Operations Management

For each course in my homemade MBA curriculum, I will provide before-and-after commentary – think of it as a Coursera course review.  The before section will cover my expectations going into the course and any specific reasons I chose to take it.  The after section will be a reflection of what I thought of the course (format, material, professor, workload, etc.), what I learned vs. what I expected to learn, and whether or not I would recommend it to others (and why).  I hope this Coursera course-review format is useful for the rest of you out there who are making your own homemade MBAs using Coursera.


Homemade MBA Coursera course:  Introduction to Operations Management

Ops pic

  • Parent University:  University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business
  • Description: Part of the Wharton MBA Foundation Series, this course will teach you how to analyze and improve business processes, be it in services or in manufacturing. You will learn how to improve productivity, how to provide more choice to customers, how to reduce response times, and how to improve quality.


Chose to replicate the HBS MBA course: Technology and Operations Management

  • Description:  This course enables students to develop the skills and concepts needed to ensure the ongoing contribution of a firm’s operations to its competitive position. It helps them to understand the complex processes underlying the development and manufacture of products as well as the creation and delivery of services.



Expectations going in:

  • In this course I expect to learn about how companies make and manage the production of the goods and/or services they sell.  I hope this class is more technically focused than financially focused, and I also hope that some concepts of lean manufacturing and six-sigma are covered.

Specific reasons I chose this course:

  • The main reason I chose this course is that it is a nearly perfect match to HBS’ Technology and Operations Management course.  Also, I work for an engineering/manufacturing company, so I think Operations Management will be more directly applicable to my job than some of my other Homemade MBA coursework.  I also chose this class because it is part of the Wharton Foundations Series of MBA classes on Coursera.



My thoughts of the course:

  • Format – great for working professionals
    • This class was divided into multiple tracks, which required different levels of participation and unique deliverables.  There was an academic track, and a practitioner track.  The academic track required homework assignments, quizzes, and a final exam.  The practitioner track required a real-world project, called the Coursera Operations Project, to be completed in parallel with the course.
    • I opted for the practitioner track, as my current job gave me the opportunity to try out a real-world project to use as my Coursera Operations Project, and I thought it would make more sense to get some benefit at work with this class.  I really like the option of a practitioner track because I was able to dedicate the time I would have spent on homework assignments and the final exam to my Coursera Operations Project, since the homework and final exam weren’t required for the practitioner track.   The Coursera Operations Projects were all peer graded, which I thought worked surprisingly well – thanks to the very detailed rubric Prof. Terwiesch provided.
  • Material – good
    • The material of this class was pretty basic – PowerPoint slides and a webcam in the professor’s office at Wharton.  However, that was all we needed.  I was really impressed by the (usually) concise nature of the videos, and the focus of each module.  The lecture slides and excel files provided were also very helpful, and allowed me to relax and pay attention to the videos instead of concentrating on taking thorough notes.
  • Professor – great
    • Professor Terwiesch was great.  He was very knowledgeable of all the material he taught us, and was very amusing (and realistic) when comparing the academic world to the real world in his operations examples.
  • Workload – moderate
    • I can only speak on behalf of the practitioner track here, but the workload of this class was pretty substantial.  While I didn’t complete (or even look at, really) the homework assignments or the final exam, it was a lot of work just to watch the video lectures and complete the Coursera Operations Project on time.  The deliverables of the Coursera Operations Project weren’t exactly onerous (typically a few PowerPoint slides summarizing what you did), but the time and effort it took to accomplish the project milestones were.  A word of caution – the practitioner track would not have worked if I didn’t have a readily available project to complete at my normal job.
  • Other
    • The only blemish on this otherwise very well organized, well executed class was that I was unable to submit my Coursera Operations Project milestone deliverables on my normal computer.  I’m not sure if this was a Windows/Internet Explorer issue or what, but I had to use a Mac/Chrome to submit each file (which was a .pdf, of all things!).  Other than this small annoyance, I really enjoyed this class.


What I learned vs. what I expected to learn

  • This course exceeded my expectations.  I certainly learned about how companies manage their operations, and was exposed to concepts of lean and six-sigma, but I also learned a lot about the Theory of Constraints, bottlenecks, process mapping and flow, and a variety of helpful operations calculations. 

Would I recommend this course to others?  

  • Yes

Why/Why not

  • In addition to the obvious fact that this course was offered for free from a top-tier business school, I particularly enjoyed the fact that everything that we covered is directly applicable to my current day-job.  I highly recommend this to any of you out there who work in engineering/manufacturing companies, as this material will benefit you at work in some way shape or form.  I would also recommend this class for those of you in other fields, as I think the concepts taught in this class can easily be applied in many areas.
Introduction to Operations Management Statement of Accomplishment

Introduction to Operations Management Statement of Accomplishment

As a reminder, each course of my homemade MBA curriculum replicates a course from Harvard Business School’s first-year Required Curriculum (as noted here in my post explaining how I made my homemade MBA curriculum).


If you have any thoughts or questions about this course or my review of it, please let me know in the comments section below.

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