A few days ago, I finally met my Part-time MBA in Business Innovation classmates from all over the world for the first time! Although the program launched this September, we studied only online until our first residency kicked off which added the bonus of experiencing our beautiful campus in autumn.
Professor Zoltan Antal-Mokos delivered the first session in a hybrid format, with most of the class attending in person and those who could not physically be here, attending the class virtually. Zoltan teaches General Management and is one of my favorite professors so far! In our first class, I got the opportunity to think about many interesting questions such as, what makes a good business manager, what is VUCA, and how can we cope with the challenges of digital transformation. As usual, he used his humor to share the mood curve for MBA students with us. He explained that if we think of the MBA journey as a rollercoaster ride, that we are at the very top right now as the journey has just begun – and that’s exactly how I feel! As the program progresses, we will face challenges and our mood may falter. But by persisting in moving forward, we will return to the top. While this speech is inspiring, I also feel psychologically well prepared for the long journey ahead.
He also mentioned that although we can get a lot of information from the internet nowadays, we need to think independently and use technology wisely. I reflected on my learning experience so far: the online learning platform provides me with the opportunity to decide when, where, and how I want to learn. At first, I had doubts about whether or not the platform would work well, but so far it has turned out to be a very interesting and joyful place to “live in”. It is easy to access all the learning materials and the platform also provides us with the opportunity to interact with each other. There are many interactive activities we can use to get to know each other such as pooling, multiple choice quizzes, as well as Q&A’s with geographic locations – it is amazing to see everyone´s homeland on the map!
Teamwork is essential, Zoltan added. He suggested that we distribute the study tasks in the study groups to help each other. This has worked well within my study group. We write messages on the online learning platform anytime we need help or we work together using Microsoft Teams for group assignments. I have never felt like I am struggling alone. If we have questions and need additional help, we can reach out to the program team via the platform, which has been a very efficient process so far.
The blended format of the residency not only gave us the opportunity to study together, but to also develop networks, no matter where we are. We talked about the gender pay gap in the workplace with one of our professors who is based in Canada and shared personal stories with our classmates who joined us online. In the Obelisk challenge, we worked in different groups to solve the puzzle. With the help of a live feed from the school, it was as though the students who joined online were here, talking alongside us.
At the end of the first day, we designed the coat of arms for our Part-time MBA 2020 class using our imagination and creativity. This coat of arms reminds me of my decision to apply for the program. I decided to apply because I would like to enrich my academic background, which is essential to accomplish the transformation of my career. Furthermore, learning from others and sharing working experience with my classmates are also part of my motivation. The Part-time MBA program gives me time to study while working and taking care of my family. Besides, Berlin is a very international city where I feel at home.
At the welcome dinner, Urs Müller, director of the program, gave a welcome speech. He said that he hopes the Part-time MBA program will become a part of our work and life, but not become our whole life. On the one hand, he hopes that everyone remains curious and makes the most out of the program and benefits from it; and on the other hand, that he sincerely hopes that the students can balance their studies and work and enjoy the journey. I believe this aligns with the expectations and wishes of my classmates and I.
While writing this piece, I still feel excited about the wonderful moments with my classmates so far and I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you.