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The eminent philosopher Sir Francis Bacon (n.d.) has well phrased the quotation that 'For Knowledge Itself Is Power'. This has been and will remain one of my favorite quotes that has helped me to draw valuable inspiration. At this important juncture of life, when I have completed my higher education that is graduation and have successfully bagged an extremely challenging professional degree like Chartered Accountancy, and at the same time a blurred vision of my future has started taking a proper form and shape before my eyes like a distant dream, this wise saying has left a deeper impact on my life than before.
Knowledge and proper professional training from an accredited institution are essential for succeeding in today's highly competitive world. The best option that I thought will suit my profile as well as potential and will assist me to climb high in my career was by pursuing MBA, in an environment that encourages creativity, flexibility and motivation and moulds the personality of the aspirants with all those qualities that provides them with the ability to handle all difficulties with utmost ease. It was the most ideal alternative available to me for gaining the required expertise and skills. I was confident that the facilities in the institute would provide me with an environment where I will be able to bring out the best in me. I was well aware of the pressures of studying in the more competitive environment and was certain that I am competent and have the right attitude to succeed at the B-school.
The report is primarily categorized into three sections - Pre MBA, Kent MBA and Post MBA. It also demonstrates the managerial and leadership qualities required to work in a Global Environment.
SECTION 1: PRE MBA
Chapter 1.1: Reflection on Academic Background
This part of the report will mainly concentrate on those days of my life, when I was not very sure of my educational and career aspirations. I completed my High School in the year 2005 as a Commerce Student and had been left with few options to choose from as far the subjects for graduation are concerned, namely - Economics, Business Studies and Accounts and Finance.
I chose Honors in Accounts and Finance as my graduation specialization in one of the colleges under University of Calcutta. The decision was completely based on my interest and inclination towards the subjects and my persistent dream of becoming a successful Chartered Accountant. The main modules that I covered during my mainstream Graduation course and during my professional Chartered Accountancy course were Accounts, Finance, Indian Taxation, Indian Corporate Law, Economics, Business Studies and Management Information Systems.
Since my High School Days, I had an inclination and special liking towards Accounts and Finance which made my decision easier. So I decided to take up this subject for attaining my professional goals in the future course of time. I graduated in the year 2008 with specialization in these subjects and pursued them further by completing Chartered Accountancy course in 2010. These two courses has helped me to get a deeper understanding of the Indian Economy at large, the Accounting Structure followed world wide, Corporate Financing System used by the organization globally and also provided me with an resourceful insight on the Indian Corporate Law and Tax Laws. Apart from these above mentioned core subjects, the curriculum of my studies also covered the basics of Business Studies, which provided me with useful insights of the basic business principles, which we need to follow in order to run the business activities of an organization efficiently and also about Management Information System, which showed applications of Computer System in today's Corporate World.
I also got the opportunity to hone my leadership and management skills by virtue of being the House Captain, School Prefect, etc. These experiences have made me strive for excellence and helped me push myself to higher levels of achievement. The best part was I enjoyed my engagement in such activities, though it was quite demanding to be able to strike a balance between an intensive study course and excelling in such activities. All this was mainly achievable because I enjoyed the hectic life, which has helped prepare me to take any amount of pressure in my stride.
When I started the Undergraduate course, I was lucky enough to get a job in the accounts department of SAV Group of Companies, and consequently, there began a new chapter of my life of being employed. By engaging myself in these two things simultaneously I got the golden opportunity of learning the theoretical aspects and applying them in the practical life at the same time.
Chapter 1.2: Highlights of Professional Achievements
I have been associated with the SAV Group of Companies for almost a decade since my joining in 2005, as an Accountant. SAV Group of Companies is a Private company of India which mainly operates in Iron and steel processing sector.
My job role and responsibilities, as mentioned in Appendix I, were perfectly syncing with the academic curriculum in the Graduation as well as Chartered Accountancy course. I have always considered practical application of the theoretical aspects of learning to be extremely important for getting a better understanding and thus consider myself fortunate enough to have the opportunity of being associated with such a big and recognized organization during my learning stage.
My work place has provided me with the ample opportunity to exhibit my latent aptitudes through my job role. During my service period I also got the recognition as the "Youngest employee to be designated as a Senior Manager". My job responsibilities have evolved a lot from the time I joined the firm till date from simply meeting set performance standards to raising them in quality as well, from following and implementing formats to creatively leading the way which in turn has also assisted in my personal development.
Chapter 1.3: Discernment behind doing an MBA from Foreign University
After serving for more than 6 years in that organization, I started to feel that I am not being able to contribute meaningfully towards the growth of the organization and thereby I am not being able channelize my potential on the right path that will help in my personal development as well as the growth of the whole organization. Therefore I thought this to be the best time to take a year off to pursue MBA, which will give me a gamut of skills and competencies so as to prepare me for the next level in the corporate world.
A dynamic change in the work culture and environment is noticeable at the present time which has transcended the border of any national territory. World is been conceptualized as a Global Village and all the esteemed Corporate Organizations follow the principle of Unity in Diversity, whereby they are ready to employ human resources from different cultural backgrounds to come together provided they have the required skill and contribute meaningfully for the development of the organization. This was the main driving force that propelled my decision for doing MBA from a university outside India, where I will get opportunity to work in a diversified environment with some of the best brains of the world in form of faculty members as well as fellow classmates. I could not have had a better cross cultural exposure than this, where I got to the opportunity to face a modern and scientific learning styles, their take on leadership qualities and how do they apply their theoretical learning in practical life.
SECTION 2: KENT MBA EXPERIENCE
Chapter 2.1: A New Journey - Walking through Initial Days of Kent MBA
It's been just a year, when I first came to Canterbury from London Stratford International station. Before joining the institute, I just had in my mind that I am going to attend my classes at the Kent Business School and study hard to keep with my expectations. I didn't realize it was not only about Kent Business School, instead a whole new and challenging world in the form of University of Kent was waiting for me to be ascertained.
As soon as the Unibus took the right turn on to the University Road, the green lush spread across the University Campus amazed me. As I made my way to the Kent Business School with the help of a map and saw thousands of students from different parts of the world, I got apprehensive for a moment thinking of the kind of exposure and competition I would be exposed to in the coming year.
The moment I entered the Symposium Room, the place where we will be spending most of our quality time in the next one year, I felt an adrenalin rush to find students from all across the Globe but the smiling faces that greeted me, made me realize that I am about to set foot on one the most important phase of my life.
The Induction week, as mentioned in Appendix II, had a lot in store ranging from Library tours, acquainting us to University rules and regulations, expectations from the students and also a semi formal Bar-B-Q lunch. I did not take much time to mix up with the batch mates, all thanks to my strong communication skills, which is the most important quality that makes a successful manager.
During this week, we learnt that the curriculum of the course gives stress on reflective thinking, extra ordinary research methodologies, referencing excluding plagiarism, which is taken to be a serious offence. Furthermore, at time our course would wants us to show team spirit and at times leadership skills have to be demonstrated. Both are integral to a manager's job role.
The overall induction weekend was a fascinating experience. After talking to the seniors at the Bar-B-Q lunch, we became certain that it isn't going to be easy. Our ordeal has already started and we have to exhibit our best within stipulated time. I still remember the words of Mr. Rajendra Shirole , "I don't know whether I am Reborn or Re-dead" which is exactly the sensation that I am feeling right now, when I am about to finish my MBA and preparing myself for real corporate world.
Chapter 2.2: Academic Learning over Kent MBA
Kent Business School believes MBA is about grooming and sharpening skills present in an individual, developing leadership, and forming connections to boost our career and they take every possible steps to make it happen by scientifically developing their modules, extra classes on writing skills, leadership skills, communication and negotiation skills, consultancy weeks, Study Tours and last but not least Internship and Business Reports (The Kent MBA 2012).
Our academic calendar initiated with the module on Corporate Environment and the main percepts that were taught to us were simple yet imperative. We were trained on vital factors, which managers are expected to consider while analyzing any industry in general or a company in specific. This was very important to me, as my job role before coming here was correlated with this. Previously, I knew about only the SWOT analysis which is used during merger or acquisition, but now I was enlightened about some other models like Porters Five Forces and PESTLE analysis, which are also scientifically designed analysis tool that will help to provide good insights about the internal and external factors affecting any business house. With the help of this model a detailed statistics about the economic factors affecting any business can be discerned, along with other factors like the regulatory compliances, effects of political situations and affects of technological advancements.
The next module was on Marketing. I was ready to give excess effort and time on this module of the curriculum as my knowledge on marketing is constricted. Marketing has always excited me and I was always amazed by seeing how people get to understand what consumers need, market it in the right way and motivate people to buy their products. All these aspects were taught to us, with special reference to the importance of segmenting, targeting and positioning our brand in front of its prospective and existing clients. We were also given insights about all the factors that motivate most human beings to choose a product. One of the most important facts that we came to know was that marketing starts from the consumers demand. Therefore, first we need to identify the demands of the consumers and thereafter design effective marketing strategies.
John Dewey (2012) has aptly remarked that "Learning never stops - Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself." This quote struck the chords of my heart when I was exposed to the Accounts module. Being a Chartered Accountant, I was curious to know what I will be taught in the Accounts module, as this was my area of expertise. However, soon I realized that Accounting was not about only preparing financial statements, but it involves many more managerial applications as well. We were taught how to analyze and interpret the accounts of a particular company, which in turn will help in taking investment decisions. Additionally, we were also given enlightenment on Management accounting tools, which the management team of the organization uses in order to take important financial decision on behalf of the organization.
Thereafter the module was on Human Resource Management, which has always scared me. I had always considered Human Resource to be of least importance in an organization and was of the view that they are present only for hiring and firing, look after the pay scale and acting as a liaison to the top rank management. This view was mainly developed due to my limited exposure. The module which was supposed to be the most difficult one soon turned out to be one of the most interesting one. In this module, I got useful insights on how Human Resource Management has evolved from Personnel Management and what are the various things they look into, difficulties faced by them in today's Global context specially organization having a Global reach and having employees of diverse cultural background. This module changed my perception on this subject as Human Beings are considered to be the most important resource for an organization. I also came to know to about the main functions of this department like increasing the benefits of the Human Capital by assisting them in the development of their career and coming out with concepts like flexible timings, etc. It taught us leadership and other soft skills which a manager is expected to possess and these will be discussed in details later in the report.
Next in the curriculum was Managing Process and it was all about process management like technique to draw efficient blue print for different process and in what sequence so as to complete the entire work in the minimum possible time. It also dealt with issues like supply chain management which is of prime importance considering how rapidly organization are increasing their stakes over the entire globe and which require managers to run them efficiently. The Just in Time Concept in inventory management has interested me most, which says managers cannot block the fund by stocking more inventory and they cannot shutdown the process because of low inventory.
The next module was on Corporate Finance, which helped me a lot in gaining an in-depth understanding on the application of managerial theories that can be used in making useful calculation which I have learnt in my undergraduate and chartered accountancy courses. The main learning from this module is important from a manager's perspective as it involves portfolio management and 'diversification of risk'. Today when the stock market is extremely volatile and every industry is susceptible to huge proportion of market risk, it is important for the managers to invest funds in different sectors, thereby creating a portfolio of companies. This module went into details of the different types of risk namely financial risk, market risk and business risk that all organization are vulnerable to and how an efficient manager is expected to make wise investment decisions after comparing and analyzing the risks and returns of different portfolio. We also learnt about various market inefficiencies and its implication on the manager's decisions.
International Business was the subsequent module where we were to handle a live case study as part of course on one of the biggest MNC Cummins ESB. At present time the managers are facing extremely complicated issues, as the operations of the organization are spreading in different part of the globe. In this case study we were expected to deal with issues arising out from the outspread of the MNC all over the globe. This module mainly focused on the relationships between mother company and subsidiary branches. It also provides us with insights on the reasons which propel an organization to spread its wings globally and the factors that should be considered by the managers while deciding expanding its operations. We were also provided with useful insight on the different ways of managing global firms and a presentation was also given to Cummins ESB on the issues faced by the company. I found this module to be very important for understanding the trend of organizations going global. The role of the managers in this expanding horizon to address issues like deciding the extent of powers and autonomy to be delegated to subsidiary were also discussed.
The final core module was International Strategy which took the learning's of the International Business to the next level. It was all about framing appropriate strategies once a company has decided to expand globally. This module followed the same pattern as of International business and was based on the live case study of Cummins ESB and providing them with effective solutions on the issues. The job role of a competent manager does not end by deciding whether to expand globally or not, rather his work initiate from this point. They are expected to plan effective strategies which cover every aspects of globalization. There are various factors to be considered when crafting these strategies and this module explained us all about sketching full proof strategies. One of the most important facet of this module is to assist the manager to develop his ability to judge the competitor's performance, and act accordingly. In a perfectly competitive market, where every player is trying their best to outperform or surpass their competitors, every manager has to keep a constant track on the performance of their competitors and which will help them to develop their own unique products or services which will be better than the other. There are different models to measure and analyze the competitor's performances and we have enlightened about all these in this module.
Due to my keen interest in Finance and my inclination towards playing with figures, I chose Corporate Finance and Applied Business Modeling as my elective module.
Under Corporate Finance, we were introduced to an advanced level of financial world which was based on the knowledge of the core module. This time the main learning was around various ways of estimating the worth of a company and factors which the manager should keep in mind while doing the valuation. All managers are expected to pay attention to minor information while taking financial decisions. These information's may or may not be in the form of financial facts and figures, but still it might have an important role to play on the overall valuation of the company. We were also taught about the importance of optimum capital structure and how can it be achieved.
Applied Business Modeling module taught us the use of Microsoft Excel Software to solve complex problems easily. Managers are always running out of time and they have to take quick decisions and are expected present before the higher authorities' data within a fraction of a second. This module helped us to know all about this part of managerial responsibility. We were taught about the tactics that will help us to solve routine problems like project management, budgeting and forecasting, linear programming and making the appropriate use of data to take rational decisions and figure out a balanced conclusion based on the calculations done.
Chapter 2.3: Developing Soft Skills - Essential for a Good Manager
The Kent MBA gave me the opportunity to work in groups consisting of people who have come from different nations, belong to diverse race, of different gender and age. I got the opportunity to work with almost every classmate and this helped me understand their culture and their way of understanding a problem and bringing out a solution. Studying in this type of environment has helped me to imbibe factors and abilities that will assist me in my future years when I will join a MNC.
Soft skills mainly encompass the personality traits, attitudes, habits, and behaviors we display when working with other and which finds expression thorough the leadership qualities displayed by us, well thought out decision making capabilities, conflict resolution, negotiation, communication, creativity and presentation skills (Soft Skills 2008).
One of the best parts of the Kent MBA curriculum is that it is logically designed to facilitate more interaction, class presentations and exhaustive study thorough assignments. It is very important for a manager to possess excellent soft skills in the form of writing, listening and communication and the curriculum of Kent B School encompass all the appropriate ways to develop them. I developed on my communication skills by speaking with my batch mates and by giving presentations on my course works. This has also assisted me in improving the sentence formation technique and now I can speak in English at a stretch without pausing. I learnt to speak in different pitches and at different speeds & volume depending upon the audience to whom I am addressing.
The lectures also helped me in developing my listening skills and now I have developed the ability to grasp long sentences and take down quicker notes of what is being taught, for my further references. Long lectures also developed my active listening skills and retaining the concepts taught.
Apart from these assignments has helped me to improve my writing skills. I have improved on my grammatical mistakes and now I can confidently form better sentences with the help of constant feedbacks from my module conveyors. UELTS seminars have facilitated me in improving my writing style, drafting proper structure and also referencing my work without plagiarism. Studying in Kent has taught the true meaning of deadline. I have improved my time management skills to a great extent as under any circumstances we had to manage our assignments, and routine course works within the set time limit.
One of the most important skills, which I developed after attending classes, was the ability to negotiate. The workshops which are a part of our curriculum taught us how to negotiate with people on the table. It taught us how strongly we can put our view in face of a dispute, how to strongly defend our position and at the same time listen to other side and understand their viewpoint. The main aim behind negotiation is to arrive at a conciliation point that will be beneficial for both sides. We have seen the application of our strong negotiation skill in the International Business Module and in a role play in the Paris - Brussels Trip.
Chapter 2.4: Learning Perspective of MBA
During the last century we have moved from the Industrial Age to the Information Age and now to the Knowledge Age. The ability to obtain, assimilate and apply the precise knowledge effectively will become a key skill in the next century. The ability to use knowledge depends on our enthusiasm to learn and preferred learning styles. Our ability will no longer be judged solely by qualifications gained by us, but will also be assessed by our capacity to adapt and apply it in the future based on the opportunities presented before us (Campaign for Learning n.d.).
Some of the most influential learning styles are discussed here which can be adopted by aspiring managers depending on what interests them, educational experiences and other factors to which they are exposed.
VARK Learning Cycle
All learners are provided with four different learning patterns - Visual, Aural, Read and Kinesthetic, out of which one of them influences them most and that turns out to be the best learning pattern for the individual(Fleming and Mills 1992 cited in Fleming 2011).
My most suitable learning style after taking the test comprising of 16 questions, came out to be multimodal with a preference for VA, i.e. Visual and Aural.
The results are quite satisfying, as I have always been using these learning patterns both in my education as well as professional work. Visual representations help me analyzing graphs, bar diagrams, pie charts, etc. I have figured out that I learn faster when there are pictures, videos and diagrams attached to any documents. Additionally, my good listening skills had always been a savior. Whenever, I used to revise for my exams, I used to retain those topics which I have listened to when discussed within my study group.
Kolb's Learning Cycle
Famous educationist Kolb has identified a four stage learning cycle, which has been influencing Human Resource Development from a long time. The core of the model explains how initial experiences can be transformed into concepts, which can later be actively used to gain new experiences.
Concrete Experience - All individuals are exposed to a new experience, which could be part of planned learning intervention or might be accidental.
Observation and Reflection - The individuals then think about or reflect upon the experience to which he was already exposed.
Formation of abstract concepts and generalizations - Individuals then understand the observations and make a typical model of it that can be further applied into various other situations.
Testing the implications of the concepts in new situations - Individuals apply these theories practically for decision making and problem solving.
Diagram showing Kolb's Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Model
Based on the learning cycle as described above, Kolb came out with four different learning style to which all the aspiring managers can be categorized into -
Divergers-Such people tend to learn by viewing concrete situations from many perspectives and observing them rather than by doing anything practically. They like to analyzing in cooperative groups and brainstorming sessions.
Assimilators-They tend to excel in creating theoretical models by assimilating different observations into one integrated explanation. They are more inclined towards designing projects and experiments.
Convergers - These people learn by practical applications of all the basic constructs and theories. They have an inclination for decision-making and problem solving.
Accommodators -They tend to learn by actively involving in real life situations and solve problems on trial and error basis and like to be dependent on others for theoretical information. They are most comfortable with unstructured experimental learning.
Out of all the above-mentioned learning style, I can classify my learning style to be that of Converger. All through out my educational and professional life, I have believed in learning by practically applying the theories for taking decision and solving disputes. If I have judged myself properly, then I might say that I lack in taking creative decision by viewing concrete situations from different perspective. So, I have been always inclined to learn by practically applying the theories and models.
Honey and Mumford Learning Cycle
On the basis of Kolb's learning cycle, Honey and Mumford designed another Learning Cycle pattern in the year 1989. It states that, there exist four different types of learners based on their preferred style of learning -
Diagram showing learning pattern given by Honey and Mumford
Reflectors tend to learn by observing and analyzing and they need time to think over different concepts. For theorist, learning is most effective in abstract conceptualization stage and prefers to think problems in a step-by-step manner. Pragmatist learns by applying theories into practical work. Last but not least activist learns from new experiences, hands on challenges and role-playing (Honey and Mumford 2000).
As already stated above, I had being following a convergent learning style and thus can be categorized as a Pragmatist. I learn best from trying out the new skills and knowledge that I have gathered in real life situations, which has been clearly reflected in the report of my experience at Consultancy Week and Internship section.
Argyris and Schon: Single and Double Loop Learning
Argyris and Schon (1978) came up with their own model of learning in which they described two forms which a manager generally adapt depending upon the circumstances and the need for learning - Single Loop Learning and Double Loop Learning
Diagram showing Learning Loops by Argyris and Schon
Under Single Loop Learning aspiring managers have a tendency to learn by changing strategies that were not effective in achieving certain governing variables. Under such kind of system, learning is very myopic and may be helpful for short term problem solving, but will not help in the long-term decision-making process. On the other hand, under double loop learning system, managers learning process involve questioning the validity of the governing variables, if required, i.e. if the process does not yield in expected results. This involves re-examining the basic goals, strategies and assumptions that had been made to identify the governing variables (Kirkwood and Price 2006).
Being an active learner, I have always preferred Double Loop Learning, as it helps me to understand the objectives, figure out strategies to solve problems on long-term basis. Though this may take longer time in comparison to the previously mentioned learning methods, still it will eventually turn out to be more effective learning technique as we will not just be involved in changing from one strategy to another, if our goals are not met. Under double loop learning we can question and change the norms of the system itself, rather than just changing the process within the same norm. Thus double loop learning can also be said to be an effective way of making a more informed decision-making.
For all the future managers, learning is not only important to be up-dated with latest developments, but it should also motivate and stimulate them which in turn will ensure cent percent job satisfaction. The corporate world is constantly evolving with new problems arising every day, for which new solutions have to be designed. These methods are going to be indispensable in this process.
As said earlier Kent MBA is not only about imparting theoretical lessons in the forms of lectures and assignments, the faculty members and authorities believe in practical application of the same and thus they have organized this one-week called Consultancy Week.
Chapter 2.5: Practical Application of the Learning so far
Due to the importance given to practical implication of all the theoretical modules by the faculties of Kent Business School, it has also integrated a one week of intense interactive sessions with small companies which come with their current dilemmas and we are expected to provide them with consultancies. This exposes us to various real time issues, which a manager might face in work field. This gives us an exposure to the different existing businesses and the different challenges faced by an entrepreneur. After working closely with the three companies - The Kings Mile Association, Café Du Soleil and Helen Howard Escargots, I found out some of the common issues that are faced by these small scale enterprises. Firstly, they don't want to delegate the work responsibilities and generally wants to take care of everything by themselves. Secondly, even in this modern era they don't give due importance to investing on marketing and are generally unaware of the existing or rising competitions.
The Kings Mile Association -Kings Mile Association being a government association had to face many difficulties. Primary concern being convincing their existing or potential members to invest into the association for their own benefit. We learnt that sometimes common advertising forums help in saving costs and at the same time gives proper exposure, suitable for small entrepreneurs. This largely depends on the communication and interpersonal skills of the manager as it is all about communicating your point to the decision-making authority. Therefore, I got the opportunity to learn about the role of public organization of United Kingdom and their ways of promoting small private businesses and found it to be very different from that in India.
Café Du Soleil - Most of the small enterprises are not aware of their rising competitors and don't understand the benefits of marketing and branding on a large scale. We learnt about the importance of segmenting the potential customers, targeting them through advertising campaigns and then positioning by giving out best deals. It also helped us to understand the importance of e-commerce in today's marketing field and the basic fact that marketing actually starts from the customer's side by determining what exactly they are interested in.
Helen Howard Escargots - A small snail farm, basically run by one person who takes care of every aspect of administration, provided me with an entirely new insight to the problem. It taught me about the difficulties the managers have to face in convincing their superiors about any action, specially in this case when these small entrepreneurs who are so adamant about the fact that their work method is the best that they are not open to suggestions or changes from their traditional method. It helped us in understanding that even today large portions of these small business organizations are unaware of the need of effective marketing strategies in order to gain their market share in the market. It also helped me to understand that different strategies are required when we are dealing with different business-to-business model, in comparison to when we are dealing under business to consumer model.
Three months of Internship at Bank Muscat
Kent Business School's emphasis on practical exposures does not end with the Consultancy Week. Soon the time came, when we all had to choose our internship project and I got my internship with Bank Muscat in their Investment Banking Division, where I knew I could successfully apply all of my theoretical learning and develop my career further.
My main job responsibility was to design an effective way of assessing a company and its industry for valuing it with the aim of bringing out the Initial Public Offering. As far as the assessing part was concerned, I used to apply all the theoretical models, which I had learnt in order to take appropriate decisions, thereby exhibiting my preferred style of learning. Additionally, when I used to do valuation and didn't get the desired result, instead of just changing the valuation method, I preferred figuring the problem in that particular valuation model. This in turn helped me in figuring out the exact valuation of the companies and also demonstrated my preference for double loop learning.
For completing my duty during the internship, I was largely benefited from the core corporate environment module. It helped me to analyze the industry and company while acting as an investment banker for them. The constructs of the elective corporate finance module also assisted me a lot for finding out the values of all the companies using different valuation model to determine the issue price of the company. Moreover, I could clearly see the practical application of what we have learnt in our Human Resource module in the forms of diversity management, flexible working hours and work life balance.
Working as a team member comprising of highly qualified personnel from across the globe under constant pressure and managing time resources were thoroughly imbibed into me from the Kent MBA program. The internship also helped me to use my communication skills that I had developed during my course and also helped me in developing networks with people who are the best in their respective fields.
Integrated Case Study - Business Strategy Game
The best way to summarize every aspects of what we have learnt at Kent MBA was by playing this Business Strategy Game, where we were divided into groups and each group were given a company to run. We had to act as managers and manage the administration of the company by deciding on the locations for expanding, allocating costs, inventory management and all other related aspect. We mainly focused on sales forecasts, advertising campaigns and competitor's strategies. Additionally, we also had to look into financial matter covering interest and exchange rate fluctuations, capital expenditures, capital structures and impact of stock exchanges.
These workshops not only helped us to implement all the theories, but also assisted in demonstrating our learning pattern, leadership qualities and team spirit.
On the basis of mentioned learning style and my practical experiences, I would further like to demonstrate the managerial and leadership qualities required in a manager and also focus on the leadership and managerial aspects, which can be associated with my working style.
Chapter 2.6: Leadership and Managerial Aspects of Me
Leadership is an influence relationship between leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their shared purpose (Rost 1993). It is the process by which a set of goals are decided and people be an individual, a group, an organization or a community are motivated to work towards achieving those visions or set of goals.
Management as defined by Daft (1999) is attainment of organizational goals in an effective and efficient manner through planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling organizational resources.
It is often said that leadership and management is one thing, but leadership is just one of the many qualities which a manager must possess.
Zalenznik (1977) began the trend of contrasting leadership and management by presenting leaders as person who solves problems in his own way, whilst the manager is seen as problem solver dependent on rationality and control. Bennis and Nanus (1985, p21) phrase the concept as that managers "do things right" whilst the leaders "do the right things."
Leadership is part of management: Leadership is one of the components of the functions of the manager. In an organization there has to be both managers as well as leaders.
Difference in Perspectives: Managers tend to do things based on certain theories and proven history, follow company policies, but leaders are expected to be more innovative and do things out of their own intuitions which will be more beneficial for the company. Here lies the main difference between being a manager and a leader.
Loyalty: Subordinates are more loyal towards the leaders because they are ever ready to take the blame if anything goes wrong in his team and they motivate the team members by celebrating even the minor group achievements.
Management knows how it works: Managers are people with a lot of experiences and knowledge. They are experts in their own field and have worked their way up through their experience. Leaders on the other hand can be an inexperienced person who is bold, fresh and have some innovative ideas and can lead the group with the aim of in achieving the company's objectives.
Both the management and leadership are required at organizational, personal and team levels.
There are various leadership styles, which can be explained through some of the models, and then the same can be compared with my leadership style that had been demonstrated over the period of time.
Blake Mouton - Grid Based Theory
It defines the leader's leadership style based on their concern for people and concern for performance. Most leaders fall at the middle of the Blake Mouton grid, i.e. moderate on both human relations as well as results.
Apart from being at the middle, leaders can be at any of the four extreme positions.
Diagram showing Leadership styles given by Blake Mouton
Produce or Perish - Strong on result, weak on human relation
Leaders who get this rating are task oriented and are extremely strict with their workers. There is little or no allowance for cooperation or collaboration between the two. They are very strong on schedules; they expect employees to do what they are told without question or debate; when something goes wrong they tend to focus on who is to blame rather than concentrate on exactly what is wrong and how to prevent it. Sometimes it is difficult for their subordinates to contribute or develop with such extreme leader.
Country Club - Strong on Human Relation, weak on performance
These leaders give incentiveÂ to maintain discipline and also to encourage the team to accomplish its goals. Conversely, they lack in having the more coercive and legitimate powers. This inability results from fear that using such powers could jeopardize relationships with the other team members.
Impoverished - Weak on task as well as weak on people skills
These leaders use a "delegate and disappear" management style. Since they are not committed to either see to the accomplishment of the task or maintenance, they essentially allow their team to do whatever it wishes and prefer to detach them from the team process. Thereby, allowing the team to suffer from a series of power struggles. These genres of leaders try to avoid any circumstances, which may put them in trouble.
Team Leaders - Strong on Human Relation as well as on Tasks
These leaders lead the team by putting forward positive instances and endeavor to foster a team environment whereby all team members can reach their highest potential, both as team members and as individuals. They encourage the team to reach team goals as successfully as possible, while working tirelessly to strengthen the bonds among the various members. They normally form and lead some of the most productive teams.
I have always tried to demonstrate my leadership style by being at the middle of the grid. During my work with SAV Group of companies, I gave equal importance to both the goals of the organization as well as the needs of my team members. However, I have always got influenced by the leadership style demonstrated by the team leaders. Additionally, I had been at the extreme ends of the scale depending upon the varying situations. For e.g.: I have once resorted to country club leadership and gave my team members a lot of flexibility, when we had finished one project and did not had much to do and I also paid attention towards their career development during that phase. On the other occasion, we had a presentation to give on our Managing Process and our team was lacking behind, so I came forward and leaded the group in such a crisis situation by exhibiting authoritarian leadership style.
In the context of the above mentioned behavioral model, Fiedler (1964) came up with a situational model, where he states that no one leadership style can be adopted in all given situations and different leadership styles to be chosen as per the given situation. (Smith 2010)
I personally believe that such kind of model has much more relevance in today's dynamic work environment and managers need to adapt themselves to the changing situations in order to turn out as a good leader. Employees always look for more flexibility in their work environment, which can only be given, if managers follow situational leadership style. My recent leadership exposures also demonstrate the above mentioned situational pattern, which changes with the change in the situation from middle of the road to country club and even authoritarian, if circumstances demands so.
Adair (1973) who came up with Action - Centered Leadership and argued that leaders are expected to balance the need of the task, team and individual is also one of the most well-known leadership patterns (Marketing Alchemist 2010).
Diagram showing Leadership Style given by John Adair
He states that groups have a shared task to do, which is likely to be achieved only if all the team members work together towards the common goal. However, in the process, a good manager should not ignore the contribution of individual members and their individual identities should be given due importance.
Chapter 2.7: International Exposure
As students of Kent University, we had an opportunity to be a part of discussion on how European Union functions while making rules and regulations for governing its member countries. It was one of the best examples of managing diversity. We were engaged in a role play, where every group represented one country and they had to put forward their view on an agenda which states: whether medical insurance should be valid in cross country treatments. We learnt that it is indeed very difficult for the European Union to come to a consensus as every country has its own opinion on this matter.
We learnt about principle rules and regulations for doing business in Europe and how the government is facilitating more business opportunities to open up. It also gave us a better understanding of how European Economy and British Economy are correlated.
One of the highlight of the trip was to visit SchlumbergerEuropean Learning Centre. The main objective was to see, how process management and diversity management help in keeping everything in order.
Kent B-School gave us the opportunity to participate in the seminar conducted by AMBA on BRICS Economics which provided us with an overview of the changing global economic scenario. Being a business student with international exposure, this session was very useful to me. We learnt about the rising powers of the BRICS nation, the risks and rewards of engaging in business and investing in those countries.
Additionally, it provided us with networking opportunities with the faculty and students of some of the best business schools of London who participated in the seminar.
SECTION 3: POST MBA
Chapter 3.1: Understanding Myself
I have realized that understanding ourselves, our skill sets, our strengths and weakness is one of the most complex calculation that we might have to do in our life but I am happy that I got an opportunity understand all of them to get an comprehensive understanding about myself at Kent MBA. I can now map my characteristics with those required to fulfill my career aspirations.
Myers Briggs Type Indicator
This one test taken at Kent MBA helped me in understanding my strengths, potentials and weaknesses and also helped me in choosing broad occupational categories that suits my personality.
The test revealed me being an ESFP (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving), which is one of the 16 personality types identified by Myers Briggs Type Indicator.
ESFPs are generally very practical and resourceful and tend to learn through hands on experience and dislike book learning and theoretical discussions.
Extraversion: I enjoy talking to people and socialize.
Sensing: I focus my attention on the present and do not think about the distant future.
Feeling: I give greater emphasis on personal feeling rather than putting emphasis on logic and data while making decision.
Perceiving: I always keep my options open and I am quite flexible. I can choose some alternative plan of action, if one does not works.
All the characteristics listed above are completely in line with my learning pattern and preferred leadership styles.
In order to achieve success, I need to look upon my weakness as highlighted by this test -
Learn to be alone - Since I like to socialize a lot, staying alone turns out to be a problem.
Learn to Plan in Advance - Always taking hands on practical decision is not good, as sometimes some actions require proper planning.
Learn to stick to one thing - The very nature of liking variety and disliking monotonous things are also not best for our interest. There are certain things where we need to be monotonous in order to achieve high growth.
(The Myers and Briggs Foundations n.d.)
Strength - Weakness - Opportunities - Threats (SWOT Analysis)
Some of the strengths and opportunities that will help me in advancing towards my career objectives, even in the presence of certain weaknesses and threats based on my education, work experience and skills are as follows-
Paying Attention to Details
Working Under Pressure
MBA from UK University (AMBA Accredited)
Intern at Bank Muscat as Investment Banker where I got the opportunity to work in a diverse culture
Worked as a Senior Manager - Finance &Operations in a private company of India.
High Unemployment Rate
Changing Immigration Rules
Non UK National
Table 3.1.1 - SWOT analysis
Chapter 3.2: Career Aspirations and Mapping the Skill Set required
After understanding my skills sets, my strengths and weaknesses, my interests, learning pattern and leadership styles, I have been able to decide on my career path.
I aim to be a part of a Multi-National as a Business Consultant after completing my MBA, working on my overall development and attending excellence at the same time. The one word that is going to be of prime importance in the upcoming days will be 'INNOVATION'.
However in the long term, I aspire to add value to our economy and society and want to make a difference to the environment in which I live. I can contribute to the society even by working at a small position, but my contribution by being a manager and good leader will be much broad based and far reaching. This objective will be easily attainable by being at a strategic position, a position that is influential, like a decision making position of a large company.
The following table shows the mapping of my strengths and weaknesses with the skill sets required to fulfill my long term and short-term goals.
Skill Sets Required
How does it contributes
How can I develop, if required
Practical and Optimistic
Solution to the clients should be practical and optimistic. It cannot be hypothetical in nature.
Already possess such skills
Attention to Details
Even smallest factors may affect the business and its valuation and thus paying attention to details is a primary requirement.
Already possess such skills
A lot of interaction takes place between clients and consultants and thus possessing excellent soft skills is a must.
Already possess such skills
Procrastination and Advance Planning
Consultant cannot take hands on decision. Every process has to be well planned in advance and requires proper management and needs to be finished on time as certain processes can only be initiated once the previous finishes
I need to give more importance on planning my work in advance rather than being acting in an impulsive way. Process management learnt in Managing Process and Applied Business Modeling will help me overcome this.
It is very important that a good manager delegates his work to the people with respective responsibilities, as consultancy requires a lot of work to be done and we should concentrate on our core area
I am trying to overcome this problem, by delegating more work and not remaining accountable for everything and in turn developing my leadership skills. I am trying to trust people based on their knowledge, skills and experience.
Table 3.2.1: Mapping of personal strength and weaknesses with skill sets required for achieving career goals
Chapter 3.3: Conclusion
In conclusion, Kent University's MBA program has benefitted me for the three main reasons -
It has helped me to understand my strengths and weaknesses. I can now take proper rational decisions on what I want to do and what I want to be in the short run and long run.
It has provided me the requisite knowledge which is required to understand and analyze the environment in which we will live and work.
It has taught me all the skills, which will be required to achieve those short term and long-term goals and objectives.
All of these have been inculcated into my characteristic in a subtle way over a span of one year by making me work rigorously under constraints and pressure, facing ambiguity and uncertainty, working in a team, enhancing adaptability and flexibility and by taking decisions under various circumstances, by harmonizing collective efforts and developing soft skills.
The rigorous environment, unrelenting demands have generated a feeling of self-confidence that now I overcome all non-surmounted challenges of life. An education in the management from a renowned place has benefitted me to be a part of network, which will soon be ruling the corporate world all across the globe.
Kent MBA program has given us the opportunity to learn that the corporate world is persistently stormed by 3 tsunamis - globalization, liberalization and technology and the outcome of these constant changes. After studying in an international environment, where the course had been designed to focus on global economy, I can perceive the developing economy of India in a much better way along with the world economy.
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APPENDIX- I: Job Responsibilities while working with SAV Group of Companies
My initial job responsibilities involved preparation of Books of Accounts, helping in Accounts Finalization and knowing about the internal and external regulatory compliance, general reconciliation and control activities. These involved ensuring compliance with internal and external guidelines and also attaining minimal comments in audits and other spot checks/inspections. Facing the External audit and being assessed by Group Audit and thereafter getting a rating of 'Satisfactory' is commendable. This part of my work experience demonstrated my ability to work in a team, as I was a member of team comprising of 6 people in the Accounts Department.
My job responsibility kept increasing as my academic career advanced and with the increase of my experience in the Corporate World. Preparing Project Reports, finding out the best source of capital and efficient utilization of the same became an integral part of my job responsibility. This part demonstrated not only my ability to work as member of team, but in some instances also demonstrated my ability to make decisions and lead the team efficiently in the right direction.
As the time passed by, my job responsibility focused more on qualitative and analytical issues rather than being quantitative in nature. Identifying potential business opportunity, gathering and preparing statistics and subsequently contributing towards the growth of the business by contributing to the revenue generation process has been my core competence. I was also required to locate ways to improve operational efficiency and control costs to meet allocated budget. By continuously streamlining costs and generating implementable ideas to increase the productivity of the individual, our Group's revenue earning capacity increased manifold times. This job demanded for a whole lot of research activities to be undertaken, comparing and analyzing the results before coming down to a particular decision process.
APPENDIX - II: Activities during the Induction Week
The day began, when the classmates introduced themselves to each other and it was conducted by Mr. Rajendra Shirole, the director of the course. He directed the discussion to a much higher level with the help of some of his case studies which was evident of the fact that the level of research and thinking required in Kent MBA is not an ordinary one. Therefore, we need to take our research methodologies and thought process to a more advance level, which I personally had never experienced before in life.
Dr. Fragiskos was present in the next day of the induction week and he explained us everything about plagiarism and how much importance does the university gives to it. He explained us how can we refer our works and at the same time avoid plagiarism. I found this concept very interesting, as this was never practiced in India.
One of the unique experiences in the Induction weekend was A Musical Experiment by Mr. Nathan Timothy, a veteran song writer and composer of United Kingdom. We were divided in a groups each consisting of 4 students and were given newspapers from which each of the member has to pick some lines and form it into a poem or song. Later, all the individual songs of each groups was composed into one song by Mr. Timothy and he put that song on his new charity website which he was launching the very next day. It was our first icebreaking task whereby we all got acquainted to each other. It also made me realize the core principle that MBA is all about working as a team in some instances and leading the team as a leader in other instances. It is all about optimizing the use of people, resources and time available before us.