Now the dust has settled, the detailed reflection on the Manchester MBA can begin. In a future installment of this blog I’ll be ruminating on the true learnings I’ve taken from the past year and a half (i.e. the deep and meaningful gains, not just how to do a net present value calculation) but today I’ll be running down my personal highlights from the course.
Highly commended: Brathay: The feeling of togetherness and excitement at what was hopefully to come as we spent spent the last afternoon in the camp’s marquee was visceral. It was at this point we realised we weren’t now a collection of individuals but a class who would share memories for the rest of their lives. Just a shame about the weather though!
5. Electives: While there was some excellent teaching in the diploma stage, there was also a fair few classes you sailed through without really realising what you were learning. The elective stage allowed us to tailor our learning to our own needs and the fact we were in more intimate settings with smaller classes ensured that we were as challenged and stimulated as ever before.
4. M&A Project: I think I probably put more of my MBA learning into practice in this project than in any other. Finance, strategy, consultancy and negotiation skills were put to the test in a white knuckle ride that culminated in a mock show-down with the acquired company. If you weren’t prepared you would end up ripped to shreds and tossed ceremoniously out of the door.
3. IB: The capstone of the whole course is certainly its biggest challenge. While your learning and enjoyment varied considerably depending on who your client was, you would always remember what you’d been through. In my case it was a relatively smooth process that delivered insights into market entry strategy and dealing with business in completely new cultural contexts. In the end we managed to deliver a structured, logical piece of analysis that was commended by the client – one of my proudest moments on the course.
2. The Competitions: Most of the MBA learning is done in isolation, with your team’s marks dependent only on the work they can produce. The competitions were different. You not only had to produce the best you could, you had to beat everyone else. As our not so understated professor often put it “second place is the first loser”. Sadly, this second place was so often mine. Even so, I wouldn’t have missed these challenges for the world. From the disappointments of VCIC, EBPY and Private Equity to the crowning glory of the SVCIC victory in Chapel Hill in these contests you felt alive. These were no dry academic exercises, you had to compete or die and it was in this crucible that you find your own inner strength and resourcefulness.
1. MBAT: I suppose I should be writing here about some academic part of the programme that changed my life and set me on the route to new fortunes. It’s my blog, however, so I’m keeping it purely personal and talking about the experience that gladdened my heart the most. We spend our whole life striving to be part of something special, part of a team of people working to deliver together. It was at MBAT that the Manchester MBA Class of 2014 found this nirvana. Walking around HEC Paris and feeling the sense of pride that we all shared in each other’s achievements that long weekend was special. The way that we bonded as a class yet could still reach out to new friends from other schools was a sensation you rarely get in life. Looking back over the last eighteen months, it is these emotions that jump out as the strongest and that is why the MBAT is deservedly my number 1.