Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Diff'rent Strokes

This blog didn't begin as an “MBA blog.” I never intended it to be that way- but this blog is about my life- and therefore, it’s about being an MBA student.

There are a number of people who come to me for advice, or answers and what-not- who are looking for a general idea about what it is like...whether to be a student in an international MBA, or an ESADE student, or a student during the crisis. Whatever it is- I do my best to answer honestly- and in my posts, I sincerely attempt to provide at least a little glimpse into how I really feel about the world around me- the world I have created for myself- and everything I am living as I am living it.

At the same time, I know that I am not a conventional MBA student- far from it actually. Therefore, in hopes of providing a multifaceted and authentic view, I have invited one of my fellow students to write a post for the site about the MBA.

This particular classmate is the yin to my yang- he is possibly the anti-Morgan, which is ok- I appreciate this and although he and I had what one may call a "rough start," he has grown to be one of my best friends in the program. Despite the fact that what I see as black, he sees as white- and despite the fact that he judged me and continues to judge me daily, i've learned more from him than I have anybody else.

Now, I am taking this opportunity- while he is off on Exchange and in another country, where he can't strangle me for posting this, to provide you with another perspective.

So here it is, Thanks "Yin":

“I think Morgan asked me to write for her blog because I have a totally different background and mindset and because most of the program was a refresher for me when it was a struggling discovery for her, so all-in-all a different experience.

Well, unfortunately, I have a short-excitement span. So even though there were many times I was excited and enjoying my experience, I am unable to either remember or transmit it here. But I can say it's so much more worth while then a BMW, for what it costs...(I am not that much into cars anyway). I get to live in a place I have always wanted to live, I get to meet and enjoy work and fun with people of similar interests though with different histories, I get time to think about goals, career, needs, and mostly I learn something every day. For me, one of the best features of an MBA is that you get to simulate your life. One day you are the head of marketing, one day a banking analyst, one day you are an entrepreneur, one day a CIO etc. In many classes, whether for a presentation or a case study, you get to be in the shoes of someone who has a problem to solve. This is the kind of interesting and intellectually stimulating challenge you would never get in your work, whatever you do just because rarely people can ever get such a broad career. This is what allows you to break from the shackles of your expertise or your professional background and imagine yourself in a variety of professions.

I don't have the belief that an MBA will allow one to change careers easily, but it allows one to consider other careers and work oneself through getting where one really want to go. When I say you get time during 18 months to find what you want to do in life. It's actually a double-edged sword. If you get seduced by new fields of interest, that is not helping you decide does it? It makes you actually wonder more about the possibilities and what you could be missing. I think I am not the only one in my class who got lost in that perplexity. Engineers doing an MBA are typically career changers, a lot of them got into engineering by mistake, or needed to work in more holistic or less object oriented occupations and did not manage to work off the label and do it. Some MBA candidates knew what they wanted from the start and stuck to it. Some knew, then doubted, and then came back to their original goal. Some did not know then went to a process of elimination and figured it out. And some, like me, did not know, looked for more, found more and still don't know, but with even more confusion then before because the more a career path becomes tangible, the more it becomes interesting. What makes us move, what makes us happy? For some it's the money or material well-being, for some it's power, for some it's the social encounter (friendship and love), for some it's the intellectual stimulation and thirst for knowledge (I'd include thirst for adventure here), etc. Some will find several of the above through an MBA (maybe not the power though). I have found anticipation to seek for grounds that I would have not considered before. Rather then getting anxiety of getting stuck into a particular expertise, I have sought here basic knowledge that could enable me to seek a range of professional interests. That is what the recruiters tell us at least: the few companies in industry who are genuinely interested in MBA graduates, beyond the simple benefit of recruiting from a pool of candidates who have already been filtered by admissions officer, and there are not that many of those companies after all, seek individuals who will be able to lead in a variety of assignments, working across the functional silos.

The week I left my job, I stumbled on this quote and it just fitted so well with my own search: "One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else." I so hope this can apply professionally. I speak 5 languages, but not one really well. I have been practicing a variety of collective and individual sports, on water, on snow, on grass, on courts but I am not great at any of them. My academic background is a bit of anything ranging from maths, physics, chemistry, management science, economics, finance without any true expertise. My last job was between sales, engineering, operations and finance but not in any of those functions really. I have lived in about 10 cities and would still need a GPS in all of them. I am a large breath, small depth kind of person. And I hope that is needed as well in business, just like mathematician-anthropologists are needed to solve the unsolved problems of the Incas, psychologists-financiers are needed in behavioral finance or literary scientists are needed to make us understand what a wormhole is.

So hopefully, through this multi-disciplinary program, I will be able to continue and live out a search for broadness and interests...that is if I don't get lost on the way like Alice's rabbit...talking about Alice: "One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? She asked. Where do you want to go? Was his response. I don't know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn't matter."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Part Deux- The Beginning

It was a big surprise when I walked into school on Monday morning and realized, unlike everything I was expecting, that I was happy to be here.

I spent the latter portion of the summer working myself up about being in Barcelona again. I was worried about my shrinking desire to wake up and go to class, do homework, to once again be a student. It’s oftentimes hard to make the jump from one extreme to the other. The summer was a summer of freedom- of relaxation- of indulgences. School, on the other hand, is full of schedules, obligations and one of my biggest fears- order.

Instead, I walked in and as I saw classmate after classmate- my heart warmed. I was genuinely happy to see the people who both endured and enjoyed the MBA alongside me all last year. It was gratifying to be with them again, at the start of the second year, knowing that we made it through the tough part- and more importantly, we’re now commencing the “fun part”- or so I hear.

I often talk about how these people have become a type of family- however much we may like or dislike each other- we are all somehow interconnected and furthermore, dependent on one another. Yet when I saw the familiar faces walk down the familiar halls and give me familiar hugs- I felt like I came home again. And that was shocking- that I had feared coming back to a city that was not my own, to a group of people that didn't even know my name a year ago- and I actually felt, after a very long summer, like I belonged here.

So I went to my locker, took out my course book, walked into class and began the second year of my business education…all in the company of my friends.

The funny thing is that now my fear has changed- instead of being anxious about being here- I’m terrified of it ending. But I guess that's the case with all good things in life- they go too quickly yet inevitably, leave impressions that last forever. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Censored Elephants

I'm Back! I apologize for the radio silence, as I feel like an absent mother...

After nearly a month in China, two missed flights and countless stamps in my passport, I am back in Barcelona and ready to face year 2 of my MBA.

Unfortunately, China being the Communist country that it is, I immediately came to the sad realization that my beloved blog is blocked. As to why "I Bet Elephants Taste Like Mushrooms" is banned, I can barely begin to imagine. 

After a bit of intense research, I found that one of the reasons the government calls for such repressive measures and controls is in order to subdue attacks, restrain misinformation and suppress activity deemed to endanger social order. To me, it is an intrusion of free speech. Although, not being one of the 1.3 billion individuals whose liberty is impeded by their government, I can only be saddened by it. 
At the same time, I grew up in America, "Land of the Free" and it would be ignorant of me to make any assumptions or claims about a foreign culture to which I have only had minimal exposure. 

What I can say (freely) is that I am happy to be back- with the ability to waste hours on Facebook, send stupid videos to my friends on YouTube, and ramble on and on about my skewed view of the world via this blog.
Lot's to come!