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Reflections of a MBA
This week I graduated from the University of South Australia with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). It was a wonderful experience to attend the ceremony and to reflect on nearly 3 years of sacrifice and hard work to achieve this degree.
Afterwards I was celebrating the achievement at lunch with some colleagues when my manager asked me what I considered the benefit of the MBA to me personally. This was a great question as I had spent the better part of four hours in the auditorium considering this!
When I started my MBA journey I thought that I was a good sales manager that cared for his people and always achieved the sales result that the organisation needed. What I didn’t see, but my manager did, was that while I was very good at my job I didn’t work well cross functional, had limited vision and only short timeframe strategies and that my personal brand was low. For a sales manager without aspirations I was ideal for the role, but if I wanted to advance then I need to become more aware through emotional intelligence and to start thinking more strategically about where the organisation wanted to be, not just about my team.
So I was encouraged to start an MBA.
In one of my courses I was asked to complete a reflective journal as a part of my assessment. To commence I set myself some goals, that were really my goals for the degree. They were:
Develop collaboration – I wanted to increase my value to the organisation and that I have diplomacy skills to work cross functionally. This was recognised this year when I was required to manage a high level Board project & I have been able to work both cross functionally as well as being able to manage a peer group effectively. The demonstrated that I had changed due to the new knowledge that my degree gave me.
Team Player – During the course I was able to develop better situational leadership skills and adaptability. I learned how to ‘dance’ depending on the situation or the personality and this has helped to increase my internal brand at the organisation.
Communication – By using the tools learned in the MBA and reflective journals I have found that I have become more comfortable with both peers and Executives within the organisation. This year I worked on a project for the CEO and I feel comfortable discussing issues with him as I have become the ‘expert’. This has lead to another opportunity as a Strategic Advisor to another Board.
Consultancy Skills – I feel that I have become a consultant during the degree. Being a consultant isn’t necessarily about doing the work, but providing advice and linking the ‘client’ to the resources. I have really learned new skills in this area and once again it has helped me to grow my brand internally.
Interview for GM Role or lead a major Project – A personal goal for me has been to be recognised as having developed and being ready for the next step in my career. I can measure this by gaining an interview for a higher level position or leading a high profile project that shows that I have been recognised. In the past 3 months I have been interviewed for a higher role (I didn’t win one position, & declined another opportunity, but it did demonstrate that I have developed to be on the consideration set). I have also been leading a high-profile Board & CEO project since March and have commenced another on Franchising. I have also been appointed (in a part-time capacity) as the Strategic Advisor to an external Board. This is a great step forward for me and is almost, at times, like another MBA course as I continue to put into practise what I have learned during my Masters.
The MBA has been a part of my learning journey, but it cannot stop here. Learning should be life long and the MBA equips you for this. If you are considering a MBA make sure that you take the time to document the reasons why you are doing the degree, set some smart goals and some action items.
I think I may spend the next few days continuing my celebrations and reflecting on the result of all those late nights and early mornings!
Cheers Michael Kromwyk B.Th, MBA