Reflecting on the first term of the Lancaster MBA

Dominic Roberts reflects on his first term of the Lancaster MBA, and shares his experiences so far.

As the second term has just gotten underway, I wanted to write some words here to reflect after passing through the first term, capturing my experiences. These months have been some of the most memorable of my life and seem to have gone very quickly, but also with the illusion of being slow at the same time – I think purely because of how much we have learnt in such a short time and the variety of the experiences. Having the Christmas break has allowed me to take some time to reflect on the experience and share some key insights of what I have taken away from the programme and what I have learnt in this time.

Three key takeaways that I would like to share:

1) Change of perspectives

One of the key strands of Lancaster´s signature Mindful Manager module is the need to be aware of one´s “spectacles”, i.e. the assumptions and interpretations that we see the world through. In the class we have over 20 nationalities, and one thing that I learnt is that there are no right or wrong ways of seeing things or doing things. Working closely in a group with team members from all over the world you quickly learn that everyone has a different perspective and you are not going to get anything done by not trying to understand their perspectives. You need to have a dialogue to come to the best arrangement, and encourage other team members to give their opinions.

Key takeaway: be prepared to let go of your ways of seeing and doing things and try and see from the eyes of others, you just might get a new idea or approach to doing something

2) Being challenged and embracing discomfort

Something that becomes apparent very quickly is how different and MBA is to the kind of academic study I have done before. Essentially the MBA is more of an executive education where you will not just be learning the fundamentals of management but also working on other more personal qualities like leadership, critical thinking etc. During group exercises, I have pushed myself into more of a leadership role, which was usually where I shied away from a little. Also, as someone without a background in these areas, Finance and Statistics were challenging areas at first, but with the help of others and taking the time to read up on the subjects in my own time made me realise that, yes, I can do this.

Key takeaway: pursuing stretch goals and pushing yourself is the best way to learn and grow as a person not just professionally but also personally.

3) Working hard but enjoying the experience

The programme is intense, with lectures running all day every day and then many readings, group works and essays to complete, you need to be highly organised and disciplined about how much time you dedicate to each project. You are also rapidly proceeding through different subjects, one week Finance, the next Marketing and then you are onto the next module, there is little time to catch up.

However, I have found that I have savoured every lecture. Every lecturer is an expert in their field and genuinely enjoy the teaching. We have also had illuminating presentations from companies such as IBM, Microsoft and the NHS. Some of the most interesting lectures have been about the 2008 Financial Crisis and the reasons for this, and we even visited an old Textile Mill which was one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution.

Key takeaway: don´t just go along with the lectures but try to find time to go outside the materials, engage, and improve your understanding with additional reading.

So, now we are kicking off the next term where it steps up a notch where we will be taking part in the Strategy modules, which are ranked 1st in the world, putting our learning into action on our Entrepreneurial and Corporate challenges and spending time in this London learning more about Finance and Macro-economics.