Class helps managers find comfort with financial concepts and models.

If you're not a finance professional, understanding financial concepts and models can be intimidating. Carlson Executive Education's Finance for Non-Financial Managers course is designed to help you understand how and why financial decisions are made and, more importantly, how your contribution adds to the financial success of your organization.

"This is a class that allows you to delve into the mystery of how investors measure, and financial managers measure and manage, value creation in the firm," says Senior Lecturer Rick Nelson. "We're going to take you from knowing nothing to being comfortable talking to the financial professionals about the accounting and financial metrics they use to evaluate the success of the business."

A range of subjects are covered over the three-day class, including understanding the finance view of the firm, using accounting to understand your business, identifying value added decision rules, and discounted cash flow analysis. These topics are all presented using hands-on examples and cases to demonstrate the value creation principles.

"Of course, you're always going to rely on financial experts to help you," says Nelson, "but if you're outside of the set of people who are in-the-know of these subjects you can really feel uncomfortable. This class is a nonthreatening way to get some comfort."

Nelson says that he starts the class by surveying attendees about what they want out of the program, so that "you can be sure that your questions are going to be addressed and answered." It's one of the most satisfying aspects of teaching the class for Nelson.

"I've worked in five or six different firms before I became an academic and the way of thinking about adding value is the same. The details are all different, but the way of thinking is the same," says Nelson. "It's fun to hear attendees say, 'Oh, that's why the financial people were worried about this piece' or 'That's why I have to have less inventory around.' That's really exciting."

Throughout the class schedule, Nelson is joined by an assortment of Carlson instructors, many of whom have won teaching awards voted by students, including accounting Senior Lecturer Charlie Caliendo who was voted best Carlson Executive MBA instructor; Senior Lecturer John Molloy who has been elected the best undergraduate instructor for two years running; and Associate Professor Rajesh Aggarwal, voted best MBA elective instructor.

"Getting a chance to be taught by the best of the best at the Carlson School is something you're going to get out of this class," says Nelson.