It would not be an exaggeration to say that crux of life’s learning can be effectively summed-up and implemented while someone is running a business. Hence to be able to successfully run a business would automatically entail having a good grasp of broad concepts like Finance, Marketing, Operations and Human Resource. Expertise in the fields of Arts and Science would only give a competitive edge to it. Hence, doing a Masters in Business Administration, in a true sense, is all about having an understanding on the key aspects that makes life a success.
This was what, I thought, should be the noble reason to pursue an MBA and when I just started my journey down the MBA path, I was thrilled when I learned to play with balance sheets, evaluate business models and understand intriguing marketing concepts. I knew that soon I would be abreast of the latest and the most advanced applied concepts in the field of Business. And that journals, research papers and business magazines would be more meaningful and useful to me. But three months since enrolling myself into it, my horizon of thinking broadened and I got delightfully surprised that these factors would make-up for just the ‘Business’ part of an M.B.A.
I came to a realization that it is the ‘Management’ part of an M.B.A. that would become the ultimate test in having imbibed the “crux of life’s learning”. As soon as the session began, I became part of numerous groups that were formed for the numerous projects, assignments and case studies that were required to be submitted throughout the term. And I believe that moment marked the actual beginning of my MBA. From here on started the struggle to be at the forefront of mastering the concepts and at the same time to be able to convince your teammates to follow a certain approach while working for a project submission deadline.
Sanest projects to work for are the ones having multiple submissions with deadline timings of something like 12 midnight whereas one of the craziest papers have only single submission per term and deadlines like 7 or 8 in the morning. The former ensures that the group sleeps by 1 am and in the latter ones, having a lot at stake, ensures that the group agrees to disagree on everything till 4 am. It is when the sheer exhaustion sets in, that the group comes to a forced consensus and manages to wrap it up just before the breakfast is served in the mess. Of course, the diversity of the batch too plays its part here. One may have to consider the issue from the perspective of someone coming from tourism sector to armed forces, from construction industry to pharma R&D sector, from financial sector to IT sector. Out of this joyous feeling of achievement, of having contemplated on the plethora of concepts just learned and having made a successful deliverable, teammates discuss the possibility of asking their lecturers to include more such submissions from next time on. This realization, of the worth of case discussions and having learned group dynamics, sets in immediately. It is much later that they realize the full impact of this exercise.
Initially when nobody knows each other and the groups are formed randomly, one’s focus is towards maximization of their learning and contribution and finally working for a best possible submission. Over a period of time, some groups and some of its key members are recognized as outperformers. They garner short run benefits when, people vie to get them in their group in the next round of group formation. In the long run, they wield a disproportionate influence over the entire batch as alumni and also have strong ties with senior and junior batches as well. In the world of professional and social networking and instant connectivity, this is a major factor in determining the latitude of one’s career. To sum up, while doing MBA, ‘Management’ skills like leadership, planning and time management, interpersonal communication, writing and presentation skills gets automatically sharpened while we learn for ‘Business’ skills (like marketing, finance, operations, human resource etc.). It is due to this unique blend of learning (both the method and content) which makes MBA different from the league of other courses. Industry and Business world over know this and a major chunk of any organization’s management brass are MBAs. An MBA degree involves a lot of rigor (has 700+ contact hrs on an average and each hour requires 3 hrs of solid groundwork) and through various tools (projects, case studies, research, assignments, presentations etc) aims to build on the foundations of work experience (though fresh graduates are also fairly common) and culminating in imparting one with the necessary abilities to make a mark in real-lifebusiness scenarios.