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.
<Note – I had written this post soon after Brathay and had posted it on my personal Blog; however now that I have access to MBS Blogs, thought I’d post it here as well. Enjoy!!>
It’s been merely two months since I came to Manchester but it seems as though I have been here since forever. Maybe it’s just me and my ability to adapt quickly to a new place or if I was to be honest, I’d say it’s just the city – Manchester has certainly grown on me. After the hustle and bustle of New Delhi, living in Manchester is definitely a wonderful experience as it offers the joys of living in a small town while enjoying the vibrancy of city life.
Enough of raving about Manchester – it does fall short in comparison to the Lake District and I’m sure a lot many of my colleagues could vouch for that. That brings me to Brathay, which is clearly among the most memorable experiences of my life. I remember the moment as our bus pulled into the parking lot at Brathay and we stepped out only to be enthralled by the scenic beauty – lush green fields stretching right onto a lake adorned with swans. This divine place was to be our home for the next 3 days.
There was obviously a lot more to Brathay than the beauty alone. It actually played a pivotal role in transforming our rather fragmented class into a cohesive unit. The numerous photo albums that have flowed since our return are a testimony to the fun times that we shared and are a precursor to the several memories that we will create during the course of our MBA.
I returned from Brathay with a never to be forgotten memory, one when I was – “Naturally close to Nature.”
Instantly my thoughts take me to this extremely dark and wet night when I walked back from our team classroom to my nice and warm room after an exhausting strategy formulation session with the members of my group. Having tucked in a nice meal followed by a couple of pints, hitting the bed was the sole thought that came to my mind at that juncture. Obviously I was quick to change into nightclothes and head towards the bed. I can tell the story is getting monotonous and you’re most certainly about to move on (assuming you haven’t already).
Well, hold your horses for a bit, without any further ado, I shall introduce the twist to the seemingly nice and simple story. Just as I was heading to bed, I realized that I had run out of drinking water. That’s when I decided to step outside and quickly grab some water. I stepped outside the door only to realize that I left the key behind. The wretched self lock caused the door to snap behind me, leaving me marooned in a pair of rather skimpy shorts and a shoddy t-shirt.
Fortunately I was sharing the room with a colleague who hadn’t returned as of yet. I thought that it would be as simple as calling him up and asking him to let me in using his key. But alas, my mobile phone was also left inside as I stepped out of that door. Seemingly at a loss of options, I decided to shed my inhibitions about the rather inappropriate attire and venture out to the common room in an attempt to seek someone who could help. As luck would have it, virtually 30 percent of the class was sitting in the common room and I received a warm welcome partly because of my rather exclusive attire. Fortunately one of the guys had my roommate’s number and I heaved a sigh of relief. However, with luck definitely not by my side, the cellular network played spoilt sport and I couldn’t reach out to him.
While I received several generous offers from colleagues to share their rooms, I was inclined to go back to the warmth of my bed and therefore I decided to look for my roommate. I donned a raincoat (which had generously been left by someone) and rather foolishly headed out to look for him. I must add, it was freezing and the rain made it worse however my determination to find him took the better of me and I scaled virtually every inhabitable nook and corner of Brathay. Clearly I did not find him as I did miss out on that one place where he was busy strategising with the members of his group.
By now I was flustered and shivering with the sole option of waiting till he arrives. Fortunately, my neighbour was passing by and invited me in. I attached a note on the door for my roommate and piled on in the adjoining room. Approximately an hour later, my roommate returned and I finally got my much deserved sleep.
Though embarrassing for me, the incident was popular the following morning as quite a few people laughed at my expense over breakfast.
I leave you with three valuable pieces of advice
- Post your MBA, once you start minting money and decide to build a nice house/ apartment, please ensure you avoid using a self lock. Having had bad experiences at more than a couple of occasions, I can safely render this advice.
- Always maintain an up to date telephone directory/ contact list. You never know when someone might come in handy (though it didn’t work in this case, in normal circumstances it will definitely come to your rescue).
- Always wear decent night clothes! You never know when an emergency might pop up.