Financial Decisions with Paul Malatesta

October 23, 2013

It is not the first time I am doing a Finance course here at Sasin, and with hindsight I must admit that for many earlier courses I already knew a good part of the curriculum; it was more refreshing my memory than learning something new. I sat in on the first day of this course expecting a similar experience and was thinking of dropping it soon after, until I noticed the level of explanations offered by professor Paul Malatesta and the details we would go into in the cases lying ahead.

Paul Malatesta teaching at Sasin MBA

Paul Malatesta teaching at Sasin MBA

Several of the concepts covered in this class were already covered earlier in other classes but had to be repeated since not everyone has done the same classes previously. But to my surprise we didn’t stop with an “and therefore assume xx” explanation but actually got the details of the impact of assuming a number in simple language: it was almost eye opening how simple some concepts can be explained. In the first class the professor already said he had a “black belt in finance” but after going over a few cases there was not a doubt in my mind anymore that he actually had one even though it does not exist.

The cases we went through during the course. It became very interesting when the professor presented the standard answers of a case followed by his own analysis why the case writers had made some mistakes.

The cases we went through during the course. It became very interesting when the professor presented the standard answers of a case followed by his own analysis why the case writers had made some mistakes.

The classes had a simple structure: we would go over one case before the break and do another case after the break. Of course we had to prepare the cases but in this course that mostly meant reading and understanding the material because the level of details reached in class would be impossible to do before the class by you without help. Just to make sure people would not slack off with this minimal reading requirement your total grade would be based for 20% on participation, something that could result in a lot of B’s, or even worse, since only 6-10 people actively participated in class while the rest just sat there and did nothing. Its only one-and-a-half years after starting this MBA so why would anyone expect that people feel comfortable and analytic enough to actually participate in a small class filled with people they already know since the start of their MBA?

Detailed feedback from the midterm exam. you will lose points for sure, but at least you learn something from it this way.

Detailed feedback from the midterm exam. you will lose points for sure, but at least you learn something from it this way.

Besides participation we would be graded based on 3 assignments which we could do in groups of 4 people (20%), a midterm (30%), and a final exam (30%). Everything we handed in came back with very detailed feedback where points were deducted for every assumption made that did not make sense and every calculation error. The midterm was unfortunately not open-book meaning we had to learn some ratios by heart but for the final exam we had a more unique concept: the case study on which the final exam would be based was distributed a few days before the exam meaning we could study all data and start calculating based on what we thought the questions would be. Luckily there were quite some hints in the case which questions would be logical but during the final exam I was still surprised we had to make a consolidated balance sheet and income statement meaning a lot of hard work in that 3-hour timeframe.

The final exam was based on the Flash Memory case where we got the case and Excel files a few days before the exam but we did not know what the questions would be.

The final exam was based on the Flash Memory case where we got the case and Excel files a few days before the exam but we did not know what the questions would be.

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

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