Thursday, May 19, 2011

MBA Graduation Tomorrow - What I Learnt This Year

A year has passed like a speed train. This is the greatest tragedy and pleasure of one-year MBA programs: time and opportunities for reflection are scarce and precious, while you do not even get the feeling that your are truly away from the workplace.

Paraphrasing Haruki Murakami, the most important lesson that I have learnt at the business school is that the most important things cannot be learnt at school. The graphs and charts and frameworks are important - that is the dry takeaway you get in the classroom, but that is not what makes you a good manager. Hence, my first lesson: capability is important but attitude is key. You need to be open-minded and inquisitive enough to go home and reflect on everything that happens at school, including the time in work and project groups. If you fail to reflect and arrive at your own conclusions about the topics discussed in class, I would be doubtful about the quality of such learning. If you are uncapable of such reflection, why are you here at all? Julia Lambert said that real actresses don't play in movies. My challenge would be: do real managers go to business schools?

The second big thing is about time management and prioritizing. You can only focus on the essential - there is no way you can do everything given the humongous amounts of information that is being dumped on you by the faculty. Thus, it is critical that you decide what you want to focus on and invest most of your time and efforts there. Besides, there is beautiful and exciting Madrid out there, as well as Spain and all the neighboring European countries. Finally, you might have brought a significant one with you or an entire family, who also would like to enjoy some of your attention. Following the pyramide principle, there are three priorities that you could consider, but in reality you can only achieve two of those successfully:
So, these are the options: engross yourself in studies, spend time with the significant other(s) or venture out to get the most of the local flavors. Which two out of three would you choose? I have observed that the choices are always personal and the whole MBA crowd is quite varied in its preferences.

In a similar vein... This year should also be about fun. If you take things too seriously, you are going to burn out and really - you did not pay all that money just to study-study-study. Doing fun stuff, getting engaged in extracurricular activities, joining clubs, doing sports is a great way to optimize your learning and maximize the MBA experience: it takes your mind off academic stuff and helps recharge while you get numerous opportunities to network, and networking is another big MBA thing. Your future career is largely predicated by the quality of the network that you have managed to build and the business school is a great place to practise your schmoozing skills.

Similarly, the alma mater (IE Business School in my case) is now a brand that will help you to get ahead, so you have a vested interest in its success. At the same time, your success is there success, so get the CEO seat as fast as possible. Surely, the expectations must be managed correctly and you won't be an international CEO in your next job, but I am pretty sure that personal success and the success of your academic institution are positively correlated.

In conclusion, I feel empowered and energized after this year or gruelling studies and lots of fun. I am really excited to be back at the workplace. It is like with rental cars - you get one with a full tank and you are supposed to return it full. I am overflowing with petrol at the moment.

IE, I am so looking forward to missing you!

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