Tuesday, 30 October 2012

So this is what an MBA is like

Five weeks down and we are well and truly into the MBA with lectures, case study's, team learning, team presentations, career workshops and business competitions all in full flow.  Well at least it has felt like full flow (the proverbial fire hose at full flow!) however we are gently assured not to worry as it will get much busier - but we will all learn to handle it!   I will of course report on that in the future but in the meantime, let me take you through a typical week so far.   

In this first term we are completimg six subjects: Accounting, Microeconomics, Organisational Behaviour, Operations and Supply Chain, Strategic Marketing and Strategic Decision Science (statistics). I also have the pleasure of doing Spanish as everyone needs to graduate with at least two languages.  Me llamo David. Vivo en Cranfield. Soy estudiante! 

We work on a perpetual 3 day cycle. Day one, two days before the lecture, we do our own reading/preperation for each subject independantly. Day two, we meet with our learning team of six to go through the content and assigned case study's. Day three, we have the lecture.  With the continual rotation we effectively have lectures, team work and our own reading each day and we are also now beginning to work on the coming assignments.  Lectures are 70 minutes each.  There are usually a couple of evening speakers or workshops a week as well.  All work and no play makes for dull students, so there are a couple of sports evenings each week (from 9-11.30pm - about the same time as my home town Manly beach is heating up for a day of sun and surf but I try not to think about that and instead embrace the looming winter and shorter days that inspires focused study!) 
It all makes for a busy day, night, week and weekend.   It is actually impossible to to do it all yourself - and that is the idea - it forces you to become much more effective and efficient.  Ultimately you need to rely on great team work, precise organisation, ruthless time-management and being really effective at identifying, quickly, the crux of every piece of information presented.   
There are about 75 full time MBA students and an equal number of executive MBA students (who cover the MBA over two years in addition to working). It is a truly multicultural group with over 30 countries represented in the full time cohort.  We are split into two streams, Blue and Red, and attend lectures in our designated streams (although some workshops and lectures are combined).  Within the streams we have been further divided into learning teams compirising of six people.  To give you a sense of the diversity within my working team of four men and two women there are six nationalities: Slovakian, Brazilian, Nigerian, Indian, Welsh and of course an Aussie. The team also has an equally varied career background such as IT, Banking, Management consulting, Accountancy uditing and Law.  As you can imagine, It makes for a great mix of cultures, experiences and knowledge.  Overall there is incredible camaraderie between the cohort.  After only a few short weeks everyone feels like life-long friends. No doubt the onslaught of the pending assessments and increasing workload will test our friendships, but we all feel very lucky to have already built a solid 'friendship' foundation which will hopefully be able to withstand the upcoming pressures.   
The content is excellent and the Lecturers are absolutely world class.  While there is of course the theory, there is a much stronger focus on practical application to the business world.  I have particularly enjoyed being able to apply the knowledge back to the many businesses I have worked with over the years.  The greatest and most challenging thing is digesting, and recalling, the vast quantity of knowledge.  It has been a very full first five weeks and we have not even commenced assessment work.  For those who enjoy a touch of schadenfreude - I can confirm assessments start at the end of this week with a WAC!  What's a WAC you ask - you will have to wait and hear with my next post but from what I do know, it sounds like it would be more appropriate to spell it as Whack - I will confirm whether this is the case next time.
Before I sign off, I'd like to give an update on the two most special people in my life - my wife Becky and my son Xavier.  Xavier has just turned five months old and is learning much more than an MBA 
without having to take notes, study or seemingly try.  We are very impressed with his aptitude and 
application! His latest trick is rollling over - which is apparently much harder than the strategic decision science that his dad is trying to get his head around.  Behind the man and the little man is Becky who is doing an extraordinary job in supporting her two men.  Becky gets to experience the full force of the MBA of Managing Baby and Adult, without having applied for it.  She has been quite extraordinary.  Xavier and I are very lucky men.  
See you after the WAC!


  1. Exhausted just thinking about - Keep it up Davo!

  2. It takes me back; the names were different but the plot was the same.

    Hang in and you'll continue to enjoy the year, you're already 9.6% of the way through (I learned that in Strategic Decision Science).

  3. Three blog posts already! Slow down my man, you're making me look bad........