Posts Tagged ‘EMBA’

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My first impressions

Posted by: Nav

The first day of school is always special and I was really excited on my first day as an Executive MBA (EMBA) student at London Business School. Heavy snow greeted the London and Dubai EMBA class, who had come together for the first day of the orientation week on a cold Sunday in January. The weather could not dampen the enthusiasm of the 130 students who had gathered in the Dining Hall for the welcome address – there was a buzz in the room with handshakes and enthusiastic introductions.

As the week progressed, I realised why London Business School was described as an ‘aah’ school by the Dean in his welcome address (‘aah’ being the standard reaction when you mention LBS as your alma mater!). You look around the class and every student is an Achiever– a mix of entrepreneurs, directors, VPs, project managers and students in various other leadership roles. I absolutely love the class debates where everyone has a different perspective on analysing a case study – viewpoints that are so different to mine that every lecture has been a great learning experience.

Another impression I have carried from the Orientation week is that the quality of teaching is absolutely fantastic – I really enjoyed the Leadership Skills course run by Dr. Margaret Ormiston and the Understanding General Management course run by Dr. Yiorgos Mylonadis. The teaching standards set in the first week are high and if all our professors are this good, then it will be a really enjoyable (and challenging!) 20 months.

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Preparing for the start of the term

Posted by: Dominik
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Before the first term started we were already loaded with course information and list of required readings.

It became clear to me that the most important during the EMBA course will be the ability to navigate through this sea of available information and focus on the areas that are most relevant to me and my business.

The process that took place in my head while prioritizing my activities became a key learning experience of the EMBA programme so far – I had to define clear objectives for my professional aspirations in order to be able to successfully manage the priorities.

Of course, as most of the people, I couldn’t define the exact role or even the industry that I wanted to work in the future. It’s normal if you don’t know the answer to this question – during the EMBA programme you will receive sufficient support to help you concretize these goals.

Much more important is to use the preparation time to define your “own vision” for your professional life, the values you want to live your life, your inner “north pole”.

The sooner you have it the easier it will be for you to navigate through the EMBA programme and manage your life.

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This is it, the halfway point. My first elective course starts tomorrow and Wharton is coming up very soon in January. It’s amazing to look back and realise both how quickly the first year went by and how much has changed since we got together for our induction week.  From now on my focus will be much more on specific subjects I choose, my exchange to Wharton and preparing for a life and career after the MBA.

Things seem to have fallen into place lately, seem to make a lot more sense. An absolute prerequisite for action, summed up nicely by the proverb “If you don’t know where you going, any way will take you there”. Much of my first year felt like that. And it was uneasy at times to allow myself to wander almost aimlessly and absorb new impressions. That seems completely opposed to the popular notion of a successful and determined individual and also in contrast to the expectations I had set for myself.

But once the MBA started I noticed quickly that these considerations had very little relevance in this stage of my life. The more I got to know the people in my class, the more I realised that generalisations and comparisons do not work any more the way they once did in undergraduate courses. Too individual had each of us become since then and too distinct were our goals and approaches for the MBA program. The sentiment of competing, comparing and averaging was no longer applicable and inspiring, discussing and diversifying provided much more value.

People join an MBA program for various different reasons: to get a promotion, to change their career, to get the letters behind their name, to enlarge their network, to broaden their knowledge or to work on their soft skills. And people move on from their MBAs in various different directions: to get that promotion they wanted, to start their own company, to work in a different sector or to get the role they always wanted. Allowing yourself the space and time it takes to find your own way through the MBA and onwards is difficult in an environment that can be distracting and overwhelming at times but is absolutely essential to getting the most out of your experience.

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I won’t lie, it’s been tough. Running a growing PR business and maintaining two blogs (on B2B PR and social media) alongside an Executive MBA is a massive undertaking. Much bigger than I had anticipated in fact, and while the thought of it all being over in less than two weeks leaves most of my classmates heartbroken (if the comments on the Facebook group are to be believed) I can’t wait to close the door on the studying part of my MBA experience.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m not saying that it hasn’t been fabulous (it has exceeded my expectations in almost every way). I’m just looking forward to being able to focus on my business, my social life, and reading something that wasn’t published by Harvard Business Review. I also know that as a soon-to-be-alumna, my LBS experience has only just begun.

People keep asking me whether the EMBA was worth the money, which I find very difficult to answer. It’s certainly been transformational, both personally and professionally, but how do I quantify that in a way that business school applicants (who have just completed their GMAT and are obsessed with data) will understand? Unfortunately, I can’t reduce my LBS experience to numbers (at least not at this stage), but I’ll try to paint a picture of the value of the EMBA with words.

In a professional capacity, the EMBA has been brilliant. I’m more effective as a manager, more confident and commercially savvy as a consultant and more efficient as an entrepreneur. That’s not to say that every entrepreneur needs an MBA to succeed (I know loads who have done it without any degree at all), just that the MBA has helped me identify and put in place better, quicker and cheaper ways of doing things.

I now have an enormous international network of successful professionals in every industry that goes well beyond the 80 people in my stream. The alumni community is extraordinary, and I have already found that every time I meet an LBS graduate, there is an immediate connection and a willingness to help.

Personally, it’s been a rewarding journey too. The EMBA creates a perfect environment for forming lasting friendships and I know that I will remain in close contact with many of my classmates for life. Add to that the self esteem benefits associated with any type of learning, achievement or professional development and it is genuinely worthwhile.

Does this justify the £50k spend? Well, firstly, when you look at all the hours that go into getting an MBA, you quickly realise that the cost is a lot higher than the fees alone! Even so, my answer is yes, definitely. My business has more than doubled in size since I started, I have already won my first client through the alumni network, and I am generally more effective. When you consider that I haven’t even graduated yet, and I get to enjoy these benefits for the rest of my career, it’s hard to argue that the EMBA wasn’t money well spent.

Every EMBA’s experience is different, but, from talking to my classmates, there seems to be a common theme– it’s been without a doubt positive and valuable. So if you’re considering applying, I can’t tell you what to expect, but I can assure you that you will never look back!

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