With three months of the MBA completed and the first set of exams finished I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my experience so far. The MBA experience so far has been a complete mishmash of emotions ranging from anxiety and despair to euphoria. My expectation before I started was that I would be challenged and pushed to breaking point in all areas of my life. I was effectively putting my life on hold and saying goodbye to my family for one year. With three young children, all under the age of eight minimising the disruption and impact on them was the number one priority for me. In order to study I would be travelling four hours a day to and from Crieff and working part time with my current employers while studying full-time.
My biggest anxiety other than time management going into the course was the travelling. I didn’t need to worry about the commute, I have handled it relatively well and benefited from well-placed assignment weeks and study weeks. The biggest challenge for me has been the group work, it is the source of the most frustration but also the biggest learning and satisfaction. There is no way to plan or prepare for the learning experience provided by the group work. Being thrown together with a different group each class with a whole mix of backgrounds, cultures, languages, personalities and experience is demanding in all aspects. After the initial awkward introductions, due to the time demands it soon becomes clear the people who you will naturally gel with and work well with and those who you might not work as well with or may in some cases just plain dislike.
The part that I was not expecting is how important it is to try your best to work with and gel with those who you don’t naturally warm to. There is no time to get embroiled in petty differences and only hampers your ability to produce your best work if these differences dominate. There is no way to ignore or pretend these differences don’t exist and it is important to be authentic but the biggest learning experience for me has been to learn to value others opinions when you don’t agree with them. In some situations, there doesn’t have to be a wrong answer it is just a case of making the best choice. I am generally a person who receives validation and satisfaction from being right and having to suppress this urge to look at all perspectives and angles of a situation and minimise my own personal bias in my judgements has been a real challenge yet also very rewarding. When working as a group has been a challenge and there has been difference of opinion the sense of achievement and satisfaction when you persevere and create something of value is not something I was expecting or prepared for. I was not anticipating just how much the MBA has broadened my perspective, helped me realise the depth of my bias and weaknesses and on a more positive note helped to appreciate my strengths and building my confidence.
At times, it has felt like the longest three months of my life as assignments, exams and other pressures all mount up and you are not quite sure how you will find the time to complete everything required. Now as I look back I can’t quite believe that the three months have passed as it only seemed like yesterday we were all meeting each other for the first time trying to suss each other out. The MBA has exceeded expectations on many levels, there have been some highs and some real lows but overriding emotion is contentment and happiness. I’m not sure whether that happiness comes from the learning or the sense of achievement as you receive better than anticipated assignment results. The one thing I am sure of is I am looking forward to a well-earned break and time with my family and then embarking on the next stage of the course. Any doubts or fears about embarking on an MBA have long disappeared I feel like I have learned so much about myself, been pushed out of my comfort zone, made some good friends and am a better person for the experience. Bring on 2017!