How I got to know about this course?
After realizing that strategy is going to be one of the most important aspect of my learning, I faced a challenge! Though, I was good in making plans and analyzing business problems but had no knowledge of presenting them in a proper manner. If I like to work on global scale, I need to learn more formalized method of presenting my thoughts & results to make them understandable to everyone. In the later part of the year 2012, my search brought me at ‘Foundations of Business Strategy’ course going to be offered by Darden School of Business, University of Virginia. I thought that this course can be the key to look strategy from different perspective and I have enrolled for this course.
Experiences with ‘Foundations of Business Strategy’
Prof. Lenox was truly amazing!! His energetic presentations never gave me impression of online learning, instead it looked similar to the classroom environment. The content of the course along with examples was so interesting that I have watched some of the lectures twice, thrice and keep watching them even after one year of the course completion.
Like every Coursera course, discussion forums were truly amazing. Many times, I lost completely while reading comments made by others without adding anything from my side. My questions, view points were already answered or raised by the other course participants.
This is the strongest reason for enrolling in this course. But finding a suitable organization was no less than a difficult journey. I have seen majority of people were doing analysis on established firms which I did not find attractive. My objective is to work on something challenging and also check the possibility of implementing my ideas than just submitting a project report.
My favorite was Blackberry, it was the time when this firm was passing through a very difficult phase. I thought, it was very challenging to analyze this situation and put some creative ideas to turnaround the company. But I did not get any response from the firm on my initiative and I looked for other options. Which can be the next one? Those days, I was studying a lot about Africa and their chances of becoming next emerging market. As I knew very little about this region, may be doing a project in this region will give me more knowledge, exposure about doing business in Africa. With that thought in mind, my search initially took me to, ‘Ethiopian Airlines’ but later I decided to do analysis on ‘Eco-Bank’. It was the bank with presence in the majority of African countries.
But there was no smooth ride after decision. I did not find the Annual report of the firm sufficient enough get all the answers and approached the bank directly to get some more information. Using my LinkedIn network, I found a case study done by a B-school student as his master thesis. It was good information but took me lot of time in understanding Banking Business. Since the course was only running for 6 weeks, I rushed to finish my strategic analysis. The submission was way below my expectations but certainly my first one to be done on a large corporations. It could have been better but I like to thank you for providing me this opportunity to get out of my domain and experiment a little bit in learning the new tools.
Further extension: Making strategic plans, creation of different sector database on market trends
I have used the strategic tool kit learn in this course in many upcoming project like, ‘Improving Competitiveness of Eastern Europe’, ‘Sustainable Agricultural Plan for a NGO based in Sierra Leone’ etc. Through Coursolve platform, I am currently working with a Mexican firm to improve their farming practices to increase their production outputs. I have also studied other areas (Economics, Finance, Culture) in the coming months to strengthen my ability to make better strategic plans.
As part of my learning, I have kept a close eye on the global business activities through extensive study of business newspapers. Some key sectors I have followed includes Oil, Aviation, Print Media, Chemical Industry, Environment. I have studied and created an extensive database for a ready reference. It has taken my strategic thinking to new heights. Today, when I see Blackberry is going down, I immediately start to think using competitive analysis. When I see the Indian Auto companies sales are declining, I might think what the new entrants has to do, if he has to enter into chaotic market. These are just few examples to showcase how immersing strategic thinking is actually changed my view towards ever changing business environments.
I am thankful to Darden School of Business as well as Prof. Lenox for taking my thinking to the level, I wanted.
>> Course page of ‘Foundations of Business Strategy’
>> Darden School of Business: University of Virginia
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>> European Study Group on Facebook- Foundations of Business Strategy