Tag Archives: work-life balance

How To Get Your Company On-board With Your MBA? Good Tips From The Judge School, Cambridge

I came across a little gem for getting company buy-in and maybe even financial support for your MBA, on the Cambridge Judge School site.

View the specific Judge School page here, alternatively the fuller pdf document, which remarks “even if you’re not sponsored you’ll need to secure your employer’s understanding and support.

“Therefore, in preparing to join an Executive MBA programme one of your priorities will be to seek support from your employer, possibly financial support, but definitely the support to allow you to commit the time required.

“You’ll need to demonstrate how your employer will benefit from you gaining an MBA.”

The text is oriented towards EMBA applicants, and obviously references Cambridge Judge specifically, but the observations are widely relevant to managing employer perceptions anywhere, for all forms of MBA, at any business school.

Note also that many of the topics overlap with those you need to attend to in writing good MBA admissions essays.

Some highlights from the text:

Know your company

This is your opportunity to demonstrate to your employer that you have thought about the value of an Executive MBA from the company perspective.

Areas you might like research or discuss with your employer:
 Has your organisation ever sponsored employee education in the past? What is their policy on this? Do any of your competitors sponsor Executive MBA’s? Have any senior managers taken an Executive MBA or similar course? What benefits did previous employees gain from their Executive MBA? What were the benefits to the organisation? How might your colleagues/ line managers/ subordinates support you? How can you obtain buy in from your manager as well as HR?

Know your chosen programme

There are a number of Executive MBA programmes available – it is important that you are able to show why you feel the Cambridge Executive MBA is the right programme for you and your organisation.

You therefore will need to be able to address the following questions:
 Why is the Cambridge Executive MBA right for you personally and professionally? How do you expect to benefit from the programme (improved performance, networking opportunities)? Which courses are going to make your more effective in your current role? Which course will directly benefit your employer? What individual project can you carry out that will help you/ your organisation? How will the Cambridge reputation add value to your career and organisation?

Know yourself

This is probably the most important section for you to consider as a complete understanding of your motivation for undertaking the Cambridge Executive MBA will be vital when discussing the programme with your employer and may influence the type of support you require.

Why is this the right time for you to start an Executive MBA course? How will taking this course improve your performance? How will you balance work, study and the other aspects (family/partner) of your life? How do you plan to make use of your personal and professional development?

Cost Accounting the INSEAD Way

Although it is still the off season for MBA admissions, and I keep a low profile at this time of the year, I couldn’t help myself from posting this piece of balanced “what-it’s-all-about” thinking from an INSEAD class:

 

The MBA admissions angle: as go professors so go admissions committees, and be assured on this particular topic that MBA Adcoms don’t offer places to one-dimensional workaholics. While you, the applicant, are frantically seeking to prove yourself professionally, they on the other hand are looking for applicants who can balance work, leisure, family and community (both while at school and after.)

From the video:

“It’s a cost to not be home to support your spouse when they are ill.
“It’s a cost to not be able to see your child taking the first step.
“It’s a cost to losing your health while you climb the corporate ladder.
“It’s a cost to not spend enough time with your parents while their clock ticks away.

“Money falls from the sky! It will find you. (So don’t fixate on it.) Be generous with your time, energy, ideals. Do the right thing. Be decent. Create value.”

 

The Hidden Why of Work-Life Balance in MBA Essays

Everybody knows “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” And therefore that you need to mix non-workplace stories and situations into your MBA admissions essays.

I find I still have to nudge on this. Truth is, after 10 years in MBA admissions, I can read applicants’ minds somewhat, and I see the thought bubble above a client’s head that says: “C’mon Avi, this lifestyle story is a ‘soft’ story, while this work story clearly demonstrates my business leadership potential…”

You do need workplace stories, of course. But you need life stories in equal measure, and not just to demonstrate work-life balance. There are further reasons, which are:

1. Your work is not that interesting

What?!! Not interesting? I break it to you, if you didn’t know already, that your own work is more interesting to you than it is to other people. That’s why you do it and they don’t. There may be some exceptions, like if you worked on the international Space Station, but most people most of the time dread having their back to the wall while someone bends their ear about this or that installation where they were able to integrate the database mobility platform of… er…. you’d suddenly feel the urge to refresh your drink, if you know what I mean. Myself, I find picking the lock of elite MBA Admissions gates endlessly fascinating, but if I talk about it socially, people’s eyes glaze over.

2. Your work is relatively junior

Sorry, another home truth here. As an MBA applicant, chances are you are in your mid-late 20s, and so your work is, by definition, quite junior. You are not yet at the top of your game, nor at the top of your industry — where you would have the kind of experiences that would allow you to tell truly interesting work stories, like the time you were in the BP Boardroom when the Chairman of the Federal Reserve called… But, for now your work is pretty standard stuff, or at least it could be bigger and better. That’s why you’re applying for an MBA, no?

3. Your work will change.

By definition, if you are about to embark on an MBA, your professional life will change dramatically. Whatever you’re doing now, you won’t be doing it after graduation. So, whatever your workplace story, you are focusing the admissions reader on your past, while she is in fact looking to your professional future and trying to make a judgment about your ability to progress there.

For these reasons, while workplace essays *are* important, they are inherently limited in terms of their real purpose (to get Adcom to pick you.) The admissions committee is somewhat interested, but is going to gloss over the micro-technical or organizational details in the search for what they really want to know, which is, what is this applicant’s prospects for significant successes at a higher level?

They know, even if you don’t yet, that your current job spec will disappear and be replaced. So they focus on what is relatively fixed by your mid-20s: your character, personality, ambition, drive, and management style.

Turn it around and look at if from the reader’s point of view, as you should always do. What does Adcom at an elite b-school really want to know? (Yes, they say they want to “get to know you,” and they do. But in a way, this is the usual cr*p they alway say.) What they really, really want to know is whether you are going to be a future star, that is rapidly move onward and upward to one day do great things in your industry. Convince them of that (within your applicant sub-group) and you’re in.

The standard workplace conundrum that you solved and learned from is going to take you some way down that road. To go the rest of the way, you need to charm them with your formative life stories.