So, after three months my summer internship at Google has been successfully negotiated and the MBA stage at Manchester Business School begins. Only six months until I’m back into the big bad world of full time work!
While I’d hoped to bring you regular internship updates, my hectic schedule – commuting between London & Manchester plus project work and regular essays required by MBS – unfortunately prohibited this. Due to confidentiality reasons I can’t go into much detail about my time at Google but can give you a brief overview:
I essentially had one main project that I was assigned to do which was to pull together a 2014 business plan for one section of the company. Given Google’s penchant for moonshots I was challenged to think big and look at transformative change rather than a few incremental improvements here and there – a tough task. I was also given a few, smaller, tasks to do but in the main I was left alone to self start and deliver inspiring but achievable recommendations for my main project – a good thing really given the deliberately stretching nature of the brief.
I’d ideally like to be writing now how all my learnings from the first year of the MBA coalesced and allowed me to produce a work of genius that wowed the great and the good of Google. I’d be lying if I did that, however. Once you’re back in the world of work you realise again how much business success is reliant on successful implementation rather than strategic genius. All those fantastic looking strategic frameworks and accounting wheezes pale into insignificance if you can’t deliver your goods or services to the customer at the right time with the right quality.
That’s not to say the MBA teaching is completely useless in the “real” world. You gain a holistic view of business which gives you the confidence to speak your mind about issues that you discover. When doing my project it wasn’t the MBA theories or frameworks that I found most beneficial it was more a way of thinking that I had learned. My interviews for McKinsey had taught me how to break down issues into smaller component parts which would allow me to assess what my potential hypotheses were and therefore what data I would need in order to deliver robust final recommendations.
In the end, after much late night scratching and soul searching I delivered my project to the senior management team of my business unit. To my relief the feedback was very positive and I was asked to provide a cut-down version to present to the MD of the UK office. If I’m honest I don’t think my research provided any insight that the team didn’t already instinctively know. However, it did add value in two ways:
Firstly, by approaching the issues at hand in a data driven way I could quantify issues that had previously only been nebulous “gut feelings”. Even though the team could already see these problems (it would have been worrying if I saw something they couldn’t!), the fact that I had also come in from outside the company with no preconceptions and identified the same problems as them gave them more ammunition when negotiating with their superiors for additional resource.
Secondly, without any preconceived limits or experience my recommendations to overcome the agreed issues were able to be fresh and different, prompting the team to change their traditional thinking.
I knew that the success of my time at Google rested on the outcome of this one project so it was hugely gratifying to get great feedback for it (sure, the name on my CV would have been good on its own but I wouldn’t have felt right if I didn’t contribute positively during my time there). I can now settle back into academic work safe in the knowledge that I’ve undertaken some solid work experience on the course.
Next up – an overview Autumn term 2 and the academic joys it holds.