Review: Kevin Walsh, IDIS, Leavey School of Business

At a glance

  • Workload:  Light
  • Teaching Style:  Guest lectures, some interactive sessions
  • Interest in students: Unclear
  • Relevance to outside world: High

Overall Professor Rating: 3-4 (hard to tell due to so many guest lecturers)

Overall Course Rating: 4 (but them guest lecturers are good!)

IDIS 612 is an interesting course.  It’s basically all guest lecturers, but they are good ones, as Professor Walsh knows a LOT of people in some seriously powerful positions.  I recommend the course to anyone wanting to take a qualitative and, in all honesty, easy course while taking another, much harder one in the same quarter.  You get a lot out of it, while not beating yourself up with two difficult courses.

The Review

This is the latest of my reviews on the professors I’ve had while an MBA student at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business. There are lots of sites out there that provide feedback and rates – ratemyprofessor is the most notable. The SantaClaraMBA Yahoo group also has a big database of comments and lots of additional information in its message archive. That database can be a bit hard to wade through, and the comments are short and often just link to other threads, which are themselves pretty short and superficial. Only here can I write as much as I want  🙂

I review professors from a variety of perspectives.  First, I explain the context(s) under which I took the class.  Time of year, time of day, etc.  Then I talk about the quality of the class and the professor, and finally about the professor as a person.  After all, we are trying to learn about our interactions with people, so knowing that side of a teacher is critical, too.  So these would be interactions outside the classroom, etc.  I also just write whatever it is that I think is relevant or will be helpful to others.  That is my overall goal.

This review goes way back to Fall 2008, so just last quarter.  It’s a bit later than I had hoped to do, as is obviously the one for IDIS 696 Social Benefit Entrepreneurship, which I also took last quarter and will write in the next few days.

The facts

I took IDIS 612 in Fall 2008, Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:45-7 (this is the new first slot in Leavey’s 2-course-per-night schedule).  Professor Walsh is an adjunct with significant ties to Silicon Valley and a number of high-ranking executives, from start-up CEO’s to marketing presidents at large companies.  

Them’s the facts (slim as they are). Now read on for the review.

The class

The class is very simple.  Almost all the classes are guest lecturers.  You get a bio/resume and a set of guiding questions (very general, though) prior to the class via the learning management system (Angel), and then after a short into by Walsh you’re off and running.  He has worked with almost all of the lecturers in the past, it’s not always the same set every quarter, and he makes sure that they all present something about leadership in one way or another.  Some speakers have a clearer connection to leadership than others.  But it’s always there.  

Some speakers are better than others (which is educational unto itself, really), and some are more interactive than others.  Most just chat with only a few slides purely to help explain the topic, as compared to being the presentation itself.

Every…5 or so classes we have a session where each team of 3 does a very short presentation on one of the speakers from the previous classes.  These are assigned.  Basically you present the major points that speaker made and then try to create some discussion around the topic.  The presentations are very short so just a few slides, at best, and it was simple enough that each of us would throw our own thoughts out there, kind of try to make them fit together, and voila, presentation.

As for mechanics, it’s the group presentation, participation, and two “reflective” papers.  I have learned that when someone says “reflective” they mean quite literally to speak about one’s own experiences.  I’m not used to writing in the first-person very much so it’s been hard for me to do that in the few classes with these types of papers.  You are supposed to link the first paper with your own experiences (referencing the speakers and reading materials), and the second with more of the themes presented by the speakers.  

The books are Jim Collins’ Good to Great and Business:  The Ultimate Resource, which one could call the “bible” of best practices and articles on various topics.  However, I would only call it that if the Bible included all of the apocryphal books, plus maybe a 2nd translation or two.  The thing is HUGE.  

The Person

Not much to say here, really.  Walsh is a pretty engaging person, easy to talk to, and is approachable and friendly during class and office hours.  He was receptive to an idea I had for another speaker who will be there in the Spring, which says a lot.  At the same time, it’s about the guest speakers, so you don’t get a ton of Walsh out of the class.  But you get a lot relative to the amount of time he spends talking, I guess.  I feel like he is a good person to know, though.

Some Metrics

Metrics are of questionable use, depending on professor and what classes I have and haven’t taken.  But they might be of interest so I’ll do what I can.  These are more like ‘comparisons’ than metrics but I like the word better :-).  Some rough parameters are:

  • Workload:  runs from heavy, which would be work in class, after class, individual and team, to just a lot of problem sets to basically just in-class discussion.
  • Teaching style:  spectrum runs from pure-lecture to interactive to all-over-the place.
  • Interest in students:  pretty obvious
  • Relevance to the outside world:  pretty obvious, though heavily restricted due to my background in academia

Workload: Light

Teaching Style:  Lecture (by guests, mostly)

Interest in students:  Unclear
I think he is interested, he just doesn’t have a ton of time to show that off. 

Relevance to outside world:  High
You are listening to actual leaders, from actual companies, who are actually doing…things of importance.

Comment (1)

  1. Debbie

    Ah…I remember my MBA days. I enjoyed many of the classes very much. Can’t believe I graduated over 10 years ago!

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