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July 03, 2012
Choosing to study an MBA, and more importantly choosing the business school, relies heavily on the traits, objectives and circumstances of each candidate. Within a cohort only small pockets of candidates are likely to have the same reasons for embarking on their MBA studies. Even then their circumstances are unlikely to be identical, which implies there would be some variance in their objectives or perceived outcome from the process.
While the list of reasons is usually much larger, the following three seem to be relevant for a number of past, present and prospective MBA students I have spoken to.
Expand your professional network
For Abel Ureta-Vidal, co-founder of Eagle Genomics, the Cambridge MBA experience offered a platform to interact with professionals from all walks of life. Being able to discuss ideas, receive constructive feedback and gain introductions to a larger network (including advisors and investors) contributed to the launch and rapid growth of Eagle Genomics.
In his success story on the Judge Business School website, Abel states:
“I used my MBA year to investigate what was involved in setting up and running up a company.
Along the year, my initially very fuzzy and unconvincing business idea got refined and matured by talking to as many people as possible and gathering valuable feedback.”
Not everyone you meet on an MBA will be as influencial in business as you may expect. Give it a few years and you’ll be amazed at how things have changed for the better.
Develop on a personal and professional level
For Donfrey Meyer, head of NHU Africa, the UCT Graduate School of Business MBA provided a platform for career progression. In his words:
“The MBA has tested my ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously. While you have individual deliverables, you also have to be committed to group work which enables some to learn about various working styles - this becomes useful in working in teams.
Besides the core business subjects, personal development has been a major benefit from the program and learning about myself is an on–going process. In my career, committing to the MBA was probably the tipping point in being promoted midway through the two-year program.”
Whether you aim to feed academic hunger or to develop invaluable skills and experience through groupwork and multitasking, an MBA can contribute to overall growth as an individual.
Establish structure and confidence
While reviewing business schools for an executive MBA programme I attended an open day at Chicago Booth in London. I remember one of Microsoft’s vice presidents, a student on the programme, telling us how the MBA had made him realise one important thing – that he works for a good company. His experience on an MBA program allowed him to identify the processes already in place with his employer, resulting in increased confidence in the Microsoft brand.
One of my key reasons for embarking on the Warwick MBA is to identify how much I already know. With prior experience running two limited companies and various roles fulfilled as an employee of two software vendors, the MBA is guiding me through a stocktake of my current understanding of business principles.
In the past I have used elements of financial management, accounting, marketing, human capital management, procurement, sales, ecommerce, international trade, tendering, and strategy without the solid foundation that an MBA provides. The aim now is to back up street smarts with academic theory and practical application.
June 24, 2012
Today is my birthday. I plan to spend most of the day in Cambridge with Janine and the kids and some friends before driving back to London. This weekend has been about Janine's 5 year reunion at Judge Business School where she studied her MBA. Reflecting on that year I'm reminded that the friends we'll see again today were simply new names and faces back then.
At the 2002 & 2007 Reunion Gala Dinner last night it was mentioned that these get togethers are not about finding out who gets paid the most and who's running what. They're merely for catching up amongst friends, mentors and peers. In my case, my wife was the class member but I have had so much interaction with her class during that year and beyond that I have solid friendships as a result of it. Some of those friends have become very influential in business and others have launched growing start-ups. To many in the world, they may be desired business contacts but to me they are just friends. That surprises me sometimes, especially when I think of the international weddings, births and birthdays we have celebrated as a result of that year.
With my Warwick MBA kicking off in exactly one week's time, I'm looking to the future in anticipation. Although the programme structure I signed up for is online and through distance learning, we have already had a lot of interaction within the class through twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I get the feeling that our international group will not feel as distant from each other as we are geographically. Already I can see lots of excitement about our face-to-face week later this year where we'll get to meet everyone. Each semester will seem like a reunion and I'm sure we'll grow closer and look forward to each one a little bit more. I am looking forward to that. With 2,5 years to interact with, learn from and share with my class I can only see a much closer international group forming over the years and look forward to the point where we've become friends while nobody has noticed. That would mean it was effortless and was meant to be.