Blogs: Inside MBA
April 17th, 2014
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.
My Mission to Start a Company in the Next 12 Months…
I’ve come to Cambridge Judge Business School with a mission: to start a company in the next 12 months, or stop talking about it. I’m what many would deride as a ‘wantrapreneur’. I’ve been brainstorming ideas, creating wireframes and buying domain names for years, but I’ve never actually created a finished product that someone could buy. I’ve always had an itch to build something from scratch that was all my own. That’s partly why I decided to leave my job of seven years at HomeAway and get my MBA at Cambridge. The town of Cambridge is known for being a technology hub, the University teems with intellect and ingenuity, and the business school itself has a reputation for fostering entrepreneurship and launching companies. Since I landed in the UK in August, I’ve attended at least a dozen events focused on entrepreneurship and technology. Cambridge abounds with talented scientists, engineers and business minds with a similar entrepreneurial spirit. If I hadn’t already come with a desire to do something entrepreneurial, I no doubt would have acquired it. Over the weekend, I participated in an event called Cambridge Start-up Weekend. It was part of a larger event with over 20,000 participants worldwide. We all moved into the LT1 conference room at CJBS where everyone was encouraged to line up and ‘pitch’ their business idea in 60 seconds or less. I pitched an idea I’d been mulling over for a few days leading up to the event, a marketplace for PowerPoint slides much like iStock-Photo. My idea got enough votes to move forward and I was able to cobble together a team of three. We worked feverishly through the weekend to create our MVP (minimum viable product) and validate our hypotheses through market research. This all led to the culmination on Sunday, a five minute pitch to a team of judges followed by three minutes of Q&A. While our venture, called BrightSlide, didn’t win the overall prize, we were voted ‘Best MVP’ and invited to join the Cambridge Accelerate programme. While I’m not sure if my Start-up Weekend team or this venture will move forward, I do feel I’m one step closer to actually taking the leap into entrepreneurship. I’m a wantrapreneur on the verge of becoming an entrepreneur. Wish me luck.
27 November, 2013
MBA Leadership Week
My full-time MBA colleagues and I recently returned from a week in the Scottish Highlands. Our destination was Glenmore Forest Park, a beautiful setting in the foothills of the Cairngorm Mountains – some of the highest, coldest and snowiest mountains in the UK. The purpose of our visit was not whisky and outdoor adventure (although we did manage some of that), but to study leadership and high performance teams – a core course in semester 2. Our facilitators were two experienced mountaineers (one of whom climbed Mount Everest in 2008) who knew a thing or two about teamwork and leadership. The week was climbing themed and covered a wide range of subjects, including: Emotional Quotient (EQ), leadership styles, leadership competencies, group dynamics and team composition. We learnt through a mixture of classroom-based lectures and discussion, team problem solving and practical outdoor skills, such as map reading and administering first aid. The week culminated with group presentations, the creation of our own Personal Development Plans and a rescue mission! The concepts and skills we learnt during the week were put to the test in a simulation where we worked together to locate three stranded climbers. They seemed to perk up after taking a swig of whisky… It was a demanding week, but it wasn’t all work. Our last day was spent skiing, kayaking, hill walking or whatever activity we chose to do. It helped that it was a perfectly clear day – not something you see very often in Scotland!
30 May, 2013
University of Edinburgh
Alumni Stories: Ten Things I Wish I Had Done (or Done a Bit More!) During My MBS MBA
Here you have the ten things that I wish I had done (or done a bit more of !) during my MBA at Manchester Business School:
1. Expanding my network outside of Manchester Business School: the MBA is REALLY busy and demanding; however, I know that I could have met more locals by joining sporting or cultural clubs out of the MBA circle.
2. Learning a new language: I am sure I could have learnt Portuguese alongside my MBA studies. Perhaps trying Russian would have been very challenging, but I would advise MBAs to try a language that is similar (or belongs to the same ‘family’) as your native language.
3. Doing community service: As I described in “The Business” magazine in 2011 (in Manchester): “this is not about the amount of things I can gain from an experience; instead, this is all about the amount of things I can do and give to others”.
4. Perfecting a hobby: I just recently presented my photography in a local gallery in Mexico. It went really well and many of the photos got sold.
5. Eating with moderation: I returned to Mexico with a few extra kilos and now I wish
I had controlled my appetite for fish’n´chips!
6. Travelling: There are excellent opportunities to travel around Europe on a budget scheme. I was so into work that I guess I missed the chance to visit Greece, Turkey and Russia.
7. Connecting with my classmates beyond the expectation: It is tough to find the time, and you usually get drowned in the social group to which you conform by affinity. However, we are paying a lot of money to learn, and learning from others is a unique opportunity that is present during the MBA.
8. Reaching more alumni: It was not until the last part of the MBA that I really became active in alumni relationships, ones that have been critical in the development of my own career.
9. Pushing myself to the limits and beyond: Do not be afraid to cross the boundaries (the right ones, of course!) and push yourself to the limit. The only consequence, if you fail, is that you will learn!
10. Enjoying every day… every minute… as if it were the last: I truly enjoyed my MBA and I still find it one of the happiest times in my life, but there is always room for more. Studying an MBA at Manchester Business School is challenging and demanding. I believe that it is not until you finish the programme that you realise that a few projects could have been more relaxed and that learning should be fun at all times.
recent MBA alumnus 2013
Manchester Business School
My Weekend in Miami – A Truly Global Experience
On a recent cross-country flight, I couldn’t help asking myself whether the decision I made to take my winter electives at the Kellogg Miami campus was worth the investment. I reminded myself that I had three objectives this quarter: (1) to meet and network with people I would never have met; (2) to complete coursework in two classes I knew I was passionate about; (3) to get to know more about other parts of the world to which I normally wouldn’t have been exposed. After three days of classes and professional development sessions, I knew deep down inside that my decision was the right one and, when the weekend was over, I left with a feeling of accomplishment. The students at the Miami campus come from a diverse set of backgrounds and countries based primarily in Latin America. I found the students and coursework to truly embody the Kellogg spirit of being a global programme. I chose to take two electives in Miami about which I felt passionate – Leading High Impact Teams and Innovation Strategy and Management. In my professional work environment I find myself driving results through others on a consistent basis. In my Leading High Impact Team class this past weekend I was reminded that certain leadership skill sets are incredibly important in creating a vision and goals, providing performance feedback, working with other people’s listening and performance styles, as well as developing a team process that is responsive to unanticipated change. A hands-on class assignment worked to do just that – create an environment that required us to work together to achieve a common goal. It was a great way to incorporate in-class learning with a hands-on activity that drove home a point in an engaging manner. Lastly, I feel that the relationships I made with my classmates outside the classroom will be the kind of relationships I will treasure for the rest of my life. I find that, the older I get, the more difficult it is to meet and make new friends. The Kellogg experience has helped me meet like-minded professionals around which I am comfortable being myself. This past class weekend was no exception. My Miami study group met throughout the weekend to focus on a group project for our Innovation Strategy and Management class but, like many study group meetings, we took the opportunity to get to know each other in the process. From the start, everyone in our study group clicked well with each other and this weekend we bonded in a special way – sharing laughs, tears, and personal stories. I know that these timeless friendships will last the rest of my life and I’ve made many special friends that I now plan on visiting next time I’m in the various parts of the world in which they live.
Between now and the end of the month I have two finals to complete – it’ll be a challenging time to come, but I’m looking forward to ultimately spending my last quarter prior to graduation back at my home campus in Chicago with my other group of friends, with whom I started this journey nearly two years ago.
13 March, 2012
*The Kellogg-WHU Executive MBA Programmeoffers Global Electives at the Kellogg School ofManagement - Miami campus every year. KelloggMiami is an integral part of the KelloggExecutive MBA Global Network and an integralpart of Kellogg-WHU’s EMBA curriculum.
A Journey to Obtain Knowledge
“Mankind have a great aversion to intellectuallabour; but even supposing knowledgeto be easily attainable, more peoplewould be content to be ignorant thanwould take even a littletrouble to acquireit”. Samuel Johnson
I have been working for the past 16 years in Saudi Arabia. Each day, I have the same routine (office-home-office) without any learning or reflective practices in place, ambiguous titles, drab weekends and limited social activities. I literally felt that I was getting nowhere in particular. There comes a moment in every individual’s life where opportunities are abundantly available, but we seldom take notice of, or choose to pick up on, some vague clues to how we want what we want or where we want it and why we want it. As an individual, I rarely ventured outside the box and then, suddenly, this opportunity of obtaining quality education came up and I grabbed it with both hands. Having joined the University of Liverpool, which is one of the finest universities in Europe and the world, I believe I have made the right choice, not only to reinstate my belief that ‘knowledge is power’ but also to enhance my abilities as an individual and to learn from the hugely experienced faculty members, who provide intrinsic support in the development of an individual with their expertise and guidance. We are all aware that one can learn at prestigious world universities, but to bring diversified understanding to the discussion, with a unique perspective based on students’ intellect, underpins the importance of having an online education. This would be difficult to imitate in the live classroom structure, because the education is dispersed to young minds with no actual field knowledge or hands-on experience related to their selected fields, which the online students possess. This is, in itself, an enormous advantage for those who have joined online education and those who are still contemplating joining online education. The online MBA curriculum helped me as an individual, with more tools on hand than before, which gave me an impetus to ‘bring change’ to my surroundings. This has given me the ability to enact various roles within the corporate environment in which I work and make a contribution to my colleagues and the society in which I live. One must also be aware that education is a process of thought that eventually leads to a transformation of an individual’s aptitude, humility, dedication and perseverance. Our principles and abilities are consequently reinforced, which enables us to become efficient leaders, mentors, guides, colleagues and humans. Higher education also helps us to grow both in a professional and personal manner, facilitates a sense of cohesiveness in times of adversity and enhances our scope and our vision for a better tomorrow. One such experience is related to three tutors from Laureate. Arlene Hiss, who taught the Leadership Skills class, urged me to dream; I am grateful to her for reinvigorating my confidence. The second incredible experience came from the Strategy module, taught by Veeresh Srivastava, a man with abundant knowledge and skills, who urges you to use your practical experiences, which will allow you to implement the models in day-to-day life. The third exposure to business came through the International Business module, which is taught by Gilbert, who has the impeccable ability to question your arguments and discussion. These three individuals have changed my perception of many things and these encounters, together with the feedback received from classmates, have enabled me to do more and better. I would like to emphasise to my classmates and colleagues the importance of working towards attaining their goals and dreams. Gain as much as you can from your tutors and peers; it’s never too late for anything, and remember time never comes back to knock on the door again! Although it is personal, I am delighted to share my journey with you. I hope this will inspire you to believe in yourself as an academic, professional and as a human above all.
23 June, 2012
University of Liverpool
When Deadlines Sting
I’ve just hit the ‘submit’ button and am now having a weird empty feeling inside, it’s amazing how attached you can get to an exam paper in a mere 24 hours! We’re beyond the regular classes on our MBA and into the electives, that is, the topics we pick ourselves from a menu of interesting topics into which we can delve, and last week was dedicated Corporate Governance. An ever relevant topic, we had high calibre guest speakers from the Danish business society giving us their practical insights into shareholder value, board memberships and governance from an international perspective – supported by insightful lectures by our resident CBS professor. To crown the week, we then had our first 24-hour take-home exam paper – not a week, not a weekend, but simply 24 hours, from the point at which we received the case until our deadline for uploading a five page analysis of US bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. And, may I add, with requirements for the paper that I would be hard pressed fulfilling if given a whole week! So, I’ve been frantically researching and typing since yesterday and now I’m done. The paper has been uploaded and is out of my hands. I’ve tried that many times before, most often by handing in a number of printed copies first thing Monday morning, but this is the first time it has been so intense. And now… time for breakfast (it’s just past 1 p.m. at the time of writing these final words), before I move on to write the one-pager that is indeed due on Monday morning 9 a.m.!
25 May, 2013
Copenhagen Business School