The Intangibles

As Semester Two dawns, I find myself stumbling back from family fun and Christmas antics, out of step with the normal rhythm of everyday life on the MBA. The fuzzy focus induced by the beautiful shock of an extended period of rest and relaxation – better known as the return to feeling human again – has induced a state of jet leg, after the rocket launch that was Semester One. Like a newly broken young horse brought in from the field, flighty at the squeak of unfamiliar tack, the sway of cold stirrups against its belly and the aversion to this new found weight on its back; part of me is in high-rebellion against the prospect of hitting the books again. I am glad, though, to be back at school: all 60% of me that has galloped back in from the field, anyway. Any day now, I’m hoping that the remaining 40% of my brain, focus and willpower will catch up, so I can get fully stuck into the semester that can only be known as: Round Two.

Until then, I decided to put my rebellious energy to good use. I have long been trying to persuade my classmates to go rafting down the River Liffey on a brain-chillingly cold Saturday morning, with the good folks at  Last Saturday morning, it finally happened. Cars converged at an abandoned warehouse in icy Lucan and two raft-loads of MBAs and MSCs took to the water. I keep telling our Vietnamese classmates that there is no such thing as bad weather: just inappropriate clothing.  I think that after Saturday they now agree that fun in Ireland is had despite the weather, not because of it. It was admittedly hard to balance the competing interests of soaking the other boat and paddling faster than them, but we managed to pull it off. Three hours later, having successfully descended the weirs, we emerged beaming like a bunch of wetsuited crazies from a Carry On film.

Along with rafting antics, my micro mission to launch the MBA Thought Leaders Club (TLC) has also finally come to fruition. We’re now online and gearing up for an exciting few weeks. The inaugural Thought Leaders Club Speaker Series is kicking off, made possible by the generosity and support of the guest speakers (more anon) who are getting behind the TLC, and generously sharing their time and insights with us. The amount of whiteboard scribbling in the room, formerly known as “The MBA Room”, now re-branded “The C Suite” (our Marketing class with Prof.Damien McLoughlin has a lot to answer for!) has now reached epic proportions, as plans for the MBA CV Book Launch- in a few months- come into being. The TLC will channel these activities under the banner of its overarching mission to inspire, spread ideas and challenge the boundaries of what’s possible. Ultimately, we want to leave the future MBAs with a forum for sharing insights, ideas and awareness. Hopefully the Club will act as a blueprint for how to drip feed these intangibles which can’t easily be quantified, but which ultimately help to catalyse progress and change. I subscribe to Einstein’s school of thought that “not all that can be counted counts, and not all that counts can be counted”. And that’s probably the first and last time you’ll find Einstein and me in a sentence together.

Round One of the first semester was a deep dive.  Round Two of the second is all about change. Life beyond the MBA, unimaginable prior to Christmas, is now creeping back into soft focus on the horizon. Time passes like a bullet on the MBA and there’s no Sat Nav for our next steps on this journey. It’s a lot like George Joseph Moriarty’s poem says; there is just the road ahead, and the road behind. Every time I go to pay for parking in Dundrum Shopping Centre, I smile at the printed sign in front of me, as I root around for a crumbled note and iron out my ticket. There in three simple words, lies the inadvertent wisdom of a pay-parking machine: “Change is Possible”.

Davinia Anderson – FT MBA 2012