The onset of the GFC and the mass job losses that have occurred since in many industries provided the perfect catalyst for many professionals to seek a wider range of skills. For Brisbane communications professional Davina McCormick an MBA provided the perfect platform to enhance her skills and provide a greater level of value for her employer in a tightening employment market. With the GFC quickly becoming a faded memory and an MBA under her belt, Davina is now ready to turn from defence to offence. MBA News Australia asked her about her MBA experience.
Why did you do an MBA?
I was working in financial services when the Global Financial Crisis started. While my job was safe it really made me take stock. I wanted a new challenge so I decided to start my MBA to update my knowledge and refresh my skills.
What was the most surprising aspect of your MBA?
The confidence it gives you to tackle big, complex business problems that in the past would have seemed overwhelming. It shifts your thinking, you combine what you already know with fresh perspectives and new insights –you look at things from a more holistic viewpoint.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of you MBA?
The people you meet during your MBA come from such diverse industries and backgrounds. We were encouraged to contribute our own experiences to robust classroom discussions – it made learning more interesting and fun. That’s why I think attending an accredited university that requires some work experience is so important. If I had started straight from undergraduate studies, I would not have had the same deep learning experience. Although working and studying at the same time is challenging, it gives you the advantage of immediately applying what you’re learning at work.
What was the most frustrating aspect of your MBA?
When you’re busy getting to classes can be tricky but the university’s six week intense subject format suited me. When I had to travel for work, I was able to take a teaching period off without it setting me back a whole semester.
Did it fulfil all your expectations in terms of what you wanted to get out of it?
While the MBA does give you business tools and frameworks, with a good MBA you end up with so much more. I was even lucky enough to travel overseas twice during my MBA.
I was part of QUT’s first team to compete at the world’s largest MBA case competition in Montreal. It is truly surprising what can teams can successfully achieve in a three hour timeframe – all you have learnt in the MBA is put to the test in solving real business problems. Australian schools (UTS and QUT) took out the top 2 spots out of 36 schools from around the globe– a testament to the standard of education you can get in Australia.
This year, I also travelled to South Africa as QUT’s Global AMBAssador to the Association of MBAs (AMBA). I had the opportunity to work on building a global alumni network and to listen to inspirational speakers from leading organisations like CNN and NASA.
How did you find the learning environment?
I wanted to network and hear about my peers’ experiences and QUT’s new MBA centre is really geared towards that – particularly the open space where people mingle and chat before class. No one ever has all the answers so it’s good to have a network you can tap into to discuss ideas and challenges.
Do you think it has enhanced your career prospects?
Definitely. I took on a new role in a new industry within a few months of starting my MBA. It’s really opened up more opportunities for me about where I can take my career.