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I basically belong to India from where I received my secondary education, later I went on to pursue my graduation in the commerce field from Cambridge College, Commercial University, Mumbai. I have done my Masters in Marketing Management from the same University. I have had considerable amount of work experience at prominent organizations. I worked as the Sales Advisor for Marks & Spencer's for almost two years and moved on to work at Reebok as the Retail Sales Coordinator for an year. Honestly, I believe,studying abroad for an international MBA degree is a greatlysatisfyingrewarding for someone like me interested in business of Sales and Marketing. Choosing Bangor University was a choice made on the basis of lot of information and research. My educational advisors helped me choose Bangor as a truly international destination for study purposes, which provides an atmosphere conducive for studying and remarkable living place.
As a resourceful, creative and solution-oriented individual I found travelling abroad for my MBA will serve my challenge taking nature. I have been working effectively as a team member with well-known companies and have also acted as team leader as and when opportunity arose. I believe my eight long years of experiencein the field of Sales and Marketing with a brief exposure to working in US in the Macy's apparel department as the Sales Executive. I have also travelled to Melbourne, Australia to work as a freelancer merchandiser. Coming to UK is not rocket science. After been to US and Australia, UK was an obvious choice to continue with my professional qualification. I strongly believe this venture will be a life-changing experience for I will get to learn the European ways of business and will get an opportunity to interact with local people and people from around the world.
Motivation to study in UK is also associated with the reputational factors attached with UK's education system. Most of the countries like US and Australia offer mostly two years rigorous MBA curriculum, whereas UK allowed me with the one year MBA, which was obviously a better choice if I consider my professional experience and life. I could not commit to a two-year program, thus a one-year program was an added advantage for me and one of the strongest reasons to choose UK. While researching about the universities in UK, Bangor University was highly advised by my counsellors back home and I was told it to be one the best educational institutes with a rich history in education.
After coming here, I can say they were quite right. With stimulating lectures and vibrant life I can call it a perfect place to live and study. I view the world with a whole new perspective and my thinking about business and culture has been affected profoundly. I am out of my educational comfort zone and am being continuously challenged every day to develop my views and think in new ways. While earlier also I have been in stimulating environments, studying for a postgraduate qualification in UK is an altogether different endeavour. At Bangor University, I will develop my self-reliance and independence and will leverage on my previous professional experience and will mature academically and brighten my career prospects. MBA at Bangor means enrichment on every level. According to a survey by the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), when asked about personal growth, 98% students agreed thateducation abroad increased their self-confidence and facilitated maturity and 97% students revealed it had a lifelong impact on their world view (The London School of Economics and Political Science/LSE).
I am here to seek friendship on a greater diversity level. Studying MBA will also enable me to build enduring friendships and developing relationships with people from various countries. I will remain in contact with them even after my education here is completed. Bangor University will provide me with academic benefits through excellent courses and lectures, unavailable at my home country. It will enhance the value of my degree by allowing me to study the subjects with more depth. Studying in UK will make me more aware culturally and I will be able to appreciate the differences in different cultures I have been in. I will be able to understand different people in better ways, thus becoming a part of world that is increasingly becoming more diverse.
With this international exposure, I will be able to appraise the different points of view. MBA from Bangor University will definitely be advantageous to my future career as a manager in corporate world. In today's time more and more employers are placing great emphasis on the value of adaptability and flexibility. They also seek people who understand different cultures and can effectively communicate with people. It will prove to be of great help while the employers analyse my compatibility for a job as I will be able to demonstrate such skills to the employers. Interpersonal skills are the single most important attribute that the employers consider and I will gain on this front for having both academic and professional experience abroad.
Undeniably I sought the international education and experience because they exhibit my own capability and confidence to carry on with it. Bangor University provides very challenging experience; academically, culturally, and socially and is naturally going to provide me an edge over others and help me stand out in the crowd. All the faculty members are internationally oriented and the academic quality is rich. Besides these reasons, the cost of tuition fee and cost of living are also important factors considered for choosing Bangor University. The place is rated extremely safe across the UK.
Thus Bangor is my choice for both the teaching reasons and non-teaching reasons, bending towards the quality of faculty and cost of living as the most important reasons. Studying in an international setting at Bangor University with students from around the world will surely provide me with the opportunity to develop my communication skills with individuals from a variety of social and cultural backgrounds. The companies I have previously worked for are multinational companies with offices in various countries of world. This will prepare me for an international work. Considering my past ventures in US and Australia, I possess the experience of dealing with various cultures and this will only foster my value as an individual and an employee.
Q. 2. What is your approach to learning?
An individual's approach to learning is a highly subjective issue due to the differences in the student's experiences of learning and their related ways of learning for the tasks to be covered by them under the prescribed curriculum (Duff, 2004).The most renowned contribution to the approaches to the learning is by Marton and Saljo (1976). According to them, there are two levels of processing: deep learning and surface learning. While the surface approach is aimed towards rote learning and memorizing facts and leave out all the other important concepts and ideas. It involves treating the various parts of subject as distinct units and there is no attempt to connect all the units together to derive an articulate and coherent meaning. Deep learning on the other hand is practised by students like me who have a deeper approach to learn the important ideas in the subject, compare them with previous experiences and try to develop a whole new understanding with a logical analysis. Since my interest is deep in the field of Marketing, it propels me to think beyond what is written in the books and journals.
I try to develop connections between what I read to what I have experienced and am experiencing. It is my interest and enthusiasm to learn in my relevant field that helps me go beyond the visible spectrum of learning. I try to learn in ways that act as catalyst for bridging the college learning to the practical real life situations. Rossum and Schenk, 1984categorized some conceptions of learning under two categories of Reproducing (Surface approach) and Constructive (Deep approach). Increasing one's knowledge, memorizing and reproducing and applying come under the surface approach and under deep approach come seeing things from a different perspective to develop logical connections and changing oneself through learning and becoming a better person.
I believe I learn to become what I want to be, a better person, a better manager in future. Prosser et al. 1994 developed a model known as Presage-process-product model (3Ps). It presents the student's perceptions of learning and context of teaching and how these two interact and the relation with previous experiences of learning and teaching.
Presage-process-product model of student learning
Source: Prosser and Trigwell (1999)
Although English is not my native language I enjoy learning in the English language because I have been learning in it and I am perfectly comfortable with it. It has also been found out in a study(Gow, Kember and Chow, 1991) that the English language ability is positively correlated with deep level motivation. Being proficient in English is an added advantage while learning and it boosts my intrinsic motivation and confidence to face classroom discussions and presentations. I also find the extensive use of electronic resources and technology in the MBA program as stimulating and efficient use of time and efforts.
Q.3. What issues do you anticipate in the group work?
In higher education, the inclusion of group work has become increasingly important, prominently due to greater significance assumed by skill development, lifelong learning and potential of students as future employees. Group work has wide reached consequences if not carried out with proper execution. It is a widely argued topic in the realm of higher education research literature by the likes of Webb, 1994 and Boud et al., 1999 (Mellor, A. 2009). There are three types of group works as identified by Davis (1993). They are formal learning groups, informal learning groups and study groups. Formal groups are created for accomplishing a particular task which is to be completed within a given period of time is given to them, such as preparing a report on the organizational behaviour and its elements in an MNC. Informal groups (random groups of individuals) are easily identifiable in a class where students discuss various academic (and non-academic) issues and the study groups are formed to assist the group members during a project's progress.
According to Webb, 1994; Gledhill and Smith, 1996, group work is extremely complex and has effects on the student's learning mechanism. Before formation of a group, it is important to consider issues such as the right size of group, diversity in a group, balancing the load on different members of a group, preparing students to effectively participate in group work. Knight (2004) has argued that the students prefer being assessed individually rather than in groups. Group work can become more disliked by students in our groups if it involves peer assessment. As argued by Maguire and Edmonson (2001) it can lead to issues such as lack of rational judgement and prejudices. The most common issues that I can anticipate in the group work are trying to control the group or some members, coercing them to support them in every discussion. Mills (2003) also said that the thing students dislike most are poor group dynamics and personality clashes.
There can be an issue of some students who act as "obligate parasites" by deriving all the advantage without putting any efforts on their own. It discourages other members who actively contribute towards the success of group working. Such students have been called as "passengers" by Bourner et al. (2001) and Parsons (2002).Whereas,Hand (2001) coined the term "freeloader" for such students. An effective solution to this problem can be keeping the group size as minimum possible so that the scope of free riding can be minimized. Davis (1993) advised the perfect group size to be between 3 to 4 and no more than 6 to 7. Glebhill and Smith (1996) have discussed the issue of age, gender and qualification difference as the factors affecting the group dynamics, for example a more mature person will think quite differently than a young individual. There can also be a situation where a particular student is undermined by other members, this can seriously hamper his emotional confidence and this sort of rejection can lead to bigger problems such as group conflict (Chang, 1999).
In any group there can be some people who like to be followed and some who just follow without considering the bigger picture. While Thorley and Gregory (1994) believe that groups selected by teachers can be more effective answer to the task or situation, however there is a natural inclination among the students to form self-selected groups on basis such as friendship, ethnic or cultural proximity. This can become problematic in our case, as there are students from around the world. It is not necessary that every individual has made enough friends. Also, if some members are unable to form a group of their choice, they might feel hostile in a group of unknown people. It is not necessary that they will easily adjust in any group. It can not only hamper their participation but can also hurt their emotional well-being (Mellor and Entwistle, 2008).
Within any student group, there is a high probability that there are present a fewarrogant (know-it-all) participants who seem to dominate the group discussions, they tend to dismiss other's knowledge as commonplace and may refute valid arguments just because they believe they already know and know more than everyone else. In a group there can be some members who are more than ardent to grab every opportunity to shine and volunteer for each and everything, they must be made to realize that other members also require and deserve an equal chance to enhance participation.
Within a student group, there may well be some students who are mere confrontational and challenge each and every point of interest suggested by other members. They are highly critical about everything. Another less talked about issue in a group is the presence of some shy students. They may be disinterested or may be feeling insecure. It is important to get them talking because may be they come up with solutions to some challenging questions but are just shy to speak up. No less important is the clash of personalities and it may lead to animosity in a group which will harm the group work in a big way.
Dividing the work among the group members is also an important function that must be carried out by the group leader in a way that specific tasks are handed over to members with skills specific to handle them effectively. Talking about the group leader, it is critical for a group to have an excellent leader who can lead them through thick and thin during the group work. S/he must be able to ensure group's cohesiveness and collective motivation to work in collaboration with each other to successfully complete their individual tasks to achieve the desired goals of group.
There can be problem of discrimination in a student group at any level on the basis of irrelevant factors. It is a sensitive issue and should be dealt with care. Some members of the group may begin stereotyping other members on the basis of some factors that have nothing to do with their abilities and skills, for example such stereotypes can be age, gender, race, ethnicity, physical disability, dyslexia, etc. Blame game is also a potential bottleneck to successful progress of group work. Students become reluctant to take responsibilities for theiractions or begin to shirk their duties towards the group and begin blaming each other for ineffectiveness and inefficacy in work.
Q.4. How will you attempt to address these?
Just because some randomly selected students are put together to form a group doesn't imply that they will get along with each other without glitches and will agree with each other in every situation under every circumstance (TEDI, 2001). The group members can differ in their values, attitudes, needs, wants, desires, expectations, perceptions and personalities. These are some of the basic issues of importance within any student group work (Capozzoli, 1995). From my previous and on-going experiencesI can tell that there have to be differences in a group work setting.
Before even I can attempt to address any issues that arise in group work, I will try and explore the possible reasons for disagreements. I must determine the specific reasons behind them. This puts a lot of emphasis and responsibility on my active listening. I will attempt to understand what both the parties have to say and grasp the real facts and emotions underlying the problem at hand. After successfully determining the reasons for differences, I will offer both the parties to present their own solutions to the problem. It will include giving enough time and attention to both parties forcomplete explanation of problems. I will consider all the proposed solutions. We will enter into a discussion on how we can resolve the issues and agree to the most effective solution for problem. It may require me to use my negotiation skills to come up with practical solutions and ensure agreeability in the group. I will then focus on implementing the solutions, discussing with all the members and making sure they follow the agreed regime. After few sessions, I need to evaluate the degree to which the solutions were effective and seek the members' feedbacks and improve where we lack. To deal with specific problems, it will be the framework I will use to resolve the issues in our group work.
Non-contribution is a major issue in group working. It is essential to understand the reasons for freeloading. It can be intentional, accidental or situational (University Teaching Development Centre: Victoria University of Wellington, 2004). I propose that I should talk with the members and try to recognize the reasons for non-contribution and properly allocate the work load as it can be an effective solution to the problem. To get the students to participate I will seek for reasons and then set specific tasks or break the composite group into sub-groups. I will use my communication and intervention skills to prevent the over-dominance of some members by a particular member. I will appoint the dominant student as the facilitator and become actively engaged in the overall process.
The shy students can be a source of a wealth of knowledge, I will ask them introductory and easy questions to break ice and build rapport through producing a warm atmosphere in the group setting. I will talk to them on individual basis as well apart from group basis. Some students in our group work can be inattentive and may lose the track of discussion. To deal with this issue, I will confront them regularly and keep reminding them of the rules and agreed processes. I will also ask them questions intermittently to keep them focussed on the work. Regardless of the personality clashes of different group members, I will make sure than the group sessions and discussions remain on the required path and not deviate. I will keep an eye on the individual contribution and performance according to decided standards of work. I will also prevent any argumentative situation from occurring.
As an MBA studentI am looking forward to a rich academic and cultural exposure at Bangor University classrooms. Learning is certainly going to be an area of focus while also looking into the areas that need improvement. Developing personality to a better level will definitely be on top of the list. I am also looking forward to working in groups composed of diverse students. During the one year I have at Bangor, I will ensure I develop my transferrable skills and enhance my employability through the way of developing my leadership, negotiation abilities, decision making and increasing adaptability by fitting myself in different roles as the course progresses.
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