Nostalgia of saying goodbye – P&G, it was nice knowing you!

I can’t seem to shake off the feverish feeling I’ve been having over the last 2 weeks – which skyrocketed over the weekend. Those rumblings deep down in your stomach which cannot and should not be mistaken for the butterfly feeling that accompanies love (or lust). The occasional goose pimples that crawls on your skin when overwhelmed!

If you are still wondering why these feelings – Tomorrow is my last day at P&G!

While some have cautioned me of such a move, others have encouraged me about the intention and I can only say this – I never make important decisions hastily. P&G has been the only company I ever worked for – if you remove all the Opa Dams which I do not think counts at all – and I have loved every moment of it.

My first 3 months post graduation was phenomenal! Who gives a young graduate responsibility for owning and deploying systems across multiple geographies, training people 7-12 years more experienced than he is and taking charge of truly transforming business processes? This cannot in any way clearly articulate how I feel about P&G. Should I also mention that I have traveled to over 14 different countries in 3 years, done some massaging, manicure and pedicure in the office, learnt karate and salsa in the office, work from home on Fridays, call my GM by name (really cool), got 1 full week paternity leave and got a surprise send forth from the GBS family in Ikoyi? Still, this does not fully paint the picture.

Summarily, I will miss P&G! Tomorrow, I will be saying good-bye and I can only say the last 4+ years has been a blast and a PG (post graduate) experience for me and I owe a lot of my professional development, drive and aspirations to what you taught me. THANKS!

Job Searching – On a lighter note!

 

 

One of the things you’d be thinking of mid-way into your MBA program will be getting the dream job – if such exists – you’ve always wanted. The above picture, which I got from a colleague on FB,  describes a very funny way to figure out what job suits you. In the last couple of weeks, we have been getting some emails from the career services of INSEAD to do some career assessment test to help identify what industries and career interests best suits us. Well, this also serves as some form of career assessment tool. Let me know what job suits you from this assessment. In case you want to know, mine was actually an ‘accountant’ – strange as that sounds!

Why I was dinged at Harvard Business School

Someone asked me why I was telling people about my being dinged at Harvard and probably you are also wondering why I am. My ultimate intention with this blog is to inspire other Africans like myself, not with what I can achieve but rather, with what is basically achievable. And empower them to dare to dream! After all , you do not pay to dream.

How many of us had that pre-conception that you had to be the son of a president or a very influential person or have an Albert Einstein IQ to get into a school like Harvard, Stanford, LBS, INSEAD, Kellog, MIT etc, not only because of the cost implication but also because of the caliber of alumni you find from these schools? Well, I want to dispel that notion and say unequivocally that people without any pedigree have found themselves also in these places. While I will argue that they never stumbled into it, I will yet still emphasize that it was well within their reach – maybe they pushed a bit harder than others though! One of these days, I will interview some other MBA grads from top schools to share their stories with us.

So back to the topic of why I think I was dinged at HBS! As you will find out later, applying for your MBA could be one of the most ridiculously draining experiences you can have. And one of the things you will have to do is write loads of essays on different topics. Having ticked other application steps, the essays stood as one of the most important element of the process as this is the only way by which you can communicate your person and your achievements to the admission committee.

As the case was, this was my first application and remember, I was applying to the ‘almighty HBS’ so I took some extra caution which I presume was why I was dinged. After writing my essays, I sent out a couple of them to a number of people to proof-read for me and make corrections. Now, before I go on, let me emphasize that this is an extremely important thing you can do when applying for your MBA program. An extra pair of eyes will definitely do you a lot of good. But I think I used it in the wrong way.

Ultimately, after revising my essays so many times with nothing less than about 5 different inputs, I had my set of essays completed. But….they no longer sounded like me. I read them over and over again and while they sounded like a good HBS application, I could not connect to it. I asked myself, “If I cannot relate to this, will the admissions committee be able to know my person with the essays?”. I decided to submit it anyway. The rest is history.

I however got some valuable feedback on how a winning essay should be from the people I consulted and I used them differently for my other two applications – LBS and INSEAD. I wrote all the essays without sharing with a single person but incorporated all the feedback I received from my HBS application. They sounded very much like me. I felt good about the essays and the rest is also history.

My point is this, during the application process, get as many valuable input about the process, the logic, the flow, etc but write the essay and let it sound like you. If you read your essay and you feel if you are not you, you will really not understand the person writing the essay, then trust me, nobody else will. Rule of thumb!

Why I applied to Harvard Business School!

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, HBS was one of the schools I applied to, however, I was dinged and I remember mentioning that it was for obvious reasons. Well, before telling you why I think I got dinged, I want to lay out my reasons for applying to HBS. In other posts, I will also explain why I applied to INSEAD.

HBS happened to be the first of the 3 schools I applied to – HBS, INSEAD, LBS – in that order. The first question was why did I apply to HBS? If you already observed, the other 2 schools I applied to are not in the US and its a bit unconventional that I did not apply to other US schools such as Stanford, Kellogs, Wharton etc. However, from the onset, there were some basic filters I applied in determining the school I could attend. First, it has to be a top business school which is globally recognized; second, it has to be extremely internationally driven and finally, 2 years for MBA was not something I was willing to give. Anything short of 2 years will do the trick. INSEAD is 10 months and LBS is 15 – 21 months. With a young family, I doubt staying away from work for 2 years will be in our collective best interest. Well, this is a topic for another day and I guess we could argue this all day long!

However, I applied to HBS despite being a 2-year program for obvious reasons – not because it was a top business school as that’s a given based on my earlier filters but because 7Up Nigeria was offering full scholarship to 1 Nigerian who gets admitted into HBS. With full tuition, flight tickets, living allowances/stipends starring me in the face, who will blame me for not resisting the temptation to want to attend HBS for free. And really, how many Nigerians get admitted into HBS every year; meaning I had a good shot at that ‘wealth’ if I got admitted.

My thinking was this – HBS satisfies my first 2 criteria for a  business school (though not as internationally diverse as INSEAD and LBS) and the 3rd criteria which is basically about finances will be answered by 7Up scholarship. So, why not apply?

This however begs a very important question – Will I have gone to HBS if I got the admission but not the scholarship? Hmnn…I’m still thinking about this but am I glad I did not have that decision to make. If I got INSEAD as the case is now, I will definitely have chosen INSEAD over HBS but if I did not get INSEAD, my mind says I will still have gone to HBS but my pocket seems to be crying foul!

So, now you understand why I applied to HBS. Basically, your choice of a business school to attend should be well supported by strong reasons and motivations. IMO, if your reasons for attending a business school is not strong and clear enough, do not attempt to. In my next post, I will explain why I think I got dinged from HBS and probably nail some lessons from the experience as well. Ciao!

Myths about MBA Program busted

You probably have heard so much about doing an MBA. Trust me, I have heard and read much more! Including the risk! But is life without risks? So I culled up some myths about the MBA program and provided some perspective on them below. Feel free to challenge any of the myths below and let’s have an intelligent conversation.

Myth 1:                  Competent business people don’t need to do an MBA

Self development is necessary to better oneself and employers frown upon people who do not enhance their skills. There are few, if any, better ways of developing ones business skills than completing an MBA program. I haven’t met an MBA graduate (from a reputable Business School) who has not benefited from attending an MBA program. Sure, an MBA is not a prerequisite to succeed in business however having an MBA will make the chance of succeeding a whole lot better

Myth 2:                  Experience isn’t necessary to attend an MBA Program

The highly regarded MBA programs make use of Case Studies to work through practical examples. Without work experience the benefits and contributions of the practical Case Studies become nullified. Having relevant experience, and being able to apply that experience to MBA studies, is essential in getting the most from MBA program

Myth 3:                  MBA Programs are expensive

Good MBA programs are costly to attend. The Return on Investment (ROI) from the good MBA programs (which are usually the most costly) is significant and will be far higher than attending a less expensive but not as reputable MBA program. An MBA is a big investment and should be treated as an investment rather than an expense. 

Myth 4:                  An MBA is best suited for those who want to work for a big company.

An MBA can help you to be successful in almost any organization. Many MBAs are successful executives in large corporations, but there are just as many working in nonprofits, healthcare organizations, higher education, arts management, the military, and government. Some people get MBAs so they can start their own businesses or manage a small family business. Surveyed just before graduation, 38 percent of the MBA class of 2009 say they plan to work in organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees. With an MBA, you can pursue a career in a wide range of industries and in different types of organizations, from a big business or a business of one.

Myth 5:                  The business school culture tends not to be supportive of women

There are big differences among schools, and some are better than others at attracting and supporting women on campus. All businesses are not the same, and neither are all business schools. Talk to school representatives, current students, and alumni to see if the school you’re interested in offers the culture and kind of experiences you want. Ultimately, differences in satisfaction with school culture don’t vary much by gender. Male members of the MBA class of 2009 were a little more likely than female members to say they were extremely satisfied by their school’s culture, 27.3 percent to 24.4 percent. But in general, 95 percent of graduating MBAs of both genders said they were somewhat to extremely satisfied with their school culture.

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