It is ironic that I begin my MBA blogging adventure with a story about quitting. But, I just submitted my notice of resignation to my job of the past 2.5 years at KPMG, Dubai, a few days ago, and it’s been a surprisingly bitter sweet experience. This moment is one that every MBA aspirant will likely have to brace for. So, why not kick things off by reflecting back on the things that got me to this moment…
The infamous “Quitting Day” has been in the works for me for well over a year. Well, to be fair, I knew this day was coming the moment I took on my first job, nearly 5 years ago. An MBA was always on the cards in my mind and I spent about 4 years building my career to get to a point where I’d be ready to apply to an MBA program. An engineer upon graduating my undergraduate education, I knew early on that my real long term career goal is to be in business. What business? Where? When? How? I didn’t have answers to any of these questions. But, I always knew why! I watched my father and mother work very hard for many years, succeeding in their careers as a Ceramic Industry Professional and a Banker respectively, and providing an incredible life for us, my younger sister and I, as parents. But, I always had this sense that their hard work and dedication wasn’t getting the true valuation it deserved. If you ask my father though, he wouldn’t see it that way. He told me from a young age to always remember that, “the hard work you put in, is for you”…”not for your manager, boss, parents, or any-one for that matter”…and that, “no-one can take the learning and experiences you gain from hard work away from you”. “That is yours to keep”, he would say. This struck me and stuck with me. So, today, even though I’ve worked for companies, I’ve tried as much as possible to maintain an entrepreneurial spirit in these jobs, while awaiting that glorious moment where I take a leap and truly put in hard work for myself (by myself, I really mean my dear ones). All that being said, I do mean business… and an MBA is not an MBA for the sake of an MBA, for me. I visualize it being a catalyst to my natural progression, and so, it has been on the cards from that moment of realization many years ago that I wanted to do my own thing!
After months of research on MBA programs, attending numerous MBA events, having several conversations with current students, Alumni, Admissions Directors, friends and family, and a little embarrassingly, multiple attempts at the GMAT, I sent in my applications in the last months of 2013 and waited agonizingly for the acceptance call. Needless to say, after thinking about and planning for the MBA for such a sustained time, I was hopelessly committed to getting in and “getting in now” without a real Plan B, against the advise of the wiser supporters of my cause. So, when I finally got the call from Ms. Bailey Daniels, Admissions Director at Rotman, on December, 13th, 2013, I was absolutely elated and relieved to be starting my new journey! The story of how I received that call when I was at a concert with friends and the events leading up to it are for another post. One that I will surely write about soon.
But soon after getting in, there was a little bit of an unsettling calm that was setting in. My body and mind were still running on full throttle from the past year of pursuing the MBA admission, and suddenly I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I knew I had a little over 6 months to go and from a practical perspective I knew that I should take the advise given to me by MBA vets on how to use the time to relax and get ready for the storm that’s about to hit. But, I simply couldn’t. I immediately found the next things to get anxious about… visa, student loan, housing, etc, etc.
However, now with just 1 month to go before I fly off to kickoff my MBA, I really wish I had taken the advise and spent more time smiling around my family members and friends. I think it’s safe to say that most MBA aspirants will face this same internal battle. So, I’m not going to advise you to take it easy, because it’s really easier said than done. But, I do wish you all better luck in finding that balance and maximizing the happiness between the time you get in and the time the MBA program kicks off.
All of this realization and emotion is what flooded my thoughts on my day of resignation. The sudden reality that I’m leaving soon was overwhelming, even though I’d spent the last 5 years, apparently, preparing for this moment. Once I took a step back though and recognized that this isn’t another time to be anxious, but instead 30 more opportunities to be happy and make others happy… I’ve chosen to grab it by the horns.
There are always reasons to be anxious, but it’s important to remember all those who have enabled and fueled the journey to the holy grail that is the admissions to an MBA program. Because, more often than not, the journey to an MBA begins well before application and there are many vitals cogs in the form of parents, siblings, friends, bosses, etc, etc, that get us there. Whether it is a few days, a month or that whole 6 months between acceptance and kick-off, I encourage my peers and future aspirants, to go say thank you and spread some happiness. In my experience, smiles and hugs are the two best tools to mitigate the emotions that come with the closure of this stage of our lives, before kickstarting the next!
On that note, I’d like to share my love and thanks to:
my ever-loving and diligent parents – my father whom I’m super proud of for in-fact starting his own business a few years ago, and my mother to whom I just can’t describe in words what her love and dedication to our family has meant to me.
my caring sister – who is studying to be a doctor; an accomplishment that I’ll definitely be more proud of than any of my own MBA achievements.
my beautiful, talented and unbelievably supportive girlfriend – of whom I constantly wonder how I lucked out this much!
my dear friends – who know who they are and whom I hope know what a profound impact their friendship and support has had on shaping me.
my mentors – all of whom have exhibited characteristics of openness and humility, even though their achievements commanded less humility, and have pushed me to achieve more than I could have on my own. I’ve been fortunate to have a mentor that has influenced me right from high school, to my undergrad, one from each of the companies I’ve worked for and one from the institute where I sought gmat coaching!
As I continue to post on in this blog, I will include a lot of practical MBA-Life related stories, more specifically anecdotes and information on experiences I have at the “Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto”, and also some posts like this where I share some introspective looks at life in general. I promise that most of them will not be as long as this one 🙂
I hope this will help, encourage or simply interest fellow MBA students and aspirants. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave comments/questions!