Written by Global Ambassador, Tafadzwa Chisango, Financial Risk Management Consultant and EMBA student, Dubai at Hult International Business School.
The reminder pops up in my inbox two weeks prior to the beginning of my up-coming course – Global Strategy. I scan through the email and my eyes are immediately drawn to the words in bold “there will be a quiz on the first day of class”. Yes, I read right-there will be a quiz/test on the first day of class-at 9am. This is the reality of the EMBA programme- pre-course preparation. Pre-course preparation is a very crucial component of the learning process and is a sure way to set yourself up for success in the programme. I quickly check my calendar again and realise that I have a business trip out of the country just two days before the course begins-which meant I really had to do as much reading as I could prior to going on the trip. Now this sounds easy right..but throw in a very energetic one year old baby who wants to play with mommy any chance she gets and the script changes.
This is my reality as a working mother who is pursuing an EMBA-my life is all about juggling different things all at the same time and making it work. While I do not own a red cape and blue suit with an S on my chest-I have somehow managed to find a way to make it work. What is my secret, you may ask-there is no secret-it is all about preparation and organisation! To quote Alexander Graham Bell; “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
Thankfully, at Hult they have made it possible for me to be able to prepare and do my scheduling way in advance as once I register for a course, I get full access to the syllabus as well as reading lists, materials and information on how to acquire the relevant textbooks-which really gives me ample time to plan ahead and divide the reading into more manageable chunks. Through the MyCourses platform, I am able to install the app on my phone-giving me access to all the course information and resources on the go. I am also able to sync the app’s calendar with my Google calendar which I use on my phone, enabling me to sync my study plan with everything else I have diarised on my personal calendar.
So two weeks before the course commences, I began going through the reading material. It was a good mix of journal articles, published papers, case studies, web articles as well as textbook reading. The reading material gave me a good overview of what the course entailed and for someone who does not work in strategy, this was new and exciting for me. Needless to say, I covered the rest of the reading material after work in my hotel room while on my business trip as well as on the flight back home-who needs in-flight entertainment when one can read about competitive advantage.
The weekend of the course arrived and as promised there was a quiz when class began. For those who had gone through the course reading material, they found the quiz manageable. The professor did a great job of laying the foundations of the course, clearly explaining what strategy is and most importantly, what tools and knowledge we would be equipped with when the course came to an end. I remember feeling very optimistic as it sounded like something that would empower me as a leader
The weekend was action-packed to say the least. There was a wealth of information that was shared with us. The professor kept everyone engaged through regular class discussion. The problems and scenarios we analysed were engaging, thought-provoking and in most cases practical and related to the real world. A strategy course wouldn’t be complete without a case study and as expected, we had an in-class real world case to analyse in groups of 4 in addition to another more comprehensive case which we had to to work on in different groups of 4 after class. The groups were selected at random and this allowed us to work with different classmates stemming from diverse backgrounds and industries.
Over the course of the weekend, we went through several topics in the strategy field. From talking about the different schools of thought to real world examples and cases. I learnt a lot both from the professor but also from my classmates. It was truly an enriching, challenging and thought-provoking course. It was a very engaging and practical course which equipped me with many tools that I can implement in my own life-both personally and professionally.