Sunday, January 15, 2006

In my Strategic Management of Human Assets class, we read a case about AES, an electric power company, about AES' approach to managing human resources. According to the case (written in 1997), AES was so committed to its values (integrity, fairness, social responsibility, and fun), that it was required by the SEC to list its commitment to its values as a possible risk factor. You see, if there was a conflict between values and profits, AES would adhere to its values. The requirement of such of statement got me thinking. When did we as society decide that profits would be the ultimate goal at the exclusion of everything else?

Why have we decided that making more and more money is all that really matters? Why can't companies pursue other goals? Why would pursuing things like learning, creativity, innovation, or social justice not valued? I think it may be that these ideas are so esoteric that they can't be measured. Pursuing something that is esoteric is scary because succeeding in those pursuits is inherently subjective. It's hard to tell where "better" is. But you can easily tell when you have more money. So maybe we as a society have decided to value that which is easily measurable. Otherwise how would we know we were keeping up with the Jones?

But in my opinion, it is those esoteric ideas, those very things that we cannot measure - these are the things for which we strive to achieve greatness. It is those things, after all, that keep us from being simply cogs in the wheel. It is things like learning, and justice, and art, and creativity, it is these things that add beauty to our lives. I just wonder why it is that these things are no longer valued. How did that shift in values come about? And why are we happy to live in a world that only rewards profits?

Just things that make me go hmmm (see what happens when I'm not looking for a job - I clearly have too much time on my hands!!)

Monday, January 09, 2006

I had one of the best winter breaks ever (considering the fact I was on crutches). I had absolutely NOTHING hanging over my head. No consulting work to be done. No interview practice to do. No reading to get ahead of. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. And it was FABULOUS. On top of the carefree feel of the break, the weather in Houston was fantastic. It was in the 70s and 80s the entire time I was there. It was great to be able to lounge around in the sun with no guilt no ever.

Classes are off to a roaring start this week. My mouth almost fell open in shock when two of my four professors today cold called on the first day of class. WHAT is up with that? There is no cold calling on the first day!! That's just mean and evil. I felt pretty stupid today. Some of my classmates easily came up with smart ways to earn their participation points. I, on the other hand, often felt like I didn't even understand the question being asked. I guess my brain wasn't on yet. I was still in vacation mode.

The jury's still out on my classes this semester. These professors seem to expect quite a bit of us. Maybe it's because I have a bit of senioritis, but I find my self grimacing at the thought of all the group projects I have to do this semester. Having to coordinate five different groups makes you miss the simplicity of a learning team during the first year. And at least two of my professors are showing signs of having recently checked out mental ward. Kidding. Sort of. Well one seemed preoccupied with the auction and mythological wars. Another yelled that if we didn't like his rules or the way he taught - tough! we didn't have to take his class. He seems like he knows his stuff. But he definitely has a feeling like he's an Old Man by the River. I'm exaggerating. Sort of. You get the idea.

I'm having a hard time coming to terms that this is the beginning of my last semester at Wharton. I'm not ready to leave in many ways. And in many ways, I can't wait to be done. I know it will be over before I know it, and then I'll have to start a new (scary) life. I don''t feel ready yet. I just wish I could slow the Wharton train down.

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