Sunday, 19 August 2012

How To Prepare For CMA SLP Year 2

I have received several emails as well as a forum question on how to prepare for Year 2 of the CMA Strategic Leadership Program (SLP). Looks like this is something that quite a few people are wondering about so I put together this post to share my view on how to prepare for Year 2 of the CMA SLP program: 

I would be one of those to tell you 'enjoy your summer and when Year 2 of the CMA SLP program starts, you will review and refresh yourself on anything that you feel you may have forgotten and catch up on things you may not know'.
But if I were really set on reviewing things during the summer this is what I would do:

  • I would review all the various case components (situational analysis, NPV, recommendations, action plan, situational analysis, SWOT, etc.) as well as quantitative methods like payback period, IRR, variances and general concepts like the value chain and balanced scorecard. I wouldn't study these in depth, rather I would just review these before the start of year 2 to make sure that I remember and understand what these are and how to approach them properly.
  • I would get myself comfortable with powerpoint (creating slides, visuals, graphs, links, etc.) for all the presentations that you will be doing in year
  • I would also get comfortable with excel for all the quants you will be doing. The quants in year 2 are more detailed and lengthy and being comfortable with excel could help you streamline these quants.
  • I would practice presenting and speaking in front of a crowd as you will be doing a lot of that.


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

My Approach to Handling The Backgrounder

When you receive your backgrounder you will have 48 hours to do whatever you want with it. 48 hours seems like a lot but it is not so I think it is important to have a strategy for how to approach the backgrounder and what to do with it so that you do not get overwhelmed and forget to do something important in preparation for the case exam.

This was my approach to the backgrounder:

Day 1
  • Read the backgrounder
  • Re-read the backgrounder
  • Make note on the key individuals and get familiar with their names and roles
  • Re-read backgrounder again and make notes/highlight key information
  • Make sure I understand what the company does
  • Read and re-read the SWOT to get familiar with all the points
  • Tackle financials - crunch every single possible ratio that I can think of and make sure I know what each of the ratios mean as well as memorize the ratio formulas
  • Review the resulting ratios and note anything that stands out 
  • Do a situational analysis for the backgrounder (SWOT - try to find additional points, stakeholder preferences, constraints, etc.)
Day 2
  • Read the backgrounder and SWOT twice (the goal is to have all the backgrounder info so solidified and clear in your head so that you will reduce the number of times you may need to refer to the backgrounder copy during the case exam)
  • Review the situational analysis created on Day 1 and note if anything needs to be added or modified
  • Review financials I crunched on Day 1 to make sure you did not make any errors
  • Study the ratios and what they are indicating about the company - choose a handful of ratios that are the most relevant and/or are showing something that needs to be noted and perhaps addressed (ie. debt to equity ratio is trending up)
  • Review everything that I have done so far and study it as much as possible - by the end of this day the goal is for me to be VERY comfortable with everything in the backgrounder.

Share what your strategy on handling the backgrounder is so that other students can benefit and get good ideas.

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