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ALL POSTS BY: Ravi Venkataramani
Independent Studies are common here at Owen. The faculty and administration encourage them as they provide students with the practical experience of heading a project with little guidance—no better preparation for the “real world*.”
*The real world as in the actual world, not the formerly popular MTV reality series.
Why an independent study?
Academic Credits – Independent studies are a good choice if the course offering isn’t to your liking or use. I, for example, am foregoing the corporate world to seek work in the arts following graduation, so not all courses are practical. (“So the only thing left is Bond Markets…Independent study it is.”) This past mod, I designed an independent study for myself that aligned with my educational and occupational goals; professors are usually willing to cooperate as advisors once you show that your proposed study is applicable and has merit.
Standing before us is Professor Larry Van Horn, dressed uncharacteristically casual in a plaid shirt and jeans (he is famous on campus for his sport coat and bowtie combination). To his side sits Emily Anderson of the Career Management Center. Behind Larry the title slide of a presentation reads, “Learning to Lead in the Nation’s Healthcare Capital.”
Larry begins his presentation and immediately assumes his habit of bobbing about, capturing the audience with his passion for the healthcare industry and its future in the United States, or, in Larry’s words: “How we are coming un-glued due to healthcare.”
One of Larry’s favorite tactics is to joke casually, speaking in what surely must be hyperbole, only to then hit you with the bomb of factual information. His mind is a treasure trove of statistical information concerning U.S. healthcare. Without gazing at the screen he tells us how the healthcare industry currently comprises 17.5% of America’s GDP.
“A matter of national security,” he says, and the audience of eighteen of us laughs. What’s he talking about?
“Once it hits 22.5% of GDP,” Larry explains, “it affects our ability to fund National Defense.”
The room falls silent.
The Human and Organizational Performance (HOP) session featured Professor Tim Gardner and John Hamilton from the Career Management Center speaking to a group of just over a dozen of us.
Tim began by emphasizing how Owen is unique in its offer of HOP as an MBA concentration. HOP students learn to manage human assets versus the dollars and decimals of the more (perhaps) typical concentrations, to which other schools often restrict their curriculums. Owen’s own Allison May, Class of 2012, summed up the importance of and the place for HOP quite nicely in a previous blog post:
“[HOP involves] attracting, motivating and retaining top talent, and as the US shifts increasingly into a service-based economy (and, arguably, a brain-based economy), this is increasingly important.”
Back in Room 216, Tim painted a picture of how the HOP program is more than just the sum of its courses, of which Strategic Alignment of Human Capital and Leading Change are required and the electives—including such favorites as Negotiation and Innovation Strategy—number a total of fourteen. Instead of the usual classroom shuffle, HOPers consistently work in teams, conduct both in-and-out of class negotiations, and participate in live case studies, often allowing for independent study. This is not to mention the Human Capital Case Competition, an annual national case competition founded at Owen and sponsored by Deloitte, wherein industry executives judge teams’ abilities to solve real human challenges.