Ivana Vasic Chalmers was the winner of the Henley 2016 Women in Leadership scholarship. Here she shares her top tips from her time studying for her MBA.
An MBA gives you a breadth of view.
My colleagues came from businesses from all over the world, from non-profit to mass markets, from solo entrepreneurs to global giants – and hearing their take broadened my understanding.
It doesn’t matter what you know.
Just because you are on a different level or at a different stage of your career from your classmates, doesn’t mean you can’t bring value. Your knowledge expands tremendously as your guard falls and you admit you’re learning. Ask those questions – someone else is thinking the same thing.
People have different reasons for doing it, help each other achieve your goals.
Some people wanted to prove something to themselves, others to their bosses. Some people wanted to develop new skills, others wanted to be validated for having them already. You will be working in teams and it’s important to understand these motivations and help each other achieve them.
Find your tribe.
Whoever you’re teamed up with you will get to know. But this shouldn’t stop you finding people who will encourage you, help you, mentor you, or just make you laugh – you’ll need that when you’re nowhere near finished and the deadline is staring you in the face.
Invest in YOU.
Very seldom do we have the time to look at tools for our personal (not professional) development. Understanding your views on leadership, values, motivators, ways of working – these will shape many professional decisions to come. Use this time wisely and invest in learning about yourself.
Make space in your life.
You may be the one in class or the one doing the assignment, but life doesn’t go on hold without you. Make purposeful plans to shift responsibilities at home and at work so that you have the space to do what needs to be done. It should not come at the cost of your personal life, health or career.
Ask for sponsorship.
You will need work case studies to work through materials. Approach senior leaders, mentors and sponsors in advance to expedite access to data and people you will need. Sell the value ahead of time, and share your learnings and analysis as a thank you.
One assignment at a time.
Begin with a firm belief that you will finish, no matter what. There will be times where you doubt it, lean on your support network then and be someone else’s when they need it.
Marks don’t matter.
Assignments are not true reflections of your capability, only of your time and bandwidth when you’re completing them. Just make sure you’re getting what you need and learning– that’s what you’ll be using later.
It’s not enough.
You can learn a lot doing an MBA, but you can learn much more from the school of life. Use the MBA as a springboard for your curiosity – it will give you confidence and serve you well as your learning journey continues.