In early 2016 I made a very important choice for my life, I decided to go back to university and pursue an MBA degree. I’d been out of school quite a bit longer than most of my future peers, 12 years, and would not only be leaving a position in which I was comfortable, but a company that had a great culture and work life balance. In essence, there was nothing about my current position that was overly negative or really pushing me towards higher education, instead I was two things; curiosity about topics that I had only a cursory understanding, and not feeling challenged in my current role.
I realized on reflection that I had not felt truly challenged in a long time. By truly challenged I do not mean in the sense of not having enough minutes in the day to accomplish everything in your to-do list, this is a pressure everyone feels, instead the kind of challenge that stretches your skills and abilities in a way that forces you to grow. This was partially my own fault for having pursued and moved up the ladder in a field that did not turn out to be one in which I felt challenged. Marketing and specifically Community Management has always come easily to me and I looked around the corporate landscape within the UK in early 2016 and realized I didn’t have anywhere else to go, or grow.
With this revelation in mind I spoke with my manager and the top team at my employer and laid the groundwork for my prolonged exit from the business. It was prolonged due to me seeking to provide ample notice for the team to find my replacement, and for me to finish delivering the projects I had been working upon. I have a core value of always wanting to leave a place in better shape than how I found it and can honestly say that I did so when I left for university.
The search for a good MBA school can be complex, frustrating, and overwhelming at times, especially if you have been out of school for a while. I spent many late nights preparing for the GMAT (more on this later), researching schools, and making long term strategic plans on where would be the best Launchpad for refocusing my career. For me, identifying a school that not only reflected my core values, but had a strong emphasis on technology and innovation was a must.
The GMAT proved to be a hurdle, as it does for all who decide upon an MBA. It had been a very long time since I took a standardized test and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect and how my test taking abilities would be after so long. I attempted to study solo for over a month, reading books and only resources and not feeling as though I was making any progress until I attended an evening event at Oxford University where they recommended the Economist’s GMAT preparation software. I cannot emphasize enough how helpful this software was, as not only did it remind me of topics I had forgotten years ago, but also gave me structure to my studying.
GMAT, transcripts, and paperwork in hand I began applying in a methodical approach. I applied to over a dozen schools and was accepted by all but two. Bolstered with confidence from this good fortune and keen to progress, I ended up choosing Imperial College Business School in London. It checked all of the boxes for me, clear identify, strong technology and innovation background, located in a major city, small cohort size, and personable approach through the process.
Now I sit six months later and halfway through completing my MBA. It has been an intriguing journey that has stretched my capabilities, and provided me a platform to not only achieve, but to excel. I have been able to satiate my unending curiosity through a series of additive sessions and lectures along with spending time meeting and building bridges with students from other programs and parts of the university. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the foremost minds in their fields and humbly learn from them. In essence it has been an amazing experience thus far and I can honestly say that I made the correct decision 12 months ago.