When people ask me what I am doing and I say I am wrapping up my M.B.A, I can immediately see them visualize me in a suit at a multi-national corporation even though I am wearing a pink dress with marigolds printed on it and sipping coffee in a cafe tucked in a quiet corner of Cambridge. The truth is that I understand their perception. I had it too. But the program at Judge is different, it does not just prepare you to compete, to win and be the best. It goes one step further and teaches you to collaborate, to experience and to lead. Really speaking, and I don’t think any other MBA can boast of this, it is an emotional experience.
With a class size that is smaller and more selective than other leading MBA programs, you know everybody and you know them well. If you don’t, you use the weeks that are left to meet them for lunches, walks, formals and punts! With an average work experience of six years, the peer learning is as strong as in the classroom. With 40 nationalities represented, you learn the first lesson of “my world is not your world” literally and very quickly! The experience is what you make of it. It is how education should be, personalized. If you are here to learn more about your chosen focus (be it finance, consulting, social innovation or even arts, culture and media!), you have the opportunity. If you are here to experience a new culture, you have the opportunity. If you are here to catch a breath and just figure out next steps, well, you have lots of fresh air! But whether you planned it or not, you will learn to work with people you don’t understand, you will become more comfortable with yourself and you will work towards making something remarkable of your life.
I came to Cambridge knowing I wanted to set up my own enterprise and have made great strides in that direction. The business school, and the university at large, gave me the peers who had the skills I didn’t, it gave me friends who had the patience to unwind the thoughts I couldn’t, the mentors to push my mind in ways I couldn’t imagine and the opportunities to explore worlds I didn’t realize existed. None of this happened simply because we wrote business plans or participated in case competitions or worked on projects with leading companies. This happened because we talked about life, our experiences, what hurt us, what made us stand up again, what made us smile and what made us laugh out loud. It happened because we all had passion and we understood the potential of that passion. We put relationships at the center of our dreams. We were taught EQ over IQ.
We were taught to always listen to “our belly” by the father of Swatch. We were taught to reimagine a classroom as a kitchen by a housewife turned entrepreneur. We were taught that a small bookstore can become the owner of Waterstones. We were taught that it was never too late to compete with the giants by the founder and chairman of Cobra beer. We were taught that innovation is not just about product but also about business models by the co-founder of Hotel Chocolat. We were taught to marry well, and no one meant money. We were taught to keep the communication with our children our first priority of the day (mostly because they have their eyes out for the latest technological breakthrough I think).
It has been an incredible year. I can not say it enough or be thankful enough.
I always wanted a Masters degree. But an M.B.A. was not initially on my list. I wanted a degree that added value to the world, something that had the potential to help improve lives. At Judge, I got just that.