Feb 24 2010
Now it’s February 2010, I have completed two semesters of MBA course in Graduate School of Management in Universiti Putra Malaysia (GSM-UPM) since joining in July 2009.
Recently it dawns upon me that I should reflect on my MBA experience after each semester and write it down. It will be great later in life to look back and relive the wonderful experience I have had in this stage of life. So I would like to record down these experiences in the first semester (July to October 2009) while the memory is still fresh…
It’s been years since I wanted to go back to school. Unlike my friends, I have taken a weird and slow route by taking only 2 subjects per semester, due to my personal reasons for taking MBA. In the first semester, my two subjects were Accounting for Business Decision, and Organizational Behavior.
Though I have had a little background in accounting before, this subject in managerial accounting has been quite a learning experience for me. Under the guidance of our good lecturer Dr Foong, I have been made to see beyond the numbers and look into the rationales behind accounting decisions made by businesses. I was even once challenged and “cornered” by her publicly in class for a decision made to the extent that I felt like losing face. But I’m glad to have gone through this learning process.
The students in accounting class were divided into groups. Due to a little “expert power” in the subject matter, I emerged as natural leader of my group of six members. We had many discussions together for our assignments, completed one class presentation, and had some arguments too.
Thinking back from now, this group in accounting class has been the strongest group I ever joined so far in two semesters. Almost everyone is someone is his or her own way – either as a good leader or team player. Yes, I think we have scored well together, thanks to team members working together
Accounting group members
As for Organizational Behavior (OB), it’s been an eye-opening experience to learn about human behaviors in organizations. But more importantly, it actually helped me to discover myself. I especially liked the self-assessment quizzes in the textbook. These tests had helped me to know my own weaknesses, especially in assertiveness, conflict resolution and negotiation.
All students were also required to stand before class and present on selected topic. Drawing on my past MLM experience and other life experiences, I presented on “Self-Efficacy – If You Think You Can, You Can!”. It was the first time I shared such authentic life story to many people. The sharing has since been one of the presentations I like most so far.
As part of coursework for OB, I also paired up with a classmate to produce a training booklet for managers on negotiation using Sun Tzu’s Art of War. It is completed with two case studies, one from the then crisis in MCA, and another from the US-Malaysia talk for free trade agreement. I have been reading about Sun Tzu for some years, and now so glad to be able to apply the principles learned in a real life topic
Due to time constraints of our initial group leader in OB class, he passed on to me the responsibility to coordinate our group work. We did fairly well in our group project and presentation on “Have You Got A Lady Boss?” I have also learned to use Google Apps to conduct online survey!
MBA is part of my self-development plan. In this first semester, I have learned about being a team leader and a team player. Wherever I have been put to serve, whether as a leader or follower, just play my role to the best and serve lah. Don’t complain!
I have learned before that leadership is a service. A leader is one who serves others. It is not about personal ego and glory. When you have done your job, just get lost and let others take over. I subscribed to the idea of servant leadership. But I have not had the chance to practise until first semester when I could serve in both Accounting and OB groups.
But it had not been all smooth sailing, and I have encountered problems too. The first situation was when two group members had some conflict with each other. As group leader, I had mediated between them too. Though it’s resolved and they are now well as before, I also discovered that I could not handle conflicts very well. It’s been quite lucky to me that the conflict did not escalate to affect the group performance.
In the second situation, one capable group member turned down my request to perfect her work, that I had to get another member to take over her part in the last minute while everyone was busy. To be frank, it hurt me and inconvenienced others. But I found myself having problem confronting team members when they did not go my way. I should also have clarified expectations of what I wanted more clearly. But most importantly, I have been taught to exercise “grace”, be forgiving and not hold grudge against anyone when feeling wronged. (No grudge ever held because later in second semester we teamed up again and she has delivered good job)
Another skill I gained was speed reading (with speed understanding). Previously I was not able to read fast. But in the MBA course, sometimes we are required to absorb a lot of materials in short span of time. At first, I complained about having to read 120 pages in just 4 days in one instance. But now I found myself reading much faster than before. Thanks to MBA
In overall, the first semester has been a good start of a self-discovery journey. I have enjoyed the campus life very much, to the extent that I wish I could stop working and concentrate on studies alone.
I’m satisfied with my performance in the first semester. I was also socially active, and participated in class a lot, especially when compared to second semester later. I’ll write about the more eventful second semester. Stay tuned…
How about the start of your MBA? Did you share any similar experience with me?