Excerpts from our MBA student bloggers’ experiences at business school.

Initiation rituals

Bo Zhang
Columbia Business School, US
October 2015

As we sheepishly followed each other into the room, we were welcomed by a group of chanting, grinning, arm-waving second-year MBAs dressed in hippie 1960s fashion.

Bo Zhang

They gave each of us a Greenpeace necklace, a colourful hippy jacket and a bright yellow headband with flowers printed on it and told us to wear them for the next two weeks. Wearing my jacket and headband while sitting in a classroom covered in pink paper flowers, I watched Dan, one of the second years, skip to the tune of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

It felt like a dream given that only a few weeks ago I was in a tailored suit and Joseph Cheaney shoes, sitting in morning conferences and analysing company performance. It was a long way away (3,459 miles to be exact) from corporate life in London.

Big in Japan

Laura Melina Loeven
Nanyang Business School, Singapore
November 2015

Laura Melina Loeven

At the prospect of spending a week on a business study mission in Tokyo, I felt slightly nervous about offending senior Japanese managers.

Being European, the manifold unwritten rules of Japanese business culture were still a mystery to me. Thankfully, before my first MBA study trip I was able to attend a crash course on Japanese business culture and the do’s and don’ts of socialising, hosted by my Japanese classmates.

For one evening, I was fully drawn into the Japanese lifestyle while enjoying sushi and sake, admiring a traditional Japanese dance, learning bowing ceremonies and practising the correct exchange of business cards.

Stephen Morse

The end of the affair

Stephen Morse
Saïd Business School, Oxford, UK
November 2015

More than two years ago I fell in love. Today, the romance is over. Last week, I quit drinking coffee; cold turkey. The highs were high, but the lows were too low . . . My first day without coffee was sluggish. But I made it to my strategy class on time and even contributed a couple of things to the discussion, despite feeling a bizarre paralytic and catatonic feeling in both my brain and body . . . Working on my MBA, I know that this is a time for “personal development”. This translates into kicking bad habits. My bad habit was coffee. And today, as I mourn the gallons of lattes, fraps, flat whites and more I will not consume, I am thankful I have more time to right my wrongs.

Three ‘anti-lessons’

Owen Woolcock
London Business School
June 2015

In a number of airport bookshops these past few months, I have seen two books next to each other in the business section: What They Teach You at Harvard Business School by Philip Delves Broughton and What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack.

Their demand is a symptom of a question that can never definitely be answered: is business school worth it? What is my view? As long as the working world demands new perspectives and as long as people get stuck and feel the need for professional renewal, people will continue to go to business school.

Years after, a majority will look back with fondness; a minority will say it changed their lives; and (thankfully) a small minority will believe it was a waste of time and money and they could have learnt it all from airport bestsellers.

Brenden Sheehan

Ten random questions

Brenden Sheehan
Thunderbird School of Global Management, US
August 2015

Here’s a list of 10 random questions that I often wondered about before I went to business school:

1) Why the heck does Ikea make me walk through its entire store? I’m trapped!

2) How can Walmart afford to have such low prices and still be so profitable?

3) How are interest rates adjusted?

4) How did Starbucks become so popular? It’s just coffee, right?

5) What caused that horrible financial crisis in 2008?

6) Why does Southwest only fly 737s?

7) What’s up with the IMF bailing out all of these countries?

8) How can a profitable company go bankrupt?

9) Why is Zara so successful?

10) Why are Real Madrid fans so gung-ho?

See the answers online: www.ft.com/wild-card

To follow more than 20 MBA bloggers, go to ft.com/mba-blog

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window) CommentsJump to comments section

Follow the topics in this article