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Disclaimer: I started writing the draft of this essay on 3 Jul, 2022. Today is 30 Jul, 2022. It took me a few days to complete, mostly because I'm lazy.
On the flip side, you know that the content of the essay spans several days and even a wider range of moods while writing these words.
Be mindful of that fact before drawing any conclusions. Have fun. And, if you're a PGP1, all the best!

So, you have collected your coursemat? Are you beginning your classes tomorrow? Now what? Well, I don’t know! Only you would know what you intend to do next. In this essay, I attempt to review all the courses that I have taken was offered during the first year of IIM Ahmedabad’s (flagship 1) MBA program.

This article is modeled after my Review of EE courses I studied at IITK essay. The review is very subjective. I cannot guarantee that my thoughts would help/hurt you. Since you are here, you might read the entire thing.

The difficulty level, out of $5$, is subjective and based on my impression of the material, the academic associate, and the Professor. $1$ represents a straightforward course, while $5$ represents a very challenging course.

Feel free to click on the course that you are interested in, or you can read the entire thing from start till the end.

Courses

Term 1

HRM-I: Human Resource Management-I
ME: Microeconomics
LAB: Legal Aspects of Business
FRA: Financial Reporting and Analysis
ID: Individual Dynamics
MGRCMP: Managerial Computing
QM-1a: Quantitative Methods-1a
FM: Financial Markets
MGRCMN: Managerial Communication
MKT-I: Marketing I
OM-I: Operations Management I
QM-1b: Quantitative Methods-1b

Term 2

CCS: Costing and Control Systems
HRM-II: Human Resources Management II
IGP: Interpersonal Group Processes
TBIT: Transforming Business through Information Technology
MEP: Macroeconomics and Policy
MKT-II: Marketing II
OM-II: Operations Management II
PCE: Personal and Corporate Ethics
QM-2: Quantitative Methods 2
SCEB: The Social and Cultural Environment of Business
WIP: Workshop on Interviews and Presentations
WAC-I: Written Analysis and Communication I

Term 3

BES: Business, Environment and Sustainability
BRM: Business Research Methods
CF: Corporate Finance
GSP: Government Systems and Policy Process
IEB: Internet-Enabled Businesses
MKT-III: Marketing III
ODY: Organizational Dynamics
SM: Strategic Management
WAC-II: Written Analysis and Communication-II
SOM: Service Operations Management
SHRM: Strategic Human Resource Management

Glossary of words

The meaning of these words would come in handy in understanding the reviews that follow:

Globe: Any concept based on random verbiage that does not merit the time spent on learning and can be derived by the user based on his own life experience and can be presented in a obfuscated manner to appear as intelligent. 2

DCP: Desperate Class Participation. An attempt by the participant(s) to participate in class discussions on trivial matters and vocalize viewpoints that do not merit any consideration but help them complete their participation quota.

CCP: Challenge Class Participation. Vocalizing viewpoints in class without context, just because friends challenged the speaker. In specific contexts, the friends provide the requisite material for vocalization. This may or may not result in the participant getting barred from the class.


HRM-I: Human Resource Management-I. The course is relatively straightforward and introduces a few HR concepts and issues that organizations face when they grow in size. Interestingly, this course’s first case was the first one we got at IIMA 3.

I’m not going to lie; I had big expectations from the case method after watching Professor Tsedal Neeley of HBS. However, nothing that was discussed in the class met my expectations. The expectation and reality were not even close by any measure. It has been like that ever since. So, maybe don’t have too high of an expectation for your first class?

Difficulty: 1

ME: Microeconomics. Professor Tarun Jain was one of the best instructors we got in the first year. Plus, I liked that the slides were made using $\LaTeX$, which I missed terribly post-engineering. The exams were fun; some questions were challenging but tested what was taught in class. I liked the last class, where the Professor talked about various research directions, and for the first time felt like whatever I was learning could have a real-world impact. Overall, it’s a great course.

I thought I would get a Ph.D. in Economics until I saw the end-term scores. I’m still undecided about many things but get a Ph.D., I shall.

Difficulty: 3

LAB: Legal Aspects of Business. If I had to use a word to describe the course, it would be “boring.” The instructor is a terrific research scholar who would discuss the latest court rulings in class. However, I did not like the way it was delivered. The end-term paper repeated what was asked in the previous year, making matters worse. If you looked up previous years’ papers, congrats, you did well, or else you’ve been screwed. I’ll leave it to the reader to guess which category I belong to.

Difficulty: 1

FRA: Financial Reporting and Analysis. Oh, how I wish I had completed the HBS course on financial accounting. I should have listened to a senior who suggested I start studying accounting after getting B-School offers. If you have not previously studied accounting, you might struggle a bit. I don’t think the material itself was hard, but the pace at which everything was delivered and the surprise quizzes were definitely very unsettling.

Naively, I thought my tryst with financial accounting would end once the course gets over. It did not, not at all. So, you should learn accounting while you can because it would bother you till Term 3 (and maybe beyond, who knows). Good luck.

Difficulty: 5

ID: Individual Dynamics. If you have good writing skills and are good at recalling mnemonics, you should breeze past the course. The course talks about how different dynamics play out between individuals. Most things would be obvious, but looking at concrete theories behind everyday observations is always nice. Some helpful souls will share various frameworks and theories when the exam comes around. I only had to make mnemonics of those about 15 minutes before exams and explain them well in the test, incorporating the situation presented in the question.

Difficulty: 1

MGRCMP: Managerial Computing. Microsoft Excel and MBA is a match made in heaven. The course is sold to us by saying, “It would come in very handy during your internships,” and showing a few statistics and comments by seniors about the course’s usefulness. I learned a few useful formulae and started to appreciate Excel as a tool by the end of the course.

I still believe in Python supremacy, though. We did complex things such as splitting full names into firstname, middle, and surname. The course taught me ways to complicate simple things - what could be done in one line in Python could be done in $10^{32}$ steps in Excel. Okay, that is an exaggeration, but you get the point.

Difficulty: 4

QM-1a: Quantitative Methods-1a. The course taught the Probability part of “Probability & Statistics.” The Professor was very enthusiastic about teaching us Probability. Overall, a useful course. Plus, the board work was neat.

Difficulty: 1-4, depending on how intuitive Probability is for you!

FM: Financial Markets. This is a very useful course. It talks about various financial instruments and the pros and cons of each. The course started out harmless but a few sessions into the course, I felt like I’d hit a wall. It was painful to Zoom through the course. I got pretty lucky in the end term because they tested us on stuff that I knew from solving previous papers. I mean, half the class probably scored full marks, but yeah, I got lucky.

Difficulty: 5

MGRCMN: Managerial Communication. This is a submit the last assignment from Goa kind of course. Assuming you maintain attendance in the class, speak in the class, and write well, you should have no problems in the course.

Difficulty: 1

MKT-I: Marketing I. In terms of difficulty, this is a very easy course. However, there is a group project component that can screw your grades because grades in globe group projects mostly depend on the mood of the AA (Academic Associate). I decided that Marketing is not something that I would want to do after studying this course, although I revised that opinion after taking MKT-II & MKT-III.

The highlight of the course must be the reel that the section made on the last day of classes. LOL.

Difficulty: 1

OM-I: Operations Management I. I don’t remember much about what happened in the course except that every class got extended by 15-20 minutes. We would request the Professor to consider our plight after every class, but he did not listen at all. The classes were totally globe for an hour, after which the Professor realized that there was material to cover, so then he would rush through the PPT for the remaining $15+15$ minutes.

Difficulty: 5

QM-1b: Quantitative Methods-1b.

The course taught the Statistics part of “Probablity & Statistics.” The Professor was very enthusiastic about teaching us using different real-world examples. Overall, a very useful course. Plus, the coursemat was neat. The coursemat had blanks that the Professor filled out in class. That is both neat and cute. It also helped that he discussed dogbite in class.

Difficulty: 3-5, depending on how well you are able to interpret fine prints.


CCS: Costing and Control Systems. CCS is a very simple course. There are a bunch of formulae that you need to commit to memory and solve previous years’ questions. The kind of questions that you get tested on is pretty much fixed from year-to-year. The Professor tried to make the course interesting, but I think the material itself was boring, so (almost) nobody got excited about the course.

Difficulty: 2

HRM-II: Human Resources Management II. This is the second of the three HR courses that one is required to take during the first year. The course was probably the most eventful one. The Professor said quite a few things that landed very badly with some students, and so the classes would get extended almost every day. The post-class discussions were very intense! I wonder if anyone learned anything from that experience.

I thought the course was the purest definition of globe. Also, I should point out that the class slides had a lot of dew drops for some reason; LMAO.

Difficulty: 1

IGP: Interpersonal Group Processes. IGP was one of the most useful and humorous courses that I took last year. I could totally relate to the Professor’s existential jokes, and I also learned a thing or two about negotiations from the class. The course talks about how different dynamics play out in group settings.

One of the best aspects of the course is the group game component that exposes how selfish (or snake in popular parlance) everyone is. It is unsurprising given that we are in an MBA program. Everyone is looking to double-cross someone else. People would pretend to be your friends and then bitch about you behind your back as soon as you leave the scene xD.

Difficulty: 2

TBIT: Transforming Business through Information Technology. A pretty basic course. The course talks about various technologies and tools used by businesses to grow. It also introduces a few frameworks that are useful from a grades point of view. Although, if the course AA does not like your answers, you might get screwed a bit.

Difficulty: 1

MEP: Macroeconomics and Policy. I loved the course, even though it can be a little overwhelming in terms of the course content. The Professor explained most things pretty well, although the exams upset me a little. I would look forward to the class and do most pre-reads out of sheer interest in the subject.

Difficulty: 3

MKT-II: Marketing II. Honestly, I don’t remember much about what happened in this course. There are a few cases to read and a few globe points to make. But, it was not difficult in terms of the content.

Difficulty: 1

OM-II: Operations Management II. If there is one thing that I could note about the course, it would be the neat (digital) board work 4 that the Professor did. The instructor explained the concepts (there are only a few) very well. In fact, he explained things so well that some people got bored saying some explanations were very basic, but I loved it. I did not at all feel that I could not understand concepts.

Difficulty: 5

PCE: Personal and Corporate Ethics. In practical terms, this is a course that most people would consider “timepass.” The course talks about ethical dilemmas through various cases and scenarios, but the highlight of the course is the final assignment that you need to submit to pass the course. I’m really interested in seeing what most students “cook up” for their final submission. Pretty relaxed course, overall. Nothing much to do. Just attend the required lectures, submit the final assignment, and you are done.

Difficulty: 1

QM-2: Quantitative Methods 2. I had a hard time understanding whatever was taught in this course. And that is coming from someone who claims to have gone through four years of engineering. The video lectures uploaded by the Professor were life savers. In fact, I got to scoring pretty decent grades by the end, thanks to the awesome video explanations. It might be controversial to say this, but I think the course could have been a set of 16-20 short video lectures explaining the core concepts instead of 75-minute lectures. Most students would gain more this way.

Difficulty: 5

SCEB: The Social and Cultural Environment of Business. This is one of my favorite first-year courses. The course talks about how businesses can impact society and shape or destroy entire cultures. The course also talks a fair bit about how maximizing profits might not be the best course of action. The Professor facilitated one of the most honest conversations around affirmative action in the class. I suspect that I have lost a few friends because of what I said in class, but I don’t mind that at all. I loved the course, and the course loved me back 5. LOL.

Difficulty: 1

WIP: Workshop on Interviews and Presentations. Another one of those “timepass” courses. I don’t remember learning much from the course. Just show up to class and do whatever is asked of you. It’s a pass/fail course.

Difficulty: 1

WAC-I: Written Analysis and Communication I. This is one of those “globe” courses that you would encounter at IIMA. I think I’m being very kind when I call it “globe.” Nothing against the instructor(s), but the way the course is taught would make you question your life choices. The grading is very random, and the feedback on your assignments is even more random. The essence of the feedback is, “Well, we read your assignment and did not like it, so here is a C. Oh, how to improve, you ask? We don’t know how you can improve. Maybe the vibes don’t match. You should try putting the IIMA logo on the cover next time. Oh, baccha you want a template? Sorry, we don’t do that in WAC-I.”

Difficulty: “Hey, Google! Generate a random number between 1 and 5.”


BES: Business, Environment and Sustainability. If you read the previous section, then you would already know that I’ll have a favorable review of this course. The course content is pretty evident from the course title. I loved the course. The Professor made the class engaging, and it helped that the last few sessions of the course were held entirely in person. I usually have a lot of views about these topics, and I’m glad that the class gave me an outlet to express my feelings.

The highlight of the course has to be the ad for KitKat. TW: It has graphic content; if you don’t like seeing blood skip the video.

Difficulty: 2

BRM: Business Research Methods. The course is a 2-credit course disguised as a 0.5-credit course. There is a fair bit of work involved in conducting primary research and writing the final report. The highlight of the course for me was staying up all night in the library, re-formatting a 100-page long document so that it looked like a magazine at the end. It was worth it, I think.

Difficulty: 4

CF: Corporate Finance. I don’t remember much from the course, except feeling very dumb after every lecture. I did fairly well in the end term, though. I followed the instructions quite well and solved the questions. Whoever prepared the notes was a savior. Thanks, stranger.

Difficulty: 5

GSP: Government Systems and Policy Process. If you read my reviews about SCEB and BES, then you already know that I loved this course. The Professor let me speak my ideas in the class, and we discussed a broad range of issues about why government works and why it does not function as expected at times. We also discussed various government schemes and projects and why they fail at times. Overall, it was a useful course about various things I’m interested in: government, public policy, and society.

Difficulty: 1

IEB: Internet-Enabled Businesses. The course talks about a score of businesses that have come about because of the internet. The material is pretty straightforward but how well you do in the course depends on the course AA. In my case, they did not like the answers that I wrote, and unfortunately, my grades tanked. Otherwise, it is a useful course to understand businesses from a different lens. The instructor is pretty cool too, and the board work is quite neat as well.

Difficulty: 2

MKT-III: Marketing III. I don’t think I’m a marketing person. I would never be able to recall the various frameworks and how to force fit them. I’m not saying I’ve given up on marketing, not yet. In fact, when the batch of Freshers starts preparing for various marketing roles for final placements, I might be doing just that. I mean, who am I kidding? I’m but a sheep in the herd. Anyway, the highlight of the course was the 4.5 hours long end-term exam. I wrapped it up pretty quickly and chilled out the rest of the time. I got a decent grade too, so it was fine. The material is not hard to grasp; it’s pretty straightforward.

Difficulty: 1

ODY: Organizational Dynamics. I don’t remember anything about this course. But I’m guessing it’s not difficult. Just read the course title.

Difficulty: 1

SM: Strategic Management. This was one of the best-taught courses in the first year. At least the first half of the course was taught quite well. I almost got in trouble for making a reference to Wonder Woman in one of the lectures. In my defense, the instructor misunderstood my point. To her credit, she heard me out and said it was okay. There are a few frameworks to learn and apply to various cases in the exam. I loved the overall flow of the course. It was useful and had me think instead of filling up words in the answer sheet.

Difficulty: 2

WAC-II: Written Analysis and Communication-II. This is a downgraded version of WAC-I. The grading here was very random as well, but the feedback was quite useful in contrast to WAC-I. I would not go so far as saying the course was useful. Though, the course gave me a reality check - that whether I or II, WAC is still WAC, and you can get whacked in all kinds of ways.

Difficulty: “Hey, Google! Generate a random number between 1 and 5.”

SOM: Service Operations Management. The instructor who taught us OM-II took the course, and as usual, I liked it. I’ll admit that I was really surprised by the surprise quiz and did terribly. The end-term performance was more predictable, and if I recall correctly, I did okay in that. However, like OM-II, the highlight of the course for me was the neat board work that the Professor did. There was a lecture on shortest paths towards the end, and the way it was taught reminded me of my engineering days.

Difficulty: 5

SHRM: Strategic Human Resource Management. I did not like the course at all. I did not like the way it was taught. I did not like the course content. The only reason I picked this over TCM was that TCM had a role play component in it. I thought I’ll hit the individual assignments of SHRM out of the park. I was very wrong. Sitting through the fifteen 75 minutes lectures was perhaps the most painful few hours that I experienced in life. Four ICU days in 2018 seemed more pleasant than sitting through the course. If not anything else, I learned a great deal about being patient from the course.

This is a personal opinion, but please pick TCM over SHRM if given a choice. I should state that many people liked SHRM and the way it was taught, so maybe it’s me and not the course, but I hope I’ve made my feelings plenty clear.

Difficulty: 5

Some generic advice

  1. If you don’t have space constraints or a cap on the number of words, try to fill as many pages as possible in exams. There are exceptions to this heuristic, of course. Don’t do that for “numbers exams.” But, as a rule of thumb, writing more usually translates to better scores, unless you’re writing lyrics of songs xD.
  2. You should have a look at How to Globe.
  3. You’ll lose some and win some. Try to focus on your strengths and maximize grades in the courses that interest you. Obviously, don’t ignore the courses that don’t interest you (don’t be stupid like me!)
  4. CP points can boost your performance greatly. I did not speak much during Term 1. I started speaking a little from Term 2, and by Term 3, I would take part in most classes that interested me. You can already guess the term-wise contributions to my overall CGPA.
  5. I found that the Professors here are very approachable (in comparison to my UG), and so have fun while also learning a few frameworks. Maybe, B-School Professors are just more human!
  6. Leave a comment on this essay.😛

Read “Review of Term 4 courses at IIM Ahmedabad”.

Notes

  1. I don’t know why people say “flagship.” I’ve heard people saying it multiple times in videos, as well as seen it on LinkedIn posts. So, I’m using it as well. Now, I sound very cool, don’t I? 

  2. Definition sourced from https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-IIM-lingo-words 

  3. I’m not counting the mock case study introduced during the orientation. 

  4. Smiles in Zoom 

  5. Yeah, I got a 4.33 in the course. Don’t ask me how! 


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