Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Everyone Woke Up Today

Induction period over, first day of actual classes, and work suddenly became serious. 2 hours of accounting, followed by 4 hours of probability during QUantative Methods. I have some accounting reading for Thursday's class, Quant problems for Wednesday, and the first groupwork assignment for Quant as well. Plenty of time left, right? Well yes, except that I had a networking event this evening till 8:30 (which meant I got home by 9:30), tomorrow have a careers workshop all day (with a CV session tossed in for good measure), drinks with one of Arati's cousins on Wednesday evening, and group meetings on Thursday and Friday for coursework review and the Quant project. Which basically means tomorrow I'll need to finish up the QM work and reading before leaving Cass, finish up the Accounting prep on Wednesday before drinks (and maybe after?), then see how it goes from there. Oh, and sign up for a few more personal development workshops before they're filled up. Fun fun? I think today people really came to appreciate the high-intensity nature of the session.

So, I haven't posted thus far about how life at Cass is going, since I've been busy trying to adjust to being back in the academic grind again. The last two weeks have basically flown past, and I'm only now catching up on all the stuff we've done. In terms of course content, the Induction was basically meant as a way for us to get introduced to the concepts and expectations of the MBA, get our minds thinking along new lines, and become familliar with the facilities and opportunities that Cass offers. More importantly however, it was a chance for all of us to get to know each other, and become comfortable in our groups. The batch is an amazing group of people; 30 nationalities, and a wide variety of backgrounds and ages. For example, my group has one person each from England, Wales, Canada, Russia, the US, Lebanon, Italy, and India (c'est moi).

One of the most enjoyable parts of the course so far has definately been the Portsmouth weekend. We went down to the Naval Base there, and engaged in two days of intense leadership and teambuilding activities. We were broken down into different groups, and learnt a lot about each other during the process. On a personal note, I found that our group really evolved during the entire process, progressing from strong individual tendancies during the initial stages, to really working well and cohesively as a team in the later stages. If you haven't done such exercies yourself, you may have a tendancy to scoff at them, but if you go through it with an open mind and a good group, you can get a huge amount out of it.

The highlight of the weekend - by far- was the DRIU, the Damage Repair Instructional Unit. This basically represents a ship's room, which is damaged and taking on water. You have to work together as a team to repair the damage and stop the water flow. Except that the water is about 18 degrees, around 5.5 feet deep, and the room is constantly swaying; one moment the water level is around your knees, the next you're pressed up against the ceiling trying to catch your breath while trying to control large pieces of wood, wedges, hammers, and flailing bodies. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Within the last couple of weeks, I've really come to appreciate my decision to come to Cass. Part of the reason for this is that we had to examine our reasons for doing an MBA, and especially a Cass MBA as part of our Introduction to Strategy lecture. I think that the focus on exploring and developing an individual's entire skill set, the emphasis on learning by doing rather than mostly theory, and the large component that groupwork plays in grades forces you to adapt and learn quickly how to excel in team environments. Then again, it'll be interesting to see how enthusiastic I am about the high intensity workload in a couple of weeks.

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