Welcome Speech: Class of 2014
On August 28, I had the opportunity to welcome the new class and share a few learnings from my MBA journey. It was indeed encouraging to witness their enthusiasm and I wish them the very best in their endeavours. The text of my speech is as follows:
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me take this opportunity to welcome you all to Manchester. I hope you all have settled in well and are enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve had over the past week, excluding the weekend of course.
I’m Akshay Joshi and I am the President of the 2013 MBA Council. I am also joined by my colleagues Huachen Xu, Maanas Varun, Shaurya Aggarwal, Anjali Ray, Zulfiquer Ali Haider and Andrey Vayner.
When I look back upon my MBA journey, I recollect the first day of the programme when I was absolutely enthralled and, to some extent, intimidated by the calibre of individuals that I was introduced to. Since then, each day has proved to be a stimulating experience as I have worked closely with individuals from different walks of life and discovered aspects of my personality that I was virtually oblivious to.
The MBA will involve a significant amount of academic rigour and you will soon realise that your time is just not your own. Juggling between multiple priorities both on the work and the personal front, will allow you the unique opportunity to learn how to make optimal use of your time. Not just that, the Manchester Method, through its Learning by Doing philosophy will let you put theory into practice through the live projects that you will work on in your respective teams.
As you sow, so shall you reap! Your MBA is what you make of it. If I were to reflect upon my career track till date, I started sailing in the merchant navy soon after my A-levels and did my undergraduate degree part time. The MBA is therefore the first time that I am pursuing full time education after my A-levels and clearly my big opportunity to make a transition into mainstream industry. I can assure you that I have left no stone unturned in making the most of it.
Contesting elections for the post of President was in line with this thought process as I never wanted to be a mere recipient but also wanted to work towards making a difference. Of course it’s always about bouquets and brickbats. I do get a fair share of criticism along with some encouraging words from time to time however at the end of the day if you can look back and say that you’ve made a difference that is what is important. The MBA is a continuous improvement process and in the past months we have worked closely with the administration to bring about certain changes to the curriculum and hopefully you will reap the benefits over the coming months.
Things can never be perfect. A few months into the programme, you will find yourself cribbing, which is perfectly understandable as its basic human nature. However let me share with you an incident that happened whilst I was representing MBS at the Graduate Business Conference at Simon Graduate School of Business, Rochester. Soon after one of the best practice sessions where I outlined a few of the initiatives that we explore at Manchester, particularly with regards to enhancing the skills of MBAs, the Chief of Staff at CEIBS came up to me and said, “You have a very rich programme. It seems like we have a long way to go.” This recognition is a testimony to the robustness of the Manchester Method. During our time at MBS, many of us don’t essentially appreciate the value of what we are gaining in terms of the overall MBA experience; however whenever you see yourself complaining about minor issues I would recommend that you instead think about how you can maximise your MBA experience and leverage the resources at your disposal in order to enhance your learning curve.
Another aspect I want to touch upon is Networking – This is one word that is going to be thrown at you right from the word go. While you might feel as clueless as to how you should go about it, believe me it works!! I would break down your network into 3 constituents:
- First, your biggest network is you guys 115 candidates, 26 nationalities – it doesn’t get more diverse than that. Some of you will go with the natural tendency of hanging out with people from your own country or region. Let me tell you, that that is the biggest disservice that you could do to yourself. You’ve come to a truly global program and therefore you must take advantage of this opportunity to learn about different cultures. Additionally you must take this opportunity to interact with members from our class as well.
- Second, do not undermine your network in your respective countries – in today’s increasingly flat world a network transcends all borders.
- Third, you are now in the UK – one of the most dynamic work environments in the world. During the course of the MBA you will get enough and more opportunities to interact with professionals in different industries and functions. As is true with all classes, there will be one group that will explore this opportunity to the fullest, build contacts and learn from their experiences while there will be another lot that will just huddle up together and enjoy the food and drink without benefitting at all from the event. Which group you choose to be in is completely your choice. I was fortunately part of the former and that is what got me my internship with eBay as well.
The relationships that we form during the MBA are relationships for life. If there is one thing that you take away from my talk today then that should ideally be “Building Relationships.” I wish you all the luck as you embark upon this wonderful journey and I look forward to interacting with you over the next few months.