Whether it is a one-year or a two-year MBA, the program represents a significant life investment on the part of the student. At a certain level of maturity this investment is not only financial in nature but is riddled with significant life moves including housing and family. The typical MBA student is highly motivated and driven by a sense of purpose. With this in mind the day, the typical working day begins early! The following paragraphs relay briefly my experience as an MBA at Mannheim Business School in Germany 2017-18.
With self-improvement at the heart of the MBA, my typical day for the one-year MBA began at 7:00 in the morning. Most mornings I would go to the gym for light training or a swim, this kept me energetic and buoyant for most of the day.
Classes begin at 9:00 in the morning and the morning session continues till 12:30. The classes are naturally not based on a typical lecture style delivery but are interactive by nature. This meant often speaking and organising my thoughts in between class. Typically, there is a small break every hour, the ‘coffee break’, where people start conversing in small groups. These topics were as diverse as the class itself and in these small moments the true essence of the MBA class and the larger peer-based learnings came alive.
Lunch was from 12:30 to 14:00 usually and MBA students formed small groups and headed to the cafeteria or restaurants. The focus had been much more on interaction and diversity. Since the tone of the program is management, communication, leadership and sustainability beyond the hard topics, my colleagues attempted to interact more interculturally and learn intellectually from one another.
The post lunch session involved us at most points digressing into our assigned teams to discuss a case study or make a presentation/group discussion. These collective ideas were then thrown back into the larger classroom in order to paint a big picture of a given topic. Care was given to allow participation of diverse thoughts and representation and debate of differentiating opinions. The case studies are given usually as post class reading and students are expected to come prepared. A typical MBA subject like ‘Global Corporate Strategy’ could cover up to 10 cases which could mean up to 100 cases during the MBA lifetime.
As we break out of the classes at 5:30 or 6:00, we would fix a small group meeting to go over individual tasks to prepare individually for the next day. If there is a group preparation, then we could end up working in our small team till 7:30 to 8:00. In Germany, I also had a few hours of language classes every week in the evenings. Thankfully, these classes were informal, interactive and lots of fun, so it didn’t feel like work. Beyond the language, it sharpened my cultural sensibilities about the country.
The best part of the MBA is naturally letting your guard down. For me it was unwinding with friends over a chilled glass of German ‘Heller’ beer or a BBQ in the park on a summer day. Coming from India I would enjoy the serenity of a long walk in the parks and green areas on weekends and evenings. Once a week when the schedule is lighter, students work on other aspects of their MBA experience. There were many class trips to esteemed companies like Daimler/BASF/SAP that were integral to the local economy. There had also been several visiting companies to campus and enough events by the career services to keep us on our toes. Time management is key to enjoy the various elements of the MBA and redeem value for personal development.
Late evenings were reserved for good dinners and heartfelt conversations or even a Netflix retreat in the dorm rooms. The experience at large and the day in general was marked and pivoted around the amazing people I had got a chance to spend my year with during my MBA.