Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Online MBA student on fast track to a brighter future

Kelley Direct Online MBA student Robert Edwards, who works for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, helped his racing team win the pole for this year's Indianapolis 500. True Speed Communication made note of Roberts contributions to Sam Schmidt racing and his personal advance through Kelley Direct in a recent press release:

Double duty: In addition to working as team manager for Alex Tagliani’s No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Rob Edwards is also in the process of earning his Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the prestigious Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He began obtaining his MBA in 2008 while still employed at Walker

Racing. Since then, he’s worked as team manager at FAZZT Racing, which was purchased by Sam Schmidt Motorsports just before the 2011 season. “I think one of the important things, for all of us, is to sort of reinvent ourselves as we go forward through life,” Edwards said. “Racing forces us to keep doing that because every season there are new challenges. I think tackling the MBA is sort of the same view. It’s a chance to reinvent myself, if you like. I did all my schooling in the U.K. (United Kingdom) and so as I’ve been doing the coursework, it’s been a challenge to understand how the education system in America works. It’s been a great chance to meet a very diverse group of people outside of racing. So, it’s all about reinventing yourself and I think you get more experiences and you can then draw into what you do in racing. At the end of the day, running a race team is running a business and hopefully it makes one more effective running a business.”

Obtaining an MBA is challenging for anyone, let alone someone like Edwards who works in racing, which is notorious for its long hours.

“First, I don’t think you can do it without a lot of support from your family, so that’s been the number one thing that’s helped me achieve it. There have been a lot of sacrifices from my wife and my girls. It’s actually provided a good foil. As someone who’s not very good at switching off, I find it actually helps what I’m doing in racing being able to have something to keep my mind working away from the racetrack. And, likewise, doing the school work and the course work and being so intense at the racetrack with what we do, I find that it helps to actually provide focus in both areas. When you’re in Sao Paulo (Brazil) for example and you go back to the hotel at night, it’s a good way to keep your mind active, but in a different manner. I find it helps to keep me focused in both areas.”

See how you can earn an AACSB Accredited Online MBA

Monday, May 9, 2011

Failing Forward

What’s up KD! I hope this blog finds you well. It’s been a while – I have been meaning to get this blog out, but I have been swamped.

This month’s blog is about failure… Well, at least, it’s about how to fail forward. Failing Forward is the title of a book from John Maxwell, whom you know is a favorite author of mine. The book talks about how people view failure incorrectly, which leads to lots of problems. In fact, the premise of the book is that there are 15 steps to failing forward. Since the book is awesome (I highly recommend it!!), I want to focus on the steps Maxwell states we need to take to fail forward.

I don’t know where each of you are in your career’s, but thanks to my experience in the MBA program, I am in the process of making a career change – from Education to Business. And while I know I have the skills and intellect to do well, the process has been an exercise in failing forward. Between the difference in communication between the fields, especially as it has to do with resumes, interviews, and jargon, it has been quite the learning experience. However, as I have continued to move forward with my plans to change careers, I have often reflected on the following 15 steps to fail forward, according to Maxwell.

  1. Realize there is one major difference between average and achieving people.

  2. Learn a new definition of failure.

  3. Remove the “you” from failure.

  4. Take action and reduce your fear.

  5. Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility.

  6. Don’t let the failure from outside get inside you.

  7. Say good-bye to yesterday.

  8. Change yourself, and the world changes.

  9. Get over yourself and start giving yourself.

  10. Find the benefit in every bad experience.

  11. If at first you do succeed, try something harder.

  12. Learn from a bad experience and make a good experience.

  13. Work on the weakness that weakens you.

  14. Understand there’s not much difference between failure and success.

  15. Get up, get over it, get going.

As KD students, either in the program, personal life, or career, you are going to have a time when you feel like you failed at something. For me, it has been various moments during this career change process, among several other things; just reflect on these 15 steps as you think about failing forward. When it comes to failure, as the great philosopher Jay-Z says, “It’s one to the next one…” For me, it has been truly helpful.

As a closing aside, I want to say thanks to Allyn Curry and the Kelley Graduate Career Services office. It has been quite a learning experience working with them so far during this career change process. I can’t imagine how lost I would be without Allyn straightening me out…

Well, KD, I hope that you think of some of these tips the next time you need to fail forward. Until next time, I’ll catch you later!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

In addition to sightseeing around Delhi and Agra (including seeing the Taj Mahal!), we somehow managed to fit in several days of classroom time, company site visits, and even a case presentation. Just like an in-residence week in Bloomington, our days were packed full.

We took class and stayed at the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow in Noida. The campus was quite beautiful, and our Indian professors were exceptional. We also had numerous guest lecturers, who covered a range of topics including rural marketing, supply chain challenges, public private partnerships, cultural differences, and more. In addition, to deepen our learning experience, we spent a day touring two companies, Genpact and Maruti Suzuki, and received a unique inside look at India’s advanced auto manufacturing and service industries. Each day, we walked away from class so excited about what we learned. The opportunity to interact with prominent experts and visit Indian companies was incredible.

While our Indian classroom experience was similar to that of the US in some ways, at the same time, the cultural differences were evident. We quickly realized that actually applying our material on cultural differences was much more difficult than writing a paper on the topic. Our Indian faculty noticed the differences as well. Just as we had to adjust to a new classroom setting and different lecture styles, our professors had to adjust to our way of looking at things and our particular types of questions.

Tea times quickly became an important part of our classroom experience. Unlike the class breaks I was used to in the US, where everyone went their separate way for a few minutes to make a call or check email, in India these breaks were highly interactive. For around 30 minutes, both the professors and students engaged in conversation, using the time to build and strengthen relationships. I found this time to be very refreshing, an acknowledgment to the importance of spending time with one another.

During class, the electricity would cut out from time to time. We expected brownouts but what caught us by surprise was that our Indian professors didn’t miss a beat when the lights went off. They continued to seamlessly lecture (the computer and projector were on a back-up generator). We later joked that if something like this happened in US, half the class-time would be spent rebooting computers and getting everyone back on track. But in our Indian classroom, literally not a second of time was lost. In this, we found a lesson in flexibility and adaptability.

Just like in a US MBA program, case studies are a big part of the India curriculum, and we had to do a case analysis presentation for our final project. We found that the case was written in a different manner than what we were used to, and it took a little time to fully work through the material. In the end, our Indian professors were impressed with our work and really appreciated the fact that we approached the case differently than their Indian students. Although neither approach was superior, it reminded us that because of our culture, we see things differently.

Although we were completely exhausted at times, everything we fit into our days was necessary, as each element added so much depth to our learning experience. For example, our discussions around marketing in rural India wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful if we hadn’t seen some of India for ourselves first. The company visits emphasized that India has advanced and rapidly growing businesses, the tea times highlighted the importance of relationship building, the brownouts reminded us of the things we took for granted and the need to quickly adapt, and interactions with our Indian professors revealed that, through our cultural differences, we had a lot to learn from and teach one another.