Blogs: Inside an MBA

Sharing experiences and thoughts in online blogs has become very popular in recent years. What MBA students experience daily in classes, how they feel, how they cope with challenges: here are some blogs to share with you for an in-depth dive into the MBA world.

To Be Continued

Finally, we finished the last exam – financial accounting, before we could embrace our well deserved Christmas break. It has not been easy for most of us over the past couple of weeks, because of final exams.

Before coming to MBA, everyone told me how much fun I would have in business school, how many treks I could do, how many parties I should attend, and how many drinks I would have. They never warned me how hard I need to study. I can't recall a day, over the past four months, when I can just tell myself of not doing anything but relax. The experience is exhausting and challenging.

It is exhausting, when I went to bed at 12:00am, and yet reminded myself of getting up at 6:00am the next day. At those moments I asked myself, what was driving me to move forward? Why did I choose to come here for so much hard work, while I could've stayed comfortably where I was before MBA?

Every time when I asked myself this question, I would come to the same conclusion. It is the desire for challenge, the desire to challenge myself to think wider, deeper and wiser, the desire to challenge myself to get to know and learn from many more wonderful people, and the desire to challenge myself to become a better person. It is for this simple reason that I made the move of coming to business school, and gave up what I could have at home.

Even in the most challenging and difficult moments, I've never regretted my choice of coming here for the slightest. Because I feel the challenge and take on the challenge every day. I know all of these challenges are well paid off, when I finally understood financial articles on FT, understood how to read a company's financial statements, and understood how to build a model to solve questions. These challenges are paid off when I got to know wonderful professors here who make lectures so enjoyable and yet challenge us to think all the time. These challenges are also well paid off when I met amazing classmates whose experience and ideas always opened my mind.

Times flies. In a blink, the most overwhelming first term came to an end. Yet, the story of my MBA is to be continued…

Published by Maggie on February 27 studied at
London Business School

The End of My MBA Journey

Yes, I am done. I have finished my MBA and graduation is 22nd March. The guest of honour, for me, will be my three-year-old nephew. I have bought him a formal blazer to wear as I want to have a photograph of me wearing my graduation gown, with my arms around him.Twenty years from now, I want him to be proud of me and understand what that picture means to me.

It was a long journey indeed. There are still times when I look back and am amazed at my own journey. I was 22 before I discovered that I could take the GRE/GMAT, or even the fact that there is a GMAT! And wow! I will graduate in a few days from now. For me, that is a long journey and a proud one. I have always believed that growth does not come at the end of a journey, but from the very beginning.

My parents always said keep your mind alert, your eyes open, have an open heart, but never forget your roots. I keep this advice in mind always and I do not feel the need to give in to the MBA world's demands, not even at the start of my post-MBA career. I promise to be true to myself, always.

May the journey be more satisfying than before – for me, for "RSMites" and for anyone who dreams of starting a new journey. Every day holds a new promise. May there never be a dearth of new journeys in anyone's life!

Published by Aushima Thakur on February 18 studied at
Rotterdam School of Management

Doing Good and Doing More

This blog entry is from a classmate of mine: James Winder. James is on the organising committee for Iese's Doing Good & Doing Well student-run conference on responsible business. One of the school's biggest events of the year and one that sees visitors – professionals and students alike – come to the Iese campus from all over the world.

As anyone who has gone through it knows, the process of searching for, applying to and being evaluated by an MBA programme is full of clichѐs. Whether it's diversity, academic excellence, work-life balance, career prospects, or campus facilities, every school has a particular emphasis that is reflected in nicely lit photos, a well-designed website and video testimonials. Of course, as a prospective student, the trick is to pick out those schools that actually deliver the experience in the brochure – that is what sets the great schools apart from the rest.

One of the popular lines is, "You will learn as much outside the classroom as you do inside theclassroom". It's one of those throw-away lines that reads really well in a brochure or on a website,written in bold text next to a photo of a suitably diverse group of students sitting in thesunshine and laughing together at some hilarious business school in-joke (possibly about net present value or international financial reporting standards).

But when you start to engage with the extramural activities around an MBA programme, you realise that there really is a multi-faceted learning experience completely removed from the academic curriculum. For me, being involved in the school's annual Doing Good & Doing Well Conference has provided an incredible insight into the exciting challenges and opportunities that exist beyond the classroom.

As a conference that exists to explore new ways of doing better business and business better – to the benefit of shareholders and society – it offers a unique glimpse of the environment into which my classmates will be emerging in a few short months. Can we afford to re-examine the way we assess value? Can we afford not to? How do we adapt 20th century businesses to meet 21st century challenges? Is it too late already? Are technological advances making it easier to do business, or is it in fact getting harder? These are just some of the issues with which we are dealing – not passively through cases or research papers, but through direct engagement with business leaders making decisions on the front line, every day.

With opinions and discussions from entrepreneur and environmentalist, Doug Tompkins (the man behind Esprit and The North Face), Laurent Freixe(Nestlѐ executive vice-president and zone director for Europe), Mark Pfitzer (managing director of FSG Social Impact Investors), and a multitude of other innovators, thinkers and leaders, Doing Good & Doing Well presents a fantastic opportunity for students and business people to engage with the real issues that face business and society today.

What you learn in the classroom is fundamental, but there is a whole other facet of Iese to be explored – one that a brochure can never do justice to.

Published by Lee Mrnjavac on January 31 studied at
IESE Business School

Kicking Off the Durham MBA in Style

These past few days have been very interesting at Durham Business School. The culmination of the induction week was a three-day residential course in the Scottish borders. The venue was impressive, calming and relaxing and very verdant. The induction was filled with surprises and a lot of fun. Aside from the group discussions about careers, goal setting and the MBA programme in general, some of the highlights were the zip lining, wall climbing and sailing. And of course, the ceilidh (Scottish dancing), which was very inspiring. Overall, the sessions helped us to learn more about ourselves and our classmates and taught us how to work effectively with a group and how to become better leaders.

One of the best things about the Durham MBA programme is the guest speaker series with guests speaking to the cohort. This past week, we had three remarkable speakers: the managing director from the World Bank, the senior vice-president (global HR) from Kellogg's and the chief executive of Unilever.

I have set my sights on working for a global manufacturing company, an airline or an international organisation. I am not the typical MBA student who wants to move into consulting and although I might not have set a very specific goal for myself at the moment, I know which industries I would like to focus on in the future and I'm hoping I can get there as soon as I finish school. That said, I was very excited to hear what the three speakers had to say.

Here are five of the main points I've learned from the speaker series this week:

  • Agility and adaptability are important characteristics of both successful enterprises and successful individuals.
  • To be successful, you should have passion in what you do, a sense of purpose and a positive attitude.
  • Don't stop learning; stay relevant.
  • Create an environment where you can be yourself.
  • Respect individual behaviour and values.
  • Finding one's passion is easy, I think I know mine. But there's a huge challenge in trying to match one's passion with current opportunities. Therefore, aside from adaptability and positive attitude, I think hard work and belief are also very important to achieving success.

If the first three weeks have been an indication of the intensity and excitement of the Durham MBA programme, I am in for the greatest ride of my life.

Published by Eunice Benedicto on October 11 studied at
Durham University Business School

The Life of a Chief Executive

We had our third leadership experiential last week. As part of one of the exercises I got to experience the life of a chief executive. Let me warn you, this post is going to be rather incomplete and might leave you hanging on a bit, because I'm yet to make complete sense of it myself.

In our task we had to work with four other study groups, making a mega team. We had six people in our team and other teams had five to seven members each. We could send five briefing leaders and we chose to send one briefing leader from each of the five teams in our "universe". I should mention that this task was considerably easier for us than for other teams, as other universes had six teams, not five.

So, somehow my team chose me and then when five of us came back after the briefing again, somehow, I became the chief executive of the team. From there on, it was an interesting journey. I have to state here that our team won, based on our performance in achieving the assigned task. But as the chief executive I felt something that I have never felt before. I felt pressure. I was totally overwhelmed - in between the confusion and the chaos. I felt out of my depth so many times. I felt as if I was being pulled in several directions; it was as if I didn't know what was going on and what my team was working on. At times, I saw people who were disengaged and I wanted to go and talk to them, but I felt I was always too busy fire fighting to go and do that.

It was so intense that at times, I felt like escaping, like running away and curling up into a ball and hiding in a corner where no one could find me. But I couldn't do that – I felt an equally intense sense of responsibility towards "my people."

I don't know what the entire situation represented. Honestly, I'm yet to make sense of it all – what I did, why I did it and what impact it had on the people around me. All I can say for now is that it was an amazing, intense experience, which was like nothing I have experienced before.

Published by Aman Modi on September 6
studied at IMD

The Blogger in Via Ballila

MBA student Andi Caruso keeps a diary of her experience at SDA Bocconi School of Management, and in Milan, on the Financial Times website.
"You'll sleep when the MBA is over," director Gianmario Verona laughingly said, maybe only half joking, in welcoming the new intakes of SDA Bocconi's MBA program and student Andi Caruso has found out it to be too true. But her enthusiasm for the new adventure hasn't stopped Andi from adding to the many commitments of the program by keeping a diary of her experience for the Financial Times website.

Through the blog, Andi's intention is to provide a real view of the MBA experience, and of SDA Bocconi in particular, and help those doing research on the programs. Writing up entries is not easy with the tough schedule of her program, from classes to group work and from beginning interviews for internships and participating in the AT Kearney case competition, and her active participation in some of the MBA clubs. Andi is involved in the marketing activities of the Sailing Club and the Ski Club, for which she recently helped organize the successful MBA Ski Cup in Bormio, and also participates in the Marketing Club, which is busy working on devising a new case competition for business schools for the autumn.

"The MBA has proven to be really intense, more so than I thought, and in these first few months I have already learnt so much," says Andi , "butI think it's the extra curricular activities that really round out the experience. For example, in organizing the MBA Ski Cup, we brought togethernine different business schools for a weekend of networking and skiing. And while I was born in the snow, it was very neat to see some of myclassmates experiencing their first snowfall. It's these types of experiences that will stay with me long after the MBA is over."

Published by Andi Caruso on February 29 studied at
SDA Bocconi

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