You are hereSummarizing my Master's in Business Administration

Summarizing my Master's in Business Administration

By smithdm3 - Posted on 05 December 2010

Wow, it has been nearly six months (I started this post when it was four months, but Christmas seems to have gotten in the way) since I finished up my degree and there are still points in time where I wonder what it is I should be doing for homework. In those four months I have been pretty busy. I've been away for work 3 times for a week at a time, and on vacation twice once for 10 days to Newfoundland and more recently for three weeks to Ecuador.

Doing my MBA at the University of Ottawa was a great experience. And while it was difficult to do both the MBA full-time and work full-time it was made easier by the help of my beautiful wife. Meg did a great amount of work picking up the slack at home, arranging our vacations and generally taking care of me. If it wasn't for her, I couldn't have made it through, and for that I'm extremely thankful.

The education experience was an interesting one. I was in an position, along with some of the other students in my class, where I had done a number of business classes before and so some of the material was made easier due to familiarity. My undergraduate degree was a combination business and engineering program and so I had taken courses in Finance, Accounting, Human Resources, Economics and of course Statistics. I probably slotted somewhere in the top 3rd of student ages as well and so my 10 year career put me at an advantage to some of my peers who had only a couple of years experience, though there were certainly still lots of experiences that my peers had that were a wealth of learning opportunities for me too.

I enjoyed most of my classes, specifically I enjoyed Economics, Finance and Marketing. I took a class in High Tech Entrepreneurship which the teacher said I could have taught, which was nice of her to say, but meant that I didn't really learn a whole lot. It's an area that I've been enchanted with for a long time, from putting together a regular 'new services' venture capital funding newsletter in my first full-time job to helping develop and incubate new businesses at Nortel. There were some challenging and difficult classes that I liked. These typically had professors that didn't let students coast and knew what they wanted. Classes in International Business and Competitive Intelligence along with three classes in Strategy were highlights in that respect.

There were also a couple of classes that I I didn't enjoy so much, a class on Leadership that was taught from a textbook was chief among them. Our Operations Management class glossed over too much material after students the year before said it was too math oriented and not management focused. This was a big mistake in my opinion for all it did was eliminate anything valuable and did a poor job of trying to re-teach classes we'd already taken. There were also some 'soft skill' classes that I felt dragged and numbered too many. While soft skills are important, I think we took four classes in the 12 months that slotted into that area (not even including leadership). Some of these could have been collapsed allowing us to take another elective or core class in international business.

There were also some ways of learning that I found effective and others less-so. I felt that for the most part the group work we did was an effective way of teaching, though, unsurprisingly it did allow time for people to coast - myself included. I can recall at least one assignment that aside being present for two meetings relating to it, I really had zero work to do on it. Case work was a big component of many of the classes, as it is in most business programs these days, and I felt that it allowed neat opportunities to put learnings into practice. Computerized simulations were used in a couple of our classes and they were neat ways to put into practice things such as strategy in a competitive environment. The number one method that didn't work, though fit best into my schedule at times, were intensive electives that were taught in a weekend. I took two classes that way and while they were quick to accomplish I felt that I didn't get the same sort of learning out of them as I would have likely in a longer format.

Speaking of my group, I really felt that I lucked out. Things were a bit rocky at the beginning due to our group including a student who had arrive the day before the program started and then disappeared suddenly midway through the semester. We were doing our best to accomodate this girl, but we sort of felt betrayed that she didn't even let us know that she wouldn't be coming back. We ended up with another group member and she brought new capabilities to our trio, changing the face of group that was largely three guys til that point. We became a very effective team and we experienced very few setbacks along the way.

All in all, I enjoyed the whole program of study, the majority of my instructors and my learning from my classmates experiences. Again, I'm thankful to my wife for being flexible and helping me get through the program, without her help at home it would'nt have been possible.


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