When I embarked on my Full-time MBA journey last October, I had somewhat of an idea about the opportunities it will open for me. The world seemed an open field with post MBA job opportunities like Investment Banking, Consulting, Merger & Acquisition, Innovation management, etc. It already felt like being on the right path.
Attending Career Day in November at Frankfurt School with legendary firms like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Mckinsey, BCG, etc. gave us a glimpse of what we can become a part of through this course. It gave a sense of being in big leagues already. Core modules and extra projects just added to my overall confidence. Peer learning was also amazing. I was lucky to have a diverse mix of cohorts both professionally and culturally.
But still, something felt missing. I still had not found my Ikigai.
Ikigai is a Japanese concept “ a reason for being.” The word refers to having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile, and towards which an individual takes spontaneous and willing actions giving them satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.
I always understood this concept but never found it until I attended two elective modules as part of my MBA. The first one was “Business Development & Marketing” by Prof. Schulze. The sheer concept of understanding the pain points of consumers and creating products to relieve those fascinated me. To quote Prof. Schulze from lectures “Value is in the mind of customers”, which I always remember. One of the best features of the Frankfurt School MBA is that you get to apply your learnings immediately in real world business settings. We participated in an actual consulting project for an IOT start-up for evaluation of module in a team of five MBA colleagues. The founder and CEO of the company presented the business case in class. He asked us whether we can help utilizing our new learnings and experience and promised to implement our suggestions in his business. Although I had worked in IT consulting for fortune 500 clients throughout my professional career, this was new for me. While doing the market research and analysis for the company, I found myself for the first time in the shoes of both the customer and product creators and how to align them to get the best outcome. My team presented an excellent solution and was rewarded as the best in class both by the Professor and the company. This experience was the first step in recognizing my passion and mission – “Maximize alignment between product and customer.”
Throughout this journey and experiences, I found my Ikigai in Product management. It has given me a purpose to get up in the morning and do something worthwhile, which I am good at and love doing. Believe me, the world does not mind paying you when you are helping others find solutions. This is one of the biggest takeaways from my MBA experience at Frankfurt School – and wish you all find something similar or worthwhile for you as well from this experience. To summarize in the words of Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”