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Category Archives: Quantitative Skills
Should all undergraduate business students study spreadsheet-based modeling?
For the past two years I’ve been thinking about this question, first as a member of the Provost’s Task Force for Quantitative Pedagogy, and now as a member of two follow-up efforts (the Weissman School’s “implementation committee” and the Zicklin School’s “quant group”). If you’ll bear with me, I’d like to share some of what I am hearing.
First, I asked young alumni as well as hiring managers who recruit Baruch’s BBA graduates.
They told me that to compete for the best entry-level professional positions, one needs spreadsheet fluency (some said that PowerPoint presentation skills and Access database skills are key too). And once on the job, according to Accountancy’s Harry Davis, young Excel and Access database “whiz kids” are receiving promotions earlier, especially at smaller firms where such skills are invaluable. Just yesterday someone told me that she perceives a double standard on Wall Street: all else being equal, Ivy League entry-level job candidates can say, “sure, I can learn MS-Excel visual basic macros” whereas a Baruch candidate would probably receive additional scrutiny over such statements.
Next, I surveyed our undergraduate BBA students (i.e., my MGT 3121 students.)
Students tell me that they want stand-alone courses in Excel modeling and they want Excel deeply embedded in business courses where it makes sense. I’ve heard this so many times that it motivated this article for my professional society’s monthly magazine.
Next, I asked Patricia Imbimbo and C. May Reilly at Baruch’s STARR Career Development Center.
They tell me that the need for spreadsheet and modeling skills are so great that they developed their own training program. The two-dozen or so students who qualify for the Financial Leadership Program (FLP; formerly called Wall Street Careers) receive three half-day Excel workshops on shortcuts, pivot tables, if statements, solver, vlookups and visual basic macro programming. In addition, Training the Street gives FLP participants additional modeling instruction. If our most promising graduates need such training, what does this say about the other 2000 BBAs who expect to graduate this year?