Dec. 21 - End of the World

After sending the NfP report to client tomorrow, my first MBA semester will officially come to the end. Not sure whether the end of semester also meaning the end of the world, as the rumor of December 21, the end of the world according to Maya Calendar was here and there. Not so much in UK, but the people in the the Fast East, including people in my hometown which is located near the equator, scrambling to buy the winter cloths as rumor says that the temperature will drastically change from above 30 degree Celsius to below 30 degree Celsius. Some even made a joke that if the end of the world end up didn't come, there will be another baby boom next year September!

Anyway, whether the end of the world will come or not tomorrow,  it is still worth a celebration for me - I survived the first semester of my MBA! Phew...can't imagine that 4 months have passed since the course started. Still couldn't enjoy the city especially the weather, but the MBA is really something worth coming for. Looking back the 4 months, can't tell how much I have learned, how much my perspective have changed, and how much new experience and new skills I have gained. To summarize it, 4 core subjects - Accounting (both financial accounting and management accounting), Corporate Finance, Marketing, Business Economics; series of soft skills lecture in Skills for Successful Management Module; one big real-client project - the Not-for-Profit Project, weekly guest speaker series, career management sessions, supplementary English classes, numerous group works and presentations in the core subjects, company events, networking events, internship research, internship interviews, private social events...

Wow, I have gone through so much things in just 4 months! So, what did I really take aways in these 4 months. Here are the 5 main GAINS!

1) Equiped myself with the basic business knowledge
Accounting, Finance, Marketing and Economics are the most basic business knowledge that a manager, or at least a senior manager should know no matter which profession you are or what industry you are in. Even as an engineer (like me), if you are in the manager level, you should not only well-verse in your engineering problem solving, but also the basic business knowledge that enable you to articulate the company business performance and strategy to your subordinate, evaluate the efficiency and profitability of the project (or at least your own team), market your company to client externally, or market your team or department internally, judge whether you are still in the right industry considering the change in economic environment etc.    

Well, can't say that I mastered all the knowledge within 30 hours session classes for each subject. But the key ideas and how to apply these ideas are efficiently taught through the well-designed curriculum. I think this might be the strength of Manchester Method - the so called "Original Thinking" and "Learning by Doing". The course stimulated your independent thinking in the lectures, made your hands dirty by lots of case studies and group works. As people used to say, "Knowledge in your mind is useless if you can't articulate it or put it into application".

2) New exposure to other industries
Have no idea at all what is the different between an investment banking and a commercial banking. No idea what really Private Equity and Venture Capital do. No idea how a strategy consultant can advise a company CEO who has more industry experience than him. No idea how to establish a start-up. No idea what is a content business. No idea what is arbitration...

Well, when you get to know more, you will know that there are more you don't know. The finance industry, the consulting industry, the entrepreneurship, the media industry, and lots more that I think I would never not know in detail if I didn't come for the MBA. There are lots of fun and bright people out there in different industries, which broaden your horizon and again stimulate your thought. Looking back my previous years as a civil engineer, professional interactions were confined to other disciplines engineers and architects, which somewhat help you to think deeper but definitely not wider.

And it is just feeling so good that you can talk the talk whether you are in a group of engineers, or bankers, or entrepreneurs, or consultants, or accountants or any other professions. And most important, you enhance your chance of employability in a different industry if, let say your industry is heading down the slope.

3) Team work in a multicultural context
Talked about this in my previous blog. See NfP.

4) Ability of multi-tasking
All MBA schools assume that you come to the MBA with aims to become a future leader. And they also assume that requisite quality of a leader is ability to handle multi-task at the same time. So, they designed such a curriculum that make you do everything but you just can't finish everything to perfect. You have to attend the classes, pre-reading of case studies, solve the after-class assignments, participate in the group works, attend the company events, socialize in the networking events, etc. all in one day!

So, everything is about efficiency. Efficiency in your pre-reading so that you can grasp the key ideas after your first reading. Efficiency in the lecture, for me is more on staying focus. Efficiency in the group meeting, pre-determine the agenda, prepare before the meeting, set the time limit. Efficiency in assignment and efficiency in so and so and so...

Sometimes the situation is just not possible for you to handle both at the same time. So, you may need to weigh which one is more important, rather than which one is more urgent to you. Choose the more important one and drop the other one.

5) 114 great friends from 29 countries
For sure, this will be the greatest take away from the MBA and even after the MBA. Thanks to Manchester Business School evaluation system that emphasize on collaboration rather than competition, we can observed generous knowledge and information sharing among us. The friends with accounting and finance background particularly helped us passing the exams! Not forget to mentioned also since everybody has different industry and culture background, you will find a lot of fun and learning in this diversity. And of course the after-study, after exam parties, trips, all contributed to the unforgettable memories of the MBA!

Those are the key gains in the first semester. So, what to do with the end of the world???

Well, we can't really do anything to prevent it if the end of the world is really coming. So, why not just stay calm and think that, if it didn't come tomorrow, how should we live a more MEANINGFUL LIFE hereafter...