The MBAache

Apparently I am a month into my MBA experience. Not quite sure how that happened but I’ll accept it must be true; I have a fairly reliable calendar (big numbers, at least 12 point; nice, sensible Times New Roman font – nothing barbaric like Arial – and exceptional inch-width margins). So it really must be 4 weeks since I first walked through the doors for our induction week in August – and time has just flown in.

Ah, time. I am tempted to stop my blog post right here as those two words pretty much sum up my experience of the last few weeks. I have never, in all my life, valued time in the way I do now. Every spare minute must be allotted some kind of inherent ‘value’ to be acceptable. Learning that you can read – and highlight – while eating an M&S farmhouse cheddar cheese sandwich at your desk is an absolute revelation. Waiting for a train offers a window for a quick brainstorm on a notepad (or back of an IKEA receipt, depending how prepared you are for your train’s delay). A flight from London offers an uninterrupted hour’s reading time (with optional car hire or scratch card purchase). And Friday nights are now so supremely hideous, they are best not spoken about. But this is all just part of The MBAche. I can’t say that this is exactly news to me – the demands on time were fairly hammered home before I started. What IS a wonderfully welcome surprise though, is the group of people around me.

It’s not often you find yourself in a hyper-ambitious environment like this. You might perhaps meet the odd ambitious person in work, come from a competitive family background or have fiercely demanding sales targets. But you rarely find yourself totally immersed in an environment in which every single person has heightened ambitions and targeted plans for the future. Awareness of this on your first day is – I have to admit – a bit disconcerting. You just can’t imagine yourself chatting at ease with anyone like that; even if, by implication, they are actually a reflection of yourself.

So when you then find yourself standing in a field watching 4 grown men wrap an elastic band around a wonky spoon and a plank of wood in order to achieve the high glory of removing a piece of cork from a bucket of water 10 feet away – it tends to make you stop and think. Particularly when it seems, to all intents and purposes, that this might just be the most important task said men have attempted in their lives, thus far. The point of doing these team bonding events is of course to promote strong group dynamics and foster good working relationships; and while I understand that, for me the most important aspect of it was a whole lot simpler. You are reminded that – personal ambitions aside – everyone is just human (READ: children). Which is an absurd thing to need to be reminded of, but I’ve been a little busy lately.

Ruth Cranks

Weekend year 1