Archive for May, 2011
So, as the Spring semester exams are over for the EMBAs and the FT MBAs are immersed in their company projects, I am often asked what I actually do at this time of year as it must be so quiet with so few students on campus.
Well, although our MBAs will be back shortly to complete the last 5 weeks of their Programme, and although it is quieter in one sense, this time of the year is one of the more important ones in so far as we are currently planning the vast majority of the activities of the next year’s MBA Programme whether they be academic, personal professional development, careers, extra-curricular, or social.
We are building strategies for the next year – going back through all the feedback and evaluations from the past year seeking to determine what worked well this year, what could have been better and what are our ambitions for next year. Each year on the MBA Programme sees new initiatives, developments and improvements and our current class and alumni plays a huge part of this.
We collaborate with the module coordinators (lecturers) about next year’s modules (subjects or courses) , building schedules and timetables to ensure that we maximise the academic learning outcomes for 2011/2012.
We also assess and build the Personal & Professional Development Programme so it enhances and supports the academic learning to the max.
Another big task for the Spring is of course to prepare for the next year’s intake on the MBA Programme. The (constant) updating of the Incoming Student Portal, updating the MBA Programme web, the week-long Foundation Week programme, organisation of extra skills seminars, getting to know the new class members etc. are all keeping the MBA Office busy at the moment.
- Rikke Budolfsen, FT MBA Programme Manager
Apparently a picture speaks a thousand words, but I find a confusing chart takes those words and puts them into an indecipherable language that only the overly-enthusiastic engineer, who created it, can understand. Thus, the genesis of my MBA Rollercoaster Experience™ Chart:
Click on the chart for details
As I come towards the end of my MBA at Smurfit, I’ve tried to capture the emotional car wreck of the MBA and chart the journey along three main variables: ‘Fear & Uncertainty’, ‘Motivation & Enthusiasm’, and ‘Self Development’.
Fear & Uncertainty:
Obviously this starts high as I entered the unknown. I gave up a full-time job in a time of recession, I was investing a huge amount of money – some of which I didn’t have, and I was entering a class of strangers – all of whom I feared would be hard-nosed business types. It got worse. Lecturers randomly asked questions, the workload at the end of the first week seemed insurmountable, and my genetic inability to remember names was just plain rude! Luckily things got better once the first round of exams were over. Our class really gelled and celebrated achieving our quarter-MBA. As the year has progressed things have got so much better: we manage work together better, we aim to beat deadlines by weeks, and confidence springs from our newly acquired knowledge. The end horizon does bring with it the need to scavenge for hard fought careers, but we are now MBAs and we have less to fear than we did!
In a class of achievers, it’s hard not to succumb to the competitive motivation. I’ve had just one slump in February, when the motivation for yet another module was zapped from me. International trips and the support of my team, pulled me through!
Every moment on the course is an opportunity to learn, but learning takes a different pace in terms of self development throughout the year. The first few weeks are particularly introspectively enhancing as team situations, new concepts and subjects are thrust upon you, and a place in the class dynamic is carved out.
So is the MBA worth it? Well, to answer this, I’ve listed out just some of the things that I’ve done, but never would have without the MBA:
- Written a blog (this is number six!).
- Interviewed for a job by the CEO, CFO, CCO, and Company Secretary of a major Irish plc.
- Thought about a life/career beyond engineering (and even pharma!).
- Discovered the joys of ferreting for ‘weasel-words’ and ‘jiggery-pokery’ in Company Annual Reports.
- Networked with strangers.
- Developed a self-confidence in my business acumen (or should that be over-inflated sense of myself?).
- Met a group of strangers from all over the world, who are now my friends.
- David Lawton
Everyone in the class is back in real world at the moment. We’re in the middle of our company projects. Having a normal nine-to-five job has been a nice break from the intensive study.
From my own point of view, I have had some of my option modules running in the background which is annoying. It still feel as if I’m in college. I should have been a bit more strategic in my choice of subjects. But then again some of my classmates were very busy with their extra subjects back in February and March so it all evens out over time.
Regarding being back at the coalface….A surprise, and a pleasant one at that, has been how much of the material that I have learnt on the course has been applicable in the few weeks I have been on the project. Who would have known that in the real world Prof Brennan’s accounting notes or Prof Gibbons’ frameworks were actually used? I’m even looking into applying Dr Mac Fhionnlaoich’s real option theory to RnD expenditure.
An even bigger surprise has been that the material has come back to me which has been helpful. Maybe I have learnt something worthwhile on my year off!!
- Donal O’Sullivan
What is the best process to produce the Big Idea? Is it more art than science? Can the application of tools and models bring forth from the chaos, the simple compelling idea? And is this process best enabled by the lone wolf or pack of wolves?
In architecture it’s said that great buildings which capture the zeitgeist of the times come from 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. This same principle could also be applied to creating sustainable business platforms.
In the realisation of architecture, 99% of the time spent on the blood, sweat and tears is involved in influencing others. From convincing a client to be brave, the authorities to be visionary, inspiring collaboration between the right expertises, to develop a solution that is within budget and then be the guardian of its integrity, as it’s executed on site by builders. The real test for architecture is how it’s occupied, used and perceived and it’s legacy for society, if any. Yet, it’s a slow and ultimately noble process that can create vestibules of permanence that celebrate the passing of time.
So why would I venture outside my profession as an architect to pursue an MBA? Several reasons, but the main one is, although it is a beautiful profession, staying in business and been able to practice architecture is a huge challenge, especially when the opportunities for architects are diminishing in this ‘new world ‘we find ourselves.
Twelve years ago when I began my journey into architecture, I would never have conceived a need to do an MBA. I probably had no idea what it was or its relevance to my end goal. Architecture was going to provide me with every opportunity that I desired. But in 2007, following two years working in an award winning practice, the reality of the business environment in which architecture was conceived made me re-evaluate my strategy of my goals. I made the decision at that point to take a position with a commercially orientated office , as it had the ability to make money as opposed to the majority of vocational practices. As the alarm bells of the recession began to toll, I realised then that I would need to expose myself to as many experiences as possible, as specialisation in boutique extensions and family houses was not sustainable. Three years later in 2010 the company eventually went into liquidation following a very painful process of redundancies and cost cutting measures.
While experiencing this implosion, I began to realise the relevance of an MBA and the attractiveness of learning the skills to create a business model around a profession which has a creative output at its core. Read the rest of this entry »