The Firm: A Unique Experience

The Firm is one of the first courses RBS BBA students experience. This is a course specially designed for RBS and it is a hot appetizer for the program. Prof. Lester Golden explains what makes The Firm a unique experience. 


The Firm immerses students in fundamental issues of management and investments while giving them the skill set for dealing with these issues: thinking critically and writing clearly about them. The Firm challenges students to become masters in self-directed learning: how to read critically, research and filter information efficiently within time constraints, work in teams, present and debate ideas effectively and to learn to handle the emotions of money and its management through the course’s investment game. 


The process is intense, with lots of challenging one-on-one and one-on-team contact with the professor and lots of argument. Students leave behind and unlearn their centrally-planned high school world of being told what and how to read, study and write. Each assignment presents them with multiple information sources in different media to choose from. To pass the course, students must critically evaluate sources, formulate a coherent argument and support it with evidence. Rote memorization and repetition of context-free information gets them nowhere. 


Through numerous guest speakers from the Latvian Employers’ Association, the Bank of Latvia, Nasdaq OMX and managers of companies, students see up close the tradeoffs in real-world business, ethical and economic policy decisions.  The professor’s experience--failures as well as successes--as business owner, real estate and stock investor and trader provide some of the cases.


Inevitably, some fail to adapt. But, those who do, leave the course knowing how to think independently and critically for themselves and present their ideas coherently under pressure. They also learn in the investment game and debates about financial market efficiency and modern portfolio theory the dangers of following a crowd unthinkingly.


The course’s assignment process--a high-speed steeplechase in which students have to jump a new hurdle right after clearing the last one--is an integral part of what prepares RBS students for their future as educated managers and investors.