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Category: Business, Work & Careers

A fond farewell to the Efficient Market Hypothesis

When I started my MBA elective of Behavioural Finance recently, my husband told me to mentally prepare to let go the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH). I scoffed at this. I love EMH, and it was taught to me by my favourite professor who knows everything. Back off. But as the course progressed, I could feel certain foundational beliefs start crumbling… by the end I was beaten. Long live behavioural finance.

Business, Work & Careers

New thoughts on automation

For whatever reason, it’s quite rare to find a talk so interesting you’re on the edge of your seat for most it. This delightfully happened to me recently while listening to LEK Consulting‘s Andrew Allum talk about automation.

I find the topic of automation generally quite clear-cut: I think it’s a Good that will cause a fair amount of Bad in the short term. The bad consists of major restructuring in the job market and a lot of unemployment, which makes the fear and loathing around automation justifiable – too emotional and alarmist, but understandable. The good is in the long-term effect of greater productivity, lower prices and increased availability of valuable products and services for more people. Also, better jobs.

So against that backdrop of ‘This is a non-issue’, I was happy to find a lot of new food for thought in the talk. Mr Allum stressed that he was not a futurist and did not want to speculate much on what the effect of the changes we’re seeing now might be. I however am letting my mind wander, so have your grains of salt at the ready…

Business, Work & Careers

How to get a decent GMAT score in 10 days

I’m a brand-new MBA student at Imperial College Business School. To get in, most MBA schools require a good score in a gruelling test called the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). I too had to take this test, which measures all kinds of critical reasoning as well as verbal and quantitative information processing skills.

My problem was that I was a late applicant in an admissions process which normally takes a year. I had only ten days in which to prepare for the GMAT, and I managed a score of 620. The difference between my first practice test and the final test was pretty stark:

Total score Quant score Verbal score Quant % Verbal %
Practice test (estimated ranges) 370–470 6–18 37–39 0–6 83–89
Final test 620 32 44 24 98

Contrary to most of the advice I read online, it turns out you don’t need a minimum of three months, a private tutor or to be a maths savant. Here’s what I would say about preparing for the GMAT at short notice.

Business, Work & CareersPersonal & Family Life

Publishing and the five competitive forces

Michael E. Porter is a management writer and thinker, whose most famous essay is The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy. I finally read this essay a couple of weeks ago, and it was natural while reading to think about how the five forces relate to publishing. Here’s what I think.

Business, Work & Careers

A SWOT analysis of publishing

If someone was considering (trade) publishing as a career, what might they take into account?

Note that some of these points are based on my best guesses, so if you’re here because you’ve got a job offer, do do your own research into a company as they might have very different policies and culture. I know all of this hasn’t always applied to the companies I’ve worked at.

Business, Work & Careers

The cult of the editor

Most people who want to work in publishing dream of being an editor (I was one of them, too). In the minds of most people, editorship is wrapped in an aura of prestige, sophistication, importance and exclusivity. Editors are tastemakers, gatekeepers, discoverers and improvers of great literature, confidantes of authors and sometimes courageous revelators of truths.

Some of this has echoes in my job as a commissioning editor, but real work is more mundane: mostly project management and email! I’ve written about a typical ‘day in the life’ here. But the ideal and its associated expectations persist, and can affect how the whole publishing company operates, if not challenged. In fact, I think the Cult of the Editor is at work in most companies.

Business, Work & Careers

In defence of profit

I was recently at a lunch where the discussion turned to some subscription service that a few of the people had tried. They compared their favourable experiences and then one of them said the best thing about this service was that they didn’t make a profit – they just reinvest the money back into the business. Everyone around the table thought it was indeed the best part.

It upsets me that profit is such a dirty word in my circle of friends. I know it’s sort of hip now to profess to hate ‘greed’, but some people do it to an extent where it seems they think that any time somebody profits financially from something, it’s evil. But profit-making is actually one of the morally best things you can do, and more people should be trying to make a profit.

Business, Work & Careers

The rich world of email etiquette, and Americans

(This is a very silly post.)

I was always taught that you start work emails with ‘Dear X’, and that you may perhaps move to ‘Hi X’ if the other party does it first, as a gesture of the connection becoming slightly more intimate over time. Then, if you’re sending multiple emails a day, it’s okay to drop the greeting completely (and sometimes even dropping the sign-off at the end is fine). This is what most of the Britons I email with seem to do; they’re all in on The Rules.

However, I also communicate a lot with Americans over email, and I love the happy jumble of completely informal greetings many of them use.

Business, Work & Careers

The amazing self-publishing book

The Bookseller says that self-publishing has surpassed ebooks as Public Enemy #1 (so it must be true). It’s the spinning jenny of publishing – I expect pretty soon we’ll all be on the street with signs saying ‘will proofread for food’.

However – the self-publishing revolution may not be all bad news. Consider the following.

Business, Work & Careers

A day in the life of a commissioning editor

When I was looking to get into publishing, I had only a very fuzzy notion of what you actually did when you were ‘in publishing’, let alone what more specific roles such as commissioning editors did every day. Now I know it’s mostly email – no, just kidding. There’s a fair bit of attending meetings, too! Here’s an account of a typical day.

Business, Work & Careers