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Middle phase of EMBA is hard Add to ...

Sandy (Sandra) Dias is doing a Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA. She has more than 10 years of sales experience and has spent the past six years working for L’Oréal Canada. She is both a national key account manager and a district manager for Quebec and Ontario boutiques for the luxury brand, Kiehl’s Since 1851.

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When I was told Module 3 would be difficult by a member of the previous year’s cohort, I assumed it would be the classes, perhaps the amount of work or challenging professors.

It did not worry me as I had successfully manoeuvred through Module 1 and 2, which were similarly described to me.

What I did not consider was the looming physical exhaustion that was gaining speed, the professional workload deadlines that were looming, and that the left-over adrenaline from the summer Kellogg weeks was spent. Additionally, our week with international students (where we hosted their chosen global elective) was around the corner and I and three other peers had committed to helping organize the week’s events.

It was this bizarre “middle” module, where class time was reduced, but workload wasn’t; it was the beginning of Q3 at work (budgets being built for 2012, new-hire season, closing of the year looming, new product-launch season, trade-show season, vacations coming to an end); and where most of us feel the pressure of that “last push” at work.

But this “ho-hum” module managed to highlight some important sentiments. After coming back from a bonding experience at Kellogg, after sitting in with our Executive Services Director, and while planning the international week with some of my peers, I concluded my success after the program would be as much my responsibility as it would be Kellogg-Schulich’s.

The Kellogg-Schulich name has value, and when you start the program you innately have a “what’s in it for me” approach to the degree. That mindset stays with you for a while because you’re challenged by new peers, new classes, and new experiences. By Module 3, your love affair is over, the rose-coloured glasses come off and the impact of the program on your day-to-day life begins to weigh on you.

The lack of sleep alone is enough to make you ask the question, “Why did I do this again?” That question is quickly followed by, “What happens next?” or the statement, “Time is money.”

I noticed it was around this time peers more openly challenged the professors, the program, the program directors, and the overall value of the Kellogg-Schulich EMBA.

But something else happened, as well.

Conversations about how to improve the program, recruit high-calibre students, increase visibility of the program within and outside York University were more and more frequent. We understood the long-term value of the program was dependent on the future success of the program, and, in turn, the Alumni’s responsibility toward it.

And it was during this time we began planning events surrounding our International Week, and realized that, though the week was well-organized scholastically, there was room for improvement in terms of networking opportunities and activities to showcase our school and cohort.

In response, many pitched in to ensure the event’s success, which was later validated by the consistent feedback from the visiting students. Beyond that week, we had begun to make a special effort to stay connected, forge deeper relationships and rely on one another for support and solid career advice during this third module. Again highlighting the importance of remaining invested in the future success of the program.

For a small group of 25 (the program can accommodate about 35), KS10 (our cohort name) is considered very vocal, determined and committed by the administration. Personally, I am delighted with comments like that; they prove our commitment to the program and its future value. My peers and future fellow alumni have become true ambassadors over this third module … And, like true ambassadors, most of the class is off to Hong Kong for our global elective next month, so stay tuned!

Special to The Globe and Mail

 
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