How are MBA programs preparing finance-focused students for working in a crisis and its aftermath? We asked Greg F. Hallman, finance lecturer at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.
What are some ways the current financial downturn has affected the content and teaching methodology in finance at McCombs?
In my view, the financial downturn has actually made teaching finance a little easier. At its core, finance is the study of risk and return. The past couple of years in the market have given todays students a perfect illustration of risk and the downside to investing. Now when we teach them that expected return is a payment for risk, I believe they can better understand the risk/return relationship.
The market’s performance has also made very clear the fact that no matter how good our models are we cannot see the future. This has, of course, always been true, but the troubles suffered by the big and generally smart banks have shown that even with a decent model of the market’s behavior unlikely events can and do occur to wreck the best laid plans.
The financial crisis has taken center stage in business school classrooms around the world. Rightfully so, says the finance chair at one of Germany’s leading business schools.
How is the financial crisis affecting the way you teach finance?
One positive thing about the things that are going on right now is that we can learn a lot from them. You can empirically analyze how markets react in extreme scenarios. This is something you find in our lectures. Our lectures are focused on recent developments anyway, but this year we are teaching a lot about the financial crisis.
Of course, we also have conferences where we invite academics, as well as professionals. One example was the Campus for Finance New Year Conference recently where we had a lot of CFOs and CEOs here, one Nobel laureate, and a lot of professors. We were talking for three entire days about the financial crisis – what the reasons for it are and what can be improved in the future in order to avoid these developments that we have right now.
Clarissa Tan left her native Singapore to pursue an MBA at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai. We asked her about her aspirations, and how it’s been observing the financial crisis through a Chinese lens.
Why did you decide to do an MBA in China?
I wanted to switch careers from business unit control (primarily accounting and control) to private equity. There is substantial and increasing private equity activity in China compared to Singapore, which is why I am committed to building a career in China.
By doing an MBA in China, I can re-tool my skill sets, gain some China-specific knowledge of its economy and industries, and network with China-focused individuals. Doing an MBA in China also gives me adequate time and opportunity to form friendships and bonds in China.
Has studying in China given you a unique perspective on global finance?
Yes, studying in China has given me a unique perspective on global finance. One example is to learn about and to see first-hand the Chinese perspective on the current financial crisis.