Residency 1 – Building a community and reevaluating my expectations

The first week of my Executive MBA class ended last Saturday. Six days full of excitement, self-pressure, joy, and learning are over. But let me start at the beginning. 

Preparation 

After I was accepted into the program, (find a description of the application process in this article) I thought I could relax for one more week and then start to prepare (funny me). Some links and information were sent to me around four weeks in advance of the program start date. Mainly links with information on how to get started, for example, how to log in to the platform to get the preparation documents. Since I started my preparation one week later, I had three weeks left to prepare myself for the class. Within the first week, I went through all of the syllabuses, starting with marketing and economic thinking. 

In the second week (actually a bit later), I realized that I had a lot more to prepare, so I made myself a plan for the last two and a half weeks. I learned and prepared almost every day (before and after work and during the three weekends which were left). Yes, I was taking things seriously. In the end, I was not completely ready, I started with the optional readings but I couldn´t finish all of them. 

First day 

My first thought when arriving at the school was that it was much bigger than I expected. I was far too early, so I had enough time to manage how to connect to the WiFi and find the auditorium. Everyone had her/his seat assigned with their name and received a welcome package which included a writing pad, pen, ESMT bag, keycard to enter the building and the study rooms, and a copy of Francis de Véricourt’s book Framers: Human Advantage in an Age of Technology and Turmoil – which I’m really looking forward to reading.   

Everything was well organized and we had our welcome dinner that evening to get to know each other. The class was split into smaller groups with five to six members to work through the first five residencies together if needed. We were asked to go with our team members to discuss and work on the tasks together. 

Courses 

Within the first residency we had six courses to start with: 

  • Introduction to General Management 
  • Introduction to Economic Thinking 
  • Data Analysis and Forecasting 
  • High Performing Teams 
  • Management Accounting 
  • Marketing Management 

As expected, all courses are completely different. Sometimes we were asked to go into our study rooms to discuss in smaller groups, to answer questions within query tools, and to answer something within a “cold call” which means you don’t actively answer, but the professor calls on you to do so. (Definitely not my comfort zone. I am not sure if I´m the only one, but I get so nervous that I completely forget to think). 

All professors delivered the courses at a top-level, but one did an exceptional job. Our general management professor was completely active the whole time (one WHOLE day until 6:40 p.m.). He put so much energy into the course, keeping everyone engaged while showing the importance of general management. It was a joy to listen to him and feed off his energy and passion. 

We had an outdoor day, where we worked through some tasks in smaller groups to analyze how effective teams work together. I didn’t expect to learn how to drive a boat within the EMBA but hey, you never know. At the end of the day, we made some self-reflection and gave feedback to our team members. I arrived home at about 11:30 p.m. that day. 

On the last day of this residency, we had our first test, and the next one will soon follow. The courses are evaluated differently, some by participation in class, some by group assessments, and of course some by tests. 

Classmates 

On our first day, we received a lookbook that included a photo and short biography of everyone in the class which was a great start to get to know each other. Some classmates are from around the world (few are from Berlin). There’s a complete mixture from all expert fields. I had many interesting discussions and it’s really amazing to get other perspectives, to collaborate, and to purely talk. 

My plan – until the next residency 

I’ve learned a bunch of new things which I will use during my normal working life. On Monday evening I’ll meet remotely with my group (our group name is Meitner, named after Lise Meitner who was a nuclear physicist). We’ll discuss our data group assignment which needs to be uploaded by Sunday. 

First, I’ll make myself an overview and plan on how and when to do what. Afterwards, I plan to read through the optional readings which I haven’t finished from the first residency, as well as a revising what I have learned so far. If I have time left, I’ll continue with the optional readings for the second residency. In between both residencies, there are some exams and a reflection letter that needs to be sent. 

As you can see, there’s a lot of work waiting for me. But I’m happy that I took the plunge and am even more excited about what awaits me over the next 18 months. 

This article was originally published on my blog here.

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