MBA Diary #4

Its been a few months since I last reported on my MBA studies. In that time Quarter 2 came and went and then I withdrew from the course.

While I can see value in what the course offered for many of the participants for me it was really a case of not adding value. When I looked at both the actual cost and the time involved it really wasn’t adding up, and as a result was also limiting the time I could invest in my business.

I enjoyed the classes but at the same time felt limited in what else I could fit in – since quarter 2 finished I have read 6 books and have another 6 in my pile still to read.

On the upside it provided me a discipline of working on my business one day a week – a habit I plan to continue.

Quarter 3 is now under way and I wish my team mates well as they continue their studies.

I’m not so strange!

If any of you have read my page about running you may have thought me a little strange with regards to using running as a way to clear my head and think through problems and issues.

As it turns out I’m not so strange!

During one of my MBA papers I read a paper about the use of Reflecting on Experience as a valid way of learning.

The paper outlined that running – being something we do virtually sub consciously – is a great opportunity for the brain to reflect.

During my MBA I started running again and found it a good way to relax but also to resolve in my head many of the ideas that I needed to use for my various assignments.

While there is now some academic research to confirm what I have experienced I am sure many will think I am now more weird!

MBA Diary #4 – Quarter 1 Down

Well that’s it! Typing this up as I wait for my test to finish and then that’s Quarter One Year put to bed – just need to wait for the results.

The first quarter has flown by but been incredibly busy. With only 5 lectures for each paper it is more what you do out of hours that counts.

In general things have gone well and my results surprised me for one of my papers (surprised in a good way that is!)

Everyone in the class is looking forward to a three week break though for most of us it is likely that work will fill any void created.

I’ve already got the text books and course notes for next quarter and while I’m not planning on jumping straight into those I will need to review them at some stage as I [unfortunately] miss my first lectures next quarter as I travel to Budapest of the GRAPHISOFT International Partners Conference.

MBA Diary #3

Time is racing by and the last week is a case in point!

Last Friday at our lecture on Quantitative Methods we had a two-hour test on confidence intervals, hypothesis testing and regression. Then on Saturday we had to hand in our 3,000 word essay for Managing People and Organisations. The essay covered a personal case study using the four frames from Bolman and Deals Reframing Organisations.

However, to really indicate how fast time is flying by, yesterday I received the course outlines for our next two papers:

Operations and Supply Chain Management

Financial Reporting and Control

Within 15 days our first quarter will be wrapped up and we’ll have a brief break before launching straight into quarter two!

MBA Diary #2

Well it’s been 23 days since my first MBA Diary which is a direct indication of how busy it has been!

Having not been at Uni for a number of years I felt it was important to attend a number of courses regarding how to get at all the wonderful resources and it was just as well I did as with the development of the Internet the Library is far from what I remember. The ability to access enormous resources and databases is both amazing and overwhelming.

Following these seminars we had our first ‘real’ block of lectures which went amazingly well. The concept of a 6 hour lecture sounds full-on and to a large extent it is. However, the lectures break up the time well and so far 6 hours has passed incredibly quickly.

Last week was not a ‘lecture week’ but I still managed to visit Uni four times! We have a group Presentation to make this Friday so we have had a number of group sessions to pull that together. It has come together well and this week we are into the final tweaking and rehearsing. While we are looking forward to the presentation it will also be good to ‘knock it off’ so we can concentrate on other aspects of the course as well.

Last week I also attended a monthly MBA breakfast which is a great opportunity to meet others who are at various stages of their MBA. Last weeks breakfast featured Bill Payne an angle investor from the US. The breakfast helped reinforce one of the main reasons for doing the course which was to network.

MBA Diary #1

Many of you will have read in my previous post (and yes that was over a month ago!) that this year I am starting an MBA.

When I first began talking to people about it, reactions varied from “Why?” through to “I knew you would do one some day.” Generally speaking everyone has been very supportive and many are interested to understand how it goes/is going and what it entails.

I therefore decided that from time-to-time I would post an MBA Diary item to keep those interested up to date!

Before I outline my initial few days a few brief points about the MBA I have enrolled in:

Title: NZ Executive MBA

School: Auckland University – Graduate School of Enterprise

Duration: 2 Years

Format: 16 Papers, 2 Papers per Quarter, 4 Quarters per year (funny that!) Each Quarter is 10 weeks with 2x 6 Hour Lectures once a fortnight (Friday/Saturday)

So, Quarter One has just started with a 2-day Orientation and then yesterday (Saturday) our first official lecture.

The Orientation was an extremely enjoyable time and was a great way to meet the class and staff and also to answer all the questions we needed answered!

Thursday morning started with a Powhiri at the Waipapa Marae (the Marae is part of Auckland University.) A Powhiri is a very sacred and traditional ceremony and a great way of bringing everyone together. Following this official welcome we had 90 minutes of “Speed Networking” where we got to find about all 35 members of our class. The afternoon was spent with general admin tasks that while important I won’t outline for risk of boring you!

Friday continued our orientation where we all undertook a personality test! While tests of this nature are pretty much common-place in large corporates this was a new experience for me. There were no great surprises in my results but how different behaviours combine to create our personality was quite fascinating. Dr Giles Burch who over saw this part of the orientation was an extremely funny Registered Psychologist that made the exercise extremely fun but also incredibly informative.

From there we went about sorting out our study groups for the first year and then had a challenging group exercise which was a great litmus test to determine how our team dynamic worked. In short the project involved a 5 minute exercise constructing houses from cardboard. The team that could produce the most houses that met the required criteria would win! While ultimately we didn’t win we did manage to change the game and that saw us produce 5 times more houses in 5 minutes than any previous team to that point.

From there we started the course ‘proper’ with our two papers for Quarter One being:

Managing Organisations and People

Modelling and Analysis for Management

After 3 days most people were quite exhausted but generally still buzzing. We know things will get tougher from here but we feel we are all up for the challenge.

Finally to come back to the question of “Why am I doing an MBA?”, the answer is two-fold.

Firstly, I am a strong believer in continuing education and to date most of my business knowledge has been learned on the job – the MBA presents an opportunity for some formal training and a chance to fill the holes in my knowledge.

Secondly, the chance to meet and work with a diverse team of 35 people who are all working towards a common goal is a great motivator but was also my biggest point of apprehension regarding the course – now having met my class I can rest easy! The 35 people on the class are  a great bunch. We have had many laughs together and the diversity of backgrounds will contribute highly to the overall level of learning. The MBA is not about various lecturers standing up and teaching us various topics, it is a far wider learning experience where we will draw on everyone’s experience to discover different ways of thinking.

To sign off, I am not sure how regularly or not I will keep you updated on the MBA but if you want to keep an eye out you can easily filter my blog items by categories on the side-bar. Alternatively you can bookmark this link.

Preparing for 2010…

What a year – this graphic certainly sums up some of my thoughts about 2009!

A year ago I posted my contribution to Xero’s Survival Guide – it is interesting to reread this in the context of what has happened but more importantly a good to chance to review again as we roll into not only a New Year but a new decade.

From a business point of view 2009 for us has been a year of both Survival and Success. Having a business (Graphisoft NZ) heavily reliant on the NZ Building industry has been tough, sales drops of up to 80% in some areas have been a head ache but have really made us focus on growth in new areas. On the flip side of this we are pleased to say that today our international business (Cadimage Tools) has just past our growth target for 2009 so our strategy of building an export business to reduce our reliance on the NZ Building Industry is finally paying off – and just when we needed it to if I may say so!

A year ago I said I was going to blog more – while technically I have it is mostly a result of having 12 months in 2009 as opposed to the 6 months that my blog existed for in 2008! If you look at my ‘blog habits’ you’ll see I blog quite a lot while travelling and as my travelling reduced so did my blogging. I don’t plan to travel as much in 2010 but I am hopefully going to blog more even so.

I also have another new challenge for 2010 and that is the commencement of an NZ Executive MBA at Auckland University which I was recently accepted for. I am really looking forward to this opportunity and while I know it will be tough I think my business and I will be better for it.

In short I am really looking forward to 2010 we have some big plans – keep an eye on my blog to hear how things go!