Tag: time management

You can survive an Executive MBA. Here’s how.

It was with excitement and trepidation that I started my first Modular Executive MBA weekend in April.

The induction weekend the month before had given me a good taster of what was to come and my cohort was split into groups ready for the teamwork required ahead.

Four months on and I can’t quite believe that we’ve finished our first block of lectures and handed in our assignments already. It has certainly been intense, but I’ve already got so much out of it, more than I thought I would at this stage.

However, there have been hurdles I had to figure out along the way.

Find an equal footing

Firstly, due to the intensity of the learning, we bonded within our cohort group very quickly; supporting each other, understanding everyone’s work or personal commitments and identifying each other’s strengths.

It had been a long time since I had done project work where we were all on an equal footing, so it took some adjustment to realise that no one person was in charge and we were all equally responsible for completing the work together.

Be ruthless with your time 

Secondly, I tried to figure out how to fit studying around my work and family life. While I had a study timetable worked out for my readings, the element I hadn’t counted on was the timelines for the group work; an assignment was due around the same time as the next block of lectures which had prerequisite readings.

Learning quickly that I had to be ruthless with my time, I concentrated on what needed to be done and made sure to go back and fill in extra readings if I had the time.

Put weekend activities on hold 

Thirdly, I identified what I needed to change or give up in my personal life to accommodate my new study commitments. As my husband and I have a young child, I knew the majority of my study would need to happen in the evening, which meant I was unlikely to have any time for TV.

However, I soon realised I would need time during the weekends as well. We worked out a schedule where we both had some personal time during the weekends, but this meant I had to give up the baking and gardening I usually did for relaxation. But something had to give. I figured these sacrifices were only for a short period of time and the end result was worth it.

Learn to adjust your sleeping pattern

The fourth thing that suffered was my sleep. While I can function on six hours sleep a night, I can only maintain this for a few days at a time. Thankfully there were only a couple of intense weeks where my sleep suffered in the lead up to deadlines and lecture weekends. I learnt to adapt my sleeping pattern according to my programme timetable.

All in all, I am impressed with how much I have learned over the last few months and the connections made with my cohort. I’ve noticed I am more confident in dealing with things outside of my comfort zone at work and look forward to the year ahead!

Katheryn Needham
Modular Executive MBA (2020)

Discovering the ‘new busy’ on my MBA

I’d been thinking about doing an Executive MBA (EMBA) for years, scanning prospectus’ and attending open days here and there but always questioning deep down if I could realistically make the considerable commitment.

I tried to picture if I was one of ‘those’ collated people, managing their busy lives whilst also carving out space to study for a Master’s degree.

And then, when looking over the Cass website, I noticed an advertised scholarship which really spoke to me. It was the Coca-Cola Global Women’s Leadership Scholarship.

The scholarship is linked to a Cass initiative aimed at supporting and nurturing promising women to further their own growth and ambitions. I hadn’t seen any other top MBA school in London with a programme as focused as this one.

As the economic and societal benefits of increased female professional participation garner increased levels of publicity and validity, I saw Cass’s deliberate move to connect female leaders of the future with their extensive network of corporate contacts as responsible, forward thinking and opportune. It was like a sign! I had to apply and I told myself that if I was successful, I would bite the EMBA bullet. And here I am.

EMBA’s & Time

Rapidly approaching Christmas, having somehow managed to hand in three assignments and looking forward to a much deserved two week break, I can reflect on my EMBA experience thus far and notice that many notions link back to one topic – time.

When I speak of time, I’m mainly referring to a perceived acute lack of it! But I’m also thinking of the passing of time and what I hope to get out at the end of this endeavour, the relative concept of time and how much faster the last two months have felt compared to the months prior.

‘The new ‘busy’’

It’s a vaguely famous anecdote amongst my cohort that a previous EMBA class walked into their induction to a welcome of ‘you’re going to discover a whole new version of busy’ sprawled across the white-board rather intimidatingly in bright red marker pen.

Before this year’s course started, I remember reading a Cass EMBA student profile where the line ‘you quickly learn that you can manage on much less sleep than you previously thought necessary’ threw me into a mini-panic mode only shaken off with a cold glass of Chenin Blanc.

Luckily, I can confirm that I’m now so busy that I don’t have time to worry about being stressed about being busy! Once you kick off, you do naturally adapt.

Everyone’s in the same boat and everyone still wants to have some form of a social life – you learn to incorporate your extra workload whilst still fitting in going to the pub by finding new and efficient ways to utilise your time.

Moments in my day that I hadn’t noticed really existed, are now valuable time pockets not to be wasted. When my Uber audaciously skips from three minutes to eight minutes away – that’s enough time to scroll through my Cass inbox and see if there’s anything new in there that I need to be aware of.

Wistfully day-dreaming of blue skies, white sands and the sun’s warmth whilst half freezing to death waiting for the 158 bus to work in the morning is actually the perfect time to quickly take stock and make a mental plan of what I need to achieve and tick off by the end of the day.

Strangely, I’m somehow managing to do better at ‘fitting in’ aspects of my week that require a certain level of dedication and discipline – like going to the gym or doing my physio routine. I can only conclude that my enhanced time management skills are spilling over into other parts of my life!

Time flies when you’re having fun

In agreement with my grandparents who’ve been lamenting it for years, I’ve recently noticed that time does in fact start to move quicker as you get older. Every year Christmas shocks me all over again by appearing on the horizon despite only having occurred what feels like a couple of months ago.

Starting an EMBA is a sure fire way to accelerate this phenomena. Weeks absolutely shoot by and even though it’s nice that Friday re-appears much quicker than anticipated, I’m also trying to consciously remind myself to enjoy the moments as I’m in them.

So far, the nicest part for me has been the satisfaction of learning new things, and the mind-opening effect of garnering fresh perspectives from lecturers and EMBA colleagues.

Looking to the future

In two and a half short months I’ve already learnt time management skills to rival the Tsukaba Express, and completed courses in Accounting (a totally new language for me), Organisational Behaviour, and Financial Markets.

Despite the pace, I also feel content that I’m utilising my time so productively – every night I go to sleep knowing there’s not much more I could have been doing in the day to further myself or give myself the best chances for the future.

At the moment, I’m mainly focusing on looking ahead to the next two assignments we have due in after Christmas and our first half exams at the end of January, which I know will come around in a heartbeat.

But whilst I’m concentrating on these immediate challenges I’m pacified in the knowledge that I’m simultaneously working towards a longer term goal which has the potential to open up any number of exciting doors.

Kylie Poole
Executive MBA (2019)

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