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Inside New Spring 2022 Courses at Tuck

From the future of capitalism to artificial intelligence and product management, new courses at Tuck cover a wide range of timely topics impacting the world of business.

When clinical professor and former Google product executive Sara Torti joined Tuck last fall, she envisioned building a course that complements Tuck’s rigorous curriculum with hands-on practical knowledge students can bring to their post-Tuck careers in the continuously evolving and ever-popular technology industry. Product Management for Technology, a minicourse being taught by Torti this spring, seeks to demystify product management for students.

“I want to bring some of my own industry knowledge to the classroom to help students understand the role of a product manager and how to build, scale, and launch products,” says Torti, an industry executive who was formerly COO of the Google Operations Center, led the creation and launch of the Nest app and subscription service, and led the development of “actions” features in Google Maps and Local Search that grew transactions on the platforms from zero to millions per month. “My hope is that students gain a solid knowledge of key product development strategies so they can spot and anticipate problems, recognize growth opportunities, and excel as future leaders in the field.”

To be a product manager takes curiosity, diplomacy, and a lot of grit. There is this very real feeling at Tuck that our students can change the world and aspire to do so. Product management is a role where you can have a profound impact by solving a problem in a very real and tangible way, and I am excited to help our students meet that challenge.

Sara Torti

Many students entering technology after Tuck will join companies looking for growth opportunities for existing products, says Torti. Product Management for Technology is unique from other entrepreneurship-focused courses in that it will focus on continued product innovation and scale—how to optimize existing products, grow a userbase, and diversify into adjacent markets. The course blends pre-class assignments with case studies taken from real-world product executives at top tech companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Slack, Uber, Robinhood, and Netflix. Questions the course will address include “What are some of the common strategic, growth, and management challenges PMs face at technology companies?” and “When and how should I execute a product pivot?”

“To be a product manager takes curiosity, diplomacy, and a lot of grit,” says Torti. “There is this very real feeling at Tuck that our students can change the world and aspire to do so. Product management is a role where you can have a profound impact by solving a problem in a very real and tangible way, and I am excited to help our students meet that challenge.”

Another new minicourse at Tuck this spring is AI for Managers taught by visiting professor Dean Alderucci, director of research for the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Patent Analysis at Carnegie Mellon University. His course seeks to arm students with a working knowledge of a technology becoming an integral part of business in the world economy: Artificial Intelligence.

I want students to walk away understanding how, when, and why AI techniques should be used in industries and firms. You don’t need a degree in computer science to understand AI.

Dean Alderucci

“I want students to walk away understanding how, when, and why AI techniques should be used in industries and firms,” says Alderucci. “You don’t need a degree in computer science to understand AI. But future managers need to understand the fundamentals so they can brainstorm new AI solutions and speak with the technical people who will be responsible for implementation.”

Students will also be expected to demonstrate basic programming skills as part of the course. They will have the opportunity to “play with”—a term Alderucci says is common in the AI field—AI software tools and techniques. The course culminates in a final project in which students will be tasked with extracting relevant information from a highly technical paper. Results will be judged by a panel of AI field experts.

Product Management for Technology and AI for Managers are just two of the many new elective courses second-year students can explore at Tuck this year. From the Future of Capitalism to Sustainability Marketing, here’s a closer look at new courses at Tuck this spring.

 

New Tuck professor Lauren Lu, who teaches the Supply Chain Management elective, will teach Data-Driven Analytics for Innovative Operating Models this spring. | Photo by Laura DeCapua

New Courses – Spring Term 2022

The Future of Capitalism

Douglas Irwin, Russell Muirhead, Charles Wheelan 

In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and Communism in Eastern Europe imploded from within, followed two years later by the collapse of the Soviet Union. These events made liberalism – democracy and free markets – look triumphant. Francis Fukuyama called it “the end of history,” since history seemed to have reached its goal. The debate over political and economic systems was over: we had figured out the best way to organize a society’s politics and the economy.

Things look different now. Many today look at growing inequality, environmental catastrophes, and political polarization, and are more likely to say they do not endorse democracy or free markets. For many, the promise of socialism is more satisfying than the reality of capitalism. Even capitalism’s strongest proponents often feel that it is due for an overhaul. This course aims to give you a sense for the current debate over capitalism and its alternatives, weighing the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.

This course will examine the following core questions:

  • What is capitalism?
  • What are the alternatives (and how have they worked)?
  • How do markets work and when do they fail?
  • Should businesses be run solely to maximize profit?
  • Is capitalism exploitative?
  • Do markets promote freedom or oppression?
  • Is capitalism fair? Does it reward merit?
  • Does capitalism make us happy?
  • How can we make capitalism work better?

Data-Driven Analytics for Innovative Operating Models

Lauren Lu

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen the ever-increasing importance of data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), which have found their latest uses in a wide range of business and public settings, from predicting shifting consumer demand patterns to mitigating supply chain disruptions to developing evidence-based public health policies. Whether you will work in a traditional enterprise or a technology-driven startup, it is essential to acquire the basic concepts and tools to navigate today’s data-rich environment.

This minicourse is designed to expose students to a wide spectrum of operations and supply chain settings where data analytics and AI transform the business model and the decision-making process. The course will give students an opportunity to apply the analytics tools they have learned from the core Analytics courses to real-world data and operational problems. While covering the latest data-driven analytics and operating model innovations in a range of industries, the course intends to focus on nascent startups and technology companies that have emerged in recent years. The final project of the course requires student teams to develop a data-driven innovative operating model prototype.

Managerial Accounting Mini

Joseph Gerakos

This course focuses on the internal use of accounting information to make decisions as opposed to the preparation and evaluation of financial statements, which were covered in FMAR. The course's targeted audience includes students intending to become management consultants, entrepreneurs, product managers, brand managers, line managers, and non-profit managers.

The course uses accounting data to implement concepts from economics, operations, finance, strategy, and marketing. The overarching course framework is based on the concept of opportunity costs. Topics covered include breakeven analysis, keep versus replace decisions, inventory accounting, overhead allocation, activity-based costing, the opportunity cost of excess capacity, and transfer pricing.

Sustainability Marketing

Liana Frey

As climate change becomes more urgent, consumers are becoming aware that the choices that they make impact our planet’s health. Critics argue that marketing is part of the problem by encouraging our overconsumption of resources. Marketing has a vital and unique role in creating a more sustainable society.  Marketing can be a force for good by communicating and educating people on the value of a different way. To use Philip Kotler’s definition, “sustainable marketing holds that an organization should meet the needs of its present consumers without compromising the ability of future generations to fulfill their own needs.” 

Through this course, students will gain an understanding of sustainability in business from a marketing lens.   This course aims to provide a broad range of tools and frameworks for understanding how businesses can interact with issues related to sustainability. The first module of this course will focus on the fundamentals of sustainability.  We’ll review sustainability frameworks, learn how to use systems thinking to approach business sustainability, and utilize a stakeholder analysis approach for business solutions.  Then in module two, we’ll focus on the role of business and marketing. We’ll analyze marketing strategies around sustainability and what sets the winners and losers apart.   We’ll review how sustainable marketing differs from regular marketing and how sustainability can be a competitive differentiator. We’ll explore the opportunities and challenges with sustainable product design and measuring impact.

Product Management for Technology

Sara Torti

A Product Manager is obsessed with the problem their product tries to solve and works to both define the product’s functional requirements and lead cross-functional teams to develop, launch and improve their product over time. Taught by an experienced former Google product executive, this minicourse aims to provide an introduction to Product Management in Tech and expose students to key product development and growth strategies so they can build, optimize and scale products following graduation.

Quantitative Private Equity

Morten Sørensen

The seminar covers recent academic studies of private equity and venture capital investments, although the material applies broadly to other alternative assets organized in similar fund structures (e.g., growth equity, mezzanine, infrastructure, and real estate investments). The material is divided into two main parts: The first part covers the relationship between private equity funds and the companies they acquire, i.e., their portfolio companies. The topics covered in this part include the impact of private equity on corporate governance and operations as well as the consequences for employees and other stakeholders in the portfolio companies. The second part takes the perspective of institutional investors (LPs) that allocate capital to private equity funds. The topics include the organization and economics of the private equity partnership, performance evaluation of private equity funds, and portfolio choice considerations for LPs allocating capital across asset classes that include private equity.

AI for Managers

Dean Alderucci

In this mini course, students will learn about a wide range of Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques and how they can be applied to the challenges and opportunities that firms face. AI is delivering impressive results across a growing number of industries and business functions, including marketing, strategy, operations, and finance. A firm’s competitive advantages increasingly rely on its ability to make superior decisions using AI technologies. This in turn requires managers to become conversant with a growing number of AI capabilities in order to assess and oversee the opportunities that AI provides.

This course provides broad exposure to how AI is used for different business tasks: marketing, product strategy, revenue management, operations, etc. We take the viewpoint of a manager or consultant who must understand and offer advice on a wide range of AI topics relevant to a variety of business needs. The course also describes the pitfalls and challenges firms face when attempting to introduce or scale AI technologies.


Leading Disruptive Change

Scott Anthony

Leading Disruptive Change describes a set of lenses, tools, and mindsets to confront 21st-century challenges such as building cultures that spur diversity, equity, and inclusion, addressing sustainability and related issues, and transforming organizations in the face of disruptive change. These kinds of adaptive problems present unique challenges. They place leaders in a thick fog. Data to justify making a decision comes in when it is too late to make a decision. Conflicting demands bind them in seeming paradoxes. Pursue purpose by embracing sustainability and maximize profits by extracting and exploiting resources. Enable empowerment and autonomy and decisively lead in new directions. Build a high-performance meritocracy that provides equitable opportunities and outcomes. Be comfortable with discomfort. Calmly confront predictable unpredictability. Resting at the unique intersection of the disciplines of strategy, innovation, leadership, behavioral psychology, and systems psychodynamics, Leading Disruptive Change integrates academic research and practitioner-oriented tools and frameworks to give students practical ways to act wisely and decisively through the fog of disruptive change. Students will specifically learn how to:

  • Diagnose the pace and scale of industry disruption
  • Pinpoint often hidden barriers to industry change
  • Build individual and institutional “adaptive capacity”
  • Develop and implement strategies to lead through the fog of predictable unpredictability