Archive for the ‘MBA Alumni’ Category
I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages.
When I was in the middle of my MBA last year in Smurfit, there were some fellow students who viewed networking as a dirty word, something that makes you uncomfortable, an activity that is all about using other people to get what you want or to get ahead in some way. This is not networking. Yes, networking is about self-promotion and trying to get ahead but it is about so much more. Networking is meeting new people, hearing their stories, exchanging information and ideas. When you are a student this exchange is somewhat unbalanced because as a student you do not have as much to exchange. But guess what, the people you are talking to were also in your shoes at the start of their careers. And another truth is most that people want to help, to pay forward the help and advice they received at the start of their journeys.
Personally I love networking. The reason is simple, I love talking, telling stories and I love meeting new people. I also happen to be trying to sell the MBA World Trophy to everyone who will listen. There’s nothing wrong with finding out who is going to be attending a function and thinking about what you would like to talk to them about. Doing this is showing that you respect other people’s time and understand that their time is valuable and they probably don’t want to be stuck talking to me for any length of time. Fundamentally networking is just an extension of selling. One of our speakers at the MBA World Trophy, Vivek Wadhwa wrote a fantastic article about the importance of networking that is well worth reading. If you are a student you should remember that no matter what job or situation you find yourself in you need to put forward the best version of you at all times.
In another life I was a TV producer and my first boss in TV gave me great advice, when you arrive in someone’s house with a film crew you have a responsibility to ensure that you are remembered for the right reasons. Having a TV crew in your house is a highlight for the vast majority of ordinary people. So no matter what is going on in your own life, no matter how terrible you feel, you have to make sure you leave a positive impression. This has stuck with me and is something I try to achieve no matter where I go. I’m not always successful at it. The same thing applies to networking. Another important thing to mention is the power of LinkedIn. This is an awesome networking tool. Personally I believe you should always include a personal message when sending someone an invitation to join your network.
Finally, and I’m not biased when I tell you that this year’s MBA World Trophy and StartUp Dublin will be like networking heaven. So if you are interested in the lineup please join us. We would love to meet you.
Here’s a list of my networking do’s and don’ts
- Be approachable.
- Be polite.
- Be yourself.
- Don’t immediately head for the corner after scoffing some free food/drink. It’s ok to be nervous/uncomfortable, 90% of the people in the room are feeling the same way.
- Try to find out who is attending in advance and find two people you would like to talk to about you.
- Don’t overcook talking to your targets. Get in and out quickly. You can always talk to them later that evening. Remember they more than likely have other people that they want to talk to.
- Always follow up with everyone you meet.
- Don’t take no for an answer, I’m not saying to be pushy, just get creative. And finally, my favourite.
- Every single person in the world will meet you for a coffee (except TV celebrities).
- Stephen Smith, MBA World Trophy team and FT MBA 2012
Red: the MBA World Trophy Competition and the StartUp Dublin Innovation Conference takes place in Dublin 16-18 May 2013.
I have recently started a job with a small company called one2edit . We are using the methods described by Personal Kanban, and the tools at LeankitKanban.com in order to organise our tasks and time. It is part of the “agile” workflow used by so many software organisations.I am finding it to be incredibly useful on many levels.
For starters, a core concept of Kanban is that there should be “information radiators”, meaning that there should be an easy way to see what is going on at any moment, without the need to go digging for any information. A Kanban board will do this by default. At a glance, it is possible to see what a person is doing at any time, what is on hold, why it is on hold, what still needs to be done, and what is important. Yes, a Kanban board can look quite full of sticky notes, but the organisation of those notes has meaning, which users can interpret quickly and easily. As a user, I can use this radiation of information to show both my co-workers and my bosses exactly what it is that I’m doing at any given point. It also allows them to check if the next item they wish to add to my “to-do list” is more or less important than what I am working on right now. If it is less important, then they will not mind if I don’t get working on it right away. In other words, it makes it far easier for me to say, “I have to put that on hold right now, but I will get to it” because they see that I have a system in place – a system that will allow me to tackle every task without forgetting any.
This concept is, to quote Jim and Tonianne’s (very informative and well-written) book, “limiting your work in progress” (WIP). This limitation of the number of tasks that one is working on at any given moment is critical to working effectively. John Medina’s book, “Brain Rules”, also mentions how the human brain physically cannot multitask effectively. Multitasking is an inherently inefficient way of working. Kanban seeks to rectify this by allowing a person to concentrate on fewer tasks at a time, unlike the “to-do list”, which just throws every task into the “doing” pile at once. The Kanban board then allows all others to see what is one one’s plate at any time, demonstrating that one is not slacking off.
Beyond this information radiation, it is both mentally and physically satisfying to see one’s tasks go from the backlog, to “ready”, to “in process” and then to “done”. Each time a task is moved to “done”, the brain releases a bit of reward, which is motivation for doing more. Furthermore, even the number of tasks doesn’t seem so overwhelming when there’s a system in place and one can see the tasks getting done.
Finally, as a recent MBA graduate who was job-hunting for a few months, every interview I did asked about previous achievements. A CV should also have these achievements listed in order to attract employers. In other words, I should have been taking note of all my measurable achievements over my working life in order to use them in the future. Moreover, it is vital when filling out an annual review form to have a list one’s achievements for the year.
Kanban can help with this.
Everything in the “done” column of a Kanban board is something that can be pointed to along with the phrase, “I did this”. It is not necessary for one to create a special document and remember to update it regularly, if the collation of completed tasks is already part of one’s daily process. Of course, some of the tasks will be small and not relevant or worth mentioning on a CV. But even these small tasks usually serve as reminders of the larger project upon which we worked.
This is also a reason why I am using an online tool for my Kanban board alongside my office whiteboard – I won’t have to trawl through physical post-it notes in order to see my achievements.
- Jamie O’Connell, FT MBA 2010-11
So, I am now an MBA. My desire to consolidate 25 years of work experience has been achieved. The CV is now ‘interesting’ and business relevant. So: Job Hunting. To be honest, when I finished the course I wasn’t sure I want to work for anybody. I spent the past 10 years in self-employment. Nor did I know what I wanted to do with the rest of my work life. I looked at Not for Profit and Facilities Management, but in addition to there being a lot of qualified people in the job market, neither felt right.
Two months after finishing the course 38 of my 45 strong class are in jobs. It’s not that the remaining 7 are less capable; in fact I regard some of them as the most capable and talented of my class. No, I think they find themselves in a somewhat similar position to me. They may not have been Laser focused on specific areas of work like the other 38. Like me, they know what they want to do, but in a slightly more vague way. So what’s an MBA to do?
In my case it seems that not worrying too much helps. Not beating myself up about how few responses I have received. About the Not for Profit job that I wanted, but was probably not what I needed. Realising that Facilities Management was not going to be any more interesting to me now than it was when I left the sector. It seems that patience is more a necessity than a virtue for the MBA graduate who wants to change career direction.
In the end my decision on career path came from a series of random events. My wife was offered a job in Singapore ‘out of the blue’, so we are moving the family there for three years. In looking at the job market there I saw some jobs in Recruitment and realised that with my experience, personality, and MBA, I might be suited to Executive Search. My wife, who works in HR agreed. So I am now focused on this area. I doubt I could easily find a suitable Search role in Dublin, while Singapore is a far larger market and the Irish community is quite strong there.
So, the post MBA scramble to get a job may soon be over for me. What have I learned? Well, use the time on the course to consider your options, listen to Brian Marrinan and start job searching early to get a sense of what you want/don’t want; don’t panic when the course finishes as may take time to find the right job (for some it may be back to the area they were keen to exit; as funds are short; for other it may be a case of getting in at a lower level/salary than envisaged to get a start in a new industry) but most of all life is quirky and we must keep our eyes and ears open, we must network and we must ‘chance our arm’ a bit. And I know all of this because the Smurfit MBA graduate is a formidable package. A package which may not fully reveal itself for months or even years, but which is all about innovation and measured risk taking.
Good luck to all; whether in/out of/or considering entering, the world of the MBA student. It is certain to me that we change during the one/two years, and become better able to read life, not just business. As one lecturer sad to me ‘Everyone on an MBA is in crisis of some sort. The course helps in facilitating life change of one sort or another.’ Let the change begin!
- David Gosling, FT MBA Class of 2011
Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for his whole life.
If that man innovates fishing methods, he’ll catch more fish than he needs, thus being able to sell the surplus fish, the technology, or both.
In other words, innovation will give the man disposable income.
I attended the Dublin Investment Summit on Friday 30th September 2011. CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors and investors were present to discuss business topics relevant to today’s economy. There were also pitches from companies that were looking for investment (including some very exciting nanotechnology from Vasorum and Alta Science. Read the rest of this entry »