Life is what you make it! This statement, an ubiquitously used cliché served as my personal mantra and subsequently became a driving force that kept me looking forward and maintaining a positive outlook during the course of my MBA journey.
When I started the Full-time MBA programme in October 2016, I knew that a high level of commitment and dedication to my studies would be required for the next 15 months. Despite the ever-present challenges, frustrations and low moments, I knew that this mantra served best when practiced and I used it to fuel my energy and will power from start to end.
Coming from a non-finance background, being an island girl from the Caribbean having to face dark, cold months plus stepping outside my comfort zone, I knew that the MBA would be my greatest challenge to-date and that I need to make the best of this journey. I also knew and willingly embraced the chance to have the highest learning curve as I was now exposed to a vast array of new subject areas from Finance to Accounts to Operations Management and Organizational Design. Additionally, tight schedules, pending deadlines, a full-work load, a high learning curve mixed with numerous group tasks with a group of multicultural and multidisciplinary peers would be another great hurdle to accomplish.
It also goes without saying that as a full-time MBA student our schedules were packed from Monday through to Saturday with the occasional Sunday classes for the electives and Wednesdays dedicated solely to scheduled Career Services events.
The Frankfurt MBA for me was not only the honing of technical proficiencies or ‘hard skills’ but the successful honing of ‘soft skills’ that I would also need when I move into the corporate environment. After all, salient to the success in any leadership position which elevates you to another level are also these said ‘soft skills’, which are the most difficult as it requires continual commitment in self-reflection and a high level of emotionality. How does one work in a team? How does one communicate? How does one express oneself? Can one build bridges and not blockades? I mean emotional intelligence is equally as important as IQ.
As a human or more recent in my case an MBA student, one must not expect that everything will be perfect but know that ‘Life is what you make it’. To make the journey as mutually beneficial as possible I tried to make the best of my journey. As I reflect now on my MBA journey as it comes to an end, I can say that selected events organised by Frankfurt School and Career Services brought me the greatest reward!
Firstly, for me it was a great privilege to be chosen to plan one of the four exclusive ‘MBA Only’ ‘In the Boardroom’ events hosted by top CEOs in Germany and Europe. Secondly, I will say that Career Services planned four major events that resonated with me; The Nimble Networking Workshop, the KODE session, Interpersonal, non-verbal communication workshop and my own personalized Individual Interview training session. The Nimble Networking Workshop focused on perfecting your “Elevator Pitch’, honing networking strategies and maximizing your professional networks as best as possible. This aided me in learning strategic techniques to acquire and maintain professional networks. It taught the best ways to enrich your network seeking out a diverse portfolio of industry professionals and the value of making a great first impression. I am sure we have all been in networking sessions which were extremely nerve-wrecking!
The KODE sessions were personalized assessments which showed your strengths and weaknesses or should I say ‘areas of improvement’. As it is based on your own assessment, certain riveting aspects were brought to the forefront. My amazing KODE Coach and I developed a plan which led me on a journey of improving my strengths and mitigating the areas I can improve.
The Interpersonal workshop focused on how one can communicate non-violently and empathetically to enable positive and sustainable dialogue. Who doesn’t need this session when a plethora of group projects and team work result in flaring tempers or passive aggressiveness when we are all faced with work load stress and looming deadlines? Learning how to communicate in a way that opens dialogue and offers an empathic ear to persons is a skilled asset in the professional world of business.
Lastly, the Individual Interview training offered honest and frank dialogues and feedback with the Trainer who is an expert Industry interviewer. The end of the section left me with a greater understanding of the idiosyncrasies that German employers and what they look for during the candidate screening phase key to successfully scoring an internship or a job. It also helped me to alter my CV accordingly to industry standards, to pay special attention to my voice pitch and tone and my non-verbal cues, unconscious traits of my body movement and eye contact that I need to note.
Why have these events stood out to me? It took me outside my comfort zone. It taught me to be proactive, strategic in my business networks, improve my communication skills, it brought me internal growth which made me more self-reflective and empathetic. I felt a transformation from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. It made me learn and be passionate about learning. I mean, what is living without learning?
As I look forward to graduating in May 2018 and armed with a plethora of skills, I am excited to embrace new and exciting pathways. Going back to the corporate world I am fully energized and confident. I am most confident knowing that I can embrace various opportunities and seek out directions that bring me the most interest and value and where I can contribute greatly. Those environments where I can thrive and continue to learn and grow, because as I stated. Life is what you make it!