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Accounting and Finance for Engineers Part One Unit 4: Working Capital Cycle

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Unit overview

As we will see in this unit, current assets and liabilities are part of the profit generating cycle for businesses, the working capital cycle in one form or another. 

In this unit we are going to explore the working capital cycle and see how it works for a range of different types of businesses.  We will explore the meaning of a positive or negative working capital cycle time and look at how the working capital cycle forms a significant part of the overall business cash flow model. 

We will lay down the foundation for analysing the working capital cycle, a topic we will cover in a future unit, where we look at the importance of the working capital cycle to the success of a business and how they work in reality.

To make this unit really valuable to you, use the information contained as a guide to you exploring your own company’s working capital cycle – this way your understanding and ability to apply what you are learning will be much greater. 

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Professor  Tony Ward

Tony is Professor of Engineering Management in the Department of Electronics at the University of York where he has worked for 25 years. Prior to that he spent 18 years in Industry as an electronic design engineer, technical manager and programme manager for a number of different companies.  Within York he has held the position of Provost of Alcuin College and Director of the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Enterprise.  Externally he has been President of the European Association for Education in Electrical and Information Engineering and managed or participated in over 20 research projects.  He has published 17 journal papers, over 100 conference papers, given over 20 invited lectures or keynotes and written or contributed to 8 books or formally published reports. His research is in area of Engineering Education and Entrepreneurship.  He is the founder and Chairman of Skillsforge Ltd. A competence management and course booking spinout business from the University of York.

Type Unit
What you will learn
• Understand and describe the cycle in a range of different types of business;
• Understand how supplier and customer payment terms and any production process time affects the working capital cycle time;
• Understand the meaning of positive and negative working capital cycle times;
• Understand the importance of the working capital cycle to the successful operation of a business.
• Understand that real businesses may be operating multiple working capital cycles;
• Describe the overall business cash flow model.
Who should learn
• Junior managers who aspire to more senior positions
• Engineers who aspire to management positions
• Non-financial employees who want to learn the basics of accounting and finance
• Individuals wishing to start their own business
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