Thunderbird School of Global Management students who survive Multinational Corporate Finance (FORAD) love to swap war stories. They laugh about bizarre products such as Sex Panther Cologne — made with real bits of panther. They brag about working 18 hours straight, sleeping on the classroom floor, and then resuming their studies. Perhaps more importantly, they talk about building friendships during the ordeal that have spanned decades. Following is a sampling of FORAD memories shared by T-bird alumni. Responses came from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and e-mail.
Philip Duncan ’84: Working until 2 a.m.
We had a great run in ’84 with two partners (Dave Seed ’84 from Canada was a star), and took the weekly prize for 10 weeks. We were bumped to second in the final week after a rival group enlisted a previous FORAD classmate, but we had a great time, including daily time working until 2 a.m. on the computer simulations. Professor was also great.
Philip Duncan ’84: A very low curve
Our professor for ‘84 FORAD was Paul Dickie, and he made the course very enjoyable in his own style, including sophisticated case study exams with a very low curve. If anybody knows where he is now, I would like to contact him as he is not on T-bird search engine.
Judy Canfield Power ’84: Missed opportunity
I remember that we didn’t buy back our stock when we should have, and it cost us first place.
Silvana Roncal ’85: The program ran on DOS!
It would be very interesting to compare the FORAD of 1985 to the current one. Back in my time, my team won and I later became the TA for the game. It was a sophisticated treasury operation within a multinational dealing with cash management, translation and liquidity issues in more than two currencies. The program ran on DOS!
Kristi Buckles Otto ’85: Beware of saboteurs
I agree with Silvana. It would be great to compare the 1985 version versus today. Our group spent what seemed like a a great deal of time keeping another group from sabotaging our programs! I really enjoyed the INTERAD program.
Karen Keese ’86: Still friends to this day
I took FORAD in fall 1985 with Dr. Dickie. Anthony Hull ’86, Robin Carpenter ’86 and I were a three-person team, and are still friends to this day. We won that semester, got a bit punchy, and rented tuxes for the defense. I think I still have the photo. We were all FORAD TAs the following semester. Ant had the brilliant finance mind, Robin the diligence to read and review everything, and I was the risk mitigator. I was extremely fortunate with my partners.
Robert Birch ’86: Five sharpened pencils in my shirt pocket
FORAD was a profoundly humbling experience that convinced me I would not make it in investment banking and did not create feelings of self-assurance during my on-campus interview with Morgan Stanley. In early ’86, our handsome professor, a University of Southern California Ph.D. and former Bank of Montreal wizard, was in his last term before going to the Asian Development Bank. Intuitively, he could solve any finance problem and write the equation on the blackboard but could not explain how he came up with the solution. Few of us could follow his advanced financial logic and sat in class wondering how he got from the problem set to the elegant solution with so few calculations. Explanations ruined the artistry and Zen-like wizardry. He tried explaining a couple of times and the conceptual baby steps necessary for the whole class to understand drove him into temporary madness, as there was more than one way to solve the same problem, take your choice of methods. We must find our own solution, how we arrived didn’t matter much. We learned to shut up and watch carefully. The weekly projects took me 40 grueling hours to solve on Lotus 1-2-3 and write up on WordPerfect 4.2. Walking to the final examination I had five sharpened pencils in my shirt pocket and plugged my ears to seal my brain and remember foreign currency translation equations. Final exam included a shrimp processing facility project in the Philippines owned by a Hong Kong parent company with an American holding company — determine pre and after tax IRRs at the local, parent, and holding company level. I completed about two-thirds of the final exam case and survived the course with a B. I waived Mandarin Chinese, and FORAD is the most conceptually difficult class I have ever taken including law school — but would like to take it again. FORAD is serious business; the acronym strikes fear in the heart.
Alex Blochtein ’88: A New York law firm
FORAD was by far the best class at Thunderbird. I have outstanding memories of this class. James Mills was a great professor and a real character. Our team excelled. Many friends used to call our team a “New York law firm” as our last names are: Bletchman, Blochtein and Borjeson. I still use some of the techniques to minimize exposure. It was a true learning experience.
Julio Benitez ’89: The sacrificial lamb
Forad was wonderful. I was fortunate enough to not just take the course but was then the T.A. the following semester. Dr. Mills was wonderful. My funny story (funny now) relates to the defense. We had heard that every semester one team during the defense would just get pounded. Well, that semester it was us. After sitting there for what felt like a lifetime, the panel let us go. All the other teams came up to us to thank us for being the sacrificial lamb for the semester. Thanks Tracey and Pradeep.
Ron Lagraff ’92: ‘Are you on drugs?’
I took FORAD with Dr. Dale (not “Dave”) in 1992, and it was definitely the best finance class I ever took. A really funny exchange happened during our defense in front of a group of professors and a private sector banker. Professor Frank Tuzzilino was on the panel, and when it became his turn, he asked a question that had a cryptic introduction about “northern and southern hemispheres” of the balance sheet. I remember Dr. Mills taking his glasses off, staring him down and asking, “Frank, are you on drugs?” It was a very funny moment in what was (for us anyway), a tense exercise. Interesting that, after so many long hours and long nights, it’s this little exchange during our defense that I remember most all these years later.
Paul Tsakiris ’92: Truly exceptional courses
I thought it was a great class. My only regret is that I took it over the summer and was not able to focus on it as much as I would have liked. Definitely the best finance class I have ever had! FORAD and INTERAD are truly exceptional courses.
Jonathan Pearson ’92: The heat of the African sun
We were quite confident in the second week’s decision-making and came out way WAY ahead. Calling it speculating might be a stretch, but our panel certainly didn’t think so. The lights in the auditorium felt like the African sun that night. There must have been 300 people there watching me sweat.
Dominique A. Quere ’93: Chicken on a campfire
FORAD brings back some good memories back in the spring of ’93 … still in touch with three of my four teammates from those days. The key to our success was climbing a nearby mountain, then on the way back, cooking some frozen chicken on a campfire, trying to eat it and deciding our strategy for the week to come.
Mary-Jeanne Cabanel ’93: A FORAD superstar
I remember that a FORAD superstar worked with me all night to save my entrepreneurship project that almost went bankrupt before it started.
Alberto Cruz ’94: Five members from five countries
I had an outstanding FORAD experience. Our team was comprised of five members from five different countries, four different native languages and three continents. We screwed it up big time trying to speculate big time, just for once, and had a terrible time justifying some of our consistently inconsistent decisions.
Scott Hessell ’96: Failing with Dr. Moffett
My experience was nowhere near as good as others. Our team, quite frankly, did horribly. But I remember Dr. Moffett telling us in class — and I believe personally too— that he would rather we fail with him than fail on the job. Now, among many things that I’m doing, I teach part-time at the University of Arizona, and I tell my students the same thing all the time and have structured many activities with that in mind. And, based in no small part on my experience in FORAD, I’m also starting a company with former Deloitte application developers that is creating a series of competitive business simulations for the retail marketplace to be used at the university and professional levels. So, while my memories are not as fond as for those who won, I think I may have learned just as much, if not more so.
Andreas Kraemer ’96: Speculating like there was no tomorrow
I remember that we speculated like there was no tomorrow during the last decision, and that we got our behinds kicked thoroughly during the defense because of it.
Janet Marie Joyce ’97: Power pink suit
I remember my power pink suit. Hello to Professor Moffett!
Julianne Ferencz Babione ’97: The wall at the Pub
I remember checking the weekly results posted on the wall at the Pub.
David Adams ’01: Sometimes you get lucky
Our group won in the spring of ’01 based on an uncovered currency hedge that went in our favor. We had a friend march in during our introduction dressed up in a chicken costume as our mascot in an effort to divert the attention from our dumb luck. It didn’t work! I learned an important lesson from that presentation and Moffet’s searing glares: Always admit your mistakes and be grateful that sometimes you get lucky. Then, move on!
Douglas Kennedy ’03: Pushed to the limit and then some
My research during FORAD into international tax and advanced cost accounting was very insightful. Have you ever wondered how it is the big multinationals, such as GE, pay no federal tax? That is four courses by itself. I loved FORAD because it pushed me to the limit and then some. When Big Daddy Jim Mills and Moffett taught Financial Engineering and FORAD , a student was getting a tremendous education. It bought you the first 90 days at one of the big firms. My two regrets are that I didn’t get to take INTERAD, and I didn’t complete a dual language thesis. FORAD — simply the best course I’ve ever taken.
Jose Dominguez ’04: Physical Restraint Devices
I remember people laughing about our company name: Physical Restraint Devices … and people laughing even more about our lame defense!
Nikkole Bonjorni ’09: 60 percent of the time it works every time
I think there are many skills you learn in FORAD that can be applied post-graduation and not all of them are finance related. I think the main thing is learning to work in a team under stressful conditions. While you are working you know that any decision made within the team may have to be defended in front of your peers. I think, in most cases, it makes people more cautious and willing to listen to other people. That is a priceless skill to learn. I lucked out because my team got along well with one another. Of course, we were a team of four women and one man … which makes for a less stressful scenario if you ask me. ;) The results were always posted on Thursday. Each week we had a decision due. We would meet Thursday night to discuss our results (where we went wrong, what strategy we wanted to take, etc.) over dinner. No laptops. Just discuss. I really think it helped us to analyze what happened. I think it helped keep the mood light so we didn’t get aggravated with one another later on. It happened, of course, but we didn’t resent anyone or despise anyone after the class was over. My group did not win best biennial but we did get an honorable mention for most entertaining. I think that says something about how our group worked together. :) Our product was Sex Panther Cologne … made with real bits of panther. Our slogan: “60 percent of the time it works every time.” It was a good memory. I am not a finance major and I don’t work in finance. In fact, finance is probably my worst subject, but I took this class because I wanted to strengthen my knowledge in that area. And this class did just that.
Rrahul Dalmia ’10: Dropping from No. 1 to No. 7
FORAD was an amazing overall business tool. I remember a steep learning curve, sleepless nights at the Commons and TSG. I remember our fatal mistake that dropped our rank from No. 1 to No. 7. At the end of it, you wish you could play “just one more time.”
Nathan Skon ’10: Breaking into the field
I loved the course, and it directly got me into the field into multinational finance, and I now manage the foreign exchange program at SunPower.
Manish Pandey ’10: Me and three Chinese
I was in the FORAD class of spring 2010 and I had three Chinese ladies in my group. It was probably the best college experience I had in spite of ending at ninth place!
Amitesh Kumar ’11: Sleeping on the classroom floor
I took FORAD in Spring 2011 and it was one of my favorite courses while at T-bird. One of the reasons is the method adopted by Professor Moffett. It definitively improves one’s financial management skills in a global context, but along with that, it helps one develop leadership and team skills. Some Memories: 1) We had been working on biennials (Antoine, Ashustosh, Subu and myself) for almost 18 hours at a stretch, just before submission day, and I remember Antoine being so tired that he just slept on floor of Snell 4, where we used to have team meetings, but then once he woke up he was back to work. 2) We never had arguments within our team, and this helped us listen to others, which many employees of companies don’t do these days. 3) The results of each period used to be displayed on Monday evenings in the Pub, and we used to sit as a team sipping beer waiting for result because it’s addictive. It got all of us involved, and the best thing is we considered it as running a company rather than just a game. 4) We were ranked second in defense and third best biennial. So, in short, it was mixture of learning, winning and fun.
Share your FORAD memories in the comments section below.
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