Given the release of the FT MBA rankings this week I would firstly like to take the opportunity to congratulate the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business for its inclusion once again in the rankings. The rankings are a great tool for benchmarking target schools.
In my case, applying to a business school outside the traditional geographical areas for an MBA, it was reassuring to see GSB listed and being compared with other schools at a global level.
This weekend my MBA journey officially kicked off with orientation at the school. Two intense days centered on the theme of group formation, team work and leadership. It also provided an insight into the pace of the year ahead.
While the orientation weekend was the first time the class came together, the preceeding week was also fairly busy with pre-readings, assignments and questionnaires – and just when you thought you’d completed all the work the next batch of pre-readings, assignments and questionaires was sent through. Suffice to say by the time I entered the school for orientation I felt confidently prepared – although still slightly unsure as to what to expect.
The weekend started with breakfast in the school’s inner courtyard, giving us the opportunity to meet fellow students as well as the team I’ll be a member of over the next year for class assignments and group seminars. It was also an opportunity to find out about the nationalities and pre-MBA industries that make up the class. This year’s intake includes individuals from across Africa, North America, Europe and Asia. Just taking the group of seven I’m in as an example, nationalities represented include France, Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, Kenya and of course South Africa and industries range from investment banking to veterinary medicine – definitely an exciting mix to be part of.
With breakfast, introductions and welcome speeches out of the way it was time to get down to the weekend’s activites. These included a mixture of physical and mental tasks culminating in Sunday morning spent on the sports fields at the University of Cape Town. As fun and highly competitive as the activites were, they did serve a serious purpose as a catalyst for team formation, introductions and an understanding of the personal and shared group values for the year ahead.
The great thing that this part of the MBA experience has provided is a quick learning curve for when to step up or when to stand back while in a team facing different situations. It’s also highlighted an important message in the dean’s opening speech from the beginning of the weekend – that the hardest part of an MBA is getting to grips with the personal development skills that will be vital for future success. It’s a long jouney ahead, but I feel I’m on the right track.
With orientation over it’s now time to get down to business and start the classes, guest speaker sessions and company-sponsored barbeques scheduled for the next few weeks.