Project Management with Sabin Srivannaboon

October 8, 2013

It is impossible to work in a medium or large sized company without being involved in one or two projects every now and then, assuming you don’t completely suck at your job. So even though I have worked 18 months in a project management department in my first job I still figured it might be helpful to do a course of Project Management at Sasin now that I am there anyways.

Sabin Srivannaboon teaching at Sasin MBA, Bangkok, Thailand

Sabin Srivannaboon teaching at Sasin. On the slide a comparison between the project knowledge of classes: of course we score higher than previous classes!

Twice a week we had class from 13:00 till 16:30 and from experience I can tell you that is a long time that you have to pay attention, no matter what the course is. To keep it interesting normally a part of the day was filled with some in-class assignment. We were randomly grouped up and in the allotted time we put something just covered, or something that would be covered right after the assignment, into practice to experience it instead of just hear it. The first assignment was to build a tower with some material that was given to us and points were distributed based on height, materials used, and how it looked. Of course there was a twist during the assignment which was the learning point but that could not stop our group to build the perfect stable tower shown below.

The first assignment: building a tower that can stand some wind with limited resources.

The first assignment: building a tower that can stand some wind with limited resources.

Unfortunately not all assignments had a clear learning point, like an assignment where we had to give advice based on a small case how many cupcakes a bakery should bake on a daily basis, but at least it ended up in pieces of cake being handed out so we gained something.

Also unique for this class was the occasional question from the class which was extensively answered: sometimes directly in class and sometimes the next class with some sheets with background information. This approach surprised me a bit since most professors just answer the question and never look back, but here we got an thorough explanation.

The difference between PMBOK and PRINCE II. The slide was a response to a question from someone in the class about the differences.

The difference between PMBOK and PRINCE II. The slide was a response to a question from someone in the class about the differences.

Besides a midterm and a final exam there was also a group assignment, with a group of people we were free to choose, where we had to write a complete project plan for a project we could make up ourselves. In general this meant we could pick anything we wanted, from a small project to a huge one, and make up all details as long as they were realistic. While this sounds easy it ended up in a lot more work than expected due to the fact that MS Project is a bitch to use when you haven’t used it for some time and since everything can be made up and you can keep moving and changing things indefinitely.

Part of our project plan in MS Project

Part of our project plan in MS Project

While the final assignment was a helpful exercise in getting to know MS Project better, I couldn’t help feeling irritated by the huge gap between what was expected from us and what we (or I) had in mind that we should learn. While I assumed that when you do an MBA you should try to figure out as much as possible yourself (taking initiative, analyze things yourself, come up with original solutions, implement them, present them) it seemed that for this assignment you would be punished for that. It appeared other groups had several times a week a meeting with the professor to discuss minor issues in their report and they send him emails almost on a daily basis to get every paragraph of text approved. To make it even worse, near the end of the course we had to present our progress and some groups got no feedback on their presentation besides a “you guys fixed everything nicely that I told you yesterday”. So if people give their presentation a day before the presentation date to the professor in his office, then what is the point of giving the presentation again a day later to the professor in front of the class? Maybe it is something Thai.

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

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