What I learnt from my MBA

For a girl who essentially ran away from school for a few years, I’ve really come to enjoy study. During the rather tumultuous few years after my voyage around the world, I did go back and finish school in my own way, but I’ll admit a few shortcuts were taken.

So to patch a few educational holes, I signed myself up for university. In the beginning, I imagined majoring in sociology with a path towards youth work in mind, but I also dabbled in a wide range of subjects (everything from creative writing to foreign affairs) and I found myself drawn to the communications discipline and finished with a major in that.  

Everything I learnt increased my desire to learn more, and despite also tackling a project management diploma during uni holidays, I still wanted to continue once the degree finished. So when the opportunity arose to undertake an MBA (Master of Business Administration) with the Australian Institute of Management, I jumped at it and started within weeks of handing in my last undergraduate assignment.

The volume of reading required was often overwhelming, but as it became habit to always carry a textbook, I found time on planes, trains and boats. Subjects such as finance and law pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me, but at the end of each subject, I was amazed at how much I’d learnt. My fellow students, all with many more years of experience than myself, were also an incredible source of insight.

I absolutely love seeking out advice from and making mentors of those I respect, and there have been a handful of teachers and mentors that have had a huge impact on me. It’s those with practical experience in their domain, and most importantly a clear enjoyment of teaching that I’m most grateful for. These people have taught me something far more important than the course material; they taught me to love learning and to make it a habit for life.

I’ve heard it suggested that broad degrees don’t provide practical job-ready skills, but as a member of a generation that is expected to have multiple careers, I’ve found them to be a wonderful education. I also hope that young people, who like myself didn’t necessarily love school, realise as I have that there are very many different pathways and ways to approach education.

Of course, I recognise I’ve been lucky to have been able to take the time to study so broadly. This was made very clear to me when, as part of my role with the UN’s World Food Programme, I spent time with young Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. I’ve heard many people talk about the importance of education, but I never really understood it until I saw how desperately these young people wanted to study.

Perhaps a few of the most valuable things the MBA has given me is a better understanding of what I don’t yet know, as well as enough knowledge to ask the right questions and the confidence to back myself. However, one thing the MBA did not do was satisfy my desire to learn; I think I’m stuck with that!