I did the unimpossible. I worked my butt off and got my GPA up +11% this quarter – with quant subjects no less! Who knew it was in me huh? I wish I could let you in on some easy secret but for me it meant studying on the train to and from work, practice questions every night and doing (almost) all my readings. Pure blood, sweat and tears baby.
I can’t believe this year is almost over – it has absolutely flown by and has been so fun. Quarter 3 of my University of Auckland MBA covered ‘Operations and Supply Chain Management’ by the very talented and thorough David Robb as well as Financial Management’ taught by the young but stupidly accomplished Dr. Marco Eugster. Here are the key highlights:
- Littlefields – a real life ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ simulation where you are competing against all of your classmates and the winning team gets an A+ (Spoiler alert, that wasn’t me haha).
- A trip to Air NZ’s super secret Counter 25. It is basically like Harry Potter’s Platform 9 ¾. Here is where the magic of the airline happens – I hate to admit but it is really easy to forget that there are planes and stuff in the business when you only work on the loyalty platform everyday from head office. Very interesting to look at the dangerous goods area (aka the ‘B’ word that shall not be named), baggage and traffic control.
- Roger Gray, Group GM of Airports – Air NZ, came and gave us a fantastic presentations on operations from an Air NZ point of view. Turns out he has more degrees than you can shake a stick at: A BA in Politics, a BA in Economics, a Masters in Logistics, an MBA and some other remarkable executive management tap on’s. I was super impressed by his knowledge and background. Aside from that, I also managed to have a great chat to him about getting him some more Crane Brothers on the Airpoints Store (you know, the important issues at hand).
- A top dog from a large investment firm who wore ‘Guccy’ (as in Gucci, duh) loafers gave us a run-down on lessons he has learnt from the investment game – note: He also provided a great list of books, some below!
- I also sat on a panel weighing in on key issues facing NZ and international businesses with the MBA students visiting from Oregon. We covered many interesting topics such as women in the workplace, why NZ is susceptible to growth limitations, and a myriad of other topics. Everyone had really thoughtful and interesting answers. Me on the other hand learnt that I really need to learn how to speak on a microphone – another development task on the list!
Jokes aside, it was a really rewarding quarter. You know how sometimes life gives you exactly what you need when you need it? This was an excellent example.
For most of my youth, money has been a concept that I have had a love / hate relationship with. I love spending it. And I hate running out of it.
As with a lot of Kiwis and Australians, I have often wondered “how can I personally achieve financial freedom?” My generation has been told for years that houses are unaffordable, you will have to retire at 80 and all sorts of other doom and gloom nonsense. This is despite living in some of the wealthiest countries in the world at a time of high global prosperity.
Questions like, how much money do I need to retire? How does inflation impact that? When should I buy a house? Should I borrow 95% or 80%? Should I pay off my student loan first? Should I then invest in a second property? Are shares a better investment? What are shares anyways? What about Kiwi Saver contributions? I can barely afford my current lifestyle, what happens when I have kids, a mortgage and I’m on mat leave? What if I never want to go back to work after mat leave and I find out my new passion is selling gourmet seaweed off the coast of Stewart Island?! What if my kids grow up and expect to go to private school? What if they can’t afford a house?!?! etc etc. To be honest, most of the time so far, my strategy (or lack thereof) has been spray and pray. Basically, save as much as you possibly can, pay the minimum Kiwi Saver, hope for the best. I knew my money needed to be working harder for me, but just wasn’t quite sure where to start..
The most wonderful thing for me this quarter is that ‘Financial Management’ helped me work all of that out and I now have answers. Sure, it is great that I can now follow along at work when people talk about things like NPV and present values “you have got to be joking with that discount factor and horizon period Gerald”, but the real gift is my own financial literacy. Funnily enough, one of the assignments was to analyse the difference in Kiwi Saver schemes in terms of fees, compound interest and % contributions. This happened to be the very same time I was picking a new fund now that I am at home. NO MORE DEFAULT FUND FOR ME! YEOW!
I feel like my eyes have been opened and I can now have visibility on my financial plan and security – and I honestly didn’t expect to – so it is a really nice surprise.
For those who are interested in doing an MBA next year, I think applications close pretty soon – I really think if you’re on the fence you should give them a call or go to one of their open days. For me, it has been incredible, and I can’t believe I am almost half-way through.
(^^ Take 2 – because you can’t leave out Gina!)
For those who are a little less convinced, as mentioned above, the man in the Guccy provided some excellent book recommendations for those who want to know more about financial management:
- Big Mistakes – Michael Batnick
- The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham
- Liar’s Ball – Vicky Ward
- Serious Fun – Alan Gibbs
- Essays of Warren Buffet – Lawrence A. Cunning
My personal recommendation is The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape – it requires a little bit of AU to NZ translation but the gist is there and the advice is solid. He gives a no fuss plan to creating your own financial wealth plan and answers lots of the questions that I had as per above.
Anyways, back to it again this week had time for a cheeky visit to Mount Ruapehu in the break for some R&R. Q4 is all about ‘Marketing for Growth’ and ‘Strategic Management’ – two of my favourite subjects. Can’t wait to geek it up. Until next time folks!