MBA – still value for money?

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The other day a friend who has just completed an MBA from a prestigious university was disconsolate to read an article by Tim Dodd in the Australian Financial Review (AFR, 17 May 2004) titled “MBAs are losing their cachet”.

Dodd argued that employers prefer people whose postgraduate studies were in a specialised field rather over a generalist MBA. This is all well and good, but I am fascinated by the idea that any pedagogical activity at all occurs in a management school, specialised degree or not.

Based on my own experience you can earn reasonable marks based upon judicious quotes from the Harvard Business Review and a day or two of swot before the exams. And do not get me started on the idea of ‘syndicate groups’. These are supposed to approximate team work in the real world.

But, in fact, they approximate the worst of all possible worlds. In syndicate groups no one can hear you scream!

Syndicate groups do not approximate work as there is no hierarchy underlying the exercise & no external definition of verities. Thus it is truly an exquisitely painful experience – there is the mismatch between people early in their degree and those who just want to end it all, not to mention those with children and full time jobs.

All in all postgraduate management studies are a good thing to have in one’s past!

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3rd world telecommunications in Australia

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It is very annoying to live in an allegedly civilized and technically advanced society only to find out that one is unable to get access to broadband services since the phone lines here are pair gain.

I live in a major city in Australia, just one of the outer suburbs – not in a remote rural area – this is crazy!

They have offered me satellite at a ludicrously high price and wondered why I refused.

How can we be the clever country if we still have to use 56k dial up?

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Why are all telcos unable to manage any customer service at all?

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Recent experiences with two different telcos add up to the same thing – shockingly poor customer service.

#1 There have been a series of problems with one of the web pages I’m associated with. The telco in question has DNS problems every other day such that the site disappears. When the webmistress calls to ask she gets crap answers and the problems continue.

#2 I have recently filled out forms to transfer my mobile number from the work account to my own personal account (a service that was launched not long ago with much fanfare). Since then nothing has happened, in spite of me making a personal visit to a store to check how to fill out the form, except the telco has sent me two separate letters asking for the same info. The only problem is – I’ve already given them that info.

It was no surprise for me to discover that the most hated supplier of all for my class mates at university is ‘telcos’ in their various forms.

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Australian software awards 2004

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Was on a judging panel for the Australian Consensus Software Awards yesterday. It is fascinating how much really good software is out there, innovative and clever stuff. The winners are not announced for a few weeks – but info will be on the Consensus site fairly soon.

It is also interesting the variety of business models people in IT are using. The smaller companies (really micro businesses) often have a great idea & excellent development work but sometimes there is little idea about of how to bring the idea to market effectively.

I think there is a real market niche for a shared marketing resource across a number of these micro businesses. They clearly need help and probably don’t know how to get it, on the other hand, they may not even realise they need that kind of help.

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Good post on women in security

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There is an interesting commentary on women in security on www.oneeyedcrow.net

“Okay, rant time. In quick succession, the subject of women in the security field has come up several times this week. Many of the male security geeks I know have no idea why there aren’t more women in the field. Well, in a nutshell, this post and others like it are why. Pathetic script kiddie bullshit like this drives women out of the field.”

Sometimes the boys just don’t get it!

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Good quote about self esteem and talent

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Found a great quote about self esteem yesterday:

“Where talent is a dwarf, self-esteem is a giant.” (J. Petit-Senn, Conceits and Caprices)

This seems to encapsulate my feelings about the current obsession with building up self esteem even in the face of indubitable evidence as the individual’s incompetence in a particular area. We are so busy building up self esteem at the expense of true self knowledge.

There is no point having good self esteem if (a) it has no basis in fact, and (b) you know in your heart it is not true.

Is it not better to teach people to understand and value what they are good at and to build on and improve the other stuff?

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Women in technology – is it really as bad as they say?

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There are a number of womens’ groups that I participate in, several of these are related to women in technology. The feeling seems to be that hardly any women are in positions of influence and that there is something wrong with this.

There was a recent article by Bob Weinstein (Monster.com “IT Glass Ceiling: Permanent Barrier or Temporary Obstacle for Women”). There has been some discussion online about this article, saying things like “Wonderful. An article by a man suggesting that if women just acted more like men, they could get ahead just fine. Men have been in charge long enough, and look where it’s gotten us: shaky economy, environmental collapse, a culture of fear.

I can’t help but think that if women were encouraged to approach everything as women being women and not masquerading as men, things might be different. ” (kittiarra).

This got me thinking – should this lead us to rehash the old women are better than men farago, the idea that men have stuffed up the world & if only they’d let women run things everything would be beautiful?
Or is it an insight into the power structures of our organisations? That is, the power structures remain predicated on people devoting their lives to the company, usually (if they are men) supported by a full time carer (stay-at-home wife).
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Bushfire blog – 10 Dec 2002

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This is one of my old blog posts from the 2002 bushfires.

Yippee!!!! It’s raining & it has been doing this since last night. The heavy rain has put out the last of the fires near us. The house still smells strongly of smoke, but the sound of the rain is a great comfort.

It’s funny a friend at work told me today how his son was bushwalking down south in the Snowy Mountains at the same time we experienced the fires – they had snow (even tho’ it is the middle of summer here). Australia has really strange weather some times.

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Bushfire blog – 9 Dec 2002

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This is one of my old blog posts from the 2002 bushfires.

We went for a drive north of the town at lunch time today – everything is burnt out & there are still small fires burning by the roadside.

The main fires seem to be several valleys to the north west of us now, and with southerly winds we should be out of trouble from them. There is still a lot of sirens & helicopters around, but the fires are under containment. South of us the fires are still smouldering but nothing too serious.

The house & contents now completely reek of smoke, luckily we can now open the windows to clear it (& there is no more smoke outside). This morning the smoke was so thick that even with all the doors & windows shut there was a smoke haze inside the house. Thankfully, this is clear now.

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Bushfire blog – 9 Dec 2002

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This is one of my old blog posts from the 2002 bushfires.

Good news! The road north & south of town is now open, but there are still smallish fires burning beside the road in both directions.

There are repair crews everywhere along the highway, fixing power cables & phone lines. The heavy smoke from last night & this morning has dissipated and the major fires are burning several valleys to the north west.

All looks good for the town from now on.

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