by Rick McGuire, MBA ’14
Learning theoretical frameworks and applying those frameworks to real world situations was one of the initial appeals of Johnson for me. The Semester in Strategic Operations (SSO) Immersion exceeded my expectations by providing balanced and rigorous academic preparation combined with unprecedented access to a variety of manufacturing and service industries. The age old battle between case based learning and academic lectures has resulted in some programs neglecting one for the benefit of the other, but in the end, it is up to future b-school students to decide which method resonates with them.
Learning different models, theories, and frameworks in a classroom can get tedious, especially if they are not applied in a tangible way. On the other hand, giving students exposure to excellent learning situations without a strong understanding of what is being presented results in lost learning opportunities. Even worse than that, a student may come away thinking they understand something when in reality, they don’t have a deeper and holistic appreciation of the entire process.
Site visits have been the most valuable part of the SSO experience. Armed with the knowledge learned in the core and immersion, I was able to experience and appreciate theories in action. In addition, the visits expanded my knowledge of a variety of industries, from financial services to steel mills, retail distribution centers to glass manufacturing, and hotel operations to safe manufacturing. This broad exposure not only demonstrated academia in action, but gave me an inside look into best management and human resource practices. They were as fun as they were interesting, and getting out of the classroom is never a bad thing.