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The Master of Advanced Management Program, a Lesson in Grand Strategy

An old Chinese proverb says that to know the road ahead you should ask those coming back. Given my recent graduation and imminent re-incorporation to the work force, I thought I might share my experience in the Master of Advanced Management (MAM) program for prospective students to mull over.

The Prospectus
So what is the Master of Advanced Management?
The program is loosely defined in School of Management’s (SOM) webpage as a one-year program for top students graduating from Global Network for Advanced Management schools who want to deepen their understanding of the most complex management issues facing leaders worldwide. A somewhat loose definition that, in my opinion, reflects what the program really has to offer. To elaborate on this point, Yale’s SOM has taken upon itself to be the Business School most integrated with its home University. Therefore, what the MAM description really means is that students have access to ALL of Yale University’s resources.

For most of the students of the inaugural class and me, the description is similar. The MAM program generally offers some core subjects and guidance but grants students great flexibility in choosing subjects that interest them across the entire University. This allows students to take advantage of the overwhelming resources Yale has to offer.

From the structure described above it follows that every MAM experience is different and the satisfaction and usefulness of the program relies largely on each student. From my experience, I would say that self-motivated, industrious, entrepreneurial, ambitious, and curious candidates with a good idea of their interests and goals would make the best of this program.

Buy the ticket take the ride
Coming from a background of finance and policy at the Central Bank of Mexico, and after completing my MBA degree at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, I came to Yale looking to deepen my understanding of what I anticipated would be the most important challenges and opportunities for business and policy in the future.

In my view, the increasing interconnection of the world economy, the globalization of business, the new financial framework, and the environment present unmatched challenges and opportunities. When designing my curriculum in the generous framework of the MAM program, I decided to address these issues. To do so I had to go way outside my comfort zone in some occasions and build upon my existing knowledge in others. In all instances, it was a exhilarating ride.

In the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, I took a class called Energy System Analysis focusing on the interplay between energy and technology systems and their implications on the environment, a subject in which I was not very educated. At the School of Management I deepened my knowledge on alternative investments taking classes on Hedge Funds, Venture Capital & Private Equity. In a joint class with law, economics, and management students called Behavioral & Institutional Economics I continued to expand on subjects somewhat more akin to my previous experience.

Identifying the increasing globalization of business and markets, I reached out to the Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization (and a former Mexican President), also teaching a seminar on economic history in Latin America.

Acknowledging regulatory frameworks and policy as one of the most important challenges after the recent financial crisis, I was lucky to attend a class called Markets, Norms, and Regulations, co-taught by the Dean of the Law School, Robert Post, and Tim Collins, an SOM alumni. Here I received some of the most valuable lessons in my time at Yale. We discussed the analytical framework of decision making within a historical context, guided along by the decision makers themselves. Amongst our distinguished guests were Stanley McChrystal, Paul Volker, Robert Rubin, and John Kerry just to mention a few. The discussions ranged from military strategy to global stability, yet one commonality remained, an undying commitment to analyzing their tasks from all possible angles, taking into account incentives, power dynamics, and the interaction between these and many other factors.

My main takeaway from the MAM program is therefore simple; good leaders and decision makers analyze situations to their full extent. In today’s markets, this implies that you should be able to work with people from all types of cultures and backgrounds. To take the argument a step further, if you really want to look at a situation from all points of view, a truly diverse team would be your best way to move forward.

By leveraging the MAM program Yale seeks to continue to add diversity to its already impressive local and international expertise. For the students in the MAM program Yale offers the tools required to become a successful leader and decision maker, keeping in mind that it is up to each student to make sense of them and use them to achieve their own goals.

Professor John L. Gladdis describes Grand Strategy, as an ecological discipline. “It is about seeing forests and not just trees, about viewing the world as round and not square, about relating all of the means at your disposal to the ends you have in view”. The MAM program could be similarly defined but with the exception; in my view, and as Thomas Friedman explains in his international bestselling book, the world is becoming increasingly flat.

Almost all successful modern businesses and countries are becoming increasingly interconnected and distances are becoming less relevant. For businesses, expanding into new markets, managing risks, maintaining and enhancing competitive advantages, or simply utilizing foreign goods and services, have becoming a necessity. For countries, incentivizing development and growth within a framework of global cooperation has become, for lack of a better phrase, a best practice.

An educated and global mind set has proven to be valuable. The MAM program is simply an attempt to satisfy the demand for this asset.

To all our friends and families, thank you for your support, we could not have done it without you. To the class of 2013, congratulations!