As the hangover fades from the term-ending MBA ball, the truth sinks in. The Manchester MBA is finally over. Thoughts turn towards the next phase of life – what is the next step for me?
The final term has flown by with the capstone IB project taking up 90% of our time. I ended up on a road trip to Southern Brazil, interviewing brand owners, distributors and retailers with the goal of determining whether it was feasible for our FMCG client to get to market. An exhausting procedure but one that certainly gave an insight into how business is conducted in other countries.
Aside from the IB, there is nothing “official” in the program’s final term. The school wants to ensure that you are spending as much time as possible working on the paying client’s business. Of course, the students are all to aware that the real purpose of the MBA – to get a job at the end of it all – is just as pressing and all of us were having to bob and weave arranging networking meetings and interviews to fit our busy schedule (aside from those lucky ones who already had a job in the bank – you could tell them by their smug grins!). As of the time of writing, I have a number of employment possibilities that have come out of my networking but nothing concrete yet – I’ll keep you posted.
So is the IB project all it’s cracked up to be? The project that brings together all the MBA learning and delivers it in one meaty, all-consuming hit? Well, yes and no. You certainly have to incorporate all the project management, consulting and organisational skills you’ve picked up in the last 18 months but for most teams the rest of what you learn goes by the wayside. I didn’t see any teams reach for the marketing, corporate finance or accounting textbooks, preferring instead to come up with their own frameworks to analyse their particular problem.
Was it my favourite part of the MBA? Again, (in classic MBA style) yes and no. Off the top of my head I think I got more of a rush from the competitions plus the M&A project in the third term delivered broad-based learning of a fascinating topic. IB, however, does provide a live client with all the tribulations, contradictions and politics that entails. We were fortunate in that our client was pretty straightforward. They didn’t change the brief on us, they didn’t play politics with our recommendations and they were always forthcoming with the data we requested. Ironically, this probably means that we learnt a lot less than the teams that were tearing their hair out and working late into the night. Still, I like to think that our forward planning and contingency management allowed us to solve those issues before they even occurred.
So, I hear you ask, what were the highlights of the program and what have you truly learned. Sadly, I’ve run out of energy for the moment. When I finally catch my breath I’ll be back to let you know.