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My decision to join MBA program was informed by my desire to understand what are and how management principles a applicable in a work environment where various resources have to be dealt with and excellence is the only option. This is because, in my view, managers play a crucial role in sustaining the organisations through effective management practices where varied resources have to be employed in order to get the work done.
One of the most fascinating thing about management is the fact that it is the manager who has to ensure that everything in the organisation is going according to the plan set by having the right mix of all that is needed to achieve the objectives, and that most companies continue to subsist in an ever complex and dynamic Socio-econo-politico environment, denotes an increasingly difficult task ahead for these managers.
In my considered view, the business environment existing at the moment is more complex than ever before experienced ( ), and there is therefore a need to change the ways of management and operations in order to meet such challenges, therefore, as a bachelor student of Agricultural Economics, at King Faisal University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I realised though research (reading business magazines and watching the news and through interaction with the 'actors' in the business world), that business management skill are necessary in all areas of the economy, be in management, sciences, medical field or law, and so it cuts across the borders of industries.
This made me to start thinking seriously about upping my skills in the area of business management and in the full knowledge of the fact that by the time I finish my bachelor degree, I will have the skill of Agricultural Economics, but will therefore need to secure higher skills to be proficient in my field.
My ambition for working as a consultant in the public or private sector meant I needed to have management skill for my career and also for imparting to other persons and organisation that I will be working with.
Therefore I decide to seek admissions for Master of Business Administration degree which I had read, and was convinced by a my under-graduate mentor, that is a prized qualification that has continued to gain importance across the globe ( ).
Also, in my view, attaining a master degree was not just an obvious thing but an achievement and therefore, I was determined to secure goods grades at my bachelor level in order to proceed and secure an admission from am prestigious institute of higher learning which was also a greater achievement.
Also, as the jobs market become more and ever competitive, in my view, the employers would seek for higher degrees and in my country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hereafter (KSA), as the government has been the Saudisation process (Business.com 2010), creating opportunities for jobs for the KSA nationals, and reducing the reliance on foreign nationals, the level of internal competition is intense as many a student are sent to different parts of the world to study and are therefore coming back to the KSA with qualifications which employers find quite valuable. For me an MBA would put me in to this category and make me more marketable too.
On joining the course, I know that this was an achievement but also the beginning of a protracted period of intense theoretical and academic commitment that may rival none and with my approach to life summed up in a statement 'When the going gets tough, the tougher get going', I knew, that there will be greater challenges along the way and that I have only two options of dealing with such challenges, first, to work hard and overcome and second, to work hard and overcome too.
Indeed there were obvious challenges like the change in environment and the also, although I had a good grasp of the English language, having studied English in Canada prior to joining the course in the UK, in my view, there is a clear difference between what is studied (in terms of the languages) and what is found at the field, this compounded the challenges, but, I convinced myself that there is a greater calling in finishing the course and every other challenge should be an opportunity to prove my worth.
Another challenge was relating to the perceived change in academic field, since in Business economics, the subject and even approach to learning was totally different from that in MBA, because, the latter, apart from being a higher educational level requiring greater insight and intuition in think and analysis, had totally different concepts and terms which made it quite difficult to comprehend, the former was practical based but on limited levels as an undergraduate level.
I therefore, decided to realise that for overcoming these challenges, which was the only option, I had to have a learning approach, which I must put to use and develop my skills.
The course and my learning philosophy
In my view, choosing a course should be handled with astute care as does manning a large project, since this constitutes a large part of career development and hence a right choice is beneficial and a wrong choice can be utterly regrettable. It is on this premise that when I was seeking a post graduate course, I took several factors in to consideration, and through consultation with the people who I believe were more experienced and with a greater knowledge of the market, I settled on MBA.
As a student at Swansea University, I have therefore found it rather interesting to undertake this course.
MBA course, at my University is in my view, organised in a way that provides the learners with the challenge of creating their prism of learning and therefore developing insight the real world relations by developing a critical insight into the theoretical principles and aligning such with practical knowledge and or observations and creating logical inferences that propels knowledge in such a way that the learner him/herself gains an understanding that is hard to erase.
This is because, the course was organised in a way that include theoretical work where the concepts were explained and, classroom activities including numerous team works where we were often organised into different teams and also, took part in seminars and team building exercise through weekend visits. This was to me a very information approach that in not confided to the classroom but also aimed at developing interpersonal and transferable skills as the manager must have such skills as, planning, time management, group management, negotiating skills and even mobilising skills (Gamoran, Sacada & Marrett 1998).
According to Glasersfeld (1989), a constructivism approach to learning is one that provides an individual with his own prism of viewing the truth, influenced by the individuals perceived objectives and environment. Wertsch, (1997), noted that it is such that recognises that an individual is crucially unique and hence can overcome challenges. Glasersfeld (1989) and Vygotsky (1978), there is a zone of Proximal development where the learners face challenges that are above their current development levels and as they seek or face complex tasks, the gain the confidence to overcome, (Piaget 1950).
Therefore the role of the teachers and instructors is to facilitate learning; which leaves the learner to be active in seeking knowledge and not passive in being given the knowledge (Bransford, Brown & Cocking 2000, Gamoran, Sacada & Marrett 1998).
My view was therefore to gain the knowledge through wider reading and to try and think outside-the-box by seeking to find more by thinking over what has been taught with a view to create much more logical out of it and hence to me lecture notes would serve to create the starting point of what I had to seriously reflect upon.
This, according to Honey, Mumford (2000) is a reflective approach to learning where the learner prefers brainstorming and critical thinking with a view to gaining deeper understanding and in the course of doing this, the learner also searches the sources to create a basis for the deeper thinking. According to Kolb, this approach is one of Assimilating where the individual considers the hard facts that are far beyond the prism of common sense and where the information needs much 'unearthing' in order to create greater knowledge to the individual (Gopee 2007).
For instance, when we learnt the theories of Motivation, like, the Hierarchy of needs theory by Maslow, I did not want to take it obviously, that needs are to be progressively fulfilled then only can an individual work, but also considered such a school of thought from the individual's point of view, because, as an MBA student, I realised that this theory was formulated from the Managers perspective, which in my view could be challenged.
This approach to learning proved very important to me as I managed to gain greater understanding about the concepts of management very fast and can say that my understanding is now far greater about the same than during the first few weeks into the course.
However, I also realised that there is not one single learning approach that I could use in all the situations and so there was need to ensure that as much as I could, I used any necessary approach to seeking knowledge although, the approaches identified here were prevalent.
Also, in the course of my studies, there were other concepts that were generally to difficult to relate with the real life scenarios and these were more of dilemmas than avenues to gaining knowledge, and my understanding of such was could only became clearer much later when an event occurred then there would be greater reflection and hence knowledge about the issues.
On interpersonal skills, which mainly involved dealing with other colleagues during presentation, it was my view to consider everyone in any such teams, as much more knowledgeable than me and this hence provided me with opportunity to ask questions and also to seek to learn from them, not only about their knowledge, but more with regards to the team members approaches to solving problems that my team had to solve. Team working is very important in developing skills (Cooper 2009) and in this working, I came to gain further understanding about my team mates, team dynamics and how to organise ourselves to undertaking certain tasks (Kotter 1996).
When working in a team, mainly during seminars, I developed the attitude to seek-to-find, where I could seek to know, anything that was not clear by asking and one of the things I learnt about working in teams was the importance of having team leadership and roles.
This is because, leadership provides guidance and influence (Cooper 2009), while, roles ensure that all members take part in the team activities and in most cases we would allocate roles equally to each other and hence, there was mainly an open team dynamism which I might attribute to the style of leadership that I have increasingly become to admire: Democratic leadership, where all members take part in decision making (Watson, Gallagher, Armstrong 2005).
Also, in the course of being involved in the teams, I came to realise that my role in a team is that of a Monitor evaluator and a Completer Finisher (Watson, Gallagher, Armstrong 2005), whose main feature involved seeking to find new resources for performing a task and ensuring that the task is thoroughly done. I always have a great sense of satisfaction when our team finishes the tasks in time and also when our presentation goes according to the plan. This to me denotes a greater level of success and as such whenever I would work with my teammates, I would ensure that I am ready for such challenges.
Of course I was not all easy to do some tasks in teams and at times it feels mulch easier to perform such tasks individually, which to me is informed by the fact that management also entails not just working with others but making hard decisions individually (Kotter 1996). But on a positive note, team and seminar presentations area crucial in developing language skills which, may have not been important for my team mates but to me, it was crucial and therefore I was always looking forward to ensuring that I take an active role in seminars in such a way that I would from time to time seek different roles like, to do introduction, to present a rather difficult part, and also to do the conclusion, this in my view was aimed at 'killing two birds with the same stone' as I would fulfil my groups duty and at the same time advance my knowledge in language skills which I view as very crucial for my success.
Evaluation and Conclusion
As I near the completion of my course, one thing is for certain, the decision to settle for a MBA degree was and is still one of the best decisions that I have made in the recent past and although there was a period of struggle in the beginning of the course, this has been eclipsed by a time of great satisfaction largely due to my attitude for the course and my future aspirations but also the commitment which has been shown by my instructors and the course content for the same.
The course has been very valuable in providing me with an rare insight into the business and management world and with skills that basically forms the life's skills, hence feeling ever more confident in facing the challenges of the job market, not only due to the academic knowledge gained by most importantly due to the greater challenge to think far and wide beyond the prisms of ordinary knowledge.
Of course, I have not attained much higher leaves of intuition and critique, neither have I been tested in a work area or a 'shop floor', hence may not overstate a favourable verdict to my style of learning and the 'power' of what I have learnt so far, but I can state with certainness that this course has enable me to be able to evaluate the ways things happen and to draw conclusions.
I still have to develop my presentation stills and planning skills as prescribed for managers who wish to lead by example and to this end I am looking forward to taking the next couple of weeks in to the course and in my private study arrangement to ensure that I have developed a leave of preparedness that would enable me to stroll the job market with confidence.
As I realised, it is never wise to state that all has been achieved, and this is my attitude towards management, as I intend to work as a manager or in the management field, and basing on my past employment experiences, my view is that the test of effective management will simply be tested in the furnace of day to day problems that the manager must confront. However, the class based theoretical learning, provides the individual with the right skills be able to effectively work in any managerial position.
I am therefore, proud of thus far I have come and the course has provided very valuable for me.
As I venture into the job market, therefore, I understand that challenges are every dynamic and that it may not be easy to deal with each of these challenges, but that there is a need to appreciate the teams, the methods and the challenges in order to develop an appropriate strategy to dealing with these problems. As an MBA student, the level of preparedness has been profound and my approach to learning and to pursuing the course has been informing.