A great place to be?

 

Poor planning but very lucky! I should be able to say that my attendance at Ashridge was a carefully planned process of analysis. It wasn’t. Actively looking for a challenging operations manager or director position (or similar I’m not fussy) re-training had not even occurred to me in early January 2012.

Added on 25 June 2012 by Erika Lucas

A great place to be?

Poor planning but very lucky!

I should be able to say that my attendance at Ashridge was a carefully planned process of analysis. It wasn’t. Actively looking for a challenging operations manager or director position (or similar I’m not fussy) re-training had not even occurred to me in early January 2012.

However it became clear that – having chosen to leave a successful career in the military – the misery of the modern job market demanded something extra. ‘Must have an MBA’ became a repetitive litany in the role descriptions of the appointments in which I was interested. Further education was clearly required but with whom?

The sheer terror of being ‘old’ (ancient at 39) in a class of sickeningly boisterous MBA egglings mitigated against the normal MBA Business School model. Fortunately serendipity played its part and a moment’s indifferent examination of the Economist’s MBA Business School league tables noted Ashridge as a fair bet. The mature manager emphasis focus on leadership and experienced faculty did the rest while the ridiculously beautiful grounds and building just added gilt on an already 24 carat lily. Hyperbole? Perhaps but this is an undeniably delightful place to study.

MBAs – Useful or useless?

So four months in has the course met expectations? I’m probably not the best person to ask. I’ve certainly learned a huge amount (or at least passed some exams which is not necessarily the same thing) and my other positive alliterative adjectives will do. This is a classy (no false modesty here) international group of people from a broad range of backgrounds. Most have significant managerial experience and what one doesn’t know two others will.

To judge the MBA itself is harder. I have no frame of reference having never even visited another Business School. A variety of friends and business acquaintances tell me that MBA’s are a waste of time while the media’s hatred campaign of all things MBA continues unabated (http://www.economist.com/whichmba/think-twice is one of the more elegant and eloquent expressions of the uselessness of MBAs). Right. Okay. Great. Is this pointless and am I just spending a self-indulgent 10 months studying when I could be usefully earning cash?

 

Not perfect but different

No this is not the perfect MBA course but it is most certainly not a waste of time and I do think Ashridge offers a reasonable alternative to the (alleged (must be careful)) thrusting grasping ambition of the more youthful MBA student model. I’m not saying we’re all old and dull. Far from it. Indeed as a vociferous student body we constantly remind the faculty and administration of their perceived failings.

However despite our criticisms the quality of teaching and instruction has been almost universally high. Interesting people make for interesting learning and the Ashridge instructors have considerable pedigree. Consequently I can now spout MBA type words and occasionally understand at least the broad gist of what I’m saying. Simultaneously my network has grown and advice on how and where and with whom I should get a job is certainly not wanting! It is here that Ashridge really does excel. It knows most of the world and unsurprisingly therefore most of the world seems to know Ashridge. A door opener? I hope so.

But arguably you can find good teachers anywhere and I will allow that there are other business schools with global reach. If so what is Ashridge’s cherry to another Business School’s Bakewell tart? I’m not sure yet but there’s something about a focus on leadership something else about small class sizes and definitely a final something about holism that – when taken together – trumps incessant obsession with the financial bottom line.

 

A fine foundation but a long way to go

So good networks strong teaching mature and accomplished students beautiful grounds a global name leadership and interesting perspectives on business. With six months still to run the Ashridge MBA has a long way to go but this has certainly been a sturdy foundation. Of course it could also have been free but you know what they say about things that are too good to be true…