Three weeks ago, in the OB class, we had a discussion about team dynamic. Listening to my classmates discussing challenges in a multi-national team reminded me of interesting team-work experiences I have since the beginning of the semester.
As I imagined, one big part of the MBA journey is for us to learn how to work in a diversified team. Just similar to how it is in real life, we are normally not allowed to choose our team members. People with different nationalities, genders, backgrounds, and characteristics are put into teams based on a mystery rule decided by the MBA Office. In these teams, the Peacocks have to work with the Dolphins, the Hubs work with the Greens, the Extroverts work with the Introverts; and it creates room for interesting yet sometimes painful experiences.
In Semester 1, I was assigned into Team 8 with one Russian and two Irish. Teamwork, as what it actually happened to us, was a real journey in which each team member had to continuously learn and adjust to work well with others. During our 5 month journey with around 20 group presentations and assignments for 7 modules, we first experienced a painful time when we had such huge conflicts that we decided “diversity does not work and we need consultation”. Frank communication and continuous commitments helped us overcome that challenge. Adjustment to each other learning styles (for example Pavel prefers practical ideas and Richie is deeply in-love with tables and frameworks), together with initiatives such as setting agenda and controlling time for each meeting also enabled us to stay focus and work more effectively. Things became easier and easier and we managed to have more time to talk to each other outside of work. I got to know that Richie had two kittens – Gleason and Sheeran, and James’s family always eats their home-grown turkeys at Christmas.
In semester two, we have two different groups (one for Negotiation and one for the remaining subjects); and then a final group for Capstone project. I believe what we have learnt will sharpen our skills to cope with real-life teamwork issues and enable us to make the most of team dynamic in our post-MBA lives.
– Thu Dieu Ngo, FT MBA and IDEAS Programme 2012/13
Before going to UCD Smurfit Business School to pursue an MBA degree, I have heard a concern that if a person might be able to accumulate MBA knowledge by taking a few business classes, reading journals and business books on their own and interacting with experienced people, etc. Does it worth rather than getting the qualification from an accredited MBA program in terms of knowledge and ROI (Return on Investment)?
For six months here, I realize that what the MBA program taught me was not only business knowledge but chances for self-actualization, especially when I interacted with others. Thus, for the concern above, I would say that taking part in a well-designed program is worth value compared to other alternatives. Through a variety of personality tests and career coaching sessions, I had opportunities to understand what type of person I am, how I could improve myself and what kind of sector I should follow to. For instance, the game about 4 types of animals, including peacock, dolphin, owl and panther together with the psychometric test called SDI drew me an overview and well explanation about people’s characteristics. The Myers Briggs test (MBTI) gave me the concept of personality and cognitive styles through 16 categories. Although I did this test several years ago, only when I entered the MBA program, did join some teamwork activities, could I be fully aware of my mind, my thought and my weaknesses which I might never know if I were not here.
Beyond academic and business knowledge, as an international student from an Asian country, I have chance to jump out of my comfort zone to discover new things, including different styles of thinking of my classmates and the diversity from different cultures. For example, I was all the time confused about Muslim women when I see they always cover their faces and their bodies until the day I had chance to work with my intelligent and creative Muslim classmate from Malaysia. Gradually, I realize the hidden charm behind her hijab. In addition, my thought that all Muslim women are faint and frightened was gone when she invited me to an interesting party of Muslim people. I was impressed that every woman there was confident and warmhearted. That was the moment I realized the inner beauty of their religion and their souls although they are covered by the hijab.
Waiting for the International trip to Brazil and preparing for the 5 month left of the program, I hope that I can experience more interesting and new things. “Happiness is a journey, not a destination”. To me, an MBA is a kick-off for my future plan and my lifelong learning journey.