Of course you can take the advice of not getting preoccupied by exams too far; one always needs balance in approach! As it turns out the MBA type personality inevitably kicks in and once the exams start looming everyone has their heads down in preparation.
I hadn’t had the joy of a week of 3 hour exams since uni days so I was interested to be reminded on what it’s like, and I was pleasantly surprised. In some sort of macabre way, I liked the incredible focus one develops in this period where you package together a couple of months of learning and prepare to deliver it beautifully in those empty answer booklets (some use the expression of vomiting the stored up information, but I think that the beauty is in the eye of the beholder). It was actually a great process to go through, and to recognise how much we had covered in such a short period.
So the exams came and went without a hitch and soon enough we were celebrating at our end of term Christmas party. In a quiet moment over a drink that night I looked back and realised what an incredible experience it had been. In a short few weeks, I had discovered this place called Cranfield, met an amazing international cohort, fantastic lecturers, learnt an incredible amount of practical theory and an enormous amount about myself. These weren’t soppy thoughts in the wee hours of the morning after too many celebratory drinks, but a sober recognition of how truly fortunate we all are to be able to undertake this MBA.
But enough of the MBA for a couple of weeks, we were now on a well-deserved Christmas break where we were told we could relax and forget about study for a while as long as we got the pre- work done for the first week back! The faculty obviously kindly want to make sure we don’t experience withdrawal symptoms.
Xavier (now 8 months old and going strong) and I shared our first UK Christmas and it was Becky’s first Christmas back home for several years. Xavier of course had nothing to compare it to however I assured him that it rated highly. It was actually the first opportunity for all of Becky’s family to be together with the four grandchildren, which was fantastic. I thought it was strange that we didn’t all go down to the beach for a swim before Christmas lunch, but I didn’t think it was my place to introduce new traditions.
Before we knew it Christmas was over and we were back on Cranfield soil ready for Term 2. It is a nice reflection of the friendship between the cohort to see the excitement of everyone being reunited after only a couple of weeks. First week of term two at Cranfield is dubbed the week long WAC as we complete a whole topic (project management) within the week. At the end of the week we got to test our knowledge with a well-developed, day long, simulated project where a week of resource decision-making was time-lapsed into about half an hour. The objective being to complete the project on schedule and on profit despite any project ‘curve balls’ being thrown our way. It seems MBA’ers are good at handling the curve balls as the majority of teams were ‘in the black’ at the end – a good sign. It was a fantastic learning week, particularly those new to project management.
After the ‘WAC of sorts’ in week one we were treated to another exam in week two and an exam in week three. We were indeed living the examined life! Of course in the first weeks we didn’t just sit around doing exams – we managed to fill it up with six new core topics, a full assessment centre day, sports competition and Burns night with London Business School, external speakers and an international week celebrating all 30 odd countries represented in the cohort. But more on that other fun stuff in the next post!