As we enter the summer term of the full time MBA programme, I have come to realise how much diversity I, and my classmates, have been exposed to over the past nine months. Before I decided to undertake an MBA, I had heard some MBA graduates mention this point about “diversity” but I had underestimated the learning experience that diversity can offer.
In an MBA, diversity takes on many forms. Firstly there’s the diversity found within the cohort itself. This is a combination of cultural diversity (in our full time cohort of 32 students there are 10 nationalities), there’s age diversity and indeed diversity in our educational backgrounds and experiences! The result is a multitude of perspectives that contribute to some very thought-provoking classroom discussions. Coming from an engineering background myself, I have really enjoyed learning about other people’s previous work experiences and pre-MBA careers in various fields such as marketing, e-commerce, finance, IT and the entertainment industry. It has also helped me to realise how valuable diversity can be when it comes to problem-solving.
Secondly, the vast range of modules also presents another element of diversity. From accounting, financial analysis, economics and strategy to negotiation skills, ethics and executive decision-making! The volume of information is over-whelming but the skills obtained will not only be relevant to our future careers, but will be also be helpful in others areas of life, whether one realises this at the time or not!
Thirdly, the prospects we’ve had to immerse ourselves in, outside of the classroom, pose yet another realm of diversity. An international learning module to Japan and South Korea in March provided a unique opportunity to learn about new cultures, about doing business in Asia but also to get to know our part-time MBA classmates. I was also lucky enough to travel to Yale for the Integrated Leadership Case Competition in April, with three other classmates. This trip enabled us to meet other MBA students from 12 different business schools around the globe. Over the course of three days in Yale, it was refreshing to see how all students were genuinely interested in one another and embraced the diversity around them by exchanging anecdotes about their MBA experiences and offering each other helpful advice regarding post-MBA decisions.
To complete the international experience, we still have a week in Iceland to look forward to, where we will be working as consultants for a number of different companies.
For me, it took time to realize the value that all this diversity could bring, and I believe that I will continue to see its benefits over the coming years, in both my career and personal life. I am certainly more open now to looking at things with a different lens, than I was nine months ago. With this in mind, my advice for anyone considering undertaking an MBA is to truly consider its significance, not only from a career standpoint but from a non-career perspective too.
Aisling O’Halloran, Full Time MBA 2016-2017