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Ashish Aggarwal, an MBA student at the Dubai centre, will be graduating in July. Here, he reflects on the most striking parts of his experience. 

What I learnt from the Strathclyde MBA

When I applied from Strathclyde MBA programme a few years back, I was a bit apprehensive.  My mind was in a churn – how useful would a classroom teaching programme be after around 15 years in the Industry?   Would I be able to cope with the requirements of academia after being away from academic pursuits for a long time?  However, all such doubts were dissipated as I went along the various MBA modules with each module enlightening me with some new ideas and urging me to reflect on my existing work practices and thought processes.  It has really been an exhilarating journey fully supporting the adage that learning is ageless.  I would like to share a few of the major learnings that will forever impact the way I analyse and internalize things around me.

The first thing repeatedly told to us was that there was no right or wrong answer to any question.   The two diametrically opposite solutions to any problem may be equally valid and implementable, provided such solutions are backed up with proper justifications.  Having a technical background with heavy reliance on “black and white” analytical mathematical models, it was a big challenge to grasp, adopt and present such concept of ‘greyness’ to real life management case studies.  However, when I reflect on this now – isn’t this the way life is all about?  In our day to day work situations, how many times can we limit ourselves to only one solution?  The approach to seek multiple solutions, even if these are conflicting with each other, empowers us to seek new possibilities and help us become a better decision maker in our personal as well as professional lives.

The second and potentially the most powerful aspect of the teaching was the interactive nature of the classroom sessions and assignments.  I was fortunate enough to have experienced colleagues from a wide spectrum of industries like FMCG, Pharmaceutical, Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, IT services, Government and Non profit organizations etc.   These colleagues were able to bring forth a multitude of ideas and new insights thereby imparting much needed richness and liveliness to the bland instructional nature of classroom teaching.  I believe that the focus Strathclyde places on enrolling experienced graduates in their programmes is one of the key strengths of the programme and though I sorely miss all this hustle and bustle of our group discussions now, I do try to implement some of these aspects to the decision making process in my professional life as I know now that ‘a properly facilitated’ discussion produces much more reliable and acceptable solutions.

Last but not least, I would like to comment on the learning that I imbibed from the project selection process.    The project is one of the most important features of the programme and this provides us an opportunity to showcase in a synthesized manner all that we have learnt from the programme.   Our team decided to work upon a challenging topic that was close to our heart despite the fact that this was not directly linked with our work experience (thus not a ‘safe’ topic ) and we needed to work in an area that was outside our comfort zone.   After initial hiccups, we did in the end come up with some research findings that were quite ‘original’ and the entire experience was  highly rewarding from all aspects thereby leading to the culmination of our MBA on a high note.   This showed that success is a natural upshot so long as we have a firm sense of conviction in any endeavour that we undertake.

I have reflected on 3 major learnings from MBA in the above paragraphs – greyness in management learning processes imitating real life situations, interactive nature of learning in classrooms and the process of selection of the research topic. I do hope that current and future MBA students find some useful fodder for thought from my musings.

Ashish Aggarwal (3rd from left) and colleagues. Also Professor Catherine Demangeot (SBS 1st left) and Professor Colin Eden (SBS 2nd right)

Ashish Aggarwal (3rd from left) and colleagues. Also Dr Catherine Demangeot (SBS 1st left) and Professor Colin Eden (SBS 2nd right)