Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What am I doing?

I'm about a week and a half from attending Kelley Connect Week. My travel plans are set, and I'm excited to be staying at the beautiful Indiana Memorial Union. It's hard to believe that I'm so close to starting the program. Lately I've been thinking about how I got to this point. I've been thinking about my (shall we call it) pre-MBA journey, so that I can articulate my story to the fantastic people I expect to meet during Kelley Connect.

Why am I pursuing my MBA? What kind of masochistic-traits must I have to put myself through sleepless nights in order to shell out thousands of dollars? What will this do to my family?

Before you begin to think, "This guy is just thinking about this now!?!" Let me assure you that I have spent ample – and I mean AMPLE – time considering these questions and a hundred others. It's just that now that I'm so close to beginning the program the main questions I had during my research arise again. Obviously this is typical for consumers. I will begin the program with questions swirling, then I will move steadily into the cognitive dissonance stage, and ultimately I will once again realize that pursuing my MBA was the best decision I ever made.

Any way... first thing's first. Why am I pursuing my MBA? I'm doing so because I knew that business is ever-changing and not that long ago it was pretty special to have an undergraduate degree. I knew that to keep pace I needed to become more aware... I needed to become more knowledgeable. I also wanted to give myself the challenge. I wanted to see if I could do it.

Being a relatively-new father and a naturally frugal individual, I was always concerned about the financial commitment of the program. I read countless articles espousing the pros and cons of the MBA ROI, and I drove my wife crazy with Excel analysis proving and disproving the ROIs. What got me over the hump is I realized that there's a price for quality. There's all sorts of financial reasons not to complete an MBA, but it really came down to one simple question: Do I think that the MBA will lead me to a better and happier life? And, the answer was a firm YES!

I've always said that "things work for you if you make them work for you." I think an MBA is exactly like that. I know I will make it work for me... and really, that's that.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The First Few Days in Germany

This week, I, along with four other Kelley Direct students have had the opportunity to travel to Heilbronn, Germany to study at the German Graduate School of Management and Law. The goal for this week is to learn about what makes the small to mid-sized enterprises in Germany (referred to as Mittelstand companies) market-leaders in their niche markets. They play a vital role in Germany’s economy, and we have been learning many ways to transfer their successes to businesses back home.

The five of us from Kelley Direct are pleased to be joined by a wonderful group of fellow MBA students from around the world. This includes several students from Leeds University in England, and two students earning their MBA at our host school. In addition to residents of the United States, England, and Germany, there are students here from India, Taiwan, China, Japan, and Switzerland. This past Sunday evening, the day before class started, we had the pleasure of meeting many of our fellow classmates and instructors over beer and typical German food in a restaurant attached to our academic building. This proved to be an excellent opportunity to get to know each other, and begin the week with a sense of camaraderie.

Each day we have had the opportunity to learn about doing business in Germany from some of the most qualified professors in Germany on the subject, in addition to hearing from executives of the companies described in our textbook. We have visited three different corporations of varying sizes, and along with a tour, were able to hear directly from their management about how to succeed in the business world while operating within both Europe and the global marketplace. In addition to these excursions, each night we have been taken out to dinner by the director of this summer program, Prof. Markus Vodosek, to many different local eateries. They have included biergartens, wineries, and even a dinner on the grounds of a castle. Every day has been filled with informative lectures, in-person visits to companies, and more food than any one person should eat. While I’ve enjoyed the past week, I look forward to the next few days, which is scheduled to include a winery tour and a cultural visit to the city of Stuttgart.