I’m one month into the Full-Time MBA experience and my mindset has shifted drastically from what I thought going into this experience. I came in thinking about the grades I wanted to get and courses I wanted to take. I knew that team work would be important but I didn’t give much consideration as to how important it would be and the drastic impact it is having on my overall experience.We spend time in our groups talking about recent classes, discussing cases, talking about the news, project work and brainstorming. Now that is a lot of different types of discussions and takes place for each of our six classes; we spend an astronomical amount of time together. A large part of this programme is teamwork: deliveries you have as a group and learning from your team members sometimes more so from the textbooks and classes you have.
The Smurfit MBA Programme is structured in such a way that allows you to form deep bonds quicker than you normally would with a work colleague or new friend. This is particularly true with your specific work team (5-6 people) which you deliver each group project with in each of your courses. In addition to the deeper connections, this environment also allows for hard discussions and conflict to arise rapidly; the challenge is to work through and resolve these issues. Resolution is necessary not just because you have multiple deliverables to still get together to try to sweep issues under the rug, it is because these relationships are important for this year, after this year is over and for the rest of your life and career.
The MBA Programme Office Team do a tremendous job in providing tools to facilitate team work, better understanding yourself and others. We are learning more about ourselves through programmes which give information on: your personality, strengths, work outlook, communication style, coaching and opportunity for reflection. We are also learning more about how to work in a team: team dynamics, personal and work sharing opportunities and dedicated time devoted to team development.
Yesterday, my group was submitting a second strategy paper (hard to believe we have already delivered two assignments!) and reflecting on how much we have learned in this short time from our first paper to our second paper. One of the best experiences so far is the opportunity to work with a great group of people, learn from each other, challenge each other and ultimately grow together and separately. I am happy to say my main focus is no longer on the grades but on the learning and developing I’m getting as I go through this programme, which I’ll take with me long after this year is over.
Today, Monday July 28th, sees the full-time MBA class submit their Capstone Project – the final assignment to be submitted as part of the MBA programme. I have had countless conversations with participants over the past number of days who can’t believe how quickly their time on the MBA has passed. Today marks the end of the programme for the participants and it is time for them to disperse in different national and international directions. Before they did head off we took the opportunity to have a farewell coffee morning this morning to reflect on the year and to look forward to the future. It has been a pleasure to work with this class as their Programme Manager and I am very excited to see what opportunities await for this talented group of individuals! We look forward to seeing the class again at their graduation in December.
There is an element of the MBA experience that gets lost in the noise of commentary on hours, deadlines, hand ins and team meetings. The full time MBA gives you back some time in your life to think. To think about what you want to do, to think about what you have done and to think about what makes you tick. Any perspective student should know the amount of hours required on the MBA programme is a often overhyped. MBA graduates you will meet remember the pinch situations where they had to work until the wee small hours of the morning for three nights in a row, or they remember a chronic three week period in semester 1 where they had 5 projects hanging over them. But the reality of the situation is that this is the exception rather than the rule. There is a steady flow of work that (if you keep on top of) is eminently manageable. The MBA experience gives you more time out then your current career. It is NOT like having a fulltime job and there IS an element of reliving that college experience where you used to have time to think, chat and pursue some new interests and side projects.
As an entrepreneur I find this time invaluable. In the “real world” It’s hard to get time to think about new business ideas and exciting innovations. In the MBA bubble you can find that time again and more importantly, when you do find that time you are far better equipped to turn day dreams into realities should you choose to do so. You start refining your ideas from the minute they pop into your head, what are the barriers to entry? Is it an attractive Industry structure? What is the value proposition? How easily would this be imitated? Do you have access to resources required? It also helps that you now have 35 new people in your life that you can bounce ideas off and develop some thoughts you have had on your career, or a business idea or even a further course of study after the MBA (God forbid!).
So don’t let talk of “surviving the MBA”, the “divorce course” and “say goodbye to your family for a year” influence your decision complete an MBA. It is challenging but doable, and if you are at a bit of a crossroads in life, the programme will give you the time and resources to figure out the grand plan for you. That plan will change daily by the way but at least you will be thinking about it….
The Mwangi scholarship which is being offered for the first time this year has been named as a mark of solidarity with the people of Kenya, and in memory of Mbugua Mwangi and his fiancée Rosemary Wahito who were tragically killed in the Westgate attack in Nairobi in September 2013. Mbugua Mwangi was the only son of Ireland’s former Ambassador of Kenya, Ms Catherine Mwangi. The Scholarship is in conjunction with the Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
This scholarship is a great opportunity for female African citizens from Kenya, Uganda or Tanzania to apply for a full scholarship and stipend for the UCD Smurfit MBA for the upcoming academic year 2014-15. The closing date is April 15th and further details and application procedure and eligibility criteria are available at http://www.smurfitschool.ie/scholarships/mwangimbascholarship/.
We particularly encourage applications from public sector, ethnic minorities, people with disability and other marginalised groups. In exceptional cases, work experience may compensate for academic experience. This scholarship is intended to support candidates who would otherwise be unable to access overseas postgraduate opportunities.
If you are interested and eligible we encourage an application and if you aren’t but know anyone who is please let them know this opportunity is out there waiting to be won.