When I was training for two marathons in 2007 with Team Asha, I did some of my training runs towards the end with two of the faster runners in the program – mentors who had several years of running under their belt. This would have not been notable, but for the fact that I was a novice trying to keep pace with them as they ran at a fast pace, effortlessly. Needless to say, it was an eye opener in terms of realizing how hard a 3 hour marathon could be to train for, unless you run regularly, and also how impossibly small the ranks of the sub 2 hr 10 min marathoners are.
Why did I recall this last weekend? Term 5 started last weekend and I’m signed up to do two Finance classes this term – Investment Management and Capital Markets. Lets start with the easier one. Capital Markets with David Musto seems to be an interesting look at how companies raise debt from the capital markets. In the two sessions that we had, we got a quick look at bonds and repos, money market funds, SIVs, commercial paper, haircuts (not the literal ones), bank runs and a host of other interesting topics. We even learnt how to give tips for strips (umm, okay it was more like giving TIPS for STRIPS, but that sounds less exciting doesn’t it?). As a complete outsider, other than the brief look into specific markets through books like Liar’s Poker, I’ve been blissfully ignorant of the deeper workings of these markets, and whether I grasp this course in its entirety or not, I think I will emerge knowing more at the end than I do right now.
Investment Management with Geczy was even more interesting. I have not met too many people in my life whose words-per-minute count exceeds mine. What is even more amazing that it is so high and at the same time the signal-to-noise ratio is way better as well – which makes it incredibly hard to stay tuned-in and internalize the words as they whiz past you into ether for ever. What can one say about Geczy other than that he’s an experience to be had, much like Bodnar? I don’t know if I will ever use the concepts from this course in a day-job, yet this is the most I’ve been excited about a class in Wharton so far. It promises to be a lot of work, as he reminded us repeatedly in the syllabus as well as in class, so I think this cohort will win the “top masochists among the masochists” award hands down for having survived the toughest course in possibly the toughest exec MBA program out there.
As we make our way through the electives and get exposed to new topics, it is becoming amply clear how little I know about so many different things and the wealth of talent that exists out there that excels in those topics I’m blissfully unaware of. To use the kupa-manduka analogy, this feels like small windows opening up on the sides of the well, revealing the vast, unexplored lands leading up to the horizon in that direction, bustling with people and activity that was unobserved and unknown so far.
On the fun side, we had a meeting to go over all our plans for Brazil as the travel date approaches quickly. A big kudos to the team that has been working hard putting this together. Despite Stephen’s successful attempt at scaring us out of our wits in terms of what we should and shouldn’t do, I think its going to be fun! We also had quite a few East Coasters visit us this session as we continue our process of flying to the other coast to take classes that we like, a flexibility that this program allows. Many of us are flying out East later in the term as well to take a market research course. This cross pollination helps us discover classmates on the other side with similar interests and career goals as we jog along this road up the hill …