Studying abroad…increased my commitment to the learning experience

by Anthony Roddam

Monday, 23 June – Week 1

Before commencing the European Summer School of Advanced Management (ESSAM), I spent a week travelling to a couple of cities in Europe; making the most out of the long flight across from Adelaide. I was glad that I arrived in Europe several days before the course commenced as this enabled me to relax after a busy period at work so that I could completely focus on my studies as well as acclimatising to the different time zone. The majority of students arrived the day before the course started and suffered the first few days from jet lag. After arriving in London, I caught a short train ride up to Loughborough where the first week of the program was held. It was a small university town, an hour north of London.

On our first day of classes at Loughborough, we began with a buffet breakfast with all of the traditional English favourites. We then moved into the lecture theatre which was in a large function room within our hotel accommodation where we were officially welcomed to ESSAM. Following this, our first lecture was given by Dr Cheryl Travers of Loughborough University on the topic of Understanding Self and the importance of Self Awareness. This was followed by a lecture on Understanding Others which discussed strategies to identify and interpret the behaviour expressed by those with whom we interact. Cheryl was a terrific lecturer and engaged the class from the outset and throughout her two sessions. Whilst some of the content was revision, these topics are always good to have a refresher of as you can get caught up in your everyday life and can lose your understanding of self and those around you. It was also valuable to hear about challenges some of the cohort were experiencing in their workplaces from an international perspective. Our final lecture of the day was given by Dr Angelika Zimmerman, also of Loughborough University. She discussed key cultural differences and the importance of understanding this to avoid conflict and working effectively in multi-cultural teams. Although a lot of stereotypes were discussed, I learnt that it is important to understand how different people behave and interact and that no one way is the right way. Angelika has also worked in many different countries so it was great to hear of her first-hand experiences, working with different cultural groups. After our lectures had concluded we met in the hotel restaurant where we had a 3 course dinner (something which was consistent throughout the program) and some social drinks with the other ESSAM participants.

For my elective, I completed Emotional Intelligence and Leadership with Dr David Tipton. We had 12 sessions over 3 days and I found this class incredibly valuable. Not often do you have the opportunity to spend a concentrated amount of time focusing on yourself, building on your understanding of self and developing techniques to manage your behavior. I really enjoyed the open discussions we had as a class and learnt a lot from their stories and experiences. David was a very captivating lecturer and was candid about his personal and work-life experiences. It was probably the most dynamic class I have taken part in so far in my MBA studies with various presentation media used including videos and surveys as well as a large component of class discussions. The individual assignment for this subject requires me to focus on a current area of my emotional intelligence which is deficient and will force me to challenge my thoughts and behaviours. I am excited to get this underway as I expect what I have learnt will have tangible benefits for my personal and professional life.

Following the week in Loughborough, we travelled to London by coach and we then spent two nights in London’s Olympic Park. Here we had various lectures and were given time to work on our group consulting projects. For my group consulting project, we had to investigate what business support should be provided to businesses in the east end of Glasgow to assist with the regeneration of this disadvantaged area. The regeneration of this area, called the Clyde Gateway was a key focus for the Scottish Government in the wake of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It was a very interesting project and in the two days in London we also had the opportunity to see how the 2012 Olympics had regenerated a deprived area of London. Whilst completing our project, we met with local businesses and key stakeholders in both London and Glasgow to help us complete our research and develop our recommendations.

After leaving London, we travelled by train to Glasgow and this was the highlight of the program for me. To be in a University which is over 550 years old and walk the grounds was an amazing experience. It was graduation time for the local students when we were visiting and the University was full of students dressed in cloaks, celebrating with their families which was great to see. We spent our time in Glasgow predominately working on our projects which included a number of working dinners and late nights as we were all very committed to the task and producing something that would be taken seriously by our sponsor. We did however manage to squeeze in a site visit to Linn Products who make high end music systems and local Whisky tasting. It was great to visit Linn, their factory was incredibly advanced with widespread use of automation and robotics. After the site tour we were taken to their client space which was fitted out like a home where we had a product demonstration and free time to experience the speakers in different rooms of the ‘house’. It was one of the best examples of sales and marketing I have seen.

Our last day of the program was presentation day. A lot of hours were spent preparing for this day, however it was well worth it. I really enjoyed working on the project as I traditionally work in an analytical role and this helped to develop my strategic skills. It was also great to watch the other students’ presentations and learn about their topics. The day ended with a formal dinner on the University campus and some traditional Scottish dancing which was another highlight.

I am really glad I made the decision to go to ESSAM. I had the opportunity to learn from international lecturers and an international cohort. I met a lot of great people, who through linkedin and facebook I can now keep in touch with.

I really encourage others students to incorporate an overseas program into their MBA as it is a great opportunity to learn in an intense environment, free from the distractions of your everyday life, which increased my commitment to the learning experience.

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6 weeks in Paris… of the highlights of my life!

By Paula Michelle

The 6 weeks from 01 June to mid July 2014 ranks among the highlights of my life so far; no mean call for a ‘mature’ student with more than a few life experiences under my belt.  Fortified by the wisdom of 11 MBA subjects, I landed in France on the last Sunday of May, to commence studies in the summer exchange program within the Master in Management (MIM), at the ESCP, Paris campus.  The opening joke of the engaging guest lecturer who presented during our first day orientation was that no-one, including the locals, can remember what ESCP actually stands for.  Nevertheless I can tell you that ESCP is the world’s oldest business school, the Paris campus one of 5 European campuses in the ESCP suite, as well as being one of France’s grandes écoles, institutions running parallel to but generally recognised as superior in learning and status to the country’s universities.  In short, world class education.

I chose the ESCP Paris program deliberately because it is not a short term, customised course.  No-one collects you from the airport, takes you to campus in a mini-bus, organises site visits or manages your study and social calendar.  ESCP places overseas summer students into the same mix of subjects as local MIM students, meaning that you are studying alongside regular French students, as well as students within the international exchange program.  Given its location and prominence within Europe and the world, even the full time ESCP Paris students were from places as diverse as China, Italy, Senegal, Pakistan, Spain and Croatia, as well as of course from France, while the 9 students in the exchange group represented Turkey, the US, Britain and of course Adelaide, Australia.  The diversity was fabulous.  The student group was self-organising for social outings (generally pubs with TV to watch World Cup finals!).  I was by far the oldest in a group of 20-30 year olds, but it was such a diverse group that it really made no difference.

The exchange group was managed within ESCP by the delightful Dorota, a young woman from Poland with impeccable English and French, assisted by her colleague Pierre.  Together they facilitated our enrolments, pre-departure information, welcome, orientation, several lunches and informal social events, and generally made themselves available to help us navigate through what at times was not much short of chaos.  Be prepared for the turbulence – from an over-complicated registration process, subject changes, last minute confirmations, erroneous timetables that see you late for lectures and, for some reason that made sense to no-one, lecture rooms that changed for every subject on a daily basis.  You will do best to just flow with the chaos and accept it as essentially ‘French’.  You are also likely to find that, amid the madness, things turns out just fine!

One particular note: My study period was confirmed several times as 6 weeks, and I booked accommodation accordingly.  However it turned out to be only 4 – hence I paid for an extra 2 weeks, lecture-free, in Paris.   I can hardly complain.

I took the equivalent of 2 MBA subjects, which comprised one 30 hour (the very popular Negotiation Bootcamp) and 2, 15 hour subjects (Real Estate and Money Markets).  All lecturers delivered in English, but one was a local French lecturer, one a visiting lecturer flown in from India, and one a permanent ESCP lecturer originally from Ireland.  Delivery styles, pace, organisation, out of hours study load and assessment method were as different from each other as is possible, with expectations ranging from quite manageable to overwhelmingly demanding.  There did not seem to be a consistent standard.  Again, you just had to go with it.   The learning I have to say was all top quality and with great practical application.  There is also a vast amount of incidental learning simply being for so many weeks in such a vital part of the world – in my first few days Paris hosted visits from both the Queen and Barack Obama!  I was certainly stretched but, equally, quite confident in contributing during class as well as anyone, given the excellent foundations provided by the world class University of Adelaide.

Lecture attendance – generally 3 hours duration – varied from full time (every day, morning and afternoon), to spread over morning, afternoon or evening sessions across 2-3 weeks, depending on the subject.  This meant quite a lot of time left for sightseeing (and study of course), including 2-3 days off in a row which meant short trips within France or to neighbouring countries.  I stayed on a number of weeks after the course ended so managed quite a bit of extra travel, but still squeezed an amazing amount into my study weeks without detriment to my results.  In contrast, some weeks were completely full of study and homework.

Arrangements for accommodation, food, transport and so on are all in your own hands.  ESCP does have an arrangement with a nearby ‘hostel’, though this was at the time full of teenage college students on exchange at ESCP from Texas, so I was happy to have found a private apartment a 15 minute walk away.  ESCP is in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, a little out of the central tourist area but, better still, where the ‘real’ French live, adjacent lively and affordable shops, bars and cafés, and still only a few Metro stops to everything you would want to see in Paris.  Excellent meals are available at amazingly cheap prices at the campus cafeteria, but I generally shopped at local supermarkets and the fabulous open-air markets.  Living in the city for so many weeks, it certainly helped that I had reasonable – and now vastly improved – French, but you can get by with English and basic polite phrases.  For me, the independence of the program was its biggest draw.  I was just a student in Paris going to uni every day – and loved it.  One tip – given the length of the program, I was very glad to have brought my own lap top, despite the downside of carting it around.  It was my link with home and meant I was not tied to campus for homework, which additionally only has French keyboards.
ESCP Paris is not for students wanting a managed program.  It is for people wanting a taste of being a genuine ‘foreign student’, happy to jump into the mix, sort out your own living arrangements, work hard and stretch yourself.  There will be an element of chaos, but you can also expect to be absolutely delighted.  You will receive world class, eye-opening, truly global learning. The only down side is having to come home.

A final note of thanks to Sarah May and Belinda Kon for their support, availability and professionalism in helping me navigate the process and preparations for program.  They are both fabulous.

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The luxury of studying abroad

by Suzana Bogosavljevic

I’ve wanted to study overseas for a long time and when I realised it was
possible within the MBA degree I was determined to take up the option.
Then finding out that I had a chance to study in the UK, going from
Loughborough to London to Glasgow as part of ESSAM, clinched the
deal for me.

The greatest benefit in studying overseas has been the luxury of
immersing myself in study without the usual work and family distractions.
The greatest joy in studying overseas has been the people I’ve met. The
sharing of diverse experiences and viewpoints and simply the friendships
I made are the lasting take home for me. The beautiful places I travelled
to were then the icing on the cake.

A particular highlight was the fact that the group work projects were ‘live’,
allowing us to work on real products/assistance for real stakeholders. In
the end however it’s not all about the study and there were plenty of
opportunities for fun.

Overall I would recommend the study overseas experience to all students.
However I would also recommend that you do your research on the
course before you go to make sure it is the right one for you. Before you
decide on your course, obtain a detailed programme outline and itinerary,
including details of accommodation and travel (if included in the course).
Also check the details on study spaces etc as some courses do not
provide access to PCs and you therefore you cannot do without a laptop.
In the end I would simply recommend that you enjoy yourself and soak up
as much of the experience as you can.

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What does global warming, wine and a music party have in common?

By Roger Sexton

I attended ESSAM in the UK  in June 2014 to complete the final two subjects of my Adelaide MBA. It was an excellent experience and probably the most interesting and enjoyable 2 weeks I have spent in a long time.

The initial days of the course offered a range of big picture presentations including the social, environmental and industrial consequences of global warming. Harry Vredenburg was one of several North American lecturers and an oil industry consultant who very eloquently outlined his view of this and the “new age of energy turbulence and innovation”. In so doing, he highlighted the unequal endowment of global energy resources and how all forms of energy were subject to growing demand, mostly from the urban centres within developing countries from the Asia Pacific region. He explained how  demand will not level off in the foreseeable future and that the thirty- year investment cycles will not drive changes in supply quickly enough.

We were introduced to the concept of “peak oil” production  in the setting of finite oil resources and how new discoveries and technologies such as fracking, heavy oil sands, shale and deep water and polar exploration are only temporarily skewing the curve to defer the inevitable supply crisis.  He followed this interactive  discussion with a quite chilling evidence-based account of life on a globally-warmed earth. It was revealing for me to learn that whilst the dreaded two-degree rise in the earth’s temperature is considered ‘too high to be safe and yet  low to be possible’ and whilst a four-degree rise would generate persistent drought over 40% of the earth’s land surface and the extinction of 50% of the world’s species, it was methane gas release from the Siberian ice shelf which would create a catastrophic and irreversible global warming scenario to more than 6 degrees.

This set the scene for further presentations on the aspirational and inspirational Dutch  response to this as well as a most informative overview of the future of the world wine industry in a warming world from UniSA academic, Bob Gilliver. In this, he emphasised the rise of Chile and Argentina and Tasmania as future major wine regions due to their unique ability to adapt growing to higher and cooler locations. I was left with new insights gleaned from the distilled experience and learnings of these excellent ESSAM presenters.

We were organised into project teams for a most interesting and relevant team project in Glasgow. My group was allocated the task of creating a strategic plan to integrate the new and old communities within Dalmarnock , the site of the athlete’s village in the east of Glasgow following the Commonwealth Games. This gave me the opportunity to not only work closely with and meet and learn from the other five international students, but the project work took us to meet Glasgow city councillors (see photo below) and community advocates and the Games site itself. It  was real, relevant and meaningful and moved each us personally.

My project group after a meeting with city councillors in the magnificent Glasgow Civic Hall

The academic course work was complemented by an outstanding social program and the opportunity to meet the other eighty  students was exceptional.  Notwithstanding the evening pub life, formal meals, steam train dinners, a Scottish Ceilidh and tours of Games sights in London and Glasgow, the highlight for me was an evening at Linn Hi-Fi, a top end manufacturer of  hi-fi equipment on the outskirts of Glasgow.  Here we were treated to a tour of their factory, a wonderful dinner and the best music party I have been to in a long time in their specially built house-showroom.  With a music system in every room, everyone had an absolute ball!

I was impressed with the organisation of the course, the calibre of lecturers and fellow students and the thought that went into the social program and particularly the project work which has broadened my appreciation of London and Glasgow and the European and global perspective.  Friendships were made easily and will endure.

I can highly recommend the experience and I thank the Business School for giving me the opportunity to participate in this excellent course.

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Study abroad….is a must!

By Mark Mathers

Half way through my MBA I had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel and study abroad at EBS University in Wiesbaden, Germany. Located a short train ride from Frankfurt, Wiesbaden is a wonderful city and is located in Western Germany. Known for Riesling Wines, Schnitzel, and Castles overlooking the Rhine River, this was an exciting destination.

EBS Campus

Adelaide was very generous and I received a travel incentive that helped with the fees, and the course was an intensive 3 weeks consisting of 2 course credits. Sure, Germany isn’t exactly close, but how often do you get to use the MBA as an excuse to try something new? If you’ve ever thought of taking a break from South Australia to explore another part of the world, a study abroad program is a must!

Meeting the other students was an international who’s who, representing countries from all over the world. Primarily, students were from USA, Australia, Canada, Hungary, and Argentina. Every morning we took a 20 min train ride towards the beautiful winery river banks where the campus is home to an 18th century castle structure. Not bad for a change from the city views of Adelaide. Each day was a mini-course, taught by different professors from all of Europe. We were taught everything from economics, automotive distribution, corporate finance, transitioning economies of Eastern Europe, to my favorite – retail distribution. Each course had a European focus and many of the case examples where of successful European firms. Of particular interest was studying the successful model of ALDI, and that included their recent expansion efforts into the Australian market.

In addition to the classroom, we also took part in several field trips including Europe’s oldest wine-producing Monastery, the AUDI car manufacturing plant (seeing an unbelievable automation manufacturing facility tour), and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.  Weekends were free from study, and we were encouraged to travel throughout Germany and the neighboring countries. Most of the time, many of us would end up taking a weekend trip together.

AUDI manufacturing tour

So what’s the upside?
Besides traveling, exploring new cultures, and the chance to meet new people from all over the world? I guess the answer here would be learning new perspectives and case studies from top European professors! Returning to Adelaide with new insights helped me progress through the rest of the MBA program and the newly learned information was invaluable in classes such as Strategic Management.

So what’s the downside?
Well, it’s called an intensive and it lives up to the name. Imagine two course credits squeezed into three weeks. During the week, you’ve got to stay on top of the reading and reviewing as you’re being asked to absorb a lot of information. From early morning until late evening sessions, you get out of the program what you put in, and everyone there is striving to learn new insights.

In the years to come, what will I remember?
Meeting likeminded people from other cultures, learning about the European Union, and making sure that I didn’t waste an opportunity by saying yes when you could easily say no.

Frankfurt Stock Exchange







A few last items!
If you’re thinking about going on exchange through the awesome Adelaide exchange program, just remember to be open minded, embrace worldly perspectives, enjoy the experience, be prepared to work hard, and explore as much as you can while you have the chance – sleep on the plane ride home. While you return with completed courses, don’t underestimate the powerful new additions you’ve created in your professional network – Stay in touch!

Preparing to apply to a travel abroad can be a lot of work, forms to fill out, and correspondence to initiate. Make sure you utilize the awesome help provided by the MBA Administration and International Student Departments. Apply early, then enjoy the process.


Dinner with classmates



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Invitation: Family Business Australia event on ‘Adapting to Change

The University of Adelaide Business School’s Family Business Education & Research Group (FBERG) is hosting a Family Business Australia event on ‘Adapting to Change’ on Tuesday the 17th of June @ 6pm.

Chaired by Dr. Jill Thomas (Research Fellow of FBERG), this session provides a great opportunity to learn from Toby Bensimon of Shiels Jewellers and David Snoad of Pinz on how family firms can adapt and thrive in today’s changing economic environment through product diversification and / or utilising one’s core capabilities in totally new industries. The session will finish around 7:15pm, to be followed by delicious finger food and great wine from a 5th generation South Australian family business.
The event will held @ the University of Adelaide (basement of the Nexus 10 building – 10 Pulteney Street, cnr Pulteney & North Tce).

For more information on how to register for this event, please go to the Family Business Australia website.

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Greetings from EBS

Week 1 – Bohdan Wojewidka

The first week of the EBS summer program has resulted in us entering into a long weekend.  Many of the attendees are taking advantage of this and have embarked on travel within Germany and Europe.

The EBS summer program comprises students from Argentina, Canada, Hungary, the United States and, of course, Australia.  In total there are 23 attending, the majority being from the US and Australia. Attendee backgrounds are varied and include an all-American basketball player.  He’s not that difficult to pick out.

The First Day
On our first day, we were met by Ursula Haque, the program coordinator, who introduced us to the school.  We were given an interesting overview of German history, a tour of the campus and provided a list of “do’s and dont’s”.  Punctuality was stressed as being very important.  We were also introduced to the Head of the program, Prof. Mrdjan Mladjan.  The program on the next two days was altered due to one our lecturers falling ill and not being able to attend.  Alternative lecturers were found and the program was modified.

The Campus
EBS is a private university and the campus is relatively small, making it very easy to make your way around.  Buildings are not air-conditioned, and this has proven to be a challenge for some.  The campus has a cafeteria – dining hall.  You definitely won’t go hungry.  A full meal lunch can be purchased for less than 5 euros.

The Weather

The week started wet, cold and miserable.  It improved considerably and the weekend has been perfect.  For this time of year, you need to be prepared for all 4 seasons in one.  Some have suffered because the classroom can be very cold as the heating has been turned off for the summer.

I am staying in Wiesbaden, where more attendees have located themselves.  Accommodation is quite good.  I am staying in a small hotel (The City Hotel), clean, comfortable and with wi-fi.  Others have found flats and some are sharing accommodation.  Wiesbaden is a city with a population of 500,000.  It’s got plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes.  Food is not a problem.

Some of the attendees are staying in Oestrich-Winkel, a small village 15 minute walk from the campus.  Most have said there’s not much to do after lectures and they tend to venture to Wiesbaden.

Speaking only English is not an issue as many German’s understand English.  We are doing a German survival course which is proving to be quite useful.  By the time I leave Germany I’ll probably know a few more words.

Travel to and from campus
The rail system in Europe is fantastic – frequent, fast and on-time.  The trip to EBS from Wiesbaden takes approximately 25 minutes.  The school has provided us with rail passes.  If you need to venture further, rail is a great way to get around.  Frankfurt airport is approximately 45 minutes by train from Wiesbaden.

Hear from other MBA students who have studied overseas here.


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Systems Thinking and why it’s integral to the Adelaide MBA

Damian ScanlonDamian Scanlon is the current Adelaide MBA Director. Damian has had over 15 years senior executive experience working for major Australian publicly listed companies mainly in the aviation (TNT/Ansett) and mineral processing industries (Adelaide Brighton Ltd & FCT Ltd), with short stints in the banking (ANZ) and oil (Amoco) industries early in his career. Positions held included senior executive management roles, including CEO, and board positions in subsidiary companies as well as holding group and general management positions at the state and national level. Damian can be reached on LinkedIn.

Recently I hosted a panel discussion about Systems Thinking with a keynote presentation by Professor Ockie Bosch and Dr Nam Nguyen who teach this subject in our MBA.   Nam has recently been appointed to Business System Laboratory in Italy joining Ockie as a Board member as well as being elected as the Vice President for the International Federation for Systems Research IFSR). The IFSR is the ‘mother’ organisation which has 43 member organisations and systems societies, from all continents, under its ‘umbrella’.

To view their slides, click here.  The purpose of this presentation was to highlight the basic fundamentals of Systems Thinking and why the Adelaide MBA has incorporated it as an integral part of the program.

Complex economic and managerial problems cannot be solved anymore with traditional single discipline and linear thinking mindsets. Employers will therefore increasingly require their employees to have the capacity to redesign in systems and sustainability terms. There is an increasing demand for society to move away from linear thinking that often leads to “quick fixes” that do not last, to a new way of thinking that is systems-based.  Understanding the principles of interconnectedness, feedback and leverage points in systems and appreciating the values of cross-sectoral/disciplinary communication and collaboration are the only ways in which society will be able to find long lasting, sustainable solutions to the many problems we are facing.  Developing such an understanding in order to address complex economic and managerial challenges, requires a strong level of awareness of the value of knowledge on systems approaches and tools that will increase the demand for systems education.

The Adelaide MBA has incorporated Systems Thinking as an integral part of its MBA as we need to equip current and future managers and leaders to be capable to deal with complex problems in a systemic, integrated and collaborative fashion. The Adelaide MBA therefore is distinctively different to all other MBA’s being offered in Australasia, creating managers who will be fully equipped with systems design-led knowledge, cutting edge tools and processes to make effective investment decision and policies in our 21st Century knowledge society; a society faced with a multitude of highly complex issues.

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Could Singapore dislodge Switzerland as the world’s biggest wealth management centre?

Damian ScanlonDamian Scanlon is the current Adelaide MBA Director.  Damian has had over 15 years senior executive experience working for major Australian publicly listed companies mainly in the aviation (TNT/Ansett) and mineral processing industries (Adelaide Brighton Ltd & FCT Ltd), with short stints in the banking (ANZ) and oil (Amoco) industries early in his career. Positions held included senior executive management roles, including CEO, and board positions in subsidiary companies as well as holding group and general management positions at the state and national level. Damian can be reached on LinkedIn.

In late February, I chaired a panel discussion on Private Wealth Management in conjunction with the International Centre for Financial Services (ICFS), our Masters of Applied Finance program and Notz Stucki (Swiss Asset Managers). Our ICFS is recognised worldwide for its work in this sector and our MBA and Masters of Applied Finance programs are highly sought after business qualifications for those wanting to enter the financial services sector.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Singapore could dislodge Switzerland as the world’s biggest wealth management centre as early as 2015 with the value of assets under management currently around S$1.63tn. There were roughly 100,000 people with investable assets of more than $1m in 2012, with an aggregate wealth of $489bn. Singapore has also made a virtue of its position in the centre of south east Asia to attract wealth from families in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

ICFS are running a two day workshop in March on how to gain an edge in this market and the panel discussion is a preview of this. The MBA, ICFS and our MAF course should get good positioning in this sector. We are also currently exploring a potential follow up around Family Business.

Read Damian’s panel introduction here.

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5 More Things I Wish I Knew At The Start Of My MBA

Andy ForbesAndy Forbes is a current Adelaide MBA student and the IT Manager at Cavendish Superannuation. Andy is also the author of the blog and contributes a monthly post to the Adelaide MBA blog on general business issues and his MBA study. [Read all of Andy’s posts] Andy can be reached on his website and LinkedIn.

In November last year I wrote a post titled, 5 Things I wish I knew at the start of my MBA.  At the time, someone pointed out on the Adelaide MBA Alumni LinkedIn Group that I was doing well to only have five things. They were right, my list was originally ten but could have easily been many more.

The first five were:

  1. Don’t hand in safe assignments, be bold
  2. Group Assignments – Allocate someone just to do the editing
  3. Worry less about definitions and more about applying them
  4. Group Assignments – Don’t be afraid to use your company
  5. Read a wide range of business books and biographies

Here are the ’5 More things I wish I knew at the start of my MBA’, to make the original list of 10:

6. Attend events, make sure people know who you are and that you know who they are

The university runs a number of events, such as the networking breakfasts, end of trimester celebrations and guest speaker seminars. Attend as many as you can, meet people, try to understand who they are and what they are about. Try to make it easy for them to understand what you are about too.

The other side of this networking is being able to debate issues and get advice from managers outside your organisation who may have seen or experienced similar management challenges before.

7. Make notes in your books

Traditionally I have always disliked making notes or marks in my books. I like to keep them in good condition. Perhaps it’s a reflection of my mum being a librarian and her troubles with kids drawing in books. Either way, a book in unmarked condition is not helpful. Make notes all over your books. As you read, underline any important quotes, draw vertical lines next to important paragraphs and don’t be afraid to write your own thoughts or enquiries in the margins. Then later when you refer back to the book, you will be able to immediately jump to what is important. If you use electronic books, make use of the highlighting and notes features.

8. Get an ultra-portable laptop or tablet for comprehensive notes

A few subjects back, I started using my iPad and wireless keyboard for lecture notes. I wish I had this system from the start. My lecture notes are now awesome, searchable, printable, spell-checked and even have drawings in them. The biggest benefit of this approach is that I can type much faster than I can write, which gives me more time to pay attention to what is being said. A solid note taking system will help your assignments and exam revision. Typed up notes pay dividends in open book exams.

Note of caution – if you take this advice on, then make sure you know how to paste drawings, charts etc into your lecture notes before trying to do it in class. It can have its challenges.

9. Really, truly understand the commitment you’ve made. Make sure your loved ones understand it and support you too

Doing an MBA is a big commitment. It requires much more work than I thought it would. I heard a joke once that MBA stands for Married-But-Absent and it certainly feels this way at times. To do well and absorb the most from the course, try to make sure that those around you are supportive of your efforts. You’ll need to sustain motivation for a few years, – the more support and encouragement you have the better.

10. Start a blog or a journal to record your journey

One of the unfortunate facts of learning is that it can be hard to remember course material once a subject is finished. There is too much quality in an MBA to let that happen. Make lots of notes, start a blog or journal, or just have a management folder that you put interesting things into. I can’t recommend starting a blog enough. It becomes a useful resource for you and is a great way network and market yourself, both inside your company and outside.

However you do it, find a way to not lose what you have learnt.

So there you have it, that’s my top ten things I wish I knew at the start of my MBA journey.

I hope it’s a helpful list and, if you have any of your own to add, post it in the comments below!

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