September 14, 2009 5:00 pm

The challenge of an MBA

Rafel Martinez

When you are 2,900m above sea level, have climbed 8 summits and have a further 15km to run, you must be “positive” or, to put it in a proper way, you must be extremely psychologically resilient. No matter how hard you have trained, no matter how fit you are, there is always a critical point along the way. Once you reach that point, you no longer depend on your legs, it is your mind and your determination that will take you to the finishing line.

Getting up at 4.30am to run a six-hour mountain race in the Pyrenees is for me a challenge. And challenge is also the word I would use to describe the main reason I have decided to study for an MBA.

I am about to begin the full-time MBA programme at Esade Business School, Barcelona, Spain. Taking an MBA has been a deeply meditated decision that I have been considering since I was studying at university. I would like to work outside Spain to boost my professional profile. Marketing appeals to me, especially within a multinational company and I believe that Esade with a programme that is recognised worldwide, will make these expectations real.

I know there are other renowned schools in Spain such as IE or Iese where I could have applied. But for me the high degree of personalised attention, the co-operative methodology and the deeply focused perspective on social responsibility won the day. Esade just fitted my character perfectly.

Nevertheless, stepping outside your comfort zone is never easy and there have been some obstacles to overcome.

First of all, I am not an engineer. Neither do have I a degree in economics. And I am not even a lawyer. I graduated in advertising and public relations. That is to say, my educational background is completely different from that of the vast majority of the people on the course. Will I manage to perform as well as the rest of the group? That is the first question which comes to my mind when I think about the course. One of my main reasons for selecting Esade was the diversity of the academic class profile, but now that I am potentially the student who “is different” it does not seem that exciting.

Besides, I am only 26 years old, while the rest of the class is aged about 30 and I have four years’ professional experience, two below the class average.

Surely, one of the most fruitful aspects of the MBA is the chance to work and exchange ideas with classmates who were top performers in their positions. I really value the collaborative environment that Esade aims to create by placing teamwork at the core of its programme, but even though I was a good professional, well-respected by my colleagues, I have not yet worked as a project developer or a financial advisor for a multinational company. Will my opinions be as interesting as the ones from the rest of the class?

Furthermore, as many as 41 different nationalities will take part in the programme. Most of them have developed an extended part of their career working abroad and less than half of the people come from Western Europe. In my case, I am from Barcelona. I was born here, I have grown up here and I have lived here for the greatest part of my life. Will I be able to fit into the multicultural profile on-campus? Will I develop all that managerial competences I am supposed to hold? Will I have enough talent to make it? Will I find a better job at the end of the programme? Will I be strong enough to take that huge leap forward? Will I...?

A thousand questions spring to my mind. The classes start tomorrow but it is 3am and I cannot sleep. That’s it. I am now at the critical point. For a moment, the strength and conviction that accompanied me at the start of this journey seem to be fading away.

For a second, panic paralyses me and I feel like giving it all up. I know I could have spent my whole life in my former job. I know it would have been a more secure option. I also know that the current economical context is not the best for playing hard; or is it?

Just an instant later, I see the light. My mind simply says yes. Yes to be part of a group with outstanding talented individuals. Yes to keep on developing my skills. Yes to live the MBA experience. Yes to challenge myself one more time. That is what I want to do. There is where I want to be. I will do my best to make it. So, I am just going to do it.

Be sure I’ll let you know about my personal progression in my following articles.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.