Starting the Executive MBA

28 October 2019

Executive MBA participant, Asha Combstock, describes how she felt completing her MBA induction and first module back in March.

The fantastic thing about doing an MBA, particularly at an institution such as Warwick Business School (WBS), is the diversity you come across in terms of age, ethnicity, education, work experience and industries, not to mention behaviours, cultures and thoughts! I say this to highlight that my experience is as both an employee of a large business and as a small business owner. I doubt that all of my fellow students felt exactly the same as me, but I can be reasonably sure that they experienced a wide range of emotions over those first few weeks.

The run-up to induction and the First Module

My brain already feels full. I’ve enrolled, sorted out my IT login, familiarised myself with the my.wbs system, completed a couple of the maths practice exercises, downloaded and read my first e-book in preparation for the module and arranged my accommodation. I’ve had plenty of time to prepare and the WBS team have answered all of my many questions. The fees are paid and now all I have left to do is decide what to wear – do Executive MBA students wear suits? (Answer: only if they are expressly told to, the rest of the time, anything from shorts to business wear goes.)

The day before induction

This may be a postgraduate degree, but the feelings are similar to starting a new school or job, excitement and nerves. Am I clever enough? Will I enjoy it? Will I meet at least one person that I can make a connection with and feel like I can have lunch with? (Answer: yes, to all.)

Induction

A whirlwind of faces and names, thankfully we all have nametags. We meet the programme team, complete all the required admin and watch presentations from current and recently graduated students, which were rather uplifting and very useful. A campus tour and a visit to the library with a speedy intro session follows. I was impressed, especially since it was buzzing and very different from the staid old library I visited once at my first university.

In the evening, we are invited to dinner, a great opportunity to get to know the cohort and WBS staff better. Will I ever remember everyone’s names? (Answer: yes and there will be many more occasions where we can relax and eat together.)

I’ve been used to facilitation, workshops including role-play and presenting in my work roles, so the Insights session that the careers team organised to help us understand ourselves and how we could work with our groups productively, was within my comfort zone, as was the session in the ‘Createspace’. Finally, we find out our groups for the first two modules and spend a bit of time developing some strategies for working together. Will we all get on? (Answer: our strategies paid off and the camaraderie of the group lives on.)

The first module

I’m treading water, my mind is racing. The calm of yesterday afternoon’s free time seems a decade ago. I ask myself again, should I even be here? I never even finished my undergraduate degree. Did they make a mistake accepting me? The lecture content is delivered engagingly, the group work ranges from desperately seeking the answers to triumphantly winning a challenge. I feel enthused, exhilarated and exhausted all at once, but ready to take on my first assignment, hoping I will enjoy every module as much. Do others feel the same? (Answer: It’s surprising how many people do share the same feelings.)

The first submission

Here goes, time to find out if WBS did make a mistake. There are those nerves again as I open up the module feedback… I passed! Can I really pull this MBA off? (Answer: four modules down the line, yes, I absolutely can and will.)

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