• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 10:28pm
MBA Education

Taking an MBA to better know thyself

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 2:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 July, 2014, 3:07pm

It is May and some of you have already received an acceptance letter, or letters, from your desired MBA programmes.

Congratulations! You have made it, you can now sit back and watch the NBA Finals and Roland Garros before testing your endurance again for another year, or years, of chaos and very late nights, if not overnighters (ha ha … like you haven’t had enough studying for GMAT or Chinese MBA entrance exams already), and facing potential humiliation and some head-scratching.

(About the humiliation and head-scratching part – Well, imagine being tongue-tied in front of some 50 “CEO-and-entrepreneur-want-to-bes” who have battled through the ranks in their respective fields in one way or another, and who are ready to attack-attack-attack every inkling of lack of confidence that you might show in your delivery. Don’t get me wrong, they are really nice people, but they are also dead serious. Oh, and by the way, full-timers, if you do badly and lose the presentation or debate, you lose an “A”, which means you will have a lower GPA, which in turn means goodbye to some bulge-bracket banks and PE or VC firms. It’s not the end of the world, but you get the picture.).

With all these negatives, you have to be a little insane to want to put yourself through all that. For me, my inspiration to do it, like many others who were just as insane, was to create new ties and make good friends with up-and-coming business leaders, catch up a little on the business academic side (I was a biochemist-chemist by training; and yes, we had to understand how to make explosives, and well, at the time, me and my buddies thought that was pretty cool), and get an advanced degree to pave the way for upward career progression (there’s no guarantee nowadays, of course, but it wouldn’t hurt. “所謂輸人唔輸陣 - not to be outdone by any means”). Drawing on the experience, I can say that the MBA has fulfilled these inspirations. But lately, I realise that the experience gave me much more than just the above; it actually made me face myself and accept what I am good at and what I am not good at.

Sure, you already have to know who you are and what you desire or want to achieve when you decided to apply to MBA programmes; but do you know whether you have the attributes to do all those things that you would like to try? Some, of course, do know their attributes and capacities very well; but many of us will sometimes think too highly of ourselves because we have achieved certain milestones in our careers and in the community. We might think that “we could do a lot more”, if not, “we can do anything”. But there is no platform for us to test ourselves in new environments, such as switching from middle to front office roles or understanding what personal traits would allow us to blossom in running a TV station or start-up. But this is what I found an MBA can help you do – know yourself better. Because a good MBA programme can attract and balance participants from different communities, it enables you to hear from these people, first-hand, about their everyday challenges in different roles. It also lets you observe the personal traits and communication styles needed to get good results in say, a project co-ordinator position. In essence, it gives you that platform to benchmark yourself and really understand if a road or movement is right for you, or perhaps, what you need to learn or become accustomed to in order to prepare yourself for the challenges in the path you seek.

And hey, you never know. Perhaps this platform will show you traits you never thought you had and open your mind to new doors and other undiscovered countries!


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