Was it worth it to take a year off to do an MBA?

“As he walked towards business school for the last time on a mild summer day, Andreas couldn’t help but think what he had achieved this year. Just a year ago, he had embarked on what promised to be a golden year. In order to do so, he had traded a safe job for an uncertain future, and a pile of student loans. Had it all been worth it? Was it worth it to take a year off to do an MBA?”

If the tone of this sounds familiar, chances are that, like me, you’ve read a few Harvard case studies too many. If you are about to begin your MBA, you’ll soon understand what I mean. I recently finished the last class of my MBA. This is a great moment to pause and reflect. I embarked on this journey with three broad goals: change my career trajectory, get out of my comfort zone, and become more entrepreneurial. My year in Oxford gave me some of this, but also many things I didn’t even know I wanted.

I did change my career trajectory. I am excited to start with McKinsey & Company, a consultancy firm, in Zurich this fall. This is a dream role for me in many respects. After two years in the army, five at IBM at four at ABB, this role is an ideal next step to grow beyond the narrow, if deep, expertise built in my previous roles. It will allow me to put all the fun things I learned this year to good use, all the while helping people overcoming complex challenges in their businesses. I am deeply excited for this next step in my life!

I did get out of my comfort zone. Being thrown in at the deep end in countless in-class discussions, projects, and lectures showed me how much I love this feeling. The uncertainty that used to scare me has become a familiar feeling. The lack of preconceived ideas turned out to be freeing and stimulating.

I did become more entrepreneurial, albeit in unexpected ways. Being around entrepreneurs for a year showed me the excitement, but also the limitations of being an entrepreneur. While I love building things, I realised this isn’t the time for me, (yet). I gained a lot of perspective about the challenges and opportunities of being an entrepreneur. While I’ve decided to follow a different path for now, I treasure the experience, and am certain it will prove useful at a future point.

Going to Oxford has been one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve had the privilege to share this year with a cohort of 340 fantastic people, many of whom have become friends, some for life. I’ve learned how vital the ability to listen is, both in private and professional life. I got to know myself and how I function in deep and meaningful ways, and have become much more conscious of my actions and emotions as a consequence. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, and am excited for what’s next. For now, I’m looking forward to a week of sleep, after all my assignments are turned in. Come fall, I’m excitedly looking forward to my next challenge at McKinsey. Last, but certainly not least, I am getting married to my love, partner and best friend Sabrina in a little over a month. A golden year indeed!



Photo courtesy of pixabay
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