Several weeks ago I booked my one-way flight to Heathrow for this month. It’s not the first time that I flown to such a destination and, nevertheless this short-haul flight carries an enormous meaning for me: I’m moving to the United Kingdom to commence my MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School. The MBA is no more a distant goal in the future, it’s about to kick off very soon. What a long way I’ve come from my initial thoughts about pursuing advanced business education!

I started to contemplate the possibility of an MBA at the beginning of 2013, but I immediately realised that the cost of any top program was beyond my financial resources at that time, thus I postponed the idea indefinitely, even though I began economising. More than one year later, in May 2014, when the heat and the unusual noises from the jungle of a semi-deserted island in Thailand forced me into the only sleepless night in my entire life so far, I took the decision to go down the MBA path more seriously and, as I came back from my vacation, I started to prepare for the GMAT.

With a good deal of work experience I started by ruling out the programs lasting more than 15 months and the MBA at Cambridge Judge Business emerged as a natural option. I don’t deny that, at the beginning, I considered Cambridge as a stretch: applying to a University which can boast Newton, Darwin and Keynes (the first names that come to mind) among its alumni was definitely intimidating for me. However, the more I discovered, the more Cambridge seemed most the suitable for me. It had everything which I was looking for in an MBA: top-notch academics, a great ranking, strong brand-recognition, an extremely diverse cohort in terms of geography and professional backgrounds and a concentration in finance; the college experience and the possibility of commingling with brilliant minds from various fields were definitely the icing on the cake. Therefore, after an insightful conversation with an Italian alumnus, I took the plunge and I applied.

During the on campus interview in February, the quality of people that I met, the relaxed and collaborative atmosphere and the beauty of CJBS’s building and of the city of Cambridge itself made me literally fall in love with the program. I had trespassed the gates of Downing College for the informal pre-interview dinner feeling utterly nervous, but I left Cambridge the following evening thinking that I had found the right place for my MBA. If I had been offered a place there and then, I would have accepted immediately. Luckily, that offer did arrive.

Post-MBA goals

When I wrote my application and was subsequently interviewed, I thought that my career goals were crystal clear: I wanted to leave the niche field in which I had been working for the previous three years (basically planning and control for corporate and investment banking, with a strong emphasis on risk-adjusted profitability) and most of all to change geography. I intended to work in the finance team of a multinational corporation or, as a plan B, to get back into banking in a more business oriented function, such as project finance or acquisition finance. Due to some unexpected circumstances in the last months, my current view is less definite: on the one hand I’m considering different career paths, like strategy consulting and on the other hand I will not reject the possibility of coming back to Italy outright. At present, what I really hope for in the upcoming year is to be pushed out of my comfort zone, to be continuously challenged and to evolve both professionally and personally. Lately I’ve come to realise that networking will be just as important as academics and that career related events and extra-curricular activities will represent a fundamental part of my MBA. I’m seriously contemplating the possibility of joining the boat club of my College, which is something I would have never imagined when I decided to consider an MBA. I just hope I will find the stamina to do everything!

Anyway, I can hardly believe that it is really happening; approximately one year ago I ran into this blog while seeking for preliminary information about MBA programs and now I’m sharing my experience on it. I’ve not felt so excited since the days which preceded my departure to Patagonia a couple of years ago. Arriving at the end of the world was the dream of my childhood and when I finally fulfilled it, I savored every single moment and built memories which will be with me for the rest of my life; I like to think that my MBA journey will be just as wonderful.