IE Business School Online Masters
Ted Pawela Ted Pawela
“Ted is currently Sr. Director, Product Marketing at Accelrys Inc. in San Diego, California.

Ted has spent the last 15 years in various product marketing and product management roles within enterprise software companies including MSC.Software, MARC Analysis Research Corporation, and LMS International. He holds undergraduate and graduate level degrees in engineering from Florida Institute of Technology and Michigan State University.”

Ted Pawela
October 1, 2010
A Day in the Life

There were two questions I found myself asking a lot before enrolling in IE’s IXMBA program.  One was to anyone I could find who had already graduated from an EMBA program, and the question was what they felt they had learned that they wouldn’t have picked up on their jobs.  I was surprised to find that the answer I got most often was “time management”.  It wasn’t skills or critical thinking or anything else I might have expected, but how to deal with an overbooked schedule filled with more things every day than most people would imagine doing in 3 days time.

This leads to the second question, which was how much time I needed to plan on committing to the program each week.   The answer to that one varied a bit, but 20-30 hours per week was most common.  Turns out that the number of hours per week isn’t really a relevant guage, because after a while you sort of stop thinking about hours and minutes and just do what it takes to get through your text reading, case reading, discussion board reading, discussion board writing, case analysis writing, case analysis commenting, financial accounting calculations, cost accounting calculations, and business plan writing.  Oh, and lest I forget you also do your “day job”, and take at least a little time to spend with your family.  If it sounds extreme, I can attest that it is.  If you think I’m exaggerating, I can assure you I’m not.

I don’t know how many hours that takes, but I can tell you what a typical day looks like.

5 am:   wake up, coffee and discussion boards

6 am:  more coffee, read text/cases; write text/cases

7 am:  make breakfast for son before his school, make bag lunch, small talk before day.

8 am:  work – day job.

noon:  lunch while reading discussion boards.  Begin research for comments to post.  Perhaps post a comment if prepared.

6 pm:  end day job.  Family time if not on the road.  Dinner with colleagues if traveling.

9 pm:  tuck son into bed if at home.   Read discussion boards, post comments – at least one on each active board.

10 pm:  read text or case studies.  Draft case analyses, business plan (entrepreneurship), or commentary to team members case analyses, and/or accounting calculations.

midnight:  hopefully, sleep.

It’s not always exactly this schedule, of course, but this what a pretty typical day feels like.  Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays relieve us of the message boards as they are closed then, but the case analyses and calculations are particularly heavy now since assignments are due on Monday.  Ah, Monday – the day most people dread because the weekend is over and they are back to work.  I love Mondays now.  Assignments are submitted, the discussion boards don’t open until the next morning – gotta love Mondays.

So back to the questions.  Am I learning time management?  Without a doubt.  My wife tells me I’m burning my candle from both ends, I’m almost always tired, I haven’t been to the gym in a while, but I learned that actually, I can handle it.  It’s hard, even grueling at times, but it’s also rewarding.  And the good news is that while I can agree that I’m learning time management, I’m confident that I’m learning a lot more, too.

How many hours a week?  I have no idea but when it’s all over, and even now in the midst of it, it’s time well spent.


Ted Pawela
September 28, 2010
Why IE?

My peers in the IE Executive MBA will recognize this as probably the most frequently asked question during the “presential period” we spent in Madrid to kick off the program.  Just about a year ago, when the idea to get an MBA (at age 48, no less) took root in my head I started to research schools.  The Business Week rankings, Financial Times rankings, and WSJ rankings were my starting point and I thought they represented my most important decision criterion.  I read forums and blogs and just about anything I could get access to that gave me opinions of other students, and I found a great deal of debate on the topic.  Many prospective students took the position that they had to go to Wharton, Chicago (Booth), Harvard, Insead, or IMD because they considered them “first tier” schools – and they were pretty derisive towards anyone who decided to go anywhere else.  At first glance I thought that maybe the reasoning was correct.  After all, you get the MBA to advance in your career, and you want it to be take seriously, right?

But “a funny thing happened on the way to the forum” as it were.  I began to ask myself what it really meant to “advance”.  What were my goals, and how would an MBA help me to achieve them?  My selection criterion became crystal clear:  a strong international business exposure, faculty that could stand toe-to-toe with global leaders, a program flexible enough to accommodate a work schedule that includes 200,000 miles of air travel each year, ability to spend my weekends at home with family, and no compromises on the education I would realize.  It’s a tall order, and I found only one school that met my standards.  Despite re-evaluating the decision multiple times I always arrived at the same result:  IE.

I’m not trying to promote IE (though I love it and am a huge advocate).  What I am promoting is the idea that your MBA decision should be based most of all on matching the school and program with your goals, lifestyle constraints, and expectations – not just the rankings.  They are important, but aside from (maybe) landing your very first job, nobody is going to hire you (or decide not to) because your MBA is from Insead rather than IMD, or Thunderbird rather than Wharton, or Michigan rather than IE.  You will be judged first and foremost based on your personality, attitude, and abilities – and I have 26 years of workforce experience, many in which I’ve reported direct to CEOs on which to base that opinion.

I’m extremely happy with my decision to come to IE, and today even more convinced that I made the right choice for my own goals and needs.  And by the way, 4 months into the program and comparing notes with colleagues at some of the schools I mentioned above, I feel qualified to tell you this is indeed a first tier program.  If you’re already attending IE I hope you feel the same.  If you’re thinking of starting your own MBA journey, keep in mind that your choice of schools is a chance to do more than just memorize the rankings – it’s an opportunity to exercise your critical thinking skills, and prepare an authentic and sincere response to the inevitable question that in my case is, “Why IE?”.


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