Looking back at the beginning of the journey when I started the MBA in September 2013, it seems like yesterday, yet I have experienced and learned so much. Not only about all the technical and academic fields or the personal and leadership development areas – but also about the ability to get even more structured.
I consider myself to be very structured. At least know after having completed the MBA journey, but also before I started at Henley
I need to be structured and a time management champion, as I have already described in my work-life-study-balance blog, simply because I want to spent my time right so that I can get a lot of things done each day.
Maybe I am special and a bit strange since I never relax or sit down at home. I am never stressed or physical affected by the 24/7 workloads. I relax and cool down (mentally) when I am running or biking. If I sit down it will be at my office reading (or writing these blogs of course..), but I never ever sit down at home to watch television.
This critical self-evaluation founds the basis of my choice of having a study buddy.
Afraid of spending time on small talk and group arrangements
When I started the MBA journey and met the other participants I was afraid that I was supposed to be working with 3-4 others in a study group working with the assignments and being forced to being physical present each time.
This would simply be impossible for me since I, first of all, never know when I am able to leave the office and since I do not like small talking or working with people that are not as structured and serious as myself.
I am of course not a cold mean machine that hates other “normal” people, but after normal working hours I would like to work/study fast, get the job done so that I can get home spending time with my wife and friends and doing sports.
Getting a study buddy
I realized that I needed to find a study buddy so that I could have someone to talk to about the structure and content of the various assignments. I also realized that I needed to find a study buddy that would be a bit like myself.
Luckily that was perfectly fine for everyone at Henley
I did not need to be part of a study group and I could team up with another student if I wanted to.
The first year of the MBA I had one study buddy that unfortunately stopped the education after the first year since he wanted to pursue his dreams abroad when he was offered, and accepted, a position in the Middle East.
I had a great co-operation with him. He was a great guy, even more structured than myself, consistent and he also kept his promises.
A new study buddy
Then I needed to find a new study buddy and luckily I managed to make an agreement with the most senior guy from our program. Not senior by age (only 10 years older than me), but senior by experience.
He has been working on C-level management for several years; he knew was he was talking about when it came to business development, leadership and sales.
Luckily for me and at the same time a bit scary since I thought that I needed to perform at my best all the time and of course I was afraid that he would see me as an inexperienced youngster.
The most important things, and the main reason why this study buddy relation was great, were simply because of the fact that he has the exact same mind-set as myself
He is to the point and would like to keep a high pace. Go hard and go home! Then also a bit competitive (like myself) meaning that we often had some small competitions in getting the assignments done first.
That really motivated me and I am sure that it also motivated him.
Having a study buddy was the right thing for me, but what have I learned from it and what would I suggest to new MBA students?
First of all I all starts with a critical self-reflection or evaluation of your own time and second of all you need to dig deep and figure out how you learn best and how you are motivated.
Do you enjoy long discussion and reflections with 3-4 others and hearing a lot of examples and stories about how they interpret various areas?
Then, quite obvious, a study group is the ideal choice for you, but if you like having more in depth discussions with one other person then the buddy system might suit you better.
These reflections, among others, are crucial when trying to find the best solution for you. You cannot start a study group and later back out and leave the others.
So make the choice about being part of a study group or having a study buddy as soon as possible. For the sake of your own and the other students
I was very honest and direct from the beginning when I told the others that I would not be able to participate in group work since I would not have time for it. I was a bit direct, but apparently the understood and respected my opinion had no hard feelings.
As I have also mentioned in my previous blogs – it is perfectly ok to be a bit selfish and to say no J
What I have gained from having a study buddy
During the years I have gotten to know my study buddy better and we have helped each other a lot, both with the specific tasks at Henley with the assignments, but also with various challenges at the job, at home and other different areas that would potentially affect our careers.
A new part of my own advisory board
He is a person that I trust and a person that I know always would give me a piece of good advise – and of course he knows that it goes both ways.
Having a large network might be good, but building a solid network with a smaller group that knows you very well and because of this is able to coach you and help you might be even more beneficial.
Your study buddy might be one of those persons from your own private “advisory board” that you can trust and feel comfortable talking to about all kinds of things.
A motivator that has helped me through hard times
As already mentioned undertaking the MBA while working becomes quite the balancing act. You are bound to meet challenges along the way, however if you study the MBA with a study buddy you have someone to discuss these challenges with and can work through them together.
I have experienced some hard times, when I really needed to focus on getting the job done without sleep and without the social element in my life for some time.
That was of course a bit hard and that really helped me that I could talk to a person I trusted about all these things and acknowledge that he was going through the exact same things himself.
Opened my mind
With regards to the assignments you tend to narrow down and sometimes focus on specific details that might not even be relevant and might harm the overall picture.
Then having a good discussion about these areas and possible solutions with your study buddy is great.
I remember when talking to my study buddy about his challenges with his assignments that he, even though he is extremely intelligent, was thrilled by getting my point of view
And I could really feel that he was excited and happy about the discussions we had and I was very honoured and proud that I was able to help him
So having a study buddy is a very serious commitment. You need to know that someone is depending on you and might suddenly need your help. During the day, at night or at the weekends. Then you need to prioritize and help him or her out.
At the same time it is so valuable and nice to know that you have a buddy that you can rely on.
To wrap it up and conclude I think you should consider the following when starting your own MBA journey
- Find out how much time you have for studying and how much time you have for participating in study group arrangements
- Be very honest to yourself about the above since you cannot agree to be part of a study group and then later back out
- Having a study buddy has helped me achieve a better work-life-study-balance
- If you decide to get a study buddy then let this person know how you feel about deadlines
- Let the person know about your own values and be as open as possible about yourself. Let the person know what you are doing when you are not studying and why you might feel down from time to time.
- The above goes for being part of a study group of course, but then there might not be that much time for discussions about personal matters. Or maybe there is and then it is suddenly hearing about 3-4 other people’s personal issues. Consider how you feel about this.
I hope you have gained a little bit by spending time reading my blog and realized that it all starts with yourself and your self-reflection.
In my next blog I will let you know about the study trip to South Africa – a journey that has changed my life and how I am looking at problems and issues at home. BUT also a very nice safari trip with great barbecue arrangements and a great time with our study group.