Jay Rhind is a full-time MBA student at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business in Vancouver. Jay completed his undergraduate degree from Queen's University in Kingston, majoring in biology, in 2009. His previous work experience includes business development at a startup renewable energy company, as well as corporate finance advisory work in Toronto. At Sauder, Jay is the president of the MBA Finance Club and a member of the MBA hockey team. In his spare time, he teaches scuba diving and enjoys time with his family skiing and fishing. This is his first post in a continuing series.
My name is Jay Rhind, and over the course of the next 16 months I will be sharing my business-school experience, hopefully shedding some light on the realities of going through an MBA program. Throughout the experience, I will attempt to give an unabridged perspective on the value of my MBA experience.
In today's world, it is important for a young professional to stop and think – think about what you are doing personally and professionally and evaluate whether this was really what you signed up for. Are you happy with your career direction and progression? Are you feeling personally motivated and satisfied? These were the initial steps that led me down the path toward getting my MBA. It took some thoughtful advice from a family friend to start this introspective thinking. He said to me:
"Jay, sit down with a pad of paper, a pen and an envelope. Write to future Jay. Write your first letter to future Jay in five years, the next to future Jay in 10 years, and lastly to future Jay in 50 years. Describe where you are personally and professionally. Once you're done, read your letters. Future Jay is likely highly accomplished both personally and professionally. Now find out what is preventing present Jay from becoming future Jay and take action today."
This remains one of the most informative processes I have gone through. The exercise prompted me to buy a copy of Clayton M. Christensen's book How Will You Measure Your Life? The Harvard Business School professor and author's book advocates for taking the right life courses from the "school of experience." The right courses, he argues, are those that satisfy both your personal motivators (what gets you excited) and the so-called "hygiene factors," things connected with a job that may not make an employee feel satisfied but that will make him unhappy if not provided (status, compensation, job security, work conditions). These courses are not a predetermined syllabus, but tailored to an individual's ambitions and future goals.
So how does taking an MBA from Sauder fit in as a course for me in the school of experience?
I can answer that in three ways:
An MBA demands introspection
An MBA program is a rare opportunity in a professional's life, after undergraduate school and before retirement, to step back and ask yourself questions such as: What really motivates me, and how important are the hygiene factors of compensation, job prestige and so on. This introspective process, which begins at the application stage, and continues throughout the program, is one of the primary reasons I am pursuing an MBA.
Sauder is representative of my guiding principles
The Sauder MBA is a small program. There are 110 full-time MBA students in my cohort. This means my exposure to faculty and the bonds I'll build with classmates are, in my opinion, much greater than they would otherwise be in a larger program. Realizing that the value I get from the Sauder program is in direct proportion to the effort I put into it appeals to both my principles of preparation and hard work. Furthermore, the Sauder MBA is steeped in sustainability. There are clubs, courses, career tracks and incubators aimed at social innovation and sustainability. This resonates with my perception of self-worth and desire to some day work for an organization that values corporate social responsibility.
Pairing personal knowledge with skill development
I have two thoughts on this matter, paraphrased from U.S. journalist George Will and Hungarian polymath Michael Polanyi, respectively. First, the future has a way of arriving unannounced. And second, you only truly know something when you can apply it to get results. These realities are what I am targeting through my education at Sauder; taking the introspective lessons I learn paired with the skill set developed and applying them to get results in an ever-changing work environment.
A classic Albert Einstein quote can be applied to how I value an MBA: "Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts." When I reflect on this statement, I appreciate the uncountable benefits of an MBA: the relationships built, the confidence gained, and the introspective time to appreciate my unique skill set. These don't come with a grade, a signing bonus or an employment offer; however, these intangibles count. To me they count a lot.
Jay can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org