Life as an MBA student

On a daily basis I both speak to and observe “my” students to see how they are doing with their studies and I do admire the amount of social events they manage to pack in in an otherwise busy year.  A very active Social Committee has arranged anything from a quick Friday drink (most Fridays in fact) over a day out to watch rugby to attending an exhibition co-arranged by one of our Japanese students.  It really is quite amazing.  This of course makes my work easier because a good social connection in the class is a huge benefit as it helps create a supportive network.

This of course is not to say that it is all partying.  Anyone who has done the MBA knows that this certainly is not the case and even more so in the one-year model.  That really is like full-time work but with homework afterwards and in the weekends.  It does take that you are well prepared and committed to be able to do this.  So yes, it is an investment in both money and time.  I also think of it as an indulgence.  It may not feel much like that at 2 in the morning when you have three papers due within the next week but if you think about it – when did you last have the chance to focus on your own learning and development for a whole year?

Round about this time of year it is time for me to say See you later or even Goodbye to those of the class that has managed to complete their dissertation early; “Goodbye” because some may not be able to return for the Graduation because they are fast-tracking into their new careers.  In a month they will all have completed their work and most will have left and then a whole year has passed.  Saying Goodbye is sad but at the same time – and let me be a very self-centered here – at least I got to meet and work with these great people.

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The Festival moves in

You will remember my previous comments about the Festival in Edinburgh and about how some of the more popular venues are right at our doorstep.  One of the more freaky ones is an up-side-down cow right outside my window.  See here: http://www.underbelly.co.uk/edinburgh/2006/gallery/source/5.php.  The building behind the trees just right of that is where you will find the University of Edinburgh Business School.  The city is almost taken over by the Festival and by people looking for music, theatre, comedy, opera and any other kind of performing arts.  The Book Festival is also enormously popular with a number of authors coming to present and discuss their work. Scotland’s own Sean Connery will launch his long-awaited autobiography and you can meet Julian Barnes, Terry Pratchett, Kate Adie, Alan Sillitoe and Steven Berkoff to mention but a few of the more than 700 authors who will be at the Book Festival this year. 

Is it not all a bit too much?  No, not really because so much is on offer that you just want to be part of it yourself.  This doesn’t mean that the residents of Edinburgh don’t appreciate when it is all over. Don’t we all after having attended along successful party?  Then we just want to get back to normal.

This doesn’t mean that work does not progress as normal during the Festival.  The incumbent MBA class will complete their final projects in August and at the same time we on the staff side a busy preparing for the new MBA lot.  First day of Induction Week is 16 September and we have to get all everything ready in time to welcome the new class.

How marvelous

What is marvelous I can hear you say.  Well it’s a personal thing but I got the cast off my elbow so now I can at least do things.  It’s amazing the things a right-handed person can’t do when you’ve got the right arm in a cast.  But now I’m back and ready for whatever the World chooses to throw at me.

I am pleased to tell you all that a group of MBA students have got together to set up a student chapter of Net Impact (http://www.netimpact.org/).  The chapter will be run by students for students but with input from the School if requested.  I think it’s important that this is shaped by students and this is also the original intention when it comes to student chapters.  A professional chapter has also been set up in Edinburgh so those of you staying on after Graduation will be able to continue the interaction with Net Impact.  Or you can of course join a professional chapter if one is present in your destination city after the completion of your MBA.  The student chapter will make a presentation to incoming students early on.

Another thing going on just next door is the construction of the new home for the University’s School of Informatics.  The reason why this is particularly exciting is that a number of members of our Entrepreneurship club comes from School of Informatics and a closer proximity could maybe increase the membership.  Membership of the club is free.  We have a number of events every year and membership also allows you to meet one of our Entrepreneurs in Residence.  You can read more here: http://www.edinburgh-entrepreneur.man.ed.ac.uk/.

Back at the desk

So here I am, back at my desk after two weeks off.  Not the best holiday as I on the first day managed to dislocate my right elbow in an unlucky fall.  Being right-handed this has to some extent curtailed my holiday activities.  It does make writing this a bit of an effort as well.  However, not to worry.

Coming back I can also see that the Festival is moving in.  Well, I should write “festivals” at Edinburgh is taken over by a number of festivals during the Summer.  Read more here: http://www.edinburgh.org/events/edinburgh_festival/.  Our School is right in the middle of things with a number of venues at our doorstep so plenty to do after work.

We are also getting exciting comments and queries from the next class while the incumbent class are busily working on their final projects.  So many people to meet and so much knowledge to explore!

Taking a break…

Yes, I’ll be off the next couple of weeks to recharge my batteries, catch up on my reading, visit the family in Denmark, etc.  While I’m away everything will be in the capable hands of my director colleague, Simon Earp.

It has, as always, been a hectic and exciting academic year and it’s not over yet for the current MBA lot.  Our MBA in International Business students are now moving from their exchange to their internship and then to their final project, while our Full-time MBA students have completed their courses and the consultancy project and are now dedicating all their time to their final projects.

We still refer to the final project as the Dissertation.  This is a word more than a description as most of our MBAs do business reports or business plans as their final project.  The business report is the one where you use your knowledge and skills to solve actual problems for real companies, whereas the business plan is, well, a business plan for your own company.  The good thing about the latter option is that you get advised on how to do this well and also that you through this can participate in our business plan competition and maybe win £5000.  And yes, you can actually do a traditional dissertation if this is what you want – if this is what fits with your career plans.  It is important to stress though that sound research is required for all options.

I have written before about the importance of everything in your MBA pointing towards your post-MBA objectives and your final project is part of this – maybe even the most important part – as this is where you get a chance to really show off your new knowledge and skills.

So yes, a two-week break.  I can’t promise that I will be back here blogging until after my break, so until then…

The University of Edinburgh Business School is here!

Some of you will have noticed that my new banner refers to the school as the Business School rather than Management School.  As of today this is our new name, our new identity.

What is in a name I can hear you say?  Behind the new name sits a change of structure, strategy and image, reflected not just in the more proactive name ‘business’ as opposed to the reactive name ‘management’ but also in other initiatives focusing on Image, Identity and Positioning.

Our brand promise is to ‘get connected’ so the University of Edinburgh Business School is a place to connect with people, businesses, public sector organisations and NGOs.  Realising that students and corporates may have slightly different needs, our student facing strapline is ‘Putting you at the heart of business’ while for corporates we simply list ‘At the heart of business’.

We aim to be seen as a premium prestige provider of high quality.  We want our areas of focus and distinction (financial services, climate change, entrepreneurship and public sector) to stand out and we will seek even more involvement with businesses through student projects, internships, research and as a preferred provider in our areas of distinction.

We want current and past students to see us as a school that provides innovative and distinctive programmes and that turns out good ambassadors.  Practitioners and the public should see us as an obvious first point of call for ideas and commentary, whereas our colleagues at home and abroad should see us as a lively and friendly community that is unafraid of asking the questions no-one else is, a place that is open to diversity of thought and as a desirable place to work.

Finally, we look forward to moving into our new building in 2010, a £17m investment.