A Day in the Life of an MBA Dad; or the Mid-Life Crisis Induced Return to Study!

I was thinking about how I could describe life on the Full Time MBA, when a verse of The Beatles song “A Day in the Life” came to mind (well the title, and a Google search actually);

Woke up, fell out of bed

Dragged a comb across my head

Found my way downstairs and drank a cup

And looking up, I noticed I was late

Found my coat and grabbed my hat

Made the bus in seconds flat

Found my way upstairs and had a smoke

And somebody spoke and I went into a dream


The song is from the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album. It has been described as the first ‘concept album’; dealing with a single issue through various songs. Is this a metaphor for the MBA or what?

Anyone who has undergone, or is undergoing, an MBA will understand the various images the above conjures. However, not so many FTMBA students have had the MBA Dad/Mum experience. Nor have they had the 40+ experience. Each brings its own nuances, but the combination creates a fascinating experience; the experience of experience; so to speak.

Dragged in many directions, yet strangely intact, I can honestly say that my experience has been no more difficult than that of the younger, single (or otherwise), FT MBA classmate; or of the ‘work all day’ and ‘study at night’ Executive MBA. What I lose in study time by maintaining a presence at home, is compensated for by my ability to devote full days to the course, a regular hour of Simpsons with Sadhbh (7) & Ailbhe (4), bedtime stories and the reality that once all of this is done my mind is clear and the MBA seems somewhat less oppressive or omnipresent.  I cannot do it all, nor can any one of us, but I get more than enough from the time I do spend engaged in the daily MBA experience.

A number of my class mates are married with children, but typically there is no one version of this. One has just had his first child; the other’s wife is a stay-at-home mum. My wife travels a week a month with work so we have a child-minder; Sophie, who at 22 is more like a big sister/cousin than a governess. In fact her presence means that when Fiona is away I can stay in college until 5.30, so have a full day of study fun. Additionally, because Fiona has been in her current job for the past 18 months, we are acclimatised to not being a ‘both parents home at six’ family.

Sophie, Sadhbh & Ailbhe

One aspect of the course I feel I ‘missed’ was the evening/night sessions in the Syndicate Rooms. To see the cross pollination of ideas and solving of problems between project groups, as classmates flitted between syndicate rooms, was to see the power of the MBA. “Sorry, but I must be home for six to relieve Sophie” was a regular refrain from me. As a result I think I missed the intense bonding of the first term. I had to make an effort to take on additional work, to make up for missing the group work done during those hours. In fact it is virtually impossible to make up this work, so thanks to those with whom I worked in groups; it’s good to help the elderly!

As I mentioned in my previous missive, I entered the MBA programme hoping to draw together the strands of my varied work experiences; I needed a focus. Many of my contemporaries sought breadth, or a broader view of the business world. Both are available on the MBA. In fact both are compulsory; nothing is excluded in the package the MBA offers. The course is suited to all shapes and sizes of student and it is this that makes it so worthwhile.

P.S. I wouldn’t look up the full lyrics of “A Day in the Life” as they are rather depressing; the selective focus of the MBA in action, perhaps!

– David Gosling, FT MBA 2010/2011