Signal and Noise

The first week at the program has been hectic.  First we had to get all of the arrival requirements out of the way. And then we had the MBA introductions and welcome lunches, some coursework in the form of business analytics, opening dinner and visits to CERN and EPFL and finally the Chamonix trip. All in 6 days. And true to IMD’s reputation we didn’t get much sleep in these 6 days. We were either fighting it out till the early ams in the dungeons with the analytics assignments or sacrificing sleep to bond with our fellow classmates on the way to Chamonix. I finally had the answer to a burning question- Why so many coffee machines in the campus?

In the middle of the week, we had a frank discussion on the outcomes of the program and what is expected of an individual graduating from the program. In other words, for me to look at how much the program has improved me by December, I will have to measure myself based on certain criteria before and after the program. This took me back to one of the standard practices in my previous job. Our job was to process raw seismic data to a final version that could represent an accurate image of the hydrocarbon reservoir that’s been evaluated. In every step along this process, one of the parameters that measures the improvement in the data is called signal to noise ratio. The idea is pretty simple, if there is a perceivable increase in the ratio then the data quality has improved from step A to B. Signal defined as something correlating throughout the data set and noise as something random in the dataset.

Having had the discussion on the expectation from an individual graduating out of the program and brainstorming it further with my classmates, a few things become quite apparent about which aspects are important in an individual :

1)      Business knowledge and skills

2)      Interpersonal relationship

3)      Inherent integrity

Some of us are absolutely brilliant in all three dimensions and some of us are just starting to realize where we need improvement. But one thing is extremely clear. In all three aspects, identifying and separating signal to noise is the key. Take for example, interpersonal relationships. Having superficial relationships would be noise and having deep meaningful conversations would be the signal in this instance. Proactively strengthening deep meaningful relationships would constitute an improvement and would be great training for a long career in business and working with strong personalities.

I hope each one of us is able to separate and strengthen the signal from noise in their dimensions of improvement by the end of the year. Looking ahead, I’m very excited to start the leadership module and immerse myself in the case studies on strategy and economics. More importantly, I’m eager to improve every lecture, every assignment and every week in this journey.

Featured image from a artistic reinterpretation of the Olympic logo in the Olympic Museum, Lausanne

Parth Reddy

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