Written by Animesh Kar
Can’t imagine that I am half way through my MBA study! It seems like a whole year has passed with a blink of an eye. It has been an exciting year so far with rich and fun learning. Hence, I thought this will be a good opportunity to reflect on what I learnt during this one year. In this article, I will start with a brief background on me and then my journey through the Monash MBA program.
My better half always wanted me to go for higher studies. So, after couple of intensive work-focused years here in Australia, finally early this year I was ready to upgrade my skills. With Masters in Computer Science, when I was thinking about what I should study further, I found MBA would be a great option for me. This could open up an opportunity for me to enrich my IT skills with business learning. As an IT consultant, I have always been passionate about working with my stakeholders and business requirements. I always enjoyed helping businesses in streamlining their processes and making most out of the Microsoft platforms. Hence, MBA study was the perfect option for me to build my skill further on consulting.
Upon looking at different MBA programs that Australian Universities offer in Melbourne, this program from Monash Business School attracted me. At that time my reason was really simple. Monash MBA offered a full time MBA which I could do alongside my full-time job. I would have to go for part-time otherwise and I didn’t prefer my MBA study to be part-time. I believed I might not realise the effectiveness of part-time MBA in terms of learning, atmosphere and moreover I wanted a class based learning. Also with Monash MBA program, I could complete my full-time MBA in two years, which otherwise would take at least another extra year from some other university as part-time. However, in addition to Monash Business School, I applied to two other universities for part-time MBA and secured offers from both.
During the information session, I got to know other great things which were eye opening. This MBA program is gender balanced, meaning 50% of the candidates are aimed to be female. Additionally they are keen to maintain diversity by selecting students from different industry skills and cultural background. The idea here is to facilitate learning opportunities within the cohort. The classes are also structured to make it suitable for people to work full-time. Fantastic! These were enough for me to conclude that Monash MBA was the one I wanted to go for.
Upon the successful candidate selection process, I landed to the much awaited MBA Orientation week-end. Our orientation took place at a resort in Mornington Peninsula, and I was amazed to know the diversity of my cohort. A) The average work experience of my cohort is 7 years with minimum of 3 and maximum of 15 years. B) 66% of my cohort is domestic and rest 34% is international. Together we represent 14 or 15 different countries. C) Nearly 100% gender balanced cohort. D) My MBA cohort is a good mix of professionals from different industry which is a great advantage for all students in the class. It is a great and smart brunch of people to work with and learn from. Below is the consolidation of my MBA cohort.
After orientation, regular classes has been based at Monash University Caulfield campus. Monash MBA facility offers innovative modern workplace. This facility is newly built to replicate a corporate office rather than traditional university classroom. It makes more sense to me as business learning should facilitate a corporate culture as well. They have plenty of meeting rooms, a large dining area, most advanced class rooms and most importantly a function room in corporate style. Meeting rooms and floors are dedicated to MBA students and always accessible throughout the week for out team meetings.
MBA study at Monash is predominantly team based. During my first year of study I got an opportunity to work within two different teams across two semesters. The assignments are well balanced with group and individual assignments. This facilitates you to work in a team, enhance team based learning and improve negotiation skills. It is also an opportunity to practice your leadership and communication skills.
During our first semester, we learnt Business Strategy, Marketing & Customer and Accounting. Professor Patrick Butler (the Director of the MBA Program), Professor Edward Buckingham and Dr Paul Collier in the corresponding subjects are great and best at their knowledge and industry experience. More interestingly, these three areas were integrated very effectively. Worth mentioning that the individual assignment was so efficiently balanced that everyone had to ensure that their writing evenly reflects learning from each area.
In that first semester, there was also a project which was aligned with the learning in Business Strategy, Marketing & Customer and Accounting. This project was to be accomplished as a team so each team got a project to work on. These projects were real-time and during these projects we got a chance to work on real-time business problems. My team’s project was about building a strategy to commercialise a product. We had to recommend customer segment, minimum viable product and path to market. At the end of the project we had to present our solution to our stakeholders and professors and following that we had to submit a report. I must say that it could have never been accomplished without the help and guidance from industry specialists Professor Matt English, Professor Rob Feeney, Professor Buzz Palmer and Professor Piper Frangos. Additionally we had to select a single topic that we learnt during that project and write a reflective essay as an assignment.
In the second semester we learnt Design Thinking, Business Finance and Economics. Worth mentioning that the professors (Dr John Vaz, Prof He-ling Shi and Dr Gene Bawden correspondingly) are the best in the industry. Yet again, the classes and assignments were integrated in such a way that we got experience on how to solve a problem using design thinking techniques and keeping it viable economically and financially. It is about how realistic your solution is and how the farm is impacted with financials, how cash flow gets effected, what is social impact and many more to list.
Furthermore, during second semester we got an opportunity to learn about different techniques and frameworks in new product development. This was leaded by Professor Peter FitzGerald and we got a great perspective of what framework different industry uses to build their new product, evaluate what are the advantages or disadvantages of using those framework in those contexts, what they have done well and what could have been executed better. We also got a real-time project where we had to apply the learning.
Leadership is a subject which has been emphasised throughout the whole course of the Monash MBA. Different leadership modules have been designed as overarching learning goals as the course advances. I like the way it starts at the basic by learning about discovering and analysing myself and then analysing my team. Additionally, what the strengths and weaknesses of my team are and how to build a plan to mitigate the threats as we progress through the semesters as a team. Then we learnt how to manage and influence performance, the circle of motivation, how to handle difficult conversations, leadership triangle, mindfulness and many more concepts. Yet again worth mentioning here that Professor Anne Lytle and Dr Martijn Van Der Kamp has been awesome in teaching us Leadership in the most creative way.
Another attractive feature of Monash MBA is the Career Advancement Program (CAP). Again, like Leadership, this unit is designed throughout the duration of the course. These are very well designed sessions helping us building and enhancing our skills and abilities to perform above and beyond. Professor Jonathan Matheny and Briony Stocker are simply great and has been innovative in putting together the learning goals. Building cultural competence, mock assessment centre, improving narratives, presence and presentation skills, group discussions, preparing for case interviews etc. has been main learning over last the year.
Lastly, it is not complete without mentioning the amount of effort that the administration staffs put in to organise our classes, food, maintaining online learning portal, schedule and communications is just massive. Their effort in enabling and facilitating us just to concentrate on learning from behind the scene is remarkable.
At the conclusion, I would like to accentuate on how brilliantly the Monash MBA program is designed. The learning I am getting from this course is treasure for my lifetime. I am sure that I will be using these concepts, techniques and tools throughout the rest of my life whether be it professional or personal. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all my professors, cohort and the administration staffs for their effort in enabling me learning these great skills!
Animesh Kar is an IT consultant who has a Masters in Computer Science and is currently studying an MBA at Monash University. This article was re-published with permission and can be originally found on LinkedIn.