Sunday, July 25, 2010
In 2005 I started an MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management. I'm 2/3 of the way through and I'm not sure that I'm going to complete it.
In my first semester I was ridiculously excited by the prospect of doing some more study, so I did 2 rather than the recommended 1 subject. One of those subjects, Managing People and Organisations is without a doubt the best subject I have taken in any educational course. We had an amazing class of people, many of whom I'm still very good friends with, a fantastic facilitator, Shushana Evans, and the course material covered really interesting areas I'd not studied before including Organisational Psychology and theories of what motivates people. I got a huge amount from this course.
Since then, the MBA has been a bit of a let down. The other compulsory courses I took, Finance, Accounting, Economics and Marketing I'd already covered in my Commerce degree so I didn't get a lot from these. I couldn't get credit for these because in theory they were 'taught at a higher level in the MBA'. In reality the material was nearly identical. For my electives I was hoping to replicate the Managing People and Organisations experience so I took Managing Change and Managerial Skills, but I'd moved from Brisbane to Sydney at this point and the classes in Sydney were much bigger and less personal, and while the facilitators were good, they didn't match Shushana. The amount of time that the study was taking up, on top of a full time job and dabbling in some startups had me feeling pretty burnt out.
I've now had 18 months off from study. The final 1/3 of the MBA course is called the 'Executive Year' or 'Strategic Management Year'. It's split into 4 parts, takes 10 months, costs $30,000 and involves 4 x 5 day intensive residentials at the UNSW campus, then group meetings and assignments in between. I've heard mixed reports about it. Most people say they got a lot of value from it, they've met some amazing people and learnt some great lessons from the case studies covered in the course. However some people have said that they would come home from the residential sessions exhausted having had little sleep, the groups they were placed in weren't that great and that the cost in both money and time wasn't worth it.
Given I'm working some pretty crazy hours on Shoes of Prey at the moment, I just don't think I can bring myself to do that year. The thought of doing assignments and exams actually makes me feel ill. I'm told that the residentials are very intense and apparently it's difficult to get away with spending less than 10 hours per week on assignments during the rest of the year. What little work life balance I have at the moment I think I'd rather keep. $30,000 is a lot of money when I'm not drawing a salary from Shoes of Prey at the moment. In 2004 I was so excited by the prospect of further business study that I would have read about 20 different business books and loved all of them, then when I started the MBA in 2005 I looked forward to sitting down and reading the materials each week. I'm in a completely different head space now. I feel like I'm all business booked out, I'm over the theory and instead I'm enjoying the practical side of running a business. I haven't read a business book in over a year. I don't mind business blogs, but when it comes to reading books I'm finding myself drawn to science fiction or something that puts my mind in a different place to where it is during the work day.
So at this point in time I don't think I'll finish my MBA. I'd like to think that might change and I do go back and finish it in the coming years but unless I get that motivated feeling back I had when I started the course, I think I'm better off not forcing it.
If you've completed an MBA or some post graduate study, or are thinking about doing it I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
Posted by Michael Fox at 1:55 AM