“In many ways, the MBA is the codification of common sense…”

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After buckling in for a manic ride in August, the Christmas break has given me time to take stock of all that I have learned and experienced in the recent months.

During the break, my daughter got an ‘old school’ snow globe as a present and one evening I gave it a shake, and as I watched the flakes circulate and begin to land, so I started to think, which is never a good idea!

As I watched I recalled a moment I had when preparing for the exams.  I was thinking about a concept and a case, but I could not remember what subject it related to.  Was it Ops?  Marketing?  Competitive Strategy?  I then realised that it did not matter what subject it was.  I am not studying Ops, or Marketing or Competitive Strategy; I am studying Business.

In the whirl of the first semester it is easy to see all the new things we learn like the snowflakes in the globe.  They are thrown around, seem disparate and random and not at all connected.  But then they settle and become part of the overall picture.

That is how I rationalise my first semester.  There is a lot thrown at us.  There are new concepts, new subjects, new cultures and significant time management challenges.  The flakes swirl in a haphazard fashion, going up, going down and presenting a confusing and incongruent picture.  But then the pace slows, absorption happens and suddenly the picture becomes apparent – the flakes settle and the scene is clear.

For me, the realisation struck that the marks I receive for my work in Semester 1, whilst important, are not actually the point.  The point is the journey, learning how to learn, how to get the best from yourself and from your team and learning the difference between time management and energy management.  It is a rare opportunity, an intellectual indulgence that we should not waste by obsessing about grades; they are merely the output for how you travel the learning journey.

In many ways a lot of what we ‘learn’ is not new as such, just that we have not looked at it in the ordered way it is presented.  Through our business experience, we have known a lot of what we learn, but we now understand it, not as random thoughts, but as a coherent strategy.  In many ways, the MBA is the codification of common sense.

Who knew a snow globe could be so thought provoking!

Paul Kelly ~ Full-Time MBA

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Time Management – The “Hidden” MBA Module

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Well, OK, maybe it’s not so hidden, six weeks (yes, six!!) into our first semester but its presence and importance weren’t as clear to me at the start of the semester as perhaps they should have been!

Navigating the mix of group and individual assignments, which differ in content, nature and proportion of overall grade, is a challenge that needs to be met head-on. Add to this the volume of required reading, the need to devote sufficient time to group communications and, let’s not forget, the need to actually maintain a life outside the EMBA (i.e., family and job!) and we now have the framework for a hands-on module in advanced Time Management!

We may not get credits for it but I seriously doubt that success in the other four will be achieved without achieving a pass (at the very least) in this one. Thankfully, we’re all in the same boat and the class is very open about sharing the various tools that are being developed to get us through this challenging element of the course. For me, it’s important that I use this to ensure that the non-EMBA elements of my life don’t dwindle too much, so, while I find myself using all elements of the four core modules at work, Time Management is currently the only one I’m using at home. I’m particularly focused on getting enough time with three young kids who still think it’s hilarious that their Daddy is back in “school” and has to do “homework” – perspective is everything!

Conor Burke ~ Executive MBA 

A Message to All New MBA Students – ‘Hang on in There’

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Emergent strategies, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, statements of financial position, does it match volume and variety?.…..need I go on? For all new MBA students the bombardment of information will initially feel overwhelming. The good news is you are not alone, this happens to all of us at some stage. You will get through but only through hard work, there is no other way.

Time management is critical as you will soon realise you cannot do everything. Team work is important and you will begin to judge what is more important and prioritise.

Reflect, reflect, and reflect, there will be times when you have prepared for a class days in advance only to realise you have forgotten many of the critical points. A quick 10 minute refresh on the day of the class is invaluable.

I have a technology background so attending the financial reporting module was a daunting experience – Hello Collette. However now when I read my company’s financial statement I can actually understand it. This is what I call an ‘unconscious diffusion of knowledge’ as you may feel your progress is slow moving but in fact you are grasping all the important aspects.

At certain stages you will hit a low spot, your motivation will be waning and the workload will seem too much. For me it was just before the midterm break in year 1. I told myself once you reach the break take the first weekend off and do something you have really missed since you started the programme. For me it was chilling out with my children and being as juvenile as possible!

Roll on the midterm, which is week beginning the 19th of October, in case you are wondering.

Tony Bartak ~ Executive MBA – Year 2