Month: January 2016

Why did the entrepreneur do an MBA?

So why did the entrepreneur do the MBA? Almost sounds like one of the ‘Why did the chicken cross the road’ series. Unfortunately, I don’t have the funny answer for this one…yet! But in the start-up circles back in India, we did have a smart-ass reply to it.

Because all his ideas failed!

In the world of start-ups and entrepreneur-sized egos (yeah they happen to be bigger than the ones you’ll ever hope to find at a C-Suite) the decision was really very simple. If you are an entrepreneur and want an MBA…you hire one.

After all those jokes I’ve cracked about MBA’s, especially during the 8 years of my start-up life, when I was breaking traditional business rules, hustling, bringing ideas to life, making money..here I am today, at Cass…doing an MBA. That’s pure poetic genius that only Karma can lay claim to.

And that brings me back to the question I started with.

Why me?

I wanted to do an MBA when my 3 year old start-up was working with some of the biggest global brands and earning revenues of close to $2Mn. It was my second start-up. The first one died an early death after a lot of promise due to co-founder conflict. I was talking to other start-ups about collaborating, coming up with completely new business ideas, business models. I was on a roll.

And that’s why I wanted to stop.

While the world was getting all excited about IOT (Internet of Things) and Embedded Health-Tech, my circle was still about Marketplaces and Online to Offline. I wanted more. I knew there was more. Every business that you build takes sweat and blood and passion. It also takes years. I wanted to be sure before I could commit. I wanted to take a call after having seen the very best that was out there in the world and not just the very best around me.

And that’s when I decided I wanted to do an MBA.

Why Cass?

I chose 5 schools with my head. Ranking. Average work experience of 7 years plus. London. 1 Year. Leaning towards finance and start-ups. Went through Gossip from Social Forums. Stalked alumni on Linkedin.  Two schools survived the filter and then I let my heart select the one that I wanted to go to.

Cass has not let down on any of its promises even from before the time my ID card got printed. I asked for diversity and it’s taken me 3 months to finally settle down from the cultural turbulence of a cohort of 75 from 35 countries. Start-up events every week and a course that throws you into the industry every time your bum gets comfortable on the classroom chair.

Three months and twenty days to the day I started, I’ve never once felt comfortable. There’s not a day that has passed that I haven’t felt like I haven’t been challenged. Not just in class, but outside in the hustle of London businesses that I had only dreamed about seeing up close and personal.

I’ve discovered that the name, Cass Business School, opens doors and I’ve used it unashamedly. 110 Days later I’m mentoring a start-up in Nigeria with the Cherie Blaire Foundation, consulting 2 start-ups in London and one in India and still finding the time to hit the pubs at all weird hours. It’s like I’ve been handed my own Laboratory. I’m literally getting to peep under the hood of every business model that I want to!

Just 4 months ago (on farewell party night) on the balcony of my 2500 Sq Ft apartment in Delhi one of my closest friends finally asked me “Are you sure you want to do this?” Finally today in an 800 Sq Ft apartment (I’m still getting used to it) in Islington, as I write this blog I’m can safely give him an answer. Yes! I’m now sure! So here it goes. 10 Reasons for an entrepreneur to do an MBA in 10 Bullet Points.

Why the MBA?

  • Aquire the habit of putting every idea under the Value Chain / Business Model lens before getting excited
  • Enjoy the occasions in class when you realise those eureka moments you’ve had while being an entrepreneur, have actual names and theories.
  • Realise what makes you thrive as an entrepreneur are not creative ideas you generate but your understanding of a business model and its execution
  • Therefore it makes you realise also, that you don’t need to be a sector specific entrepreneur. Your mind gets the flexibility and comfort to start sensing problems and solutions across sectors.
  • Enjoy the multiple points of view on every subject of discussion. Enjoy it. This is the only time in your life when you will see this happen on a continuous basis
  • Run your ideas / theories by your cohort, the smartest filters from across the world you will ever get under one roof
  • Get a crash course across multiple sectors in one year flat
  • Realise how much more you are capable of doing in a 24 Hour cycle. Its very enlightening!
  • Understand the real meaning of ‘Global playing ground for your business’…You’ll realise how not a big deal it really is!
  • Give your Entrepreneur size ego a one year’s much needed rest.

 

Does it bother me when I keep reading about various companies getting millions of dollars in funding in India as I’m multi-tasking between taking notes and catching up with the world outside? Yes. Do I miss the world as I knew it? Yes. But I can credit it to the restless creator inside me. One that has kept me going through all ups and downs and one that I know will never go away. But I know, post my MBA I won’t go back to the world as I knew it.

I’ll go back to work stronger, wiser, snappier and well rested; to a world that I will choose with an insane amount of analysis over the remaining 8 months.

Dhruv Bonnerjee, Full-time MBA 2015, Cass Business School

The Duality of Knowledge

Examinations. I have never met anyone who actually enjoyed exams.

Of course there are people that are good at them and there are also people who may prefer an exam over a group assignment however, all things considered, examinations have the ability to ruin your otherwise perfect day. And no one wants that.

Take for example our Block 1 and 2 examination period which culminated last week. Some people felt they did well, most people thought they had failed and a few people were hysterical. As I referred to last post, the Cass MBA isn’t a sit back and just enjoy the ride kind of road-trip. You must apply yourself. You must work until you understand it, not until you just know it. You can either be in the driving seat or riding shotgun – but never a back seat passenger!

Thankfully, and for the moment at least, our examinations are over. We can relax a little and prepare for Blocks 3 and 4. There is no doubt we will be challenged again soon enough, but that is the point obviously.

The biggest difference I feel between an MBA exam and any examinations I have completed in the past, either as an undergraduate or as a high-school student, is that in an MBA exam more often the questions are designed in a way so that a single and definitive answer doesn’t exist to the problem posed. It is our comprehension and approach that is being tested not our recollection of the basic facts. The Cass approach aims to separate the people who can simply regurgitate slabs of text and those who actually comprehend the theories and apply them in an increasingly wider context in an ever-evolving business and social world. This is only a good thing.


The other day, David Bowie passed away. That of course you already knew. What you may also have known is that he was a reasonably visionary guy and, if you had sifted through the endless number of fan tributes currently circulating social media, as many have, you may have come across this video of David Bowie and Jeremy Paxman from 1999. If you have seen this before than I would certainly encourage you to re-watch it now and if you haven’t seen it, then the advice is largely the same – watch it now. (If for no other reason that the remainder of this blog won’t make any sense to you. Thanks.)


So, once you look past the fact Jeremy Paxman hasn’t really changed (whether this is a good or a bad thing I’m not really sure yet) you will see that Mr Bowie really gets it. Stay with me here, but this video is exactly what our MBA exams are about! (I’ll admit there is a small risk that it may simply be the 3rd coffee of the day talking now but I will explain.)

Two things stand out to me. First of all, the stark difference between Bowie’s and Paxman’s understanding of the internet (from about 6:40min) and secondly, the wider implications of Bowie’s attitude of the ‘grey in the middle’ (from 9:10min). I’ll leave you to take whatever you want out of the rest of the interview however I will elaborate on the first point further.

Fortunately for us, Paxman pressed Bowie deeper on his view of the internet and as a result we get a fantastic example of the difference between thorough comprehension and simple recollection. Bowie may not have foreseen all that was to come with the Internet however there is no doubt he understood the significance of the arrival of the internet and the tremendous opportunities that would present themselves to those that embraced it, not only for his line of work in music but also to the much larger and wider world. Very impressive.

I would presume that any past, present or future Cass MBA student would draw obvious parallels with this particular example and the Cass MBA approach. For me it is the importance of deeper comprehension rather than merely focussing on the obvious yes/no and black/white type answers. As Bowie puts it, the time of singular answers to singular questions is over. Luckily, life is about the greyness – the three, four and five different points of view.

Difference in opinions is what makes life interesting, unpredictable, challenging and exciting. Difference is also why an MBA is more important now than it has ever been – as long as your business school understands that too.

In Bowie’s case, perhaps  it was his flamboyant youth consisting of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” that helped elevate him to see the world from a rather enlightened perspective.  For the rest of us however, there is a particular MBA designed to help you reach your ‘psychedelic’ state instead.

Later

@samuelhcook

Sam Cook, Full-time MBA 2015, Cass Business School

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