Intersecting Minds: Education, Business and Technology at the North Carolina State Jenkins Graduate School of Management

The MBA Program as Holistic Education | September 19, 2008

Business Management is by nature interdisciplinary. Economics, Statistics, Calculus, Psychology, Sociology. Business draws on each of these academic subjects to varying degrees and then applies them to all aspects of running a for-profit organization: Accounting, Marketing, Finance, Operations, Sales and Strategy.

Of course, none of these silos function in a vacuum. Each depends on the others in such a way that the final product is greater than the sum of its parts. For example, an adjustment in production capabilities affects the company’s supply chain, which in turn can affect a budget put together by the Finance Department, which in turn can affect the amount of money allocated to an advertising campaign and so on and so on.

Integration. Integration. Integration. It’s been drilled into our heads from the first day of orientation. And I’ve found that this is an incredibly rapid departure from our paradigm of how education normally takes place.

In high school and college, you’re taught one subject at a time with very little cross-over. Math here. English here. History over here. And Biology over there. In b-school we’ve flipped that on its head. Now, we’re expected to bring what we’ve learned in the classroom to each of the other classes. What we learn in economics is discussed in strategy and what we learn in organizational behavior is discussed in economics. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had Aha! moments in class when these puzzle pieces fall into place.

This approach is an exciting way to learn, because those moments happen on a continual basis. Five weeks in, I’m just beginning to understand how much there is to learn, and how many opportunities will exist for us after graduation. I’ll end up saying a great deal more about this holistic approach when I talk about specific courses or projects, but I want to leave this post by saying that it’s fun to wake up in the morning feeling good about what we’re going to learn that day.

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