My MBA ranks right up there among the highlights of my life. I did the MBA in the 2008/2009 session, but it was a journey, that started long before then.
One random Sunday, when I had gone to church with one of my parents, I ran into the Chief Resident Minister (Reverend) of the church and got into some light banter. As expected, and properly prepared for, the question as sure as daybreak came, “oh! and what are you up to these days?” Without missing a heartbeat, I said I was working on going abroad for my master’s degree and applying to schools. He asked what I was going to study and why, and then I was stuck. In between my tale-telling stuttering and waffling, he remarked, why don’t you do some work first before you go for the Masters’s degree. A few years of work and you should have at least, a little more clarity into what you want to study and why.
I took his advice to heart and followed through. After much prayers, I got my first real salary-paying job. Three months into that, I was headed for a raise and behold, the job of my dreams came through; yes, I accepted both.
I was living the engineer’s dream. I was on top of my game. Another offer came within the same industry which o course I could not say no to, “it was a big fish small pond matter” but I took the job anyway. three years down the line the company packed up but I still believe that the move was right. I was an inept and just plain terrible manager though I did not know, and I am certain would not have accepted it at the time. I was “doing” so much to close all the behavioral gaps, but I was far from happy.
“Have you considered doing an MBA”? that advice came from older family friends. That birthed the idea of the MBA. And to make things even better, I pointed in the direction of Cranfield University. I took this recommendation to heart and started to put things in motion to make it a reality.
Recall that a few years earlier, I was sick and tired of writing essays, a major part of the application process for Masters’ Degree Programmes. For Cranfield, as I write now, I still get a sense of the excitement I felt, writing the essays at the time. I also recall sharing the essays with a close friend to see if the essays packed some punch. My essay packed all the punches and to prove it, I was given a conditional offer, which came along with a grant of £8,000 to be taken off my tuition fee.
I had been given a new lease of life and nothing around me could contain the excitement. I went in for a full-time MBA. In my year, we had a cohort of 150 people from 37 different nationalities. One of the major considerations for being given admission was having a few years of work experience. So it just seemed that we were around the same age and had similar challenges in the cohort even though we had soldiers, business analysts, geniuses, and all that not in the cohort.
The MBA Programme and the entire experience were several times more exciting than I had expected,
I was able to build lasting relationships and my mind was exposed to all kinds of industry projects just to mention a few. The biggest thing for me though from the entire experience was that I grew, and I saw it happening before my very own eyes.
The key take-aways from this article are centered around the different underlined phrases.
1. Why do you want to do an MBA – “to thyself be true”? The way I see it, the first step is to understand the need, and be able to answer the question, why one wants to do the MBA. Being able to answer it, would potentially start-off a chain of events and set the scene for other considerations. This will help to put some perspective on what schools or countries to focus on. What one finds typically is that MBA schools are orientated one way or the other, Finance, Entrepreneurship, General Management, etc.
2. What is your current context?
While a Full-time MBA will always be my first pick, the context for some may genuinely not accommodate a full-time program; think of the sole-earner in a home or a key resource in an Enterprise. Sometimes, a modular or even an online program may have to suffice. It is important to note that there is immense value to be gained from the MBA Programme whether it is online or in a classroom with others. Within one’s context also, available financial resources are a huge consideration.
3. Put in the work.
In the quest for doing an MBA, it is quite tough getting by without putting in some work. Desktop research is always a good place to start. I have also found that there is great value in engaging others who have walked a path you will like to follow or similar to yours.
Where possible, visit a few schools and reach out to alumni from them to get a first-hand feel of what the school is like and the experience around the MBA Programme. For me, if the prospect of the school and the shared experiences from others does not get you excited, then maybe it is not for you.
4. Get started
The best time to start preparing for the MBA is somewhere in the past, but the next best time is now. Start with the self and work it up. My MBA has been the single most rewarding investment in myself that I have undertaken. And unlike me, it does not necessarily have to be by chance, you can be intentional about your development and your MBA.