Andreas Franke

Andreas Franke

Reflections from a PC-Lab

A Stockholm School of Economics MSc. Students reflections on Studies and Life

First day of School

SSEPosted by Andreas Franke Wed, January 19, 2011 16:30:51

So the first day of school has started, Im sitting in the Pc Labs trying to get my study part of the brain going again. Even though I have been studying (not the courses, but for fun) during the break I realized that it will probably take me sometime to get into the same mode of efficiency as I was at in the end of last semester.

Quite recently I realized that murphy was out to get me. As I had decided to be somewhat productive during my break I had ordered several of the books that we have for this semester. I had read them and written summaries so that I would be able to easier study for the exam and follow the lectures. However it seems like I ordered the books from last year and thus all of the books I read were redundant from a study point of view. However one of the books I read was actually great, it was a general overview of all the different leadership theories that exist today. It gave me a very good overall insight into the different theories, but also made me start thinking of why there is no over reaching leadership theory. It seems that a majority of the leadership theories out there are focusing on different parts of being a leader. I wonder if one could integrate the several of the different theories in to one universal theory of leadership. It seems that there is a lot of empirical evidence for most of the different theories, however I think that most of the evidence doesn’t actually contradict each other but could be used to form a more wide general theory.

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A New Year - A New Start

SSEPosted by Andreas Franke Wed, January 05, 2011 17:06:56
Its now the beginning of 2011 and I have recovered from the mist, which fell after new years eve. It is now time to get started with my studies and search for internships as well as a part time job during the coming semester.

I figured that I never like to have to long breaks, I prefer to have one week of vacation and then get back to business. This time I actually had 1,5 weeks of vacation to get rested from the exhausting last semester. Although it was a great semester and I had a lot of fun during it, I was totally dead afterwards. When I first arrived at my parents place directly after the school was out, I slept for almost 24 hours straight, which is kind of impressive. On the plane down to my parents place I started reading a novel to pass time on the one hour flight. I was chocked when I realized that I read 500 pages in an hour. It is truly much quicker to read a novel than to read course literature.

It was interesting to see how hard it could be to talk to some of my old friends from when I was much younger. Many of them have stayed in the small village in which we grew up in. I realized that I have very little in common with them now, it seems that we are living in completely different worlds.

However it was really fun to meet up with some of my friends from high school, we are a bunch who have decided to go very similar paths in our lives. Several of us are perusing highly ranked master, MD or Phds. Then difference between the two groups were striking.

Well, as I sad before, I have now started preparing myself for the upcoming semester. Having recovered a new book from the book store after the old one was thrown into a pile of snow by the post office. I figured if I read at a slow pace and still enjoy my holidays I will be able to have a significant advantage as the new semester starts as well avoid being totally bored or by a flight to some small country I have not heard of :)

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Dungeons and Dragons - Company Myths

SSEPosted by Andreas Franke Fri, December 10, 2010 11:36:36

During the presentation today, I was think about the myths and metaphors that companies build up around themselves. How can we as students know what places are the best to work at when the image the companies portray don’t fit reality. I would argue that the image building both from companies and from students have escalated out of control.

Both companies and potential candidates would benefit from having a more open communication of what you are actually are expected to do and what they daily life would be like if recruited. Although I do realize that companies just as any product have to engage in marketing and portray an image, which is more beneficial to them than reality would be. In that sense I feel that meeting such as the one today are very good at helping student get more insight in to the daily activities at different work places. Hence we are able to chose more accurately what companies would fit us. I mean in the end it would be more beneficial both for companies and candidates to create a fit between the two.

Personally I have been trying to attend company presentations for all the companies that I consider potential work places to be able to assess the company culture. Further I really try to get to know people in the different organizations to get the same insights into the daily workings of the company as we did today during the presentation of Google. I think that this have helped me a lot to gain insight into how the different companies work. One of the insights I gained was the very small difference between different management consulting firms, where I would argue that the largest difference is really the culture and the people working there, rather than a difference in business model or the day-to-day workings within the companies. Although there seem to be some differences between the larger Management Consulting firms and the smaller firms which seem to be working with a more entrepreneurial focus.

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The Ivey Dilemma

SSEPosted by Andreas Franke Mon, December 06, 2010 18:51:31

Through out my life I have been smarter than most of the competition and been able to do things faster and better than most people I was competing with. Just as people say I noticed that this wasn’t really the case when I started at SSE. Suddenly I had spend long hours in the PC Lab to keep up with the pace, although I still have the time to work next to my studies I cant really work as much as I used to next to my studies. Last semester I was working full time next to my full time studies and still had the time to go out for a beer every now and then. This semester Im studying 100 or a 150% depending on how you count and only work 50% next to my studies.

However that the competition is higher is not always a problem, I think that this semester has been a huge learning experience for me. Like this weekend we were able to write a large project over a few days without compromising on quality, which makes me really proud over how we have developed as a group the last few months.

The up coming week will also be extremely interesting as we are going to compile a report of the huge consulting projects we have done for Company X. The project has become like my own personal baby whom I spend way more time with than I should. I was very happy to hear that they were very very happy with our project as well. It really feels like both our project team has as well as theirs has been working well together and going above and beyond to help each other complete a great strategy.

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What is the meaning of Life?

SSEPosted by Andreas Franke Fri, December 03, 2010 14:27:30

During Stefan Krooks presentation I started to think about what is the meaning of life? What am I doing here?

Personally I have always believed that the ultimate goal of living is a combination of being happy and having a lasting impact on the world that we live in. if we focus on the part of being happy which Stefan talked a lot about.

Most of us talk about becoming successful as the ultimate goal and that will in someway makes us happy. I believe that if you start focusing in the other end instead success will follow. This is why I try to focus on the projects and courses which I find especially fun. I realized the degree of this quite recently when I evaluated the time spent on different projects during the last two courses of the semester. In the consulting project we have spent over 2000 man hours so far, while in the ODM course we will spend 150 man hours approximately. From a grade perspective this is perhaps no the brightest idea since they are almost the same size of our grade. We rather spent our time on the projects that we found the most enjoyable.

From a career perspective I started thinking about what you do when you have earned enough money? First of al when have you earned enough money? I think that we base most of our values on how much is enough by the people that we surround ourselves with. In this sense as we continuously compete with other people and move up a latter of competition our ultimate goal will also move further and further up. In the end I think/hope that one day you come to a point where you realize that enough is enough.

Personally I have two dreams of what I want to do, I both want to work with management consulting, mostly because of solving complex problems as well as being exposed to a very diverse set of problems. On the other hand I want to work with micro financing and help manage some of the projects in Africa. The latter however involves huge sacrifices to potential income. So my dilemma is what to do and when to do it. My conclusion has and is that I should work with in Management consulting and try it out. One of the major reasons is obviously the monetary incentives as well as the working tasks.

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Post Exam Reflections

SSEPosted by Andreas Franke Fri, November 12, 2010 10:58:35

We are now done with al the exams and al the projects have been handed in, so I think its time reflect on what happened during the first half o the semester. At the moment I have received some feedback on how the first exams went, but I will wait with commenting on them until I have received the full picture.

As a whole I very much liked the first part of the semester, there have been some definite high lights and some lows. I think that the best part of the semester was probably the first week of negotiations and team dynamics, although it was a bit repetitive it was a great way to start the masters program! Secondly the project management simulation was a really fun way to point out the value of planning (as opposed to the value of a plan).

Did I Learn Anything?

When it comes to actual learning’s from the first part of the semester I think my greatest take away has been from the team work, the projects that we have done have been rather unstructured and there has been no clear leadership during the first part of the semester (although I think we are better at this now) which actually turned out to be ok, although not good. For the second part of the semester we have instead worked out a clearer project structure and more structured process of attaining our goals, which is much more similar to what I usually work with although I didn’t have time to fix this during the first part of the semester because of my high work load at work.


On literature learning’s I obviously have to mention THE influence book. It was really fun and easy to read, I have been quoting the book at least a couple of times a week. Not only was it easy and fun it also helped me get new insights into how the world works and explained the rational behind different social processes. Although I had one problem with the book, as it sometimes was a bit to shallow in its explanations and tended to only state certain facts rather than deducting them, but I guess that is a trade off any author has to make.

The innovation book I found to be quite good although the aggregate theory of the book was derivative and didn’t add much to the discussion except that we need to have a holistic solution for innovation management. The rest of the book was quite good and most of the theories were easily applicable and useful. Although some of the explanations were unnecessary complicated and made its very hard to understand them.

Lastly the operations book did contain some useful information and theories, the main problem however was how incredibly dull it was. Although the contents was rather interesting the way it was communicated made the book very hard to read and comprehend.

Suma Summarum

I did like the courses mainly because the freedom that we had e.g. creating our own business and present to dragons was really cool. Further the relaxed environment during case studies and the teaching style of several of the professors, where we interacted rather than were crammed with information, was really fun and a nice way to teach. I think that the main ingredient that has made these courses so good have been the people, that is the diversity of the students and the intellectual capability of the group as a whole.

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Kick off Reflections

SSEPosted by Andreas Franke Sat, October 16, 2010 15:52:49

It already seems like a hundred years ago although it was less than2 months ago or close to 700 working hours ago. When I moved to Stockholm I still had a week left before school started so I decided to try to meet up some of the other Master students and see who they were. We actually had different random events every day where we went a bunch of people to different sites in Stockholm and just hung around and talked, which was a really nice way to informally meet every body before started our semester. In this way I actually knew most people already when the kick of started.

My first day of Stockholm School of Economics was huge chock, as I walked up from the subway towards the school I was expecting just to glide into the auditorium and listen to a introduction lecture. Instead I was faced by the principal and other school officials in full academic uniform in a row in front of the school. As I passed by I introduced myself to all of the and moved towards the aula, where a huge amount of other student were standing and cheering. Quite the wakeup call and introduction to the school I would say.

The rest of the week was filled with different activities where we went through different lectures and activities through out Stockholm. The most interesting part was the lectures we had in the first week, where we went through teambuilding and negotiations. Although most of it was not really new, it was a very fun and interesting start of the master program where we could semi seriously start of our academic career with trying to trick each other during negotiations.

Feedback – Ultimately only creating awareness?

Another part which has stuck with me since then was the feedback sessions we had in the beginning! I was amassed on how accurate feedback I got from my team. It was very similar to things that I have heard from people who know me very well. Even the feedback I gave I can up until this day say that it hasn’t changed much from what I would give to the same people today.

My first insight was, how fast you gain a very reliable picture of somebody. The second and more conflicting insight was that we don’t change when we get feedback. During the session we gave feedback on things that we were supposed to change as well. Even though I have though of its from now and then, I have gotten similar feedback even after. Although I hope I have improved some. Further people who I gave feedback have not changed much at all, most of them I would give very similar feedback again. In the end though there has been some changes and people do adapt slightly to you feedback. Perhaps the ultimate benefit from feedback is not creating change but creating awareness of how you are perceived and being aware of this during your interaction with them.

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PC-Lab reflections

SSEPosted by Andreas Franke Sat, October 16, 2010 12:01:52

Its Saturday morning, I just slept in until 7:45 this morning, figured I deserved it after having spent all night at the PC-lab and not going to bed until two in the morning.

I have come to think of the PC-lab as my second home by now, after spending close to 100hours here this week. However I’m not complaining about it, (except for the really bad computers) the PC-lab is great, I know most people who hangout here and it has become like my extended family after all we spend most of our awake time together.

We had been working on the Business Plan until the very last minute going through the spelling and contents of the assignment. I always surprises me how many errors you can find in the last minute even though seven people have proof read it and you have read it yourself infinite times. There are always small errors that manage to sneak in.

All in all I must say that I like our business plan, we have had our ups and downs during the project. People almost refusing to talk to each other and many other problems which has significantly affected the outcome. However I think we are a great group of people in the group very diverse yet connected through some vague future goals and ambition level.

The best part of the project was probably the first week before we were up in the dragons den and faced the Venture Capitalist. In little more than a week we were able to come up with a great business idea research it, ditch it, come up with new ideas researched them and finally found a possible opportunity. We then put together a presentation with surprisingly large amounts of facts and realistic ideas. I even managed to install a new application for my IPhone so that we could remotely control our presentation. The sad part of the presentation was that we were not able use our extensive supply of backup slides during the presentation.

Now I’m once again in the in the PC-lab, this time to study for the exams next week. By varying between reflecting on what I have learned during these tow courses (Business Planning and Analyzing Operations) and going through my summaries and notes from classes I hope to be able to get a deeper insight especially into project management.

Thought of the project management simulation

When I first heard that we were going to have a project management simulation I have to admit that I did not have very high expectations on learning outcomes or the software that we were going to use. However I was pleasantly surprised when got to see a preview of the software, it was very similar to the old game “backpacker”. When we then started using the software in class I was very happily surprised. Our group started of the project with a relatively long planning face where we went through the critical path of the project and tried to identify bottle necks, key activities etc. I still believe that the relatively long planning phase was one of our main advantages compared to many others in class on simply browsed through the projects and went straight ahead. We however had planned the whole project from start including risk analysis, stakeholder mapping, flowcharts and allocation of resources (people and consultants). The last part was a very important part, when we started our risk analysis we found that there were many uncertainties through out the project, especially the correlation between specification development and construction of product, where we chose to have a more expensive model in that we involved large parts of the project team in the specification stage so that the different view points will be accounted for. As a result we were able to run through the project relatively smoothly, although there were some problems with progress reporting from our team managers (very realistic).

When we had run through half the project we ran into the problem that a new technology had been introduced to the market which could disrupt our current products ability to achieve 100% quality in the deliverables. As a result from our stakeholder mapping and goal setting in the planning phase (where we had identified time and quality and major objectives) we decided to redirect the project and go with the new technology. At the time we had the luxury of significant buffers in our time schedule and thus had the option to go back to the specification stage and redevelop our plans. In the end we were able to deliver the project to the CEO one week before the deadline, with 100% quality and at an acceptable cost (not the original budget proposition but the revised version after technology shift)

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