IE Business School Online Masters
Jason Andrew
March 8, 2010
…finally found some time to do my first post

When I first volunteered to do a blog for the International Executive MBA…last November 09! I thought “that shouldn’t be too hard, surely I can find some time to put up a couple of words here and there”…mmm, well, it turned out that that was a little bit naive. Being part of the November IXMBA class is a wonderfully enriching experience, the trade off is that it costs a lot of time…but don’t be discouraged, the cost of time is well worth the outcome you receive!

We have 31 students from 22 countries. Sectors represented include, manufacturing, telecommunications, financial services, law, advertising, logistics, non for profit, consulting, IT, food technology, aeronautics, tourism, building and construction, engineering, nuclear physics, pharmaceuticals and a few experienced in start ups. It is a very diverse group. We have lawyers, CFOs, biologists, chemists, aeronautical engineers, nuclear scientists, our fair share of people in funds management and financial advising, company owners, people living as ex-pats in other countries, ex-university professors and someone who made a lot of money building and selling an internet start up – you’ll have to ask them what the website was about ;-).   So as you can see, life online with an IE Masters is not a lonely experience, you get to share it with amazing people who become your friends for life.

In the IXMBA we work in groups of 5-7 people and the work load is roughly like this:  Each week your group works on 3 assignments, these get submitted the following week on the Monday/Tuesday. This is followed by an open class discussion on the assignment topics with all 31 students…that is 3 class discussions happening simultaneously, these are guided by the professor who asks various questions and steers the direction of the conversation. These are very deep discussions and the learning experience is a lot greater than what I expected. Unlike being in a class you can’t just say what comes to mind, in an online course your contribution is there for all to see, so a lot of thought generally goes into a post. The discussions are open from Tuesday to Friday for students to participate where they can in different time zones. At the end of the week for some subjects there is a short quiz. The catch is, that whilst you are having the 3 class discussions, you are also working with your group to put together next weeks assignments, plus of course working full time.

All work is done in forums and is very easy to follow, and being online you obviously use other tools. In skyping with one of my colleagues in my group we were talking about the work load and then about our experience. At the end we decided that if you are going to get an EMBA from one of the best business schools in the world, it is normal for it to be challenging. In a strange kind of way it would be disappointing if it was too easy…but it is a hell of a lot of fun!

Cheers
Jason


Ram Parasuraman
January 4, 2010
In-Forumal Learning

Happy New Year 2010!

Let me take the pleasure of welcoming you all to this blog this new year! We at the Global MBA class of 2010 are back after enjoying a restful break. Yes, some of us were missing classes and forums, but for sure we’re going to be immersed full time into this throughout this year, so for me, it could wait until Jan 4th 😉 Some homeworks, assignments, presentations and even casitos are due this week and slowly but surely we are heading back to the books.

This was the first break since our program began and only first of two significant two breaks we enjoy during the program. It gave me a good chance to reflect on the time that has been, how I have managed my time, work-study-life balance (if there is one) and if there are ways  I can change or improve things this new year. Sure enough, lots of resolutions emerged and the top one from there was time management, especially on the asynchronous portion of the program, that is the discussion forums.

Now discussion forums at first glance don’t immediately make sense when you consider that emails, web forums and the like are quite informal, haphazard and irregular as such. But IE brings in some good deal of structure to this format and uses it quite well to enhance learning throughout the week in between online lectures. Forums are an integral part of the course and this makes it very different from other face to face MBA programs.

For one, you have assigned readings and need to be prepared well before the forum begins;  and second, you have continuous access to your professor and classmates as though they were your colleagues at work, who sit right across from you, but send email. Only here, they are almost always helpful 😉 Now which full time or Part time MBA guarantees that you get atleast 4-5 opportunities to speak in each class and the ability to converse with your professors each day in the week?

The forums are moderated continuously not just by the professors, who facilitate the learning, but also by students who read and respond to other posts. Each week in the forums, we discuss a specific concept, which keys off from a HBS or IE Case Study. The professor asks leading questions, which the class responds to, bringing in their global and industrial diversity. Unlike in a real class, where the time between the professor posing a question and the first answer coming up is a few seconds, here, you can take even an hour to think about the issue raised, t o process the information and to relate to your own experience, how you have dealt with an issue of this kind in the past. Then even as you are typing, a classmate posted his or her view on the subject and that makes you think differently and add a different angle. In class, I am sure 5 or 6 of us would raise our hand and one of us gets to speak what all of us wanted to say. Have you been there?

We are there too… there is the Hermoine from Harry Potter who always answers first and the Ron who never wants to answer and everyone in between. But the thing is, there is no Professor Flitwick who just rewards points and moves on after the question is answered and certainly no Professor Snape, who deducts points for answering out of turn or a Prof Trewalney who does not even listen to your answer 😉 Here, each professor we have had so far, takes the time to read each response, address us directly and indicate the key learnings for each question posed. There are no strict right or wrong answers like we see in most cases in life. Some professors even take the time to post multiple PDF files with contributions from us, from them and from useful sources and articles from around the web. I am a strong believer that all this strongly enhances discussions. For instance, when we are working on a Marketing case, it helps immensely to look at different examples of advertising or positioning products from Youtube.  How many times would a professor teaching live in a classroom like it if you tell her that you are browsing Youtube for good examples to share with class?

The fun part of the forum is that it is always on! Just as it is getting time for me to get to bed after reading the last few unread posts in the forum and then add my own, there’s my classmate in Europe that has just woken up to read the messages posted from the Western and Far Eastern hemispheres. Similarly, when she winds up for the night, folks in Japan and Singapore are having their morning Coffee while reading the forums. The forum addiction that many of my colleagues have spoken about in their posts is simply caused by the fun and amount of learning that is attained through this medium. I believe this is a very valuable mode of learning and if you are lucky to have  a class and teaching staff as good as I do, you’ll be always on your toes, pushed to do better, to think longer between posts and enrich the learning for one and all.  Most posts in our class are as good as reading an article in the newspaper or business journal. I would write more, but time to post my next entry into the Strategy forum, so I’ll see you later!


Novel Tjahyadi
January 25, 2009
Is It Really (Not) a Good Time to Do an MBA?

We finally did it! Yes, after 13 grueling months of study, we earned our MBA on an admitedly pretty impressive and well-organized ceremony last month in Madrid. Hundreds of graduates from several Master programs, including ours, International Executive MBA (IxMBA), graduated on the same day. It was a big crowd. On that memorable festive, I saw nothing but a big smile on everyone’s face, although I was not too sure how to interpret those smiles. Perhaps, for some, it was a genuinely happy smile. For others, however, it was just a bitter smile. A smile of pessimism…

We witnessed the air of excitement and the pride of being a new member of the prestigious IE and MBA alumni. But unfortunately, the excitement lasted only for a little while. The moment we stepped out of the ceremony, everyone knew that a reality was awaiting ahead of us. A reality that we all have to face. How would our MBA be worth amid the global crisis? For many, a big question drums into our heads. How long would we have to wait until we start to see a return from this expensive investment amid this downturn? (Good for those who had received sponsorships, as this might not concern them as much as it does to those who paid the MBA out of their own pockets or loans.) Or, would we ever see an ROI at all?

Sadly, we completed our MBA at an extremely rough period. Everyday all we see is heartbreaking news: companies lay off hundreds or thousands of their workforce, firms stop hiring, banks tighten loans, stock prices slump…. Lucky for those who got promotions after their MBA these days, whilst many can only hope and pray they can keep their jobs. What does this all mean to us? Does an MBA degree still make any sense these days?

I have to admit I regret completing my MBA in this time of the year, BUT I never regret my decision of doing the MBA at all… no matter what. For sure, I would have expected a better economic and financial situation than this when I passed out, whereas I could possibly have gotten more options… an option to demand a raise or a promotion, an option to swing my career as I had always wanted, an option to enter an entrepreneurship world… an option that we all had dreamed of before we commenced our MBA.

Left with very few options, what can we do now? Sitting and waiting? Naah… For the sake of encouraging my own self and all MBA wanna-bes out there (I mean you!), my only advice is simple: be optimistic! It is true that options are now limited, yet I would never imagine my resume without an MBA these days where competitions are getting even tougher and younger! Like companies, we should never stop brushing up our competitive advantage. It’s the key for survival.

If you are one of many people who are reasonably in doubt whether you should postpone your decision on participating in an MBA course, perhaps you should think again! Albeit the recession, there are still many good reasons why you should start your MBA course now. To name the few:

  1. In the class, you will have the opportunity to learn from this downturn and learn from others’ failures and mistakes in the financial industry, etc. Believe me, this could well be a priceless learning experience.
  2. Networking (you’ve heard this many times, so I won’t elaborate).
  3. As I said earlier: competitive advantage (yeah, how I like this term from our Strategy class!). Prepare yourself for the upturn. There is nothing more rewarding when you know you are more knowledgeable than before.

After all, MBA is an education. It is an asset that does not recognize age nor recession. If you are one of those people who always have the thirst for self-development, don’t be put off by the crisis. Just do it!


 
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