Vet Business

Tales of a Veterinarian in an EMBA: If I Survived Biochem can I Learn Analytics?

As I approach the last module for the 1st term of my EMBA I have been reflecting on what has been the most challenging part of the program. At the same time I have been comparing what I thought would be difficult to what the reality has been.

As a veterinarian I have been fortunate that I have some  advantages dealing with the program. Long days studying are the norm in vet school, and so are the multiple exams/ assignments that are due within a couple days of each other. The other advantage I have is that as a veterinarian I am trained to exam situations diagnostically. Fortunately, this is helpful when reading a case analysis of a company – what is the history, what are the symptoms, what do the financials (blood test results) tell us, what are the options to fix the problem and what is the prognosis? A business case is very similar to a presenting patient. At the same time I don’t know if I could have been any more pathetic working on Excel spreadsheets when I started.  All of my classmates came in with their own strengths and weaknesses and it has been interesting to see how we are changing.

When I came into the program Analytics and, to a lesser degree, Managerial Accounting terrified me. I actually had sleepless nights before the course worrying about these courses. Leadership, Marketing and Information Systems seemed to be within my comfort range. What I found about Analytics was that it is very much like the Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics that I took in my Pre-Vet courses; there is only 1 answer and results are directionally related to study effort. It is black and white. I’m not saying it is easy but there are formulas and principles that can be learned and applied. The hard part is looking at data and wondering what story it can tell about a business.

Managerial Accounting and Information Systems have elements of absolutism paired with intangibles that require many of the skills we learned in Leadership for a successful outcome. I found that when we look at businesses in trouble in this course their financials tell a story that require leadership skills to influence organizational, employee motivation and behaviour. Hmm, seems like there may even be some marketing involved.

Information Systems was an eye opener as well, since like Accounting, it is a mix of data, technology, organizational behaviour mixed with leadership skills so that implementation of an It project will be successful.

Marketing blew me away. I thought I had a pretty good handle on the subject, but we dealt with areas like supply chain partners, pricing and business models that have opened my eyes to how marketing is involved in so many layers within a business. We did more accounting in Marketing than we did in the Accounting course! We actually had to prove that the marketing efforts for a business had to make money for the company! Facebook Page Likes are not enough!

Leadership is the course that I went into feeling pretty confident about. I have studied a lot of leadership for my business and some of the best CE I have done was with this subject.  Surprisingly, It has been the most difficult course, because  one assignment required us to use ourselves as the patient and work with key co-workers and classmates to perform a soul searching and sometimes gut wrenching self analysis. There is no black and white when you examine why you deal with situations and people in a certain way. There is no formula to figure out the profit and loss of a person. You just know there are some areas that seem to work pretty good and in another areas, not so much? We all know the saying be the person your dog thinks you are? Well, if I had a dog and it saw how I dealt with certain things it would probably run away. I want to write about this course more in another blog, because I see a failing in leadership throughout our profession on so many levels. Let’s not feel picked upon though, since leadership is lacking in pretty well every industry.

What the courses have done so far is give me a solid background for what comes next. I certainly look at my business differently than I did 4 months ago, I now look at it as an organization with different elements that are easily influenced by the activities of each other. If I don’t have the finances right it means I need to do some data analysis to find out where the shortfalls are coming from. If my staff is not engaged with what we are trying to do it doesn’t matter how great our vets are because people will be less likely to use us, and if we can’t use marketing to improve our financial position why are we doing it? Here is a teaser on that. My Analytics group just completed an analysis of what variables contribute to a Facebook post that has extensive reach and engagement. Stay tuned because I can’t give the results until I submit the paper and get it assessed. This will be another blog too.

If I had to summarize how I have changed approaching the last module of term 1 is that I now analyze situations in greater detail and use all the information that is supplied to come up with a solution or a decision. The other big difference is the questions I now ask about a situation to better understand it. I have a bigger toolbox of knowledge and skills to help me. It is no different than the quality of questions and diagnostic abilities of a veterinarian with training and experience.

I have finished 4 modules of 15. Right now the Term 3 students are in India for their international trip. That will be my class in 12 months. What will be my perspective on things then? How will I run my veterinary business in a years time?

I can’t wait to find out.

P.S. I’m planning to write over the next few weeks a bit more on the specific courses I took this term and how I have applied what I learned to my business. If there is anything in particular you would like to know make sure you leave a comment. Thanks


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