When I first started working with Médecins Sans Frontières and was asked how willing I was to travel, I said I’d go anywhere so long as there were no snakes. Of course, within a few months I found myself shrieking and waking the entire compound in a remote South Sudanese village having brushed my bare toes off what turned out not to be a slippery, moving branch. The guards thought it was hilarious and got great entertainment out of mimicking my running away in flip flops for days after. (It wasn’t a great start when I was supposed to be their manager; I’m pretty sure no one dared laugh at Indiana Jones.)
My feelings about snakes are similar to how I feel about spreadsheets. It takes every ounce of strength not to run screaming from them. My job is based around words: beautiful narratives and use of language to convey feeling, meaning, and empathy. In first year, everyone else in the class seemed to detest a long-winded Ethics text book but I found it quite comforting. If it’s in words, I have a chance of understanding it.
However, an MBA is all about getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. Achieving a B in Corporate Finance last semester was a huge boost and I began second year thinking, “Okay, maybe I can do numbers.” All things considered, room N204 is a relatively safe environment in which to overcome your fears. This year we all know each other better, we share mutual respect having survived first year, and the classroom sparring has grown even livelier. One could argue that we’re strongly incentivised to engage in debate as class participation counts for between 10% and 30% of each overall grade this semester. Whatever the reason, I really enjoy learning from my classmates in this manner. I love listening to the different perspectives and being part of an argument as it spirals to a conclusion that we definitely don’t all agree with but we’ve had good fun bashing out. I look forward to a meaty debate each week and hope someone will throw something controversial into the mix, just for the hell of it.
As we approach the mid-term we’re well into the thick of things and an Investment Management project is looming. It’s impossible to avoid spreadsheets in this one. Luckily I have a crack team again this year and I’m confident we can do a good job. It’s not so much about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Its feel the fear, feel the rolling boulder of terror, through teamwork feel empowered, and through classmates feel inspired. It’s all part of the MBA adventure.
EMBA Midweek year 2