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The world has been changing rapidly and hardly anyone can predict how the world would be after 30 to 40, let's say even after 10 years. Little did I know 10 years ago, that I would be encircled by the present technology and economic developments. An integral part of my life has been surrounded by these technology advancements and as I have always been driven by the desire to create and innovate, I decided not to just get enthralled by these marvels, but to play my part in it. Thus, I pursued a Bachelor's degree in the field of Chemical Engineering and then worked in Infosys for a period of three years embracing this competitive world with wide arms.
My country India is in need of enthusiastic leaders and as a developing country it has an enormous potential in Management Science and Business. It is moving forward faster to transform itself into a developed nation and as the Indian economy is rising and going global, technical knowledge and MBA with an intellectually stimulating international environment will definitely provide an edge in the corporate world. The path, to realize the dream of being a part of globalize world, would no doubt be tough, but full of challenges, which I was willing to accept. In view of such global scenario, my decision to pursue Master's degree in Business Administration in the U.K would open the gateway to enhanced career options leading to top position in the corporate world.
Despite the technology advancements and changes in the environment there is something which is relatively stable and has not changed for years are the basic skills that a person possesses. These skills help to define a human's personality and also progress ahead in his life in view of his career ambition. My career ambition has always been to excel in whatever I do and serve my country with utmost dedication and satisfaction.
To fulfill my cherished dream and, I need to understand where my career path is heading and how this one year has nurtured my administrative skills. Thus, this report reflects the journey of how my career has progressed and reflects on my strengths and weaknesses. As it is believed that MBA is a path of self discovery, this report aims to make me understand the various roles in my life as a professional, a team member and a person. The outcome of the report would help me comprehend the skills required as a manager and how the academics would help me enrich my career in a seamless way.
Chapter 1: The glimpse of self-discovery:
"A career is the sequence of employment-related positions, roles, activities and experiences encountered by a person." (Arnold, 1997, p16). As rightly defined by Arnold, this chapter provides insights to work related positions and roles which I experienced as person and also throws light upon my decision to pursue an MBA.
Exploring my interest:
It all began a decade ago in 2002 as I paved my way towards high school back in India and I remember questioning myself as to what I would like to become in life and what I am going to do for a living when I come out to the competitive environment of work and pressure. But before that, I was caught between a rock and a hard place in pursuit of my career path. I had to choose between Computer Science and Biology for my high school. I had taken up Biology in the view that I would grow up and become a doctor but then, in my two years of study I realized that medicine wasn't my cup of tea.
So, in those two years, I did understand that how much was I into Chemistry and how I used to love those equations. I can only thank my professor Mr.Arockiaraj Anthonysamy for his amazing teaching skills which inspired me to take up Chemical Engineering as a career option. Thus after higher secondary education, I opted for career in technical education in the field of Chemical Engineering from Pondicherry Engineering College, which is amongst the highly respected technical institutions in South India.
The 'chemical' experience:
During my four years of engineering, I strongly believed that co-curricular activities should go hand-in-hand in overall development of one's personality and career and while pursuing my technical education, I knew deep inside that I had the fear to speak on stage in front of a large audience. I still remember when I was presented with an extempore topic 'Who am I?' and I was blank standing in front of my class. I did feel embarrassed and to overcome this weakness, I involved myself in activities like group discussions, role plays, etc which played an important part in shaping my personality and my career. I was able to overcome this fear by participating in more events held in the college and improve my writing and speaking skills.
Apart from this, I was also an active member of an association known as ACES (Association of Chemical Engineering Students) which allowed all the members to interact with each other and arrange various events in the department which we were a part of. As months passed by I started taking up roles and started engaging myself in the departmental activities like attending meetings for the betterment of the students and slowly I started to enjoy being one of the important members of the Association.
As the member of ACES, I played a lead role in organizing most of the activities. I had faced a lot of challenges in motivating my colleagues to think alike but as I started to bring in people and started to become a part of the people, it became easier in due course.
Also as I reached the final year of my engineering, I was elected as the President of the Association. I had witnessed enormous problems during my post and had overcome with the help of my professors and my team members. Also, the department had to conduct a National Event 'TIELINES' and it was mainly my responsibility to arrange the meetings and look upon the events. I had never experienced such a role before but it helped me in improving my organizing skills and also enhance my communications skills with people and also know people from other states and colleges. This president-ship played a vital role in enhancing my quality of leadership and tackling pressure situations. And it was around this time when I had first developed interest in doing an MBA where I could manage events and people effectively. Academically, I was hard-working and was also nominated for the best student by the department.
Being an Infoscion:
After my graduation from college, I started working with Infosys Technologies Ltd which I had attained the job through campus placements and the reason why I had chose the IT domain was due my increasing interest to learn about computers and its languages which I had obtained through classes during my engineering.
I worked full time with Infosys Technologies Ltd, one of the largest software firms in the India, for the next 3 years. I had gained ample of technical knowledge during my work at the company and also had an opportunity to lead a team of three members during the course of time. I had learnt to deal with different people and in a team and also learnt how to keep up with the deliverables assigned to the team. While working as a team player and also the senior member of the team, I realized that, executing the job on one's own, and implementing one's own project with the cooperation of and in collaboration with many, both stands far distant from each other.
Infosys also emphasized on communication skills as we had to interact everyday with the clients who were located mostly in US and UK. Thus in view of this, the company insisted the employees to clear Business Level Certifications which basically tests our reading, writing and speaking skills. I had cleared Business Level Certifications I and II with good grades.
However, from my three years of work experience, I discovered that a Master's degree in Business Administration provides a distinctive advantage over those without. There is an analytical nature inherent to MBA's, which I believe is duplicable only by committing one or two years to academic study of business. A student for just one or two years can be transformed into a leader for entire life. It is not necessary that every corporate leader or a business person owns an MBA but it could easily be believed that to be considered for a leadership role in the 21st century, an MBA is an additional advantage.
Chapter 2: The actual path - My Kent MBA experience:
My wonderful journey of my MBA commenced when I landed at the Heathrow Airport, London and I was pretty nervous when I landed as it was my first global exposure to the world where I had always wished to experience. I was greeted by the University of Kent students who I remember were in green T-shits carrying a huge smile on their face. As I had booked the bus provided by the university, I did not experience any problems reaching the university. On my way to the university campus, I met quite a few people who were travelling in the same bus and I could see the nervousness reflecting on everyone's face.
The very thought that 'I am going to start my MBA course today' did bring in excitement and nervousness in me on the first day of my Induction program; excitement as it was a new start to my career and nervousness because I had the slightest of ideas of what lies ahead of me. Like me, I am sure many of my classmates would have felt the same being their first experience as well. When I entered the Symposium room and met my classmates, I knew for sure that the people sitting in this very room are going to become an important part of my life in the forthcoming year and also after that. I was also thrilled to see the diversity in the room where I had met people from America, China, Japan, Middle East, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, India and of course UK. This was my first interaction with so many different cultures and I looked forward to start a joyful journey of acquiring knowledge through learning and hard work.
The first two weeks of Induction were very useful as it was good interaction with the classmates as we all did to get know each other and also work together as groups where we had a case study and a lot of interactive sessions. The highlights of the Induction program were 'A musical experiment' session by Mr.Nathan Timothy and the Barbeque. The 'musical experiment' was a kind of exercise to group everyone and work together to come up with a song. This was probably the first time when the students had actually interacted unreservedly and enjoyed themselves to the core. The skill required here was group work and team building as without those skills or qualities, there wouldn't have been proper co-ordination. It was also joyful to interact and grasp business ideas from the upcoming musician. The other attractive event during the program was the Barbeque where we did get an opportunity to interact with the alumni students where we gained more insights about the program and also did come to know about the experiences they had during the course.
2.1. The Academia:
As the course started it got pretty interesting as I wasn't much aware of the business world and the course did start with the basics of the business with the module Corporate Environment where we were thought on how the industry and environment is analyzed through Pestle analysis and Porter Five Forces. This module also helped me understand the economic framework of enterprises, the legal structures and regulation of enterprises, corporate ethics and governance, stakeholder analysis and also the interface between government and business which is very important in the current competitive world.
The next module Marketing Analysis and Planning helped me to understand the market in a better way and also played a vital role during my MBA internship. The module helped me understand the marketing concepts clearly like analyzing marketing opportunities; including customer analysis, competitor analysis and evaluation of innovative marketing approaches which I had applied in my internship where I had to do an analysis of Schlumberger competitors.
International Business was one of the modules which helped me understand the concepts of internationalization and how businesses are run worldwide and how the Multinationals co-ordinate with each other. It helped me understand as to what challenges the Multinational companies face while organizing their business processes and live up to consumer's expectations.
One of the most interactive and enjoyable module for me was the elective module Applied Business Modeling where I had learnt to how solve complex business problems analytically through Microsoft Excel software. It was a different experience from other modules as it was more practical than theoretical. It was interesting to know about project management through PERT and CPM. This module did help me explore my managerial skills and how to handle situations when there are a lot of activities in a process. The various topics like Cost-Benefit Analysis, Linear Programming Optimization Models, Decision Analysis and Forecasting did give a different view to management skills. The module was mainly focused on how to make quick management decisions by the managers.
There were some modules where I had trouble in grasping as I wasn't from that background. The modules were Accounting and Corporate Finance. As, I had no background of finance and since the modules were covered in a week, I had to concentrate more on these modules. The professors were quite helpful to make us understand the concepts and theories but to have a deeper understanding, my classmates, Mr.Anuj Rungta and Mr.Ali Al Lawati helped me a lot as both had financial background in their work experience. It was a learning experience for all of us to help each other in overcoming the weaknesses.
2.2. Practical exposure:
2.2.a. Kent MBA Consultancy Week:
The Kent MBA Consultancy Week was a good opportunity for me and the students where we were given a chance to apply the theoretical knowledge acquired in our MBA course to real life business scenarios. It was a great learning experience and the interactions with the small business enterprises helped us understand the day to day problems faced by them in their businesses. It was also a great experience to work in groups and provide various recommendations and solutions to the client. The consultancy week was aimed at enriching our business knowledge further through engagements with different types of businesses.
The Kent MBA consultancy week also provided us the opportunities to meet local businesses so that we could practice in a business context. We really learnt more about the situations and difficulties that a business faces and the spirit of entrepreneurship. We, as a team found main problems with the companies Autouseful, Slim Sam Cakery and Dunstan's recycling, the entrepreneurs of small business who usually think that they are the only players in a certain market with inadequate attention to competition or potential competition, and they usually prefer to fully own a company with little willingness to get a partner or to form an entrepreneur team. It also helped us to understand the various challenges the companies face while working in United Kingdom when compared to working in India. It was amazing on how different was the work culture here when compared to my country.
Slim Sam Cakery:
The Slim Sam Cakery was a nice project to look at especially as an entrepreneurial approach towards business world. It was a start up business where the owner bakes cakes at home and provides delicious cakes with low fat. Her main aim was to establish the company as a known brand by first entering into the local market and then to other regions around Canterbury. We provided recommendations to improve the product and also ways to marketing it in Canterbury.
Another project was Autouseful, which was established about three years ago and focuses on the retail of car accessories like cleaning products, cushions, etc. The company wanted to obtain government grants or low interest loan to develop its products and improve its sales. We as team explained the limitation to get grants or loans from China and proposed many alternative ways of funding at different stages; the team also provided recommendation on marketing and supply chain management.
It was one of the most interesting projects among the ones we consulted. The company wanted to initiate a return-for-deposit recycling project in order to improve the environment in Canterbury. It wants to encourage recycling and discourage littering. Our team did a survey in Canterbury and also attained feedback from local restaurants and provided recommendations if it could be implemented. It helped me understand the difficulties a company faces while implementing a project which is new to the locality.
2.2.b. Business Strategy Game:
During the last week of the course after all the modules were over, a week was allocated to Business Strategy Game. In the beginning, we all wondered what this week would have in store for us and it was one of the exciting weeks where we had no lectures as it was a game. This game is an online simulation game which is used across various business schools around the globe and is help in using our management which we had learnt in theory during the course. (Bsg-Online, 2012).
It was a interactive as we were divided into groups and we were allocated a company where each of the team member acts a manager in its own company. Our company was named 'Sprint' and our duty was to try to manage plants as to where and how they function, a work force on how to compensate the expenses, where to spend the distribution expenses and how the inventories should be controlled. We also had to look into capital expenditure decisions to strategize, how to work on the marketing and sales campaigns to advertise, sales forecasts to foresee and predict the proper one, and the fluctuations in exchange rates, interest rates, and also the stock market had to be taken into account. It literally covered every aspect of MBA and all of us did apply our theoretical knowledge practically.
This game helped me explore my skills on where I lack and where I need to improve on practically and how some of the situations are going to be in live cases. It also helped me and the team to build a competitive spirit against the other teams.
Trips arranged by the Kent Business School:
BRICS discussion held by AMBA:
It was my first trip with my classmates and I was also excited to attend my first event at Westminster Business School, London, designed for MBA students and graduates with an interest in global business and the BRIC economies. It was an event conducted by the Association of MBA's (AMBA) and Kent Business School, being accredited by it, was given preference to attend the event.
We reached the place where we were welcomed by the AMBA and it was interesting to see people from different business schools and also people from different business community had assembled there. The BRIC panel discussion had four lecturers who had discussed on how the growing BRIC economies will affect business in the next decade. It also discussed why the four countries are the largest economies, the risks and opportunities of investing and doing business with the BRIC economies. It was quite an interactive and a helpful session for the business students and it did involve a lot of analysis and also showed us the future prospective of the countries. After the discussion we had a good networking with the MBA students of other business schools in and around London and I did feel that was important to increase awareness about what other students are doing and also their prospective on the topic.
Brussels/Paris trip was an exciting trip which we experienced with our classmates and professors. The trip was wonderfully organized by out Director, Mr. Rajendra Shirole. This trip was mainly organized to understand the European Union in a better manner. In Brussels we had visited the University of Kent campus where we had an interaction with professors of the campus on the European Union policy issues. We were provided with European Commission briefing on the current state of the EU economy. We were divided into groups of four and understand better the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain). We learnt about governing rules and regulations for doing business in Europe and how the government is handling issues to open up businesses in Europe.
In Paris too we had fun where we did visit places and also had sessions. We were supposed to have a session with HSBC but it was sad we could not have a session with them. However the session with Mr. Shirole where we were enlightened with issues in spirituality and how they affect and effect business form, particularly the emergent micro-finance concept and IT outsourcing.
Finally, the main best part of the trip was a visit to Schlumberger European Centre in Melun where we experienced the various processes which occur on field in an oilfield service industry and also about how the various processes are managed.
The Graduand Dinner was event which was held at Café du Soleil, Canterbury right before the Brussels/Paris trip where all the professors and students had a good time together. There were prizes which were given away to the team which won the Business Strategy Game and it was our team and we did feel proud after losing on the initial rounds of the game. The loss did help us to improve our management skills. In the event, I had also delivered a speech about my experience in my MBA. At first I was a bit nervous about it as the event involved everyone from the school and also the people from outside but then I did realize we are here to challenge ourselves and overcome the weakness. So I took the chance to deliver a speech and it went well which did boost up my confidence on my speaking skills.
Skills which I developed/improved during the course:
Kent MBA helped me a lot with my writing skills. Firstly with my writing skills; the assignments which we had after each module helped me improve my English as well as my writing skills. The assignment part was quite different for me as back in India where I had done my four years of engineering, I had never experienced the kind of assignments which is followed here in UK. It was not only in the Postgraduate course, I did see the undergraduates as well writing assignments which is a very good way to improve the writing skills. I was also impressed by the fact that there were special sessions were conducted by UELTS for writing skills. These were important sessions as some of the classmates did find it difficult as English was not their first language and also helped me with the style of my writing with the help of Harvard referencing. The feedback on our assignments helped me to improve where I actually lacked on my writing part and where I needed to improve. But as modules progressed, I did improve on my writing skills and write in a business prospective rather than just a proper sentence without any grammatical errors. Also special sessions conducting on writing my resume at an MBA level were informative keeping in mind the type of resume the companies prefer in different parts of Europe.
With regards to presentations, it was a total different experience as I had never been marked with a greater percentage on my presentations. I did help me to work in groups from different cultures. Working in groups assisted me to understand how it is working with people from different cultures as this was my first experience. I did work in groups in India but the people were only from India and so this was different. So there were times when we had part time MBA students as well working with the full time MBA students and it was a great learning as every team member in the group had some input or the other we experienced during our work in a different industry from a different country.
Apart from the team work in group presentations, we had to live case study presentations in front of a company namely Cummins ESB which was according to me the one of the most interesting part of the course. The company had come to MBA students with some of real time challenging issues in the Strategy and International Business modules. We had to apply our theoretical knowledge and I did find it a bit difficult to cope in the beginning but I was able to analyze and give my contribution to the team with some useful recommendations. I had also contributed to my teams, being one of the least experienced in the business world, through my knowledge on Microsoft PowerPoint which did help us out in few of the modules. But these presentations to the company helped me to improve my presentation skills in a business prospective where we had to keep the presentation simple and be precise to the point.
In most of our modules we had case studies to read in the classroom where we had to analyze the case study from every prospective and provide our suggestions from a business point of view. It helped us to improve our reading skills as there was limited time and we had to focus on our analysis. It was basically multi-tasking where I had to read, understand, analyze and think of the recommendations and provide solutions. It was a difficult task in the beginning of the course as I had never done this before but it did encourage me to go through articles and reports quickly and grasp the concepts. The 'Financial Times' which used to be delivered everyday to the Business School also helped me improve my reading skills where I used to get updated about the European news.
Negotiation skills are something very new which I got an opportunity to develop during my Kent MBA. There was a workshop which was conducted by Mr.Samuel Passow and there were many group exercises where we had to negotiate with each other on certain aspects. This workshop was very useful for me as I had a weakness of negotiation and compromise as I used to compromise with the other person's offer as I do not like conflicts. This workshop helped me to
Learn how to create added value to strengthen my negotiation position rather than just accept what is on offer.
Learn how to recognize and understand my own personality traits and tactics as a negotiator and those of my opponent.
Learn how to manage the inherent tensions of a negotiation.
Learn how to map out the negotiation process.
A similar kind of negotiation workshop was held during the International Business module where we learnt how the different countries negotiate with each other on various issues and challenges faced by their own country. This workshop also helped me to understand how the different countries behave and how I should be able to tackle those situations.
During the course, I had an opportunity to lead the class being the class representative for the full-time MBA students. Earlier in my life I had taken up leadership roles like been the president for the ACES in the college or a leading a small team in Infosys but here in UK it was different. I had to lead a group of people from diverse culture which was a challenge for me as I had no experience with diverse culture. To overcome this challenge, the University had arranged a Course Rep Conference which was held for all the International course reps on how to handle the position well and skills required to lead the class.
It is often referred to as that leadership and management is just the same but in reality leadership skill is just one of the various skills which a manager must possesses. Iles & Preece (2006) explain the conception of leadership as differentiated from management: "whereas managers are concerned with today, with delivery, targets, efficiency, utilization, and authority, focusing on internal organizational issues, on control and on doing things right, leaders are held to be oriented to tomorrow, to development, to direction, to purpose and vision, and to innovation". Thus it is important to possess the leadership skills to become a manager and there are different leadership styles which can define a manager. Shown below are the different characteristics which leaders should possess.
(Source: University of Kent, 2009)
Figure: The different characteristics of leadership skills
Having known the characteristics, there are a few styles that show the way a leader attempts to influence its subordinate's behavior and also make correct decisions with the group to attain a common goal seen by both the organization and the team.
There are a various tests and models which determine the leadership style of a person. On the University of Kent website, I had taken the Leadership style test where I had to answer 50 questions to know how I lead a team. The different leadership styles were:
Authoritarian: This kind of leadership style is the one where a leader has a lot of power over team members and also has the right to reward good performance or punish members if they don't reach the agreed standard.
Procedural: This kind of leadership style is where a leader clearly defines the tasks and the roles required. This kind of leader follows a particular procedure such as planning, organization and monitoring and puts the structure in place.
Transformational: This kind of leadership style is the one where the leader inspires the team with their vision of what should happen. These kind of leaders supply the main goal, but allow members to choose their own way of reaching it. Transformation leaders are very visible, & spend lot of time communicating. Communication is the basis for achievement by focusing the group on the required outcome. They don't necessarily lead from the front, as they tend to delegate responsibility.
Participative: This leadership style is where a leader asks the team's opinions & uses these to make decisions. The team is kept informed and is allowed to discuss and propose changes to policy.
Laissez-faire: In this type of leadership style, the team members are allowed to make the decisions but leader would be the ultimate person responsible for these. Here the leader asks for the team's opinions and the team is left to make its own decisions which are then approved by the leader. Here the leader participates in various group discussions as a normal team member and then agrees in advance to carry out whatever decision the team as a whole makes. Team members are left to get on with their tasks. This style is effective if the leader monitors what is being achieved and regularly communicates this back to the team.
(University of Kent, 2009).
When I took the test, the result for the test was I was a Laissez-faire leader who participates in the team and discusses with the team the pros and cons of the decisions to be made. This I prefer discussing and taking into consideration everyone's opinion who are in the team and make a decision as a whole as I believe that everyone's thoughts and ideas are valuable.
My MBA Internship was in Schlumberger Dubai for a span of two months in July and August. Schlumberger Limited is an oilfield service company supplying technology, information solutions and integrated project management that optimize reservoir performance for customers working in the oil and gas industry. (Schlumberger, Backgrounder, 2011). My role in the company as a Marketing Research intern was to analyze the Middle East market and see how Schlumberger competed with the competitors. This internship provided me with an opportunity to apply the marketing and strategy concepts which I have learnt in my MBA course.
Initially in the internship I was not much aware of the industry basics and it took me a while to understand the industry. I had done a bit of research before but many points were cleared when I reached the company. During my internship, I understood the difference work cultures as when I had reached Dubai, it was Ramadan time for the localites. I had to keep in mind about the fact that I could not eat or drink anything during the day in front of the people. It was a culture which I had never experienced and it was a good experience understanding the culture there.
During my internship, I was asked to analyze the industry, which I had done through Porter's five forces and also discussed a few other models which were relevant for the application of the industry. I had also understood the concepts clearly when the application of different frameworks was applied practically.
As per the business proposal, I had to do an analysis on Schlumberger's competitors and how the company can sustain the competitive advantage over the others. I had to give recommendations on how the company can improve its position in the market and the company was happy with my work.
Chapter 3: Understanding me:
"A degree can only reflect your mastery of an academic discipline and cannot shed light on your personal skills and qualities. It's the person underneath that counts." Thus it is very important for a person to understand himself, his strengths and weaknesses and how he can improve his strengths and work on his weaknesses. These understandings would help me further to pursue my desired career and fulfill my career aspirations.
3.1. Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI):
To help us understand ourselves, the Kent Business School conducted few classes where we had an opportunity to interact with few experts and also grasp a few important lessons. We were presented with a few tests where we could know what type personality we reflect and where we can work on to improve it.
One of the tests was Myers Briggs Type Indicator Test which is a test about an individual's fondness for working with others, problem solving, making decisions and organizing their own lives. It was a questionnaire where I had to answer a few questions about my own personality. After giving the test my personality type was found to be IFSP which indicated me to be Introvert, Feeler, Sensor and Perceiver.
The report showed my strengths as to what kind o personality I am and also my weakness where I need to focus on. The report also indicated that people with ISFP personalities tend to have the following characteristics and these characteristics show where I need to work on.
Characteristics which reflect me:
Prefers concrete, practical information - I have always wanted to have information in a more practical way than in a theoretical manner as that the way I understand things and it becomes clear to analyze further.
Dislikes arguments and conflict - I dislike arguments and conflicts as it disturbs me which is good at certain points both as a person and a manger but sometimes I need to be tough as I would have to make tough decisions and survive in this competitive world.
An awareness of the environment - I am aware of the environment and things happening around me but I have known things in only I am interested in like sports and politics but need to build my awareness in other aspects as well like financial markets, market conditions, corporate environment which is important when I enter into a business world.
Reserved and quiet - The introvert characteristic in me has been a weakness but I have worked on since my college days. I believe I need to be more open and be an extrovert as is it one of the important characteristics a manager must possess.
3.2. Strengths Finder 2.0:
The other test where we asked to take was the Strengths Finder 2.0 and this test was online. This test helped me to find out what are my strengths as a person. There were 34 different strengths which were available to define a person's talents. The results of my test where my top 5 strengths were identified as:
Learning is defined as a relatively permanent change in knowledge, skills, attitudes or behavior that comes through experience. People have different ways through which they take in this knowledge and process it and these ways can be known as learning styles. (Felder and Spurlin, 2005).
VARK Learning Style:
Thus a model was proposed by Fleming (2001) as cited by Kara (2009), helped a person to understand the various learning styles known as VARK model. VARK can be abbreviated as Visual (V), Aural (A), Read/Write (R) and Kinesthetic (K). This model helped to understand how the learner took-in and gave-out the information. According to the model, the different types of ways where a learner can learn things are:
- Different colors
- Word Pictures
- Explain new ideas
- Discuss topics
- Attend Lectures
- Discussion Groups
- Printed Handouts
- Web pages
- Taking Notes
- Trial and Error
- Recipes and Solutions to problems
- Hands-on approaches
- Collection and Samples
Table 1: VARK Learning Styles
To understand myself as to which learning style is suitable for me, I had taken the VARK questionnaire which comprised of 16 questions and allowed me to know the type of learner I am.
My scores showed me a multimodal learning preference which was AK representing Aural and Kinesthetic learner. The proposed outcome of the VARK schema is relevant to an extent my style of learning as I prefer to learn things visually and also listen to things which interest me. Thus my leaning preference would be a VA than an AK. The reasons why I prefer to be a VA learner have been summarized below.
Visual Leaner - This type of learner is actually reflects me where I learn by diagrams, charts, and maps. I believe this is my forte as I remember working during the Operations Management module where we had to give presentation and I was responsible for the making the power point slides. So I had done so by making it interactive by inserting a lot of pictures, illustrations like videos and it helped me understand the topic better.
Aural Learner -where I have been told by many people that I am a good listener. I prefer to learn aurally even during the lectures and at work as this along with the visual helps me understand the concepts better. Also, in my IELTS exam, I had scored the most in my listening area where I had scored an 8.0 which help me understand my strength among the four areas of skills.
Kolb's Learning Cycle:
In 1984, David Kolb identified that learners need to go through a 4-stage learning cycle to understand the learning process. The learning process can start at any stage but it has to be in order from the point it starts. The 4 stages are:
Figure: Kolbe's learning cycle and learning styles
Concrete Experience (CE) - The concrete experience stage is the stage where a learner is actively having an experience on a particular activity. This stage is when a person is actually doing an activity on a 'hands-on' basis.
Reflective Observation (RO) - This stage is when the learner is when a learner is reflecting back on performance of the activity performed. This stage helps in reviewing on what has been done and experienced.
Abstract Conceptualization (AC) - This type of learners are the ones who learn mainly through theory and concepts rather than people.
Active Experimentation(AE) - At this stage, the learner experiments what he has observed and
Based on the learning cycle, Kolb (1976) introduced four learning styles namely
Divergers (CE/RO): These people look at things in a different perspective and observe on what is happening than actually perform it. People who possess this learning style often like to work in groups and listen to others.
Assimilators (AC/RO): Assimilators are people who are less interested in people and more focused on ideas and concepts. They prefer lectures, explore logical concepts and analytical models.
Convergers (AC/CE): Convergers have opposite strengths to divergers. They learn to do practical applications of the models and theories learnt. This kind of learner presents a single solution and is rather attached to things than to people.
Accommodators(AE/CE): They have opposite learning styles to assimilators
My other strengths which were an outcome of the test were Harmony, Achiever, Arranger and Intellection. These strengths help me understand that I need to focus on my strengths and also become stronger in it.
Chapter 5: My life after MBA and my Career Aspirations: