As a credit manager who has been active in the NACM organization for over twenty-five years, I had heard and read a lot about the Graduate School of Credit and Financial Management (GSCFM) but had always thought that someone like myself--a credit manager from a locally owned company--would not qualify for attendance in such a prestigious program. The simple fact that the program is held at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, one of the top business schools in the country, placed serious doubt in my mind that I would ever be able to attend. My company gave me the clearance.., and I applied for the program.
I was surprised (but secretly elated) when I received the letter from NACM advising me of my acceptance into the 2000-2001 program. On June 19, 2000, I arrived on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. I was excited to be there of course, but nervous with anticipation about what the next two years would bring.
Students in my class represented both national and international companies, spanning many different industries including food, computer, drug, cosmetics, agriculture, communications, electronics, automotive and chemical just to mention a few. Even though our companies were all different, we, the students, all had one thing in common: we were all credit professionals and committed to be there to learn with the goal of making us better at what we do.
Tuesday morning the classes began. Classes start at 8:00am every morning and continue through the day, including the middle Saturday of the two-week program. There are no classes on Sunday, but even then, you study at least part of the day to stay on top of assignments. The first course of the program is Advanced Financial Statement Analysis, which meets throughout the entire program. The topics discussed in this class include revenue recognition, statement of cash flows, off balance sheet financing, ratio analysis, predicting bankruptcy, Economic Valued Added (EVA) and performance measurement tools for the credit professional. Other courses include Applied Economics, Human Resource Management, Presentation Skills and Corporate/Management Strategy.
At the conclusion of the first year program, we attend graduation night for the second year students. It was a pleasure to see the class of 2000 receiving their graduation certificates, knowing that next year it would be our turn. However, there was still much to do.
Prior to our departure, students were placed in teams and given an assignment that needed to be completed prior to the start of the second year program. The assignment was based on an actual company having financial difficulties that was requesting a substantial line of credit from a phantom company for which the class team was to make a credit recommendation to senior management. In addition to the report, the team and each individual must be able to support the decision made and answer any question posed during the case study presentation during the second year session. I remember thinking that I would never make it.
However, what happened changed my life: I could not have asked for a better team than the one to which I was assigned. My teammates were all intelligent, dedicated and outgoing and made a commitment to help me through the assignment, and more importantly, to help me understand it. My team had several telephone conference calls, a flurry of e-mails, and met twice face-toface, once in Dallas-and once in Chicago, both times for a two-day work session to complete our case study. …