Monday, June 29, 2009

Times of India Piece

Just published (in case you're interested...)
Publication: Times Of India Delhi;
Date: Jun 29, 2009;
Section: Education Times;
Page: 57
A more liberal candidate

Among the countless sum of quantitative subjects MBA candidates are exposed to during the first term of an MBA, ESADE Business School’s class of 2010 embarked on a ‘Global Context of Management’ course about a month into the degree. After dissecting and tackling various issues concerning management practices in a broader social context, our professor left us with something to think about. He said, “The value of your lives can be measured in your personal relationships.” I loved this; it stuck with me.
Now, looking back at the first half of the degree, I would like to believe that this is the very reason I am working towards an MBA. Of course, there are the typical motivations — better career opportunities, higher salaries and a large number of additional advantages. Collectively, an MBA, despite the cost, makes for a relatively attractive option for any young professional. For me, an individual with a strictly liberal arts background, the appeal lay in fundamentals. I had the desire to fill the gaps in my knowledge so that I could do anything — run a business, manage a company or start my own enterprise.
My liberal arts background has not made the MBA harder; it has made it different. The way I learn, the way I think, and hardships and the things that come easy to me are all unlike that of the traditional MBA student. However, looking at the importance of interpersonal relationships, I am coming out of the first half of the MBA with a different ‘motivation.’
When researching MBA programmes, any prospective student takes the alumni network into account. These are the people that will open doors, offer guidance and essentially create a strong and influential group of colleagues and associates. Almost every MBA programme provides an opportunity for its students to create a useful network of contacts, including fellow students, professors, staff members and professionals who may be involved with the programme. In fact, most universities take action in order to promote alumni networking. And in addition to the vast alumni connections and associations, each distinct graduating class creates its own modest network.
The first day of the MBA, we are all strangers. By the first month, we knew each other's names, backgrounds and aspirations. We understood the strengths and weaknesses of our group members and were learning how to develop our collective skills and abilities. By the third month, we had become a family — undeniably stuck together and at times dysfunctional with the characteristic issues that any family faces. Yet all things considered, the levels of respect between my fellow MBA candidates and the amount of affection we have for one another is tremendous. Further, due to the fact that we (like any family) experience ups and downs, accomplishments and failures, we are undeniably fused together and, therefore, afforded the opportunity to learn from one another. I have discovered more from my friends than what 10 MBAs could ever teach me. And yet, without the MBA, I would have never met them. I would have never been placed in a single building, for hundreds upon hundreds of hours — to brainstorm, strategise, research, calculate, examine and sometimes even philosophise with these exceptional individuals.
I am paying nearly 60,000 euros for the MBA. I am paying this to walk out of ESADE less than a year from now with an esteemed degree that will, undoubtedly, open doors in the future. I am paying this money so that once these doors are open, I will have the knowledge and competencies required to succeed. I am paying this so that in the future, whatever I decide to do or wherever I choose to go, I will not only be an asset but a leader in my chosen activities and endeavours.
What I did not pay for, nor did I expect, are the people that surround me every day: individuals that constantly teach me, support me, push me and sometimes even learn from me. These people, this 'network,' of friends, classmates and colleagues are unlike any I would have ever met outside the MBA — all placed together in this 18-month experience. They are my inspiration, motivation and encouragement and they are defining my MBA. That, to me, is invaluable.
Morgan Witkin

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