Important Life Lessons From An MBA
For many, an MBA is an education in gaining skills needed for career advancement. But for Richard Oxland, a 2018 alumni of IESE, his MBA education at IESE taught him more about personal growth.
“I was lucky enough to spend the 19 months up to May 2018 studying in the full-time MBA program at IESE Business School,” Oxland writes in IESE’s The MBA Blog. “After 400+ case discussions, I should have all the technical tools I need to help lead organizations through a wide range of challenging situations. This is great, and was one of the main attractions of an MBA, but for me it is definitely not the most important learning.”
A New Perspective
For Oxland, one of the greatest lessons he gained at IESE was the concept of “mental models.”
He writes that the concept of mental models relates to the idea that “mine is different from yours, is different from everybody else’s, and it’s a function of your personality, the culture(s) you have grown up in, your knowledge, education and experiences.”
However, for Oxland, this concept was directly relatable to his MBA experience.
“In my MBA team with 8 classmates, there were professionals from marketing, finance, oil & gas, HR and sales (as well as engineering) and we are from Chile, China, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Korea, Saudi Arabia and the UK, with work experience ranging from two years to twelve years. This kind of pattern was repeated across 40+ teams over the 5 sections,” he writes. “The mental models concept perfectly encapsulates how we can learn and grow through respect for diversity and difference.”
Getting Outside The Comfort Zone
Oxland says much of his personal growth throughout his MBA came from getting out of his comfort zone.
“If you ask me now, this is the first principle of personal growth: get outside your comfort zone,” he writes.
Part of getting outside your comfort zone in b-school is setting goals.
“Whatever your insecurities are, work to resolve those head on. You have to make a conscious decision to grow…it’s not just going back to school, it’s seizing the opportunity to set goals and take risks,” Naomi Johnson, an MBA graduate of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, says.
The Focus to Succeed
In order to succeed in an MBA, Oxland says you’ll need to learn how to focus.
“I’ve never been as busy as I was for those first four terms and 16 months. I could have probably filled seven 36 hour days each week,” he writes. “24 hours definitely wasn’t enough for all the classes, case preparation, project work, team meetings, club activities, organizing of treks and seminars, job searching, Spanish lessons, eating, socializing, and sleeping.”
While the MBA is a challenging process, Oxland says getting through it has taught him more about himself than he’s ever imagined.
‘Understanding myself so much more feels like I’m beginning a new chapter of my journey through life, seeing many things in a different light,” he writes. “It helps me both to communicate about myself with confidence and purpose and also to position myself clearly with respect to my career ambitions.”