As the countdown concluded and we welcomed the beginning of 2018, I found myself reluctant to make the same old resolutions I make every year and never stick to for more than a few months; eat more vegetables, drink less alcohol, be able to run 5 km without stopping and make more time for friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, these are all noble pursuits but this year, instead of looking forward, I found myself reflecting back on 2017 and considering just how far I’ve come.
I was sad to see all the negative comments on social media of people saying how awful their year was and that they hoped for a better 2018. In many ways my year was far from perfect, there were difficult challenges, disappointments and frustrations, but I will always look back at 2017 with pride and fondness because of the life changing experiences I had on the MBA.
At the beginning of the year I met a gentleman from the part time cohort a year ahead of us and the first question I asked him was, “has it been worth it?” He was almost evangelical in his response, he described how the MBA changed him, it made him more resilient, confident and knowledgeable, giving him a better 360 degree understanding of business processes, but the biggest change was how he saw himself, how he collaborated with others and how his thinking changed when it came to problem solving. I am now in the same position he was, and I have to say I couldn’t agree with him more. When sitting in individual lectures or completing individual assignments you don’t always see the value. Perhaps you are tired, stressed, fighting with your group or don’t see the point of writing yet another reflective essay, but when viewed collectively, it’s unbelievable how much growth and learning you can squeeze in to just one year.
I’ve learned so much about leadership, ethics, strategy, finance, marketing, HR, consultancy, research methodologies and project management as well as having travelled to Uzbekistan to learn about doing business in a vastly different cultural setting. I’ve been made aware of my strengths and weaknesses, I’ve learnt to engage in constructive conflict and allow others to own their ideas. I worked with the most extraordinary, diverse group of people who I feel privileged to call my colleagues. It has been amazing, emotional, exhausting but undoubtedly, the most exciting year of my life.
I love telling people that I am doing an MBA at Westminster Business School, I’m proud to be part of the programme, but one day, over coffee, someone told me that it’s a waste of money and all you need to do is read The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman and I nearly did a spit-take. While I’m sure the book is great and interesting, there is nothing you can read in a book that could ever replace the practical experience of doing an MBA and that’s the life changing part.
Perhaps if you are among those people who believe that 2017 was awful, take some time to list all the things you’ve experienced, achieved, overcome and learnt during the year. You may find that 2017 wasn’t as terrible as you first thought and because of that 2018 might be even better. I know I still have a lot to do to complete my MBA and I’m honestly dreading the day I finish, but whatever happens I know it will continue to be a wild ride and I’m going to enjoy every second. Happy new year everyone!
Thank you to Janine for writing this wonderful and personal reflection of 2017. Find out more about the Westminster MBA program.
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