Students Friends

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Despite all my perfectly rationalised reasons for wanting an MBA, on the morning of the first day of our Global Online MBA induction week, one thought dominated my mind: “What have I done…?”

The sense of dread was genuine; the journey still ahead, seemed to suddenly loom dauntingly ahead of me. How was I going to manage this? I have a family to take care of, projects to manage, limited vacation time and marathon Netflix binge sessions to get through… I might have to give up that last one, I thought begrudgingly to myself.

We are here, we are Imperial…

I’m happy to report that I’m writing this first blog entry, post-first-term examinations, and I survived, having only suffered a minimum of scarring.

In seriousness though, writing this now, after having been through a semester of online modules and examinations gives me greater hope in my ability to repeat the feat and successfully complete this degree. It also gives me a chance to reflect on the phenomenal things I’ve experienced and learnt and why I enrolled in this programme.

Genuinely, the induction week that followed those terrifying first thoughts was absolutely amazing and every bit as engaging and full of promise as the graduating cohort had lead us to believe when they presented their thoughts on the program to our group. For those of us who have been out of formal education for a while, it was a fantastic opportunity to put our student caps on again, soak-up the thought provoking material being presented to us by world-class professors, discuss a broad array of topics within our new cohort of developing friends and equals and begin to contemplate what this MBA could mean for our professional futures. By the end of the first week, instead of being drained by the thought of the journey ahead, I was completely energised by it.

With the induction week at an end, it was time to bid farewell to new friends and for each of us to return to our respective corners of the globe, to continue our familiar lives. We all knew that the real journey, the one we would continue to walk together, but connected through screens and emails and not sat round the same table, was about to start.

And so then, why am I here, what has lead me to this point? Throughout this first semester, as I’ve logged onto the HUB portal to collaborate with my group on assignments and chip away at the economics, marketing and career support modules, intelligently broken down into manageable portions, I’m constantly aware of my reason for doing this.

Friends in the making

My career so far has felt to me like something I should be reasonably proud of but still not quite the product of my own design nor truly aligned with my real strengths and passions. I seem to have inadvertently climbed the corporate ladder through the accidental and consecutive invitation of others. I have put off doing an MBA for a few years now, but desire overcame resistance this year and so I am here, because I need time…I need time to discreetly step off the hamster wheel that is my career and look at it critically.

Am I really here by choice? Am I blind to opportunities further afield because I’m afraid to stop running? What am I good at, really good at…and bad at, really bad at? Am I the victim of pleasing others rather than myself? Have the leaps of faith of others been rewarded with flights of success or terrible crashes into oblivion? Can my guilt over the planet’s ailing health co-exist with my involvement with the traditional energy projects I currently execute so well? Can my passions be injected into my career? Do I continue on my current, possibly accelerated trajectory or am I in need of the course correction I’ve often contemplated but never traced out for fear of the cracks in my armour I’ll be forced to confront?

This first term has left me without any doubt that Imperial and the Global Online MBA will provide me with the learnings, support, tools and time I need to answer these uncomfortable questions and start piecing together a plan to take back control of my career.

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About Shereif Rostom