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After completing my first assignment and exam as a flexible MBA student I felt I needed a break from studying.  Where better to go than Paris, where I visited an old friend of mine.  Low behold he had an announcement to make –  he is thinking about a career change.   After advising clients in his bank on business start-ups he is thinking of doing the same himself.  Listening to him talk eagerly about his new business ideas I suddenly became alert to what he was describing – ‘modularisation’, ‘customisation’, ‘new product development’ – suddenly my operations management course was coming alive!  Moreover these words translate into French quite easily!  My MBA had followed me to Paris – there was no getting away!

This is what has made the start to my MBA so enjoyable.  My first module has been more exciting and enriching than I anticipated.  The concepts we are studying are visible all around us and we can apply what we learn almost instantaneously.

Yes, there are some obstacles to overcome as a flexible learner.  It is hard to motivate yourself when you don’t have classes to attend on a regular basis and peers to challenge your thinking.  But I was fortunate to work with two other dedicated MBAers on an assignment which encouraged us all.   With some initiative and the help of modern day IT communications we were able to work together through Skype calls (11 in total!), Dropbox to store all our drafts and reading, and emails.   We all lived in the same time zone which also made it easier.  Ok, I have to admit there was some joking from my other half as the first few attempts on Skype with my study group were less successful: “how many MBAers does it take to get Skype working?” was a mocking phrase in our household.

Choosing a fun and topical company/sector to study also helped to make the long dark evenings of studying more enjoyable.  With a shared interest in a Scottish malts we decided to devote our assignment to Glengoyne distillery – we are the ‘Glengoyne cohort’ after all!.  It was a good choice as the production and conversion process covers a large number of the theory in operations management. The whisky industry has also been receiving a lot of media attention.  Moreover we were able to visit to company and had the privilege of a personalised tour of the distillery (including taster!).

I think we learnt some good lessons to take forward for our next assignments: the importance of group work in keeping each other motivated and to the timetable and I would encourage anybody on the flexible programme to try and work in a group.   Also the importance of IT and choosing a company that everyone is comfortable with that you can have access to.

My books for the next modules have now landed on my desk and it’s time to get my head down…. until next time.