As I write, I am six weeks away from starting my MBA journey, a journey that I knew for quite a while that I wanted to take. All along the application process, the MBA felt like some far off adventure, not quite in the material present. Even as the interview session passed, the acceptance letter was received and the celebratory nights flickered away, the gravity of it all did not register. It still hasn’t sunk in that I’ll be spending my next year on the cobble stone streets of Cambridge, where it’s not an exaggeration to say that much of modern science was born. No, I don’t think it will sink in until I am there, come September, a book bag on my shoulders again.
I chose Cambridge for a variety of reasons, including its history as one of the oldest educational institutions in the world. I am most definitely looking forward to the opportunity to interact with the greater university as well as Cambridge Judge Business School. When it comes to CJBS, the location in the UK definitely helped form my final decision. My top aim in pursuing an MBA overseas is to learn about international business through immersion in a different culture. Granted, the UK and Canada both have the Queen on their money; but the international connections that the UK has as a nation, and by extension through its businesses, are much greater than that of Canada. Canada is small nation population-wise, and thus must look internationally to grow. More and more, it is not into the US market that Canadian companies expand, it is into the global arena. There are great lessons to learn from European companies on this front. On top of the location, the incoming class is a smorgasbord of cultural and professional backgrounds. I know I will be able to learn as much from my peers as the professors.
I am also looking forward to exploring growth stage startups as well, whether as part of the curriculum or through practical consulting projects. I have founded a couple of early stage startups and have experienced first hand the difficulties in scaling a company. How do you, as a business owner, take yourself out of the day-to-day minutiae of the company and focus on growth strategies? The many technology firms in the Silicon Fen, surrounding the business school, inevitably face such challenges and it will be highly rewarding to work alongside these.
The transition from working life will be challenging. By it’s nature, the MBA is designed for those with a proven professional track record, and as a result, typically the students have established lives. In my year away, I will be taking an non-guaranteed leave of absence from work, or in essence, quitting. It was a tough decision to risk my tenure and career growth, but I’m sure the Cambridge experience will allow me to pursue greater opportunities.
As the days draw closer to departure for Cambridge, my to-do list for the coming year grows longer. Next year, when I read this back, I wonder how many of them I will have accomplished, and how many unexpected experiences will have formed my MBA year at Cambridge. Stay tuned.