“The students are very diverse; my cohort had students from over 20 nationalities.
What industry and job were you working in before you did your degree?
Industry: Supply chain sustainabilityJob: Director of a non-profit implementing projects in the garment, electronics and automotive, and diamond jewellery sectors.
Why did you choose to complete your MBA at Birmingham Business School?
- I had always wanted to study in the U.K. and had been considering it for over 15 years, since completing my first degree in India.
- I respected that the University of Birmingham had a long history and a good overall good reputation.
- The University provided me with some scholarship support, which was very helpful to me as an international student who self-funded my MBA.
- A family member who had completed her Master’s degree in another programme had good things to say about the University of Birmingham.
- Birmingham is the UK’s second-largest city and was very accessible for someone coming from another country; it had all the amenities I could want.
- I learned that the MBA programme recruits students with previous work experience and was pleased about the opportunity to study with experienced colleagues.
- As someone coming from India, I felt very at home because of the large Indian community in Birmingham.
What is the best thing about the course?
- The students are very diverse; my cohort had students from over 20 nationalities.
- The MBA programme offers very hands-on consulting experience that allows us to interact with and receive feedback from experienced consulting professionals. The practical consulting projects and the trip to Budapest to expose us to international work environments were invaluable. I truly believe this element of the MBA programme is under-promoted!
- I also enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with students from different programmes and take advantage of opportunities in other departments. For example, I attended a speaker series in the psychology department about psychology in business. It’s valuable to have so many resources at a large university.
What do you enjoy most about the University?
The campus offers a lot of opportunities for personal reflection. It is very old and has a long tradition of academic thinking attached to it. There’s green space and common areas – it’s not a concrete jungle. There are spaces for quiet contemplation. I loved just sitting under a tree sometimes to take a half hour and think. The MBA programme also supported a lot of social activities and networking opportunities. We had a social committee budget for group activities, which I know some other Universities lacked. We did sporting events, wine-tasting, Christmas dinners, and go-karting. We even have a BBQ networking event planned where we will be inviting MBA students from another university. Support from the programme helped make this possible.
How have you grown as a person by coming to the University of Birmingham?
I’ve become more reflective in my work and much more systematic in my thought processes.
Even though I’ve worked internationally, I’ve never had 20 nationalities in the same group. That was a challenge – switching from one culture to another. There were times we had enormous friction and problems communicating. I thought I knew how to work with a lot of other cultures, and I learned the world is much more diverse than I thought it was.
Doing an MBA can neutralize the power dynamics that people might have previously had in their own roles; here, you are no longer a Director, you are on the same level as your colleagues. Being at the top of a hierarchy can be addictive or give you a false feeling that everything you do is correct. It’s good to have this challenged and become more reflective about it. I have increased my capacity to hear criticism, to hear things in a different way, and to think in an alternative way.
The age gap in the cohort also helped me develop my ability to appreciate different people and ideas. In the work place, young people’s ideas may not be regarded as highly, but here, we are all on an equal level. I learned a lot from my younger colleagues.
What do you think of the learning experience within the university?
- I value the knowledge I gained about consultancy work, both in the theoretical courses and in the practical projects. I plan to pursue a career in consulting so this is very relevant to me.
- Also, having completed an MBA connects me to the community of other MBA graduates. I share a language with others who have completed an MBA. People welcome you into a type of fraternity.
- The knowledge and technical skills I have gained along with becoming part of the wider community of MBA graduates will help me with my future career.
In what way has the degree programme challenged you and how did you overcome this?
Tuition is expensive, and so is the cost of living in the U.K. Careful budgeting is important.
Good time management is also crucial. The programme schedule is packed. This may be new for people from countries where time management is not a core focus. It can be a challenge to adjust to a place where appointments are very strict. It took me some time to adjust to this. The work visa situation is difficult. If you want to work in the UK after the MBA programme, it is very challenging to get permission to stay.
What advice would you give to new students on your degree programme?
Buy international accident/health insurance before you come. It will likely be cheaper to buy it before you arrive in the U.K. Apply for the international driving license before you arrive. Get a financial calculator, if you can. Buying them in the U.K. can be expensive and you can’t do the finance exam without a financial calculator. You probably don’t need to buy all the academic text books. Check the library to see what you really need to buy and what you can borrow.
For more details about Rishi’s personal experience doing an MBA at the University of Birmingham, please see his article on Linked In:
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