Bilbo Baggins of Bag End has very recently become my favourite storybook character for two outstanding reasons. First, he knew how to make himself disappear; a feat that even Superman still has not caught up with. Second, he profoundly described my thoughts on Excel functions and formulas – “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
If I knew half the Excel tricks that I learnt in our Management Science class, half as well as I should before coming to Cambridge, I would have left the office much earlier than I used to (sorry boss). And, of all the Excel tricks that I have learnt, I like Pivot Tables half as well as I should. For some unexplainable reason, the entire experience of fiddling with scatterplots and formulas that Friday morning had the curious effect of quadrupling the perceived value of my laptop and spreadsheet software. Well, it was only the first week, and at least we are having fun before the serious assignments start.
On a slightly more thoughtful note however, week one of business school has been quite amazing. The backgrounds of the students and the variety of nationalities represented highlight the effort JBS went through to fit this MBA class together. What is left for me then, as a student, is how I should fully interact with all my classmates while I am here in Cambridge; to appreciate their diverse backgrounds, and learn from their skills and experiences. It won’t be easy of course; just trying to remember a dozen new names was a big stretch for me on the first day. Nevertheless, I constantly remind myself that it is important for a business school student to learn how to connect beyond whom and what we are familiar with. It is a vital life skill – vital if we hope to succeed in a competitive globalised economy; and vital in riding out the turbulence caused by the shifting balance of power in the world.
It would be a pity if we were to repeat the words of Bilbo Baggins at graduation. We have more than 150 brilliant, motivated and fascinating people from over 40 nationalities coming from a spectrum of different backgrounds on this MBA journey. So collectively, it is possible for us to establish more than 11,000 connections within the class. All it takes is for the individual to make a connection with everyone else in the course, faculty and staff included. Oh, prerequisite Excel skills will not be necessary of course, but helpful.