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The global business has been growing increasingly in terms of value and volume of transactions across the countries, as well as types of international business and its complexity in order to satisfy the intentions of individuals, firms, and organisations. MBA programme is designed to enable students to gain both knowledge and skills to become successful in a very varied and changing world business environment including social, political, legal, environmental, and technological issues. From this point of view as well as four years of work experience in a supervisory capability, my MBA journey has began at the University of Leeds in September 2011. During one-year programme, the Leeds MBA provides an intense courses and a number of activities that enable me to develop key competencies needed to perform effectively in a cutting edge business environment. Upon the completion of Leeds MBA programme, learning and personal development outcomes that I achieved will prove invaluable to me to become an effective thinking and acting specialist.
2. Key Learning Outcomes
Regarding one-year Leeds MBA experience, my competencies have been improved substantially in terms of personality, knowledge, abilities and skills. However, these competencies could not have been developed without the ways of learning that I have encountered on the Leeds MBA. The Kolb's Learning Cycle (1984) that used the Experiential Learning Theory can be applied to the way of the Leeds MBA learning (Figure 1), since students would learn through their experiences. The Consultancy Challenge, for instance, my group has responsible for developing stock management of a local furniture shop that operates as a social enterprise in South of Leeds. We have to understand the background of the company particular in stock management, identify the problems, find some possible solutions by performing several experimental tests and review the results and impacts of each solution, ultimately, choose the most appropriate solution for them. I believe that my
contributions to learning of Leeds MBA programme could be beneficial to me in any business environment, which can be identified as key learning outcomes that I have achieved.
Figure 1: Kolb's Learning Cycle
2.1 Professional Development
2.1.1 Leadership and Teamwork
It is unavoidable to work as a team in an organisation in order to accomplish the corporate objectives. All team members should differentiate themselves by demonstrating how they are better than others, which is the one of key competencies that used to evaluate leadership prospective. Like Leeds MBA activities, students have been encouraged to participate in various types of teamwork such as Business Planning, Broadroom Challenge and Consultancy Challenge. Also they have been assumed leadership roles in the given companies. For example, being assumed as a Marketing Director of Mark and
Spencer in Broadroom Challenge, I have learned a wide range of ideas and perspectives accompanying with other directors to achieve a common goal by planning team processes and meetings, building trust with Board of Directors and delegating tasks and responsibilities, eventually, demonstrating my leadership and management skills to achieve the optimal outcomes and value to the company. Surprisingly, my group has been selected by Directors of Mark and Spencer to win the second prize of competition among MBA colleagues.
In spite of different nationalities, cultures, regions and gender, all Leeds MBA students have been appreciated to build a comprehensive network that connect to highly experienced academics, specialists, corporate partners and alumni. Networking events such as MBA Open Event, Guest Lecture and Company Visit is one of the most valuable activities that offer a wealth of opportunities for me to meet and discuss with several business leaders and alumni that come from wide-ranging backgrounds about the current business issues. Although my MBA colleagues come from around twenty countries across the world, we could build our community that respect and care about life and pride of each person. I believe that my unique group of people with different backgrounds would create long-lasting friendship as well as business partnership in the future.
2.2.1 Fundamental Business
Like most MBA programmes, Leeds MBA programme has encouraged students to develop a strategic level of the functional areas of business including Business Accounting, Corporate Finance, Managerial Economics, International Business, Marketing Management and Operation and
Information Management. This could enable me to demonstrate my competencies in applying fundamental theory and concepts to actual problems. Moreover, I could able to use this knowledge of different business aspects to recommend solutions to business problems related to global perspectives. For instance, Business Planning, the first group work of the MBA programme, has been conducted in order to create new venture. This piece of works could enable me to deeply understand and develop comprehensive knowledge of the functional business areas to start a new business, and especially benefit me to establish my own business in the fourth-coming years.
2.3 Professional Skills
2.3.1 Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Leeds MBA students have been encouraged to become critical thinkers and problem solvers especially in a big picture understanding, to demonstrate laterally, critically and strategic thinking in analysing the problems and identifying appropriate choices to move the business towards. Business Simulation is one of example to develop my both skills, as I had to think critically and innovatively to make a decision on maximising the profit of the given company within a limit of time to compete with others. This activity could prove my skills since my group has been facing losses at the beginning of competition, however, putting more effort on formulating effective alternatives to the problems could raise my group to be in the top ten companies.
2.3.2 Communication Competency
One of a number of benefits from studying Leeds MBA programme is development of communication competency including listening, writing, speaking, presenting, negotiating, providing practical feedbacks and resolving conflicts in appropriate ways for a widespread of audiences. This skill could
be beneficial both individually and as a part of groups to learn successfully, articulating ideas and discussing topics clearly. Seminars, for example, is a session that encourages students to discuss about the topics related to the learning modules, do the case studies and practice the exercises to gain more understanding. Presentation skill is also another example that could be invaluable outcomes particularly for less work-experienced students in supervisory. I could realise that my presentation skill has been developed from presenting results after analysing the problems and making decisions, since I feel more confident to communicate with others in proper ways and the marks of individual presentation have been improved substantially.
2.3.3 Social Responsibility and Ethical Awareness
Similar to others MBA programmes, Leeds MBA realises that socially responsible and ethical decision-making skills have a profound impact on operating business across the boarders. As a result, Leeds MBA students could be able to identify and analyse social responsible and ethical issues to recommend the course of actions. The session of law for business, for instance, provides the knowledge about Bribery Act 2010 as well as case studies for students to identify and evaluate the important ethical dilemmas and social impacts, and suggest feasible resolutions. This skill could value me to take social responsibility and ethical awareness into more considerations on running the business.
3. Learning Development in the Future
Responding to the rapid change of global business environment, Leeds MBA programme offers the Change Management workshops for students to improve their investigating and diagnostic skills and extend their abilities to manage issues arising from both internal and external changes. Professor always encourages students to participate to the changes in a variety of case studies such as supermarkets and nursing cares, which could improve awareness of students to assist or resist changes and broaden ability in
managing changes. This could bring a number of advantages for me to become more effective in evaluating the changes in the future.
As has already been mentioned, Leeds MBA programme could bring a number of practical business benefits both knowledge and skills to me. Also these skills, in particular, leadership and managerial skills will all prove vital in managing my future career. Being assumed to become a management consultant, for example, I would be responsible for delivering objective advice and expertise to create value and enhance business performance of clients. Leadership and professional skills gaining from Leeds MBA programme could assist me to improve my performance considerably. However, according to the views of others through 360-degree feedback from my peers (Appendix), the result reveals that friendly is my dominant trait (54%), followed by clever (38%) and intelligent (32%) respectively. There are some specific areas that I should improve steadily in order to broaden my business perspectives leading my future career become successful.
3.1 Strategic Perspective
Due to the only three-years work experience and the past assessment of strategic management module, I have realised that my strategic perspective should be developed substantially to improve me in leading and managing successfully at a strategic level and to articulating, executing and critically evaluating decisions. I believe that practicing the case studies across a range of organisations and having work experience in my future career would benefit me to integrating knowledge to make strategic decisions and evaluating the environmental influences of the business decisions.
3.2 Technological competency
In recent decades, technology has been changed and developed drastically in terms of a number of advance programme and its complexity. The ability of using technology can be realised as a competitive advantage comparing to rivals in any business environment. During the dissertation period, I have realised that my technological competency should be developed as several general programme could be facilitated my works, unfortunately, I could not use them. Therefore, I have to improve my technological competency by greatly understanding the use technology system as well as limitations, and using appropriate technology systems.
3.3 Time management
According to one year MBA programme, an intensive course is unavoidable provided for students to study. From my MBA experience, although I could complete my degree within time frame, I have been suffering with several of projects and assignments as well as examinations. I have recognised that time management skills should be developed from what I have learned, to mange my time to be more effective and achieve more objectives both personal affairs and my future career.
Regarding one-year experience at Leeds University Business School, Leeds MBA programme provides the plenty of activities and opportunities that could enable me to gain comprehensive knowledge of functional areas of core business, develop professional behavious and skills in particular leadership, and build business networking across the world from colleagues and classmates to alumni. It also gives me experience to manage my future career for life. These invaluable benefits from competencies development will enable me to become an effective thinking and acting professional; nevertheless, some specific areas should be improved. I have been very appreciated to be a successful part of Leeds MBA 2011/2012 and would like to express my gratitude to all dedicated professors, career mentors, my lovely classmates and my family for their encouragement and support during the entire period of my MBA programme. Finally, my MBA journey has come to the end.