  Is the salary cap a bad thing for all of these professional sports programs?  Well, actually, it could be helping the players make bigger bucks.  Allan Sloan, from Fortune Magazine, says that salary caps are actually just creative accounting designed to lower the average salary reported out each year.  One year you have a big salary next year a low salary, so on average you report out a lower salary.  As I suspected, accounting is to blame.  That was the answer I was looking for.  Now I’m going to go see if I can remember what my pillow looks like.