It’s been two months since my last blog, and the first module is now behind us. It’s amazing how much can change in such a relatively short period – and there are still nine months to go. In this first two months, the Leadership Lab appears to be the catalyst for many character transitions within the class. After two days of self-reflection, annoying failures, “feedback”, and mental exhaustion, then having to watch it yourself, how much more introspection would you need? Dealing with culture clashes is one thing, but when they are intertwined with personality clashes, they must be carefully navigated to get us to a place where we work effectively as part of a team.
The Leadership Lab
This was a deep emotional rollercoaster; without self-honesty based on the feedback from the Lab, I don’t believe one can really make positive changes. Despite that, it seems some personalities have endeared themselves in their respective cohorts, along with unlikely friendships, bromances, among other “-ances”. These were briefly broken apart by the reshuffle of cohorts – Rasheed Alrasheed, our section of the Cassani auditorium hasn’t been the same since you left us.
The end of the first module also prompted our first set of exams. Once again, the issue of self-honesty creeps in. You should be able to quickly identify your strong and weak topics and ask for help if you need it. In my case, I reverted to an ancient art to get a good grasp of accounting – good old pen and paper. In the days before Excel, this was my go-to, along with my trusted Casio calculator. Interestingly, it seems like the exams were out to avenge one another; excel in one, face an inquisition in the next. Encouragingly, however, the whiteboards in the dungeon’s breakout rooms testified that our colleagues often went out on a limb to aid others with tutorials. Few things humble you quicker than an impending exam. I’ll leave future MBAs with this cryptic message: the key to the operations exam is in the stars. My second piece of advice to future MBAs would be to be wary of free periods in the calendar, they are a deep breath before a dive into an upcoming sea of work.
This MBA program is relentless; it expects you to roll with the punches. Picture Donny Yeng and Sammo Hung trading punches in the martial arts film IP Man 2. And, while setbacks are to be expected – they may arise from disagreements, assignments, or poorly-timed news from back home throwing you off – there’s not much time to dwell on things, so all you can do is hold your head up and move on. Fortunately, there are those wholesome moments that can keep you grounded. It may be as simple as an offer of a glass of water (thank you, Paulina Godoy and Isabelle Hoorn), a good old conversation (Ankit Gupta, Venice Lau, and Sidra Haider, I’m thinking of you), or a trial by dumbbell (courtesy of Tomas Bacchi and Akmal Adrianza). Focusing solely on cognitive trust can leave you isolated in stressful times, and you can’t build much of a network without personal relationships during your time here – or you may end up like my “bossu” Mads Kofoed!
Until next time,