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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What I learned when I got back to school

By: JN Tingcoy

I could vividly remember tendering my resignation to my general manager informing him my intentions of going back to school (perhaps the lamest excuse I made for resigning). He asked me if I could come back after two years (as I said I would finish it in two years); I merely said I’d think about it when the two years come. From then on, it was a helluva. In fact, I placed a lot on hold, and one of them was the normal out-of-the-country-work-plans. I was a step closer to leaving the country for work, yet again placed it on hold for the mba stint.

So what was in it then when I was willing to put things on hold for that? Well for starters, nothing. It surprised me that if somebody asks me what I learned in mba, I would say technically nothing (some might despise me for this, thic). I could not re-discuss all theories, formulas, processes (damn pert) and others; but I can sure say the intangibles I gained in such experience.

The first realization I had is about leadership. But I would not dwell on the tacky and popular dialogue on leadership. Instead, I realized (and proven) that leadership is a very expensive trait. You don’t get to know your people within your organization, rather in informal gatherings. I learned it during my first year as a student, with schooling in one hand and teaching on the other. I get a lot of mentoring from my seniors because I hang out with some students a lot. Thic. It was a risk of refining the line supposedly drawn. But with that risk, I got to know my students more. I got to learn what background affects their performance, and I got to realize to what extent of pressure I should give. The expensive part is a given.

The second realization I had is about friendship and connections. They say mba provides a venue for great business connections. I tend to disagree. The friendship comes first; the connections only follow – as a bonus. I saw different types of team players during my mba stint. I knew a friend who really was just a stranger but rushed in times of need like a sister. I knew someone who helped me find ways to save on my brother’s post-chemo medicines. More to that, I knew people who were strangers to everybody, but were like brothers willing to help during sendong’s uninvited visit. We all started as strangers, but we will leave like best of friends.

Third is the experience of others. We don’t have to experience what everybody experienced to know, feel and be where they are. Be it case studies, classroom questions or discussion of fears and dreams (yes, we did this in class), we gain a lot of insights from others on how they dealt with situations that call for massive thinking. Sometimes I felt lucky I didn’t experience what they did; but most of the time I listen in awe by the way they handle things.

Time Management is the fourth realization I had. Again, not the common view on time management. Rather, I’d start by what our Business Policy professor, and an ADMU Philosophy professor said respectively: Nobody on his deathbed ever regretted spending less time in the office, rather spending less time at home and Learn how to waste time with the people you love. This is what time management really is for me. It is difficult like the common notion of time management. This challenged me to be able to drop everything at hand, and be with friends or family when needed; or to simply smell the roses.

Most non-business graduates in mba would find financial management very challenging. I see it challenging too, but on a different angle though. The financial management I learned in mba is learning not to be dependent on money. To learn how to let go of the dependence on money makes financial management more challenging. This has made Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey contented with their lives in comparison to the rich who still gets famished for more wealth. It is identifying the point of contentment. As the theme of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad would stress, it’s not you working for money but rather money working for you.

Finally, the one thing I would never forget and would always remember in my mba experience is drawing lines. The words of a Philosophy professor in ADMU would coin it this way Nasa sa ‘yo ‘yan eh. If you know where the line is drawn, you wouldn’t be afraid to get close. The statement was basically an answer to the question where do you draw the line? So where do we draw lines? As a superior? As a teacher? As a friend? Or… should we keep drawing lines?

You see, the moment I tendered my resignation two years ago, I was imagining stock market, project management, international economics, business ethics controversies and the like. We did take it all up and woe to my memory if it did not retain. But what’s more to that is getting more than I bargained for.

So kudos to my professors who unknowingly shared that much. Kudos to my classmates who came to be good friends. Kudos to my students and officemates who helped me balance the beam. Finally kudos to my family, the reason for all this.


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