Hello everybody! My name is Tommy and I am a qualified mechanical engineer with a master’s in business administration. On a personal level I enjoy trying and learning as many things as possible; from sailing, kite surfing, and rugby, to learning languages and backpacking. Educationally I followed a pretty traditional path going straight from school to university choosing to study engineering because I was good at mathematics and physics.
After graduating I started my career working for an engineering firm on projects across the world. However, it became clear to me that this was not the path that I wanted to follow. Having had a short stint working on the corporate strategy as part of my graduate program, I became very interested in how companies are run and managed.
I made the conscious decision to move into a corporate business role and to support that by broadening my knowledge with the completion of the MBA. All that being said, the MBA has lit a fire of curiosity under me and I have started getting involved in as many areas that I can. Who knows where it will take me!
My title in the company is Corporate Performance Senior Manager, but I have never been one to stick to job titles or descriptions. I work within the strategy department where our main task is to develop, execute and maintain the corporate business plan and then work with the key stakeholders to work out ways in which we can exceed our baseline and expectations. The day to day changes drastically depending on where we are in the life cycle of the business plan, but effectively my main tasks stay the same. I continuously communicate with each department and key stakeholders within them, to monitor progress, identify issues and work together to overcome them.
Finance! The world of business accounting and finance was a mystery to me and this course was an eyeopener with its various classes on the subject. I truly do not understand how these subjects are not taught to us earlier on in our careers. From putting a business case together to implementing control systems, I believe these are fundamental tools that every professional needs to understand in order to successfully work in or run a business.
This is definitely not a part-time course. I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to say this; partaking in this Global MBA with weekly deliverables, group presentations, course reading, and forum posts, is like having a second job. Time management and prioritization skills are a must and unfortunately prior to starting this course, I was not great at these!
Learning to set time limits, and more importantly, understanding the effort you need to exert for each task was paramount. It is very easy to spend a long time on tasks that in the grand scheme of things are not worth a large amount of points.
I really enjoyed working on our final group presentation. Don’t get me wrong, there were times that my team mates and I were in serious disagreement and at each other’s’ throats. But in the end it was all worth it. As a group we all put a lot of hard work into it, we even had to pivot away from our initial idea after our research showed that our original ‘unicorn’ idea was just not needed in the market place! After weeks of preparation, research, and even making a bit of money, the project culminated in a perfectly executed presentation. It was a shame that we couldn’t do it in person standing side by side but I will not forget our team zoom call after the presentation and the feeling of joy that we had all smashed it.
Unlike an in-person course where you are surrounded by your classmates and all live in the same city; the Global Online MBA has us spread across the four corners of the earth. It is really important to make the effort to network as it will not happen naturally. But the good news is that my class mates were more than willing to make the effort themselves so it was really easy to get to know people.
Although this sounds extremely obvious, I was just in awe at how much my colleagues had accomplished in their personal and professional lives. I went through a very traditional background of studying mechanical engineering and joining a construction and engineering company. I just was not aware at what was out there and at all the possibilities.
The main direct benefit I saw from doing an online degree was the ability to put into practice what you were learning. As my colleagues were also applying their studies to their own work it became a further learning opportunity within the classes and forums. At work I was suddenly in a position to understand and partake in discussions with senior management that had not been previously possible. More importantly, they even listened to what I had to say!
The residential weeks are one of the most important aspects of this MBA as it is the time when networking can be done in a more natural setting. However, and unfortunately, due to the pandemic I was unable to attend two of the residential weeks and the Global Immersion Week (the optional week abroad where you go to meet companies). I see it as a great loss to the experience. The university did plan an additional residential week for the graduation that I was able to attend and I am very grateful for that as I was able to meet the people that I had formed the virtual connections with. To anyone doing the Global MBA, make sure to attend the residential weeks!
Simply put, build your relationship with your team mates. This is not a one-horse race and I think you can only succeed if you work as a team. There are times in which you will be overwhelmed and you will have your team to support you. Just as there are times where you will need to support your team mates in their time of need. Only by developing those relationships will you really be able to perform, but more importantly enjoy the experience. I was very fortunate to have some phenomenal individuals by my side throughout the 18 months and as a result, I was able to thrive.
When it comes to individual work, I would like to say that this MBA offers a safe place that allows students to experiment and I would encourage them (from time to time) to play ‘devil’s advocate’. Here is an example of what I mean; if you are looking through the forums for the week and are struggling to think of what to write because someone else has already posted your completely original and terrific idea, then think of what would need to be the case to make it wrong. Evaluate the other side of the argument and explore it even if you do not think it is right!
I would have made more effort from the start to meet people from the other classes in my year. If I had not attended my last residential week I would have missed the opportunity to meet some fantastic people. It is too easy to get focused on the here and now, on the next paper due, the next presentation, and forget that there is more to the MBA than just studying.