Lazy weekends, Saturday afternoons filled with sporting drama, the World Cup, drinks with friends – we’re just a month into Year 2 of the EMBA and all of the above seem like distant memories.
You know what? I hardly miss them. There’s something invigorating about meeting up with classmates after a few months apart, re-living the ups and downs of Year 1, and facing into a whole new set of challenges that Year 2 is sure to bring. New modules, new faculty, new teams, and a year of deadlines, presentations, projects and late nights to sharpen the mind – bring it on!
September brings a real buzz to the Smurfit campus, with a host of fresh faces and ‘deer in the headlights’ looks in abundance. I know exactly how that feels – like many EMBA candidates, it had been quite some time since I’d been in a classroom setting. It takes a little while to adjust and find the focus that is required to deliver on what seems like an insurmountable body of work. But focus you must. The good news is that it gets easier to find that focus as you practice it (not that the workload gets any easier!) Couple that with the learning acquired, and you’ll find that concepts that seem like double-dutch at the start of the semester become instinctive by the time it draws to a close.
The learning on the MBA is about stepping back and seeing the bigger picture. Regardless of your current position, the concepts you learn will allow you to recognize the dynamics that exist in both your own firm and others, and give you an understanding of why firms do what they do (rightly or wrongly!) Analysis is the name of the game, and you’ll learn how to recognize how firms derive their competitive advantage, and what they do to sustain it in an ever-changing marketplace. Balance sheets, income statements, capacity utilization, weighted average cost of capital, organizational culture – get comfortable with them, as these will be your friends for the foreseeable future!
The EMBA really is a shared experience that fosters a unique and lasting bond among classmates, whether you’ve worked together in a team or not. Everyone brings something to the table that you can leverage to your benefit. Work hard, learn from all around you, question everything. Embrace it, and most of all – have fun. I know I will!
Weekend year 2