Discipline Investigation essay
A Discipline Investigation essay is a type of essay which guides students to explore the profession that they hope to join. After interviewing a professional of a particular field of study and doing outside research, students will learn the rules and patterns of a specific field that they wish to start their career in.
I choose business administration with a specialization in international business because I want to take a leadership role, such as a manager or a chief officer in a company. Since globalization has become a trend in doing business, an international business degree would provide me with sufficient knowledge to do business with people outside the U.S. This degree provides me with necessary skills to plan, organize, direct, and control an organization. Throughout the program, I will be studying theories and principles of accounting, finance, statistic, marketing, management, economy, and decision-making. All of the knowledge in my major will provide me with a framework to achieve my goals in my future career path, and the understanding of business administration encourages me in dealing with entrepreneurs such as the chief operating officer, business owners, managers, customers, etc. One of the reasons that leads me to choose this career is that I want to stand out from the crowd. I am a fluent user of many languages such as Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. Therefore, I want to take advantages of knowing multiple languages since I believe multilingual users have competitive advantages when they do business internationally. I know that being a manager of a firm is very stressful; however, it pays a high salary. Most of the time, managers have the opportunity to travel abroad for business. By traveling to different countries, managers would have a chance to learn new things and meet with people from different cultures.
My interviewee is Mr. Ivan, and he is now the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at company X. Company X is in the medical device industry. He has worked in the medical device industry for ten years. In this Discipline Investigation Assignment, I will introduce Mr. Ivan’s background and career path, his role and responsibilities as a COO, and his communication skills. At the end of this assignment, I will share my thoughts about what I find in my interview and research.
Background and Career Path
Mr. Ivan is Chinese-Vietnamese. He can speak Vietnamese, Chinese, and English. He immigrated to the United States of America when he was twenty-two years old. Life was not easy for him when he first came to the USA. He encountered many difficulties like language barrier, culture barrier, financial difficulties, etc. It took him eight years to obtain his first college degree in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley because he had to work and study at the same time. I asked Mr. Ivan what motivated him to pursue higher education since he had to work full time to survive. He told me that he believed education is proportional with income; it means the more you learn the more you earn. Mr. Ivan was not the only one who believed that education would help people become more successful. In the article “IMF recommends ways countries can fight income disparities without slowing economic growth” by Christopher S, the author presents one suggestion to reduce income inequality from International Monetary Fund (IMF) is that “Governments should ensure that poorer citizens have access to higher education and health care. More education can help low-income people earn more and move up the income scale.”
Mr. Ivan informed me that at the time, when he came to the USA, anything related to medical industry could have a good potential future; this was the reason why he started his career in the medical device industry. Mr. Ivan worked at many companies prior to the start at company X, and all these companies are in his field of interest. Mr. Ivan started working as a technician at a medical device company since he was in community college. After obtaining a bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley, he worked as an engineer. After two years working in his initial position, he was promoted to manager, and then director. He worked in Research and Development, and Manufacturing Departments. Since he was the director of a company, he realized a need for obtaining a MBA degree. He said that a postgraduate degree could assist him to move to the top position. In the article “When having an MBA is Important” by Beth Braccio Hering, the author cites the book The MBA Student’s Job-Seeking Bible by Elizabeth Freedman to emphasize the importance of having a MBA degree, and she cites: “Having an MBA — as opposed to just a bachelor’s degree in business — is sort of like traveling someplace by plane instead of taking the train. With either business degree, you may eventually wind up at your final ‘destination’ — but the MBA will get you there faster.”
After he had obtained his MBA degree from the University of Phoenix, he decided to leave the company and started his company X. Ivan’s position at company X is now Founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO). Mr. Ivan said that it was not easy for him to be the COO of the medical device company because not only did he have to acquire business management knowledge, but he also had to get a good grasp of mechanical engineering. He said that the qualification for COO at his company requires a BS, MS or PhD in engineering. Therefore, to him, a degree in Master of Business Administration is highly desirable. There are specific trade skills that are helpful such as medical device manufacturing technology, plastic processing technology, accounting, project management, human resource, and communication skill.
Mr. Ivan’s company has been operating for ten years. At the beginning, on one hand, Mr. Ivan had to look for investors in order to seek funding for the company. On the other hand, he had to work very hard to manage the company. He told me that writing was very important because a good writing skill would contribute a lot to a successful business plan. Having exceptional writing skills enables Mr. Ivan to compose remarkable business plans, in order to attract investors to fund his company. After putting tremendous effort to run company X, Mr. Ivan’s company is in good shape; however, Mr. Ivan also mentioned that a current job market in the medical device industry is quite unfavorable. Since the product takes a long time to achieve FDA approval, and it is costly to develop. Therefore, not a lot of companies in this field are established.
Role and Responsibilities
Mr. Ivan’s responsibility as COO consists of developing business strategies, hiring capable teams, managing budgets, designing products, overseeing manufacturing operations, interacting with a variety of people (customers, investor, physician and FDA) as well as executing marketing strategy. Mr. Ivan said that the biggest challenge is to hire the right people and keep them focused. He mentioned that it is not easy to find an employee with both technical skills and interpersonal skills, that is, someone who was capable and got the right skill set, and someone who had the right attitude, and willing to learn. In the article “Facing Down The Biggest Challenges In Manufacturing Today” by Tom Bonine, President, National Metal Fabricators, Bonine also presents the same point of view; in his article, he said that one of the most challenging issues in American manufacturing right now, from a manufacturer’s view, is finding good employee. Bonine said:
Manufacture companies today have a hard time finding employees who will show up and be on time for work, stay at their work stations, and, bottom line, stick with their jobs. When it’s hard to find reliable personnel, employers have to spend excess time hiring and training new employees, then rehiring and training new employees. This is difficult both in terms of financial costs and efficiency.
I questioned Mr. Ivan about as the COO, what smaller day-to-day tasks and skills are involved. Generally, he said that his daily tasks involve many meetings, phone calls, project reviews, talking to investors, calling meetings, reviewing budgets, and checking emails. He has lots of email correspondence. He said that every day is different. Some days he has to look at product with the design team, then reports to his investors. He also needs to talk to the CEO of the company to review complaints and resolve human resource issues. He said that the good thing is that he has his administrative assistant, who usually reviews his schedule at the beginning of the day.
Mr. Ivan also noted that his position requires lots of traveling. Some trips are to see customers and for training, others are for doing offsite tests. He also visits investors to seek funding for the company. He said that learning foreign languages would have many advantages when doing business with international partners. He mentioned that it would be easier to approach a foreigner if you can speak their language and understand their culture.
I asked Mr. Ivan what have been the most important communication aspects of the job. He said that he has to carefully write quarterly and monthly meeting speeches. He has to compose speeches that are motivational. Mr. Ivan said that the main objective is to make employees happy and establish trust between management and staff. He believes that when the employees are happy and trusting their managers, they could be more productive. He emphasized that it is imperative to communicate frequently with employees in both formal and informal ways. While he values frequent talks to employees in an informal manner, he prefers writing for employees’ performance reviews as he sees this is an appropriate way to formally communicate with employees. In each employee performance review, he rewards the employee for his or her positive performance, and carefully points out their deficiency in a constructive way. He said that employee performance review is a good way to give feedback to employees. In the article “Performance Reviews: Tips, Phrases & Examples for Bosses” by Chad Brooks, the author presents the same idea that most of the managers find it is useful to write the employee performance review. Brooks said, “While managers might not enjoy spending time writing their employee evaluations, they do see the benefits that come from them. A recent study by the staffing firm Accountemps revealed that more than 90 percent of executives feel their performance reviews are effective.”
Mr. Ivan said that, in business, good writing skill has been one of the necessities of communication. He implied that the business field involves a lot of writing; for example, he has to reply to a lot of emails regarding customer complaints; he needs to write concise reports; he also has to prepare a business proposal that is interesting but tempered with managed expectation, etc. In addition to writing skills, his job also involves a lot of reading. He reads a lot of testing protocol and reports because he has to ensure the quality of the products. He also reads medical journals such as Neurosurgery, Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, Endovascular Today, Metech Insight, Today’s Medical Developments, Journal of Neurointerventional Surgery, and Medical Device Manufacturing. By studying these medical journals, on one hand, he could keep his knowledge up to date in the medical field; on the other hand, these medical journals will provide him better insights into the market in the medical device industry and help him answer questions such as what are the consumer needs? Or what medical device should he invent to satisfy the consumer needs and keep his company growing?
After interviewing Mr. Ivan and conducting the Discipline Investigation Assignment, I have learned many lessons and absorbed numerous useful information and new ideas. First, as an immigrant, I admire Mr. Ivan’s perseverance. He is a conscientious and hard-working individual who works very hard to reach his goals. Second, I learned from him the way he manages his company and deals with his employees. He pointed out to me the importance of communication and establishing trust between management and employees, which reminds me that I have to learn how to communicate effectively with others in both writing and speaking. On the one hand, it has worried me that COO positions involve a lot of writing because I am an immigrant, and I find it is difficult to write in English. However, I know that there is no other substitution; if I wanted to be a COO or manager in the future, from now on, I have to practice my writing skill. On the other hand, it is also a surprise to me to know how important the MBA degree is. After finishing my BS degree, I may obtain this postgraduate degree because I believe it will send me to the chief officer position faster.
Facing Down The Biggest Challenges In Manufacturing Today. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.manufacturing.net/articles/2014/03/facing-down-the-biggest-challenges-in-manufacturing-today
IMF recommends ways countries can fight income disparities without slowing economic growth (3/13/14 4:06 pm). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.therepublic.com/w/US–Wealth-Gap-Fiscal-Policy
Performance Reviews: Tips, Phrases & Examples for Bosses. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5366-performance-review-tips-for-bosses.html
When having an MBA is Important – CNN.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/worklife/06/09/cb.when.mba.important/