What I learned during the MBA

With only two weeks left before finishing up the MBA I’ve started to reflect a little on what I have learned during the MBA. What little gems did I find? Perhaps the secrets which created great companies and differentiated them from just good companies? Perhaps what did I spend all this money on college fee’s, loss of earnings and a year of my life? Or even the age old question; is the MBA worth the financial and personal cost??

Before deciding to start the MBA, I read a book called “What they teach you in Harvard Business School” and the key message I got from this book was that the real source of wealth and information in the MBA class was not the academic staff but your classmates. So on the first day of the MBA I was understandably wondering who were these people I was about to sit beside and work closely with for the next year?

Quickly we launched into Semester 1 and raced through subjects as diverse as Economics (the Celtic tiger gets slaughtered!) and Operations Management where the issue of Sustainability became a class favourite. Marketing introduced the class to Professor McLoughlin which was an entertaining education in both Marketing and Life! However the highlight for me was the introduction to Strategy where we were guided (patiently) through how some of the great companies became and continue to be successful.

Semester 1 was dominated by an incredible workload which involved both class debate and working on group assignments with our designated groups within the class. Some groups clicked instantly and some groups clashed but almost without exception the end result was the creation of real friendships, mutual respect and a real education.

After a long Christmas break, we hit Semester 2 (ouch!!!) and then into the daunting 8 week company project. By now the class had got the hang of this MBA craic and regardless of workload and a 7 day working week was able to have fun and find some reason to have a celebration of some sort just about every week!

So summertime, nearly at the finish line and about to re-enter the real world….. What have I learned?? What makes great good companies great? Its sounds so obvious that you would think I should have learned this in primary school but the answer is people. All the great companies managed to obtain the most out of their people. Whether it was a result of a great strategy or human resource management or marketing genius, people were the real difference! Even the great technology companies like Apple, Google and Facebook have obtained their success through great people rather than changes in technology.

UCD Smurfit  Full-time MBA Class 2010-2011
UCD Smurfit Full-time MBA Class 2010-2011

Which brings me back to the real learning from the MBA, my classmates have taught me more than the thousands of pages of theory I have read whilst burning the midnight oil. It has been a genuine privilege, pleasure and education to have shared so much time with them. Success lies in surrounding oneself with great people and then encouraging them to share their knowledge. This is what I learned during the MBA.

– Mark Noone, FT MBA 2010/2011