Why Getting Your MBA Gives You Confidence

why-getting-your-mba-gives-you-confidence

This is a guest post from Marguerite Arnold.

One of the most enduring reasons to get your MBA (or even EMBA) goes far beyond the “so-called” traditional reasons for going back to grad school (starting with increasing your pay check). It also extends much further than your expanded business network and the knowledge that you pick up along the way, including bettering how you work in teams.

The MBA experience, where-ever you get one, is also structured very differently from other graduate degrees. That is why getting your MBA, whenever you obtain it, will almost undoubtedly enhance just about any other skill set that you have.

Beyond this, however, getting your MBA is one of the best ways of building confidence – and I would add, particularly for women. I know I am not the only woman who I have talked to recently that has specifically mentioned that getting the degree, no matter one’s professional background and track record, helps you understand that business is as much a “conversation” if not “communication” with the rest of the world as it is anything else.

Part of this, I think, is that the MBA experience creates a solid framework for knowing how to “think outside the box” and to express that in terms that other business people will understand. It is not just about creating pretty PowerPoints (although you will probably find yourself doing a lot of those). It is very much about learning how to express yourself in structured terms in order to summarize complicated concepts much more simply and effectively. The ability to “speak fluently” in any language and be much better understood is, in and of itself, a confidence builder.

Presentations and team work are a big part of what you learn (or learn how to do better) – and there is no better way to learn than to try and fail. While this may not sound ideal, it is in fact a vital part of any entrepreneurial story. The skills gained from experiencing both successful and unsuccessful attempts to deal with leadership, management challenges, product launches and marketing if not defining a market itself are invaluable. The only way to understand business is to live it, and I am starting to see a difference in my classmates, and already in myself.

Part of it, I think, is that the MBA experience gives you a framework to look at your own life in a different way – in all its aspects even beyond business. It allows you to separate the idea of “failure” and “success” from personal traits and better define a life path – no matter where you find yourself on it. It certainly allows you to use different benchmarks.

As a relatively “late bloomer”, I can definitely say that the program I attended, at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, has allowed me to define myself differently. In one way, getting an MBA is almost like learning to tell the story better – whether it is a story about yourself or a story about a business idea, concept or initiative.

One thing I do know after a very hard year and as I head into delivering my final presentation. The process of getting my MBA has changed me, for the better. I am a more confident and capable woman, and this is an asset I can lean on no matter where, in the future, my personal and professional journey may end up taking me.

Marguerite Arnold is an entrepreneur, author and third semester EMBA candidate at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

(Image Source: Frankfurt School of Finance and Management)

Lessons Learned from a German EMBA

lessons-learned-from-a-german-emba

This is a guest post from Marguerite Arnold.

In the fall of 2015, after spending two years in a small town in the Ruhr Valley starting to learn German (I will appreciate Mark Twain’s perspective on the sprache so much better going forward), I moved to Frankfurt to begin my Executive MBA at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

There are many reasons why I chose to obtain my graduate business degree in Germany (and even more specifically in Frankfurt). I am an American expat, with my future plans in Europe if not the rest of the world. I have felt, for quite some time, that American business schools are myopic when it comes to understanding international business issues and globalization outside of maximizing profit. I also feel that there is something very right going on in Germany specifically, that has been fundamentally lost in the U.S. There is a strong manufacturing culture here that is shifting to the future with a face that is far more humane and sustainable (and certainly more green, the disaster at Volkswagen notwithstanding), and the so-called “Mittlestand” – small to medium sized enterprises – create a business culture in which innovation and change can thrive.

While Germans frequently ask me “why come here when you have the U.S.?” the answer is super simple. Yes, things are regulated in Germany on a level that drives even rules-obsessed Germans to distraction. And yes, change comes more slowly here. But the so-called “creative destruction” that drives American entrepreneurialism is now happening in a way that is destroying companies and lives if not innovation in general (including in Silicon Valley).

Germany is more interesting.

German regulation and the thinking about the regulatory process in general, particularly in industries like banking and Fintech, is a standard which could certainly help redefine not only the German market, but create a global benchmark for those who understand that regulations are necessary. The changes that Germany has managed to transcend (including those of the post war period, reunification and even its acceptance of refugees) were only possible because of a strong national culture that is by definition globally focussed. Germany has no natural borders and, perhaps because of that, the country has created a national identity and operating DNA that is designed to be like an ocean liner on a global ocean, rather than a country which walls itself off from the rest of the world.

Frankfurt itself is also a fascinating city. It is not only where my family is historically from, but has long been defined by international trade, commerce and global thinking. Now it is set to become a thriving cluster for FinTech entrepreneurs in a way that other cities cannot match due to the winning combination of its size, infrastructure and proximity to global banking players.

The Frankfurt School itself is also a very interesting place. Started as a school for more traditional bankers and executive education, it is rapidly moving up the global rankings and redefining itself in a rapidly changing world; the school is perfectly positioned to address the transformations happening in the banking industry with the impact of digitalization, cryptocurrency and mobile payments. My class has also achieved a number of “firsts” for the school: we are a highly diverse international group, classes are taught in English, and we are 40% women.

In terms of coursework, it has by far lived up to my expectations (and I have high ones, partly because of my 25 year professional career in the U.S. but also because I am Peter Drucker’s niece). Our professors are drawn from the ranks of both the school’s faculty and drawn from all over the world (including Ghana and the U.S.) However, the perspective offered here is exactly what I was hoping for. And the lessons learned from the teamwork exercises and my classmates are ones I will take with me for the rest of my life. We are drawn from every industry, and every kind of background. And more than a few of us are using the EMBA experience to either begin or more seriously launch our entrepreneurial careers and aspirations. Drucker once wrote that once a subject becomes obsolete, it is taught in the classroom, but that is not the feeling I have here. In fact, the Frankfurt School has made it a priority to present classical business education in the context of a world that is changing fast (from every perspective). And while there is a healthy appreciation of American innovation, it is taught in a way that is separate and distinct from a mind-set that is focused mostly on the American market.

Students who want to understand a world outside the U.S. on topics ranging from globalization to sustainability would do well to consider a German business education.

Global business is about understanding the needs of stakeholders who come from a diverse range of cultures; being able to create a remarkable “journey” for employees and customers; and responding to and managing change in a way that does not upset the core mission of the enterprise. It requires innovative responses to both the mundane and the exception.

At heart, those are some of the real lessons I have learned here at the Frankfurt School. It has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.

Marguerite Arnold is an entrepreneur, author and third semester EMBA candidate at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

(Image Source: WallpaperUp)