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Continuing our series of posts introducing the MBA programme team, next up is Dr Ron Bradfield, Associate Dean (Global MBA):

Image of Ron Bradfield

“For many years I have been interviewing applicants to the MBA programme and one of the questions which I ask is “why do you want to do a MBA?”  The answers are usually predictable, ‘I want to prepare myself for a career move from a technical to managerial position’, ‘I want to move up the corporate ladder’, ‘I want to refresh my skills and learn new skills’, and periodically, ‘I want to start my own business and I think the MBA will give me the skills to do this’. Survey data of MBA graduates collected by the Financial Times reflects this, the most commonly cited reasons for having undertaken an MBA being ’increased earnings’, ‘management development’ and ‘change of career/employer’.

These are undoubtedly important motivations for contemplating undertaking an MBA. However, I recently came across an article in Forbes magazine (November 2012) by Eric Jackson called “The top 10 most under-rated aspects of getting your MBA” which I think are equally important reasons for doing a good MBA, but which only become apparent several years after you have completed the MBA. While the article relates primarily to a two year full-time MBA, I think these 10 aspects which are summarized below as ‘the opportunity to ..’, apply equally to the 1 year fulltime, or indeed the part-time MBA:

The opportunity to:

  1. To get out of the day-to-day grind, stop and reflect on some big business issues, such as corporate governance, leadership, CSR and corporate sustainability, all of which we cover on the MBA in core subjects such Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Management (EML) or electives such Sustainability Management
    1. Make some lifelong friends, many of who reach senior positions and accomplish great things in their careers, and they will be part of your valuable network of contacts. At the same time you will through our International Centres in 8 countries, have a wide network of alumni, keep in contact with them and use them.
  2. Realize how little you understand about the world and business. In essence a good MBA will take you through the ‘Four Stages of Competence” model, from the ‘unconscious incompetence’ stage where individuals are not generally aware of their deficits, to ‘unconscious competence’, where individuals are so practiced, for example in analyzing complex situations under time pressure, as in the Strategic Consulting in Practice (SCiP) workshops, that it becomes second nature to them.
    1. Learn how to get a bunch of very competitive Type-A personalities to work together as a team. The average age of our students is 30+ and of course they all think they are leaders and outstanding – learning to work with them on large group case study assignments with tough deadlines, such as Strategic Analysis and Evaluation (SAE), is challenging and a great experience.
    2. Think about the global economy and not just your little world. We have a very diverse student population and learning something about their countries, values and belief systems, will open your eyes as to future business opportunities. At the same time, subjects such as Exploring the International Business Environment (EIBE) in which you explore the future of countries which you know little about, such as Azerbaijan or Kyrgyzstan, will give you a wider global perspective on issues.
    3. Interact with a wide range of academics who will challenge you and stretch your thinking, even in supposedly everyday subjects such as Financial and Managerial Accounting or Operations Management. Ask questions during classes and take the time to engage in conversation with these academics during the breaks or after classes, you will learn much from this.
    4. Listen to accomplished executives, business leaders, entrepreneurs and interesting people when they come to talk at Business School. This is a real bonus of undertaking an MBA, it is a privilege to listen and talk to these people, make the most of these opportunities as you can learn much from them.
    5. To refocus yourself. Time away from your job, mixing with students from different backgrounds, listening to guest speakers and academics, and studying subjects which you know little about, will give you the opportunity to reflect on where you think you future career lies, and what you want to accomplish in the next 5-10 years.
    6. Learn about managing people. From subjects such as Managing People in Organisations (MPIO) and The Learning Manager (TLM), you will learn how to manage people and yourself. Although you may feel that you already know much about how to do this, the experience of group work and group presentation on our MBA will provide you with the opportunity to learn more about to work with and manage groups from very different cultures and backgrounds. In an increasingly global world, this experience will stand you in good stead in your future career.
    7. Learn how to get up and string a few sentences together. A prerequisite of any senior management position is the ability to stand up and make effective presentations to groups of people, and the experience on the MBA of making presentations, not only to academics but also real-world clients, will improve your skills in this area.

There is an old saying that what you get out of something depends on what you put into it. This is equally true of your MBA; it should not just about getting good marks on your assignments and passing the exams i.e. it is not just about the destination but the journey. Make the most of every opportunity on your MBA and you will find it an extremely rich and rewarding experience which will last for many years. I completed my MBA at Strathclyde more than 20 years ago, but I am still drawing benefits from the experience today. ”

You can read more about Ron here: http://www.strath.ac.uk/management/staff/drronbradfield/