Although the idea of doing and MBA to enhance my career had been burning within me for some time, I was still full of uncertainty when I finally took the plunge. Like many others on the course, I had sacrificed a great deal to return to studying. There are few decisions in life that have little or no risk associated with them. Although I had no second thoughts, there were risks associated with the choice I made and for that reason I was full of anticipation and suspense as the course began. So how have the last 5 weeks unfolded?
Rapidly! It seems no time at all since we all met as 35 complete strangers from many different countries. Now we know each other’s names (even if we can’t pronounce them all properly), we are beginning to realise where each other’s strengths are, we have an understanding of each other’s culture and most importantly we are really coming together as a team. We are now a very comfortable group and regularly laugh and share a joke (often in lectures and at each other’s expense!). The foundations for this to happen were very firmly laid during the Learning manager and ‘Blue Sky’ event during the first two weeks. These events really highlighted the importance of working together and showed us how we would depend on each other through the next 12 months. This became even more apparent when we started EIBE, our first module. EIBE is a very intensive demanding course, but also very rewarding. Dr Burt makes a special effort to extract you from your comfort zone and throw you into a completely new environment where you are using a process you don’t understand until you finish. The result is a two week period where you learn a great deal about each other. Throughout this process every group goes through peaks and troughs. There are times when you are all pulling together in the same direction and times when you are all completely lost. What helped get every team towards the final objective was the interaction between all groups. All doors were open, ideas were shared, advice was given and help was offered. There was acceptance that we were all in the same boat and by helping each other we could reach our goal faster.
After completing EIBE, we moved straight into ASDM. For some students this relates heavily to their previous industry or job. There are some whizz kids with statistics, figures and Excel, and there are some people like me who are feeling their way through. Even if the subject is not your favourite or second nature to you, there is no need to panic. The availability of videos and other learning material on my place is great and really helps you understand each section of the course. The text books are very informative and if you take the time to read them, they are a great help.
The support does not end with fellow students, lecture and text books. I have found some of the previous year’s MBA students very approachable and more than willing to help provide advice and tips. We are all assigned a mentor from last year’s group and I met with mine this week. The insights he gave me were invaluable.
So 5 weeks in what can I conclude? Has it all been fun? No, some of it has been very challenging. Has it all been easy to handle? No some of it has been out with my skill set and very demanding. Have we all been the best of friends? No there are times when you can become frustrated with each other in groups and have to be big enough to back down or take a break. Is that life? Yes. The lessons we are learning are preparing us for bigger and better things in the future and there is no doubt the future will have its challenges. Overall though, I am enjoying the course and glad to be part of such a great team. The risks I mentioned at the start are being quickly outweighed by the possibilities I can see in the future.