What it's like working with people from all over the world

24 March 2020

Six months into her Full-time MBA journey, Antigoni Chrysina talks about her experience so far as well as the variety of people she has met during the programme.

I still can’t believe it has already been over six months since I started my MBA journey at Warwick Business School (WBS). I still remember at the beginning of my journey, people telling me how fast the year will go by and what a life-changing experience it would be for me. Well, I must confess that back then I was thinking “I’ve lived in the UK for the last six years, I studied my MSc here, I used to work here for Jaguar Land Rover in quite a multicultural environment, how different could this year really be for me?”

Today, half-way through my MBA journey, I can undoubtedly say that this year IS different and doing the MBA is one of the best decisions I have ever made! It’s not just about the place and the experience that makes this year unique, it’s also the people you meet along the way. For me, this has been one of the greatest highlights of the MBA so far.

Being part of an international cohort, which brings together 119 people from more than 40 different nationalities is the definition of a multicultural environment. In the beginning, it feels a bit odd sitting in a room full of strangers. But you end up spending so much time with these people in class and group meetings – sometimes more than 12 hours per day! You share your thoughts, your goals, your concerns, your feelings, your past-experiences, your pre-exam stress. In the Full-time MBA cohort this year, we have people from North and South America to Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Russia and so many more countries that I have never had the chance to visit! It is really remarkable how many things you can learn in such a short time about all these different cultures, traditions, ethics, values, habits and even cuisines! Every single conversation with each of my classmates is extremely interesting as it feels like you never stop learning something new.

On top of that, the cohort is full of many different professional backgrounds and industries such as consulting, banking, accounting, energy, automotive, healthcare, law, technology just to name a few. This proves the inclusive nature of the MBA where there are no labels - there is room for everyone! I find this extremely important because everyone brings to the class their own diverse personal and professional experience which significantly enriches our conversations and reveals a different perspective and way of thinking. And yes, sometimes this could become quite challenging but rewarding at the same time. It is this day-to-day interaction that makes us appreciate the cultural diversity within WBS and as Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of World Wide Web) said: “we need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges”.

This is indeed an intense year where so many things are going on every single day such as lectures, assignments, exams, career events, seminars, development centres, guest speakers, workshops. Do not forget that it is a demanding MBA after all. But yet again, it’s the people that keep up your motivation even when you feel that you’ve reached your limits! We know we are all in the same boat, fighting to achieve similar goals thus we are all in this together and we help each other. We will stay up together untill late brainstorming or preparing our presentations or studying and working on our assignments. We will go out after a packed day to have a glass of wine and relax or celebrate someone’s birthday. We will go to the gym together to remain fit and healthy to make it through the year and we will go on treks, attend career & networking events and all the sort of activities you get involved in throughout the programme –and gradually you realise that these people have become your friends, your second family!

Personally, I feel that meeting and working with so many different people has changed me. I have become much more open-minded and this has helped me to improve a lot. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone, especially during the LeadershipPlus module where you work hard as part of a team and you constantly challenge yourself, defining the type of leader you want to become. The beauty of it is that you see yourself growing and according to one of my favourite quotes from J.Maxwell “if we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone”.

From day one you are in 'learning mode'. Coming from an engineering background, I found that the core modules we have studied so far, combined with the numerous case studies we have had to read every week have helped me develop my knowledge of core business functions and see the business world from a completely different, more holistic perspective. At the same time, the group and individual assignments allowed me to apply this knowledge in practice, working on real-life business challenges with clients from the industry. It is really rewarding to see your work having a real impact out there!

Now, I am looking forward to the next challenge of the MBA which is the elective modules delivered in an intensive four-day block format. I am so excited and curious for this as the innovative way of teaching will be a completely new experience to me and I am sure that the learning curve will be again very high! The final touch of the MBA will come later this summer with the consultancy project which is one of the main reasons I chose to apply for the Full-time MBA. Carrying out an individual consultancy project with a company of my choice seems not just another great exposure to a real business challenge in the area I am most interested in, but also a great opportunity for networking and testing my suitability for potential future employment with this company.

Overall, the Full-time MBA is a very well-structured and organised course that equips you with all the technical skills you expect from an MBA, but at the same time sharpens your soft skills such as creativity, negotiation, cross-cultural competency, communication and leadership which is equally important to the modern workplace. I couldn’t finish this article without recognising the huge efforts of the WBS CareersPlus and Programmes teams, coordinating 119 people, organising everything for us and always making the time to deal with our own individual needs separately! A big thanks to you guys - we wouldn’t have made it without you. Similarly, a big thank you to all our professors and staff that aside from bringing their expertise in the class, they are also extremely friendly and approachable, and they do actively support us throughout this journey!

As I said in the beginning, “this year IS different and doing the WBS Full-time MBA is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!”

Find out more about the Full-time MBA.