Saturday, January 22, 2011

MSc Advanced Module 1- Business and Financial Management

I am back from Winter Break, which was amazing: traveling for three weeks in Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Paris!  It was the trip of a lifetime, and I enjoyed the time off, but part of me is happy to be back at work at the Institute!

The first of my Advanced Modules was Business and Financial Management, one of the courses that I was most looking forward to.  It was taught primarily by John Bostock, the Director of Stirling Aquaculture, which is the consultancy group run by the Institute of Aquaculture.  There were only four MSc students who chose to take this module, so the lectures were more like round-table discussions than formal seminars. 

The lectures covered such topics as business plans and structures, human resources, accounting, project management, and aquaculture insurance.  Because the class was so small, the entire format was very informal, allowing us to explore several in-depth case-studies and spend more time on subjects that were interesting or challenging.  Overall, it was nice not being in a large class for once!

The majority of my assessment for this course was a human resources management handbook that I created for a theoretical shrimp farm in the Basque Country, Spain.  Each student was assigned a different aspect for the same company: one looked at the financials of the company, another at risk management, and the third at project planning and management.  When all four documents came together, we had the beginnings of a business plan/ operations manual for the facility!

One fantastic aspect of this course was a bit of real-world experience that we received: John put us in touch with two MBA students from Utah who were starting a tilapia farming business in Ghana and had emailed the Institute for assistance.  The four of us had the opportunity to serve as consultants on their project, and we communicated with them via email and Skype throughout the two weeks of the module.  The two of them actually travelled to Ghana towards the end of the module, and they said that they found our input exceedingly helpful: we have plans to continue communicating in the future, even though the module is over!

The next module is Broodstock and Genetic Management, which is not a strength of mine but should be valuable nonetheless!

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