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Front Man Speaking

I read numerous articles online before I began my MBA program. The degree, no doubt, is a prestigious one and has a definite career path that inspires and paves the way for a thousand or more futures. But the journey from ‘I want to do an MBA’ often starts with ‘If you should do one?' I will not give you the answers we have come across since we began our education but instead give you a guideline to assess if it is something you want to do. If you find a greater number of positives than negatives, you can proceed.

You should do the MBA if and when -

  1. Through your technical undergraduate education, you have explored not only your capabilities but also the scope and possibilities of this field. You have put that knowledge into practice. Only after applying can you discern whether you enjoy technical work enough to carve out a niche for yourself and how technical work is part of a much broader business plan that applies to the organization as a whole.

  2. The technical space has no relevance to you after finishing undergrad. In general, if you have an interest in the technical aspects of your industry, do not move into management. Try again and if nothing fits, proceed.

  3. It's difficult for you to stay up to date with what's new in the industry as a manager. Don't get me wrong - staying in the industry will also allow you to do so, but you often won't have the time to do it exclusively. It comes down to personal preference.

  4. Locha e ulfat inspires you? Maybe you can get into the IIMs simply for the brick red backdrop, you may still come away with a better reason to complete an MBA or at least a book.

Just kidding.

My point is, how can I, or anyone with their own unique set of career choices to that point, provide a roadmap for anyone to determine how they should allocate their time, effort, and resources to something that may affect them in very different ways? In part because of this, I have written and scrapped this piece many times. The decision to pursue an MBA is way more complicated than a simple yes or no flow chart leading to a profound answer. The internet never gave me mine and I don’t have it for you either. But I can help by giving you an idea of what it entails, no matter why you do it or where you do it from?

One room (even if online). 300 players. No sense of day or night. Numerous levels. Impossible rules. Deadly challenges. And a prize - the MBA. While we now look like Lee Jung-Jae at an awards ceremony, sleek and glorious, I guarantee you that for the most part we behaved and looked like Seong GiHun for the last two years. It’s tough and competitive. As if on a stage, you play your cards together and hope for the best. An MBA prepares you for that stage. There are no secret green rooms or rehearsal rooms. You just need to show up. That’s all and that’s everything. You must have a good, healthy source of motivation to stay and survive here.

As with the intro of the Squid Game, it is essential to comprehend that everyone's motivations for choosing to do this program are different. And that’s okay! The only thing I would add is that your motivation is vital to your success, and must be unique to you. MBAs, unlike other master's degrees, are inherently self-driven. A lack of consistent and healthy motivation is going to negatively affect your performance now, as well as in the long run.

Having a clear understanding of what you hope to accomplish on the course and how you will use it later will assist in positioning you for whatever future you want to have. How you acquire this knowledge is up to you. Some may get experience, others will network and some may geek out on the internet. All ways are right if the result is knowing what exactly draws you to one area of business logic. Lastly, it is not a stepping stone to a better life if you don’t learn here. Cause if you don’t learn it will be like the missed step in the squid game. You went ahead but will land smack on your face.

Further, it takes grit. A lot of it. MBAs are fast-paced and unpredictable. There are times that no amount of preparation is enough and in others, everything you prepped for is shining through. There is a fine line balance that one needs to master. Much like jugglers, you throw all your balls in the air and with a plan and a prayer, get them all in order. Do this on repeat for two years and you have yourself another laminated marvel on the wall.

Now grit by itself is often not enough. Probably never is. Patience is the other end of the string. Patience must manifest in many forms. The patience to work continuously, the patience to learn, the patience to apply and most of all, the patience towards those who support you. In many ways, the MBA is an isolating experience as there is much to do but not everyone around understands just how much. If being busy in the real world is any indicator, MBAs are, on steroids. So it does take patience to keep relationships whether to your learning or the environment from reaching uncomfortable spaces.

I can’t stress it enough - but communication and the skill to harness it - that is the foundation of an MBA program. Communication whether in class or with your classmates or with your teachers is crucial to learning and development. Well, you might wonder, that this is true for all forms of education. Yes, it is. But an MBA is essentially a lot more like a self-paced online course than a school assembly. Yes, despite all the pressure I just described, I must say that the pressure is and must be self-imposed. That’s the only way to extract from this course. If you do not communicate, be assured that your learning journey will be worse than the course on management all online platforms provide. I recommend that instead.

While a good chunk of your MBA syllabus will be covering new technologies or concepts of the business world, it is imperative to understand the importance of being agile. It takes a certain growth mindset to unlearn previous ways of working and rewire as per new constructs. But, more importantly, one learns to accept that change is constant and being nimble is the way to survive. Nothing is forever, not even what we learn here.

Finally, be ready to look like a spy at social gatherings, slowly exhibiting a nonchalance only Bond got right, even if it was 4 sudden assignments and tests deadlines sprung at you. Be ready to ponder over an assignment for hours with everyone from Beethoven to Linkin Park in the background. Be ready for the late-night bonding with classmates figuring it all out, even if with a side of rants. Be ready to fight in groups and struggle individually. Be ready to learn how disorganised you are. Be ready to be amazed by your support system - your biggest cheerleaders. Be ready to live life to the fullest. Be ready to be challenged.

An MBA is to many a microcosm of real life, to me it is but one chapter in a growth journey we call life. The wonder of it all is that the world will now see how much you grew. Your power of resilience and strength are all built up through education. Cause, in the end, we are all Gihun - we FIGHT and PERSEVERE to DO BETTER AS PEOPLE AND FOR THE WORLD.


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Mar 30, 2022


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