My MBA does not help me.
Words by Francis Kahihu (the author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)
The story of a recent MBA graduate. Six months ago, I graduated with an MBA from one of the leading local universities. It was all excitement as family and friends congregated to celebrate my feat and wish me well in my future endeavors. It had been a great race characterized by both high and low moments. At certain points in the journey, thoughts of quitting had visited my mind and I was considering either deferring my studies or calling it quits. I however got the encouragement from within and without to push on and have now been rewarded.
But the reward seems to have been short lived. Since I submitted my MBA certificate to my employer, I have been experiencing an upsurge of higher level tasks being thrown my way. My immediate supervisor tells me that since I am now qualified as an MBA, I should be in a position to help with most of the tasks other staff are unable to resolve. I feel overwhelmed and wonder why I am unable to undertake tasks that my superiors think I can manage.
Over the last couple of weeks, my mind has clarified and now realizes the cause of my concerns. I am truly half baked. As much as I went through the MBA program, I am not sure I got more than just the certificate from the university. Tell me, how could you expect me to claim that I went through a learning process when we had over 200 students in one MBA class? I never had a one to one chat with the lecturer due to the pressure that the class size exerted on both the students and the lecturers.
The university seemed to have put more emphasis on the teaching and very little on the expected learning. Lecturers expected that by dictating notes in front of the class and telling ‘Akuku Danger’ stories, somehow, learning should have been happening that would have transformed us from amateurs to blue chip executives. That objective may not have been achieved. I remember my lecturers more for the stories and the assignments they gave us and rarely for any substantive issues they helped us resolve.
When I think about the engagements I had with my colleagues in class, I feel like it was a hit and run relationship. I remember with nostalgia the relationships I had with college mates when I was undertaking my bachelors degree and wonder how come I don’t have similar memories of my MBA class mates. The few times I had engagements with them was when we were working on the ‘harambee’ assignments. Each person worked on a section of the assignment and only met to compile the final output to the lecturer.
With this level of preparation, I realize that I surely got more of the MBA certificate than the intended learning. Whenever I indicate that I have an MBA, people around me expect more than I can deliver and this tends to affect my image and esteem. Sometimes I wonder whether I should remove all references to the MBA from my CV since I feel I am not up to the task associated with the degree.
I however hope that my brief testimony might be an inspiration to those of you currently undertaking your MBAs to consider more of the expected learning than the final certificate you will get. Congratulations to the 2010 MBA graduands.