Transitioning from a non-profit organisation to a Smurfit MBA

One of the most frequently asked questions you get on the very first days of your MBA is, “what is your background?”. My answer was, non-profit organisation, sometimes with extra “key words” like women’s right, poverty reduction, and responsible practices. Usually, the response was, “oh, interesting,” then a few seconds of silence.


These terms may not be used as every-day vocabulary to many of you, just like how terms like “adjusted earnings” and “quality management” sound foreign to me (not to mention “Enron scandal”!). However, I believe either your organisation is for profit or not for profit, we all have to find the best possible answer to our puzzles, from dealing with external suppliers, helping people to stay motivated in teams, to thinking about how to stay competitive in such a fast-paced challenging business environment. We are not in different worlds, instead, just have different ways of doing things.

So, two months into the MBA Programme…

The good thing is, I am happy to see my non-profit experience remains relevant to what I want to learn, and I’ve learnt a lot. New approaches. New perspectives. New skills. Having good friends. Knowing that there may be more than one perfect answer for the same problem. Having chances to look at both successes and failures and see if things may turn out differently. Learning to set priorities and let go sometimes.

And the bad thing? I still need to learn how to better represent myself with my non-profit background!

Hang Vu ~ Full-Time MBA