Reflections of a short long year
Signed up over a year ago for the MBA with Henley Business School I think it’s a good point to reflect what actually is this MBA all about.
Started in June 2009 I didn’t have any clue what to expect. Of course the output of the MBA has been more or less clear: Gain new applicable and relevant knowledge, extend my business network, get new views on issues, get new approaches sound understanding of models and principles. Basically, get the tools to be prepared for the future; be it career progression or social life. So, has the first stage equipped me with the aforementioned kit? Yes it has. In many ways. Far beyond from what I initially thought would be relevant.
Surprisingly it’s not about the models, principles etc…these are means to an end. It’s more the way we learn, how we exchange information, how we perform when pressure is getting more and more. And it’s about personal development. Henley’s strong focus on personal development throughout the whole MBA is one of the most important insights I have been able to gain. Started as learning journal entries in a way of “Let’s try and see what happens” it really emerged into a valuable source of reflection. I must admit that we’re especially lucky as our tutor is doing a fantastic job. She really supports us and really triggers our thoughts to think outside the box and approach issues etc. differently. I’m really looking forward to the next 2 stages and my personal development as well.
People tend to ask me what kind of impact the MBA had on my professional life. Well, this can’t be answered conclusively. I’m still on a journey which hasn’t ended yet. However, with hindsight I’m able to say that the MBA really opened up my mind to approach situations holistically, question habits and mindsets, use different lenses and show empathy. Basically I would claim that I’m a way better manager than a year ago but I guess this is not up to me to assess.
Let me write a couple of lines about the Flexible learning style I have chosen for my MBA. Is it hard? No, it’s not hard, it’s very hard. Does it affect your private life? Yes it heavily affects your private life. See, the syllabus says that 12-15 hours is the required time to go through the materials. In my experience this number is way too less. It’s even hard to get through the core readings within this time. It’s more or less impossible if you want to read further and have a look at the supplementary readings. I guarantee you that there are plenty of articles etc. you would or should like to read apart from the core readings. This has always been a trade-off for me. How far can I go but still finish in time? I guess once my MBA is over I have to read hundreds of articles saved somewhere on my drive. Additionally, I have bought quite a lot of books about some topics of interest which filled up my book shelve but were not “core” readings. Apart from the quantity to read I really can advise you to take thorough notes of what you have read. I use a mind map tool to be able to capture all relevant information of the articles, books etc. It’s fun to use it albeit the fact that you need some time to get used to it. (You can download a sample of my mind maps here) They have been a great help when we prepared for the exams. Finally, use the power of your group. My group might not have been the most hardworking group in the intake but our discussions were quite useful. Especially for the exam preparation it is more than recommendable to work together as people have different approaches and specialities. By the way we entirely rely on Skype to have our discussions. However, for the exam prep I flew over to spend one week in London to exchange thoughts with my fellows. So after all what’s been said would I go again for a Flexible learning course? Yes I would, as it’s how companies work together nowadays as well. They have to cut costs etc and therefore lot’s of conferences, projects etc. are done virtual. This is nothing else than what a Flexible MBA offers as well. To conclude this paragraph I just want to tell you that the most important ability you need to have to get through is: DISCIPLINE. Even if the weather is more like going for a BBQ or you are tired from work, or you would like to see some friends etc etc…..it’s all about discipline to plough through no matter what circumstances.
I hope this short reflection gives you an insight if you hesitate to go for a MBA. It’s worth but it’s lot of work as well. If you have any questions etc. don’t hesitate to leave a comment so that others will be able to join the discussion.