Social Events and Cohort Culture

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In the past few weeks I have celebrated Burns Night, Australia Day and Chinese New Year. For the latter we hired out an entire restaurant kitchen. Thank you Vicky, Byron, and Yuchao! It is a privilege to be part of a cohort with 29 different nationalities. Our class is small in comparison with other MBA programmes, but being only 67 in number means that we know each other well and have the opportunity to discover everybody’s talents, ambitions and, of course, personality quirks. It would be difficult to feel isolated given we have spent most of the last six months in lectures all together, and given that we are all part of official syndicate teams of 5-6 people, with whom we undertake many assignments. 

Personally, I would describe the class of 2016-17 as passionate, determined, and fun. And that’s taking as given their smart business brains – after all, Imperial means Intelligent Business! In this second term we are becoming more forward-looking as a group; in just a month from now ‘core’ courses will be over and we will begin the second half of the MBA. Highlights to include: electives that we have chosen individually; travel to Vietnam for the ‘Global Experience Week’; starting our own business over several months through Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Design; and pinning down a final project or internship for the summer.

Although we will spend less time all together in the coming months, the supportive, ambitious and entertaining culture that we have built will be just as important. Everybody says that the network gained is one of the best things about an MBA, and it is definitely true. The ‘contacts’ gained are people who have seen you through good and bad times, they are people whom you have a genuine bond with, as opposed to someone who simply has your business card. We are now increasingly working outside of our designated syndicate teams, proactively forming teams for international MBA competitions such as the Nespresso Sustainability MBA Challenge, the Hult Prize, or Microsoft’s Imagine Cup. Many people are actively seeking out those they have not worked with before for these new challenges. This is testament to the open, positive atmosphere of mutual respect.

Of course, there are always mistakes, challenges, and precarious team dynamics to contend with in any environment, but I, for one, feel that the social side of the MBA has been a huge enhancement to my MBA experience so far. This is a good lesson as to the importance of relationships and people development in organisations, whether they are startups, large corporates, or a business school. Coming up we have a weekend away for a Viennese Ball, a paintballing trip, cocktail making, and hiking from an Imperial owned lodge, all fitted in around studies and interviews. Looking forward to it!

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