Classmates: They make life easy and fun!

“It is not a sprint, it is a marathon.” We were told this on the very first day of the ESMT MBA program. I do not like to compare the MBA program, or for that matter, any educational program, to any sort of race or competition. However, I agree in this case. Like a marathon, it is long, exhausting, fun, and finishes soon. However, there is more to it. There is no competition in this one; everyone is on the same team, and that makes it special.

By now, you would have guessed what I will be talking about in this blog post: yes, you are right — my class! I came to ESMT for its unique approach towards MBA training through excellent facilities, top-notch professors, modern curriculum, and various networking opportunities, which are the essence of business and management studies. However, I believe the learning experience is enhanced further with diversity; ESMT is truly international. With 67 classmates representing 34 nationalities, I am learning as much from my classmates as I am from my professors.

ESMT Full-time MBA class of 2018

So where do I begin? There are so many amazing things that have happened in the past five months that I fall short of words and time to describe everything. Nevertheless, let me start with the studies so that we can go through the fun part later and end this on an eventful note!

Not everybody comes with the same knowledge and experience so it becomes utterly important to collaborate to excel. For instance, I am not good at finance but I managed to sail through because of the support from my study group and classmates. Similarly, when someone lacks the required skills, a fellow classmate may help. As I said in the beginning, there is no competition; and even if there is any, it is healthy. We all know we are in this together and together we will succeed.

Getting too serious? Okay then let’s move to the fun part, because that’s what we do when it gets too intense in terms of assignments and projects. Now that we have spring (although some would like to call it summer, given the temperatures) the ESMT gardens serve as a football ground. We have a lot of football frenzy people in the class so who would stay back indoors after a full day of class! (Me, yes, I don’t play the game but my love for it is eternal!) Or maybe ping pong!

But what rules here at ESMT is kicker! Being a school based in Berlin , “the party city”,  it is no wonder! And once the game is on, it is the best thing ever. And, trust me, we have quite a few terrific players in the class. Don’t believe me? Well, two of my classmates were the champions of the MBA Tournament (MBAT) held at HEC Paris in May. So yeah, we do rule the kicker scene among business schools!

MBAT Auction

Speaking of MBAT,  ESMT was the smallest contingent at the tournament but did win a lot of hearts. Apart from kicker, we took third place in poker and two wins in swimming! Here as well, the school and the class supported the team. There was even an auction held to raise funds — everything from martial art to Bollywood dancing session was up for grabs. Kudos to the MBAT team who made us proud!

A few of my classmates also participated in the yearly finance competition held at SDA Bocconi. Others are working on some cool and innovative ideas and are planning to represent the school at various events. With so much enthusiasm around, as a student and fellow classmate I feel inspired.

Hotpot with classmates

As a class we do a lot of things, but I would commit a big mistake if I don’t mention the most important part: food! Really, what’s life without delicious food? We live by that mantra. Until now, we have had so many cuisines, sometimes in small groups and sometimes almost 30 to 40 of us showing up at the restaurant. Again, kudos to my fellow classmates who like to share not only their professional experience but also culture through culinary heritage. From Italian to Chinese and a Brazilian barbecue coming up just before we go on our summer break, we have enjoyed it or will enjoy it all!

Well these are just some glimpses of life at ESMT made easy and fun by the cohort! I will leave this for now, but will come back soon to describe more of my time here in Berlin!

I changed my mind about my MBA school

There was pin-drop silence for a moment and then everybody was on their feet, clapping and cheering. He had delivered his last one! The claps did not stop until he himself stood on the chair and thanked his audience for their support. More claps followed. I said to myself, “How humble! Appreciating others for his hard work!”

It wasn’t a normal performance though. It wasn’t delivered by an actor from one of Berlin’s many theaters. Rather it was our last class for Managerial Analysis and Decision Making (MAD) with Professor Francis. He was no less of an artist. He showed the same conviction in the class as artists showcase in their performances. He practiced what he taught, too. He even shared an instance from his personal life where he applied what he was teaching. Above all, he was all about the fun of learning. Never did I imagine that this so-called intense MBA would bring me so much joy.

What made the experience special was that this was one of the early classes of the MBA 2018 program. It made it evident that what was going to follow would be good. And that did happen. Generally, all of the classes I have had until now have been good learning opportunities. I had never imagined that a quantitative methods class could be taught simply and without involving a lot of numbers. And I dare not miss the unique, elementary-school-like experience of learning financial accounting.

I must elaborate on this! Having just two accountants as students and another 3 to 4 students with similar work experience out of a diverse class of 67, the professor had to teach accounting basics. How did he do it? He got us handouts for every topic and went through each of them like one would do in a school! Today, if you give me any financial statement I can explain it with ease. If anyone would have asked me to do so a month ago, all I would have said is “Are you kidding?” Maybe all the B-schools have this pattern or maybe not, who can tell. All I can say is that, as a student, I can vouch for ESMT.

Another standing ovation to the professor, Financial Accounting class, MBA 2018

With such an intense curriculum, there have been several occasions when I was not prepared for the class or was not very interested. But I never missed a class. I was always sure I would learn something new or have some new experience every day. Did I mention that we toasted to our successful completion of marketing classes and the beginning of spring break with some Irish whiskey, courtesy of our Irish professor?

Marketing Management class, MBA 2018

It is not just about learning but about celebrating this year. Three months have already gone by. I hope that the rest of the year passes by slowly because I want to enjoy every moment of this adventure to the fullest.

Prof. Francis said in one of the classes, “Deciding is to give yourself a true chance to change your mind.” Yes, I did change my mind last year and decided to come to ESMT Berlin. Do I need to say it was one of the best decisions I ever made?

Making sense out of nothing – What would I do if this was the last day of my life?

After a long time, I felt that I did not have anything to do and when I do not have anything to do, I write. However, when  I realized that when I write without any purpose it made more sense than anything that I wrote when I was in my senses. In order to continue with this tradition, I decided I should write something and only thing that came to my mind is the question what would I do if I knew this was the last day of my life? A philosophical question that one can think about, only when a substance crosses the blood brain barrier (if you don’t understand this blood brain barrier, I am sorry; I did my biochemistry 101 in my Masters so I should throw this in some way to ensure that you don’t understand).

 

So I prepared a list of things that I would do
1. Talk to all my friends and tell them how much I care for them
2. Spend as much time with my family and let them know they are my priority
3. Call everyone I hurt in every small way and tell them that I was really messed up
4. Meet everyone who helped me in a small way and thank them
5. Give hope to a few people that have lost hope
And the list goes on…..

 

When I finished this list I looked back and thought what could be the list of things that someone wants to do (hoping they would live an infinite amount of time)
1. It could be to climb the corporate ladder and be known as the exemplary leader (Can’t help this, if you go to a B-School, you can never finish an article without mentioning about leadership)
2. Earn so much money that one literally could sink on it and not care about anyone else (they have another name for it profit maximization- by the way it’s not after all a complicated things let the Excel solver do it for you)
3. Network and build contacts that one think will get them to the next stage of their career (this is the most essential skill you need to have or so I was informed)
4. Build a dream house that one think will be the sanctuary that can never be destroyed (Who can blame this lofty dream?)
5. Buy anything and everything that provides satisfaction for mortal cravings (This is what you learn in Marketing 101, create and satisfy consumer demand)
6. More than anything else, believing that the entire world revolves around oneself (I guess this has to do with the entire I-GENERATION)

 

Now I looked at both the lists and compared (this is called structured problem solving in B-school lingo) and found that none of the priorities one sets thinking that will live forever matches the priorities one could set assuming that could be the last day. It showed me that maybe we go too fast in our pursuits that we lose focus on the purpose. It is the purpose that needs to define an individual rather than the pursuits. Besides, it is the people that count in your journey not the things, but we get engrossed in the things that we forget the people who made the difference. I guess someone before me by the name of Abraham Lincoln said it better so I will borrow his words, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years”…. I guess my boredom has come to an end and so has my creativity… Carpe Diem

JBF