This reflection journal outlines my learning experience in the MBA program, detailing the specific competencies gained in each course undertaken, while also highlighting my personal growth and development in the course. I have given an in-depth analysis to areas I thought established the biggest influence to me in this program. This is in the sense of the connect-ability and imparting of aspects that I now look forward to implementing in my future work environment. These aspects also related to background and work experience, in some aspects, providing insight into what I could have done differently. The weighted consideration does not imply that the other courses were less relevant, but only a realization of the limited space and time allocated to complete this learning journal.
As an MBA student, I have learnt to plan, manage, organize, and coordinate successfully in the complex environment that makes the current organizations, whether in the private or public sector. All these activities have to be carried out within the confines of the frameworks set by the societal values, norms, and practices. This means that ethics has been one of the instrumental pillars the training in this course focused on. I come from a culture that is different from the setting of this country. There is no better way to learn about ethics other than realizing the diverse nature of culture. What is ethical in one section of the world is not in the other part.
One of the courses that impacted heavily on my view of business is the strategy formulation and implementation course. I always envisioned myself as the person who focuses on the bigger picture, and is motivated to take part in a well-coordinated team focused on the result. While I mentioned this extensively in my curriculum vitae and the job interview I attended, I could not establish a clear set of mental structures of the way I was going to get the team where the organization needed to be. The defining moments in the course was when the tutor highlighted a case after case of the steps to be followed in strategy formulation.
While working as a customer service official at Berlitz Language Institute, I learnt to appreciate the value of communication and interpersonal skill to excel in business. However, having completed this MBA program, I now visualize my role differently in case I am given the chance to work at the same place. While communication and interpersonal skills will still be applied extensively, the concepts of their application have changed in the mental image that the MBA program has impacted in me. I now see my focus shifting upstream and to be concentrated in the marketing segment of the business. Having completed a section of the program titled Marketing Management, I have come to realize the importance of marketing to the excellence of any business. I have gained knowledge on the unique attributes of marketing, through a training focused on market segmentation principles, relationship marketing, target marketing, market research, competitor analysis, promotion planning, and marketing strategies. I have considered the scenario of Berlitz and realized that at some point during my second year working there, the business had reached a stagnation point. The business relied on its existing market; that of university students seeking to take a course in addition to the program they had enrolled in at the University. This focus on a niche market ensured that university students felt “home” at the institute. On the other hand, the business made little effort to tap into the growing market segment of working class people seeking to enroll for evening classes in various courses. Considering the expanding business of working class executives enrolling on evening and weekend program, I would help the institute to create a marketing strategy focused on expanding the market beyond the traditional one.
From the lessons of how to establish a strategy, I was able to outline my strategic thinking by picturing the scenario of Al Salam Medical Clinic, a clinic in Saudi Arabia where I used to work as a receptionist. While my duty was not to help in business management, I gained an insight into the operations of the business from the vantage point of getting in contact with the going ins and outs of the clinic. I did not get to picture the business from a strategic location by then, but looking back, I can be able to piece together these loose strands of information and establish the position of the business in terms of the bigger picture. While conducting a SWOT analysis from the memory I had of the business, I established that the biggest failure to growth is the lack of strategy in taking forward the business. This is in terms of taking advantage of the restrictive public medical system in Saudi Arabia to tailor the products to focus largely on the isolated expatriates who cannot gain medical services from a public hospital. This failure stems using Arabic to brand the business, failure to market in this category, and the favorable attention paid to locals only.
Project management was one of the courses where my team skills were tested to the limit. My curriculum vitae speak volumes of my capability to work in teams, with multicultural backgrounds to deliver the required results within stipulated timeframes. This is what I always used as my selling point in interviews for jobs. However, I now consider that I might have put down this “competency with a level of ignorance in terms of working in teams. I missed the point of “multicultural” by assuming that it means that I strive in groups comprising of people from different races, creed, level of education, and maybe age. In groups sharing the same level of education, with nearly the same age group, and race and color not playing any role, I established that working in groups requires some muscle as well.
The project management classes centered on creating of teams, and working on real life projects with stipulated timeframes. The aspects of the project that were to be learning included formulating the task, managing the project, establishing the surroundings, resources and stakeholders. We learned about the different tasks of a project manager, and the organizational settings of the project. The course entailed lectures about the management styles to be expected in organizations. By undertaking different projects under the leadership of different team members, we were able to identify these management styles in action. A personal evaluation helped me to concur with the results of the survey we conducted in class amongst fellow students that placed me in the bracket of transformative leaders. From the removed standpoint of personal reflection, I was able to carry out a personal assessment, and as a result, I have readjusted my career aspirations from seeking to gain insight of situations and then improve them, to creating systems that will spur the change in any environment. I have realized that I prefer administrative and entrepreneurial roles. My work has always been structurally oriented, preferring to lay down my tasks beforehand. This has helped to boost my ability to withstand the pressure during the stormy discussion groups, and think about strategies way before the actual implementation.
While growing up, I always preferred learning something new. I have demonstrated in my work experience a determination to go the extra mile and achieve the results. With the training from this program that incorporate management science, financial accounting, business statistics, and accounting in effective business control and management, I have established bedrock upon which to launch a career. With no management background, I believe that this section of the program caught me flatfooted in the first stages. I always thought that accounting was a preserve of the accountants. Considering my background is in the arts, with a degree in arts and diploma in public relations, I decided to take management accounting seriously to boost my accounting skills. However, I came to the realization that management accounting, business statistics, and financial accounting was ideally different from the perception of “hard sciences” that my mind had established. For another time, my willingness to learn opened another corridor of competency that had stayed unlocked in my brain. My analytical and problem solving skills have been advanced by undertaking this MBA. I feel more secure in the knowledge of financial reporting, analysis and interpretation.
The macroeconomics and microeconomics units provided me with essential skills to analyze and predict market forces. The microeconomics course included theories concerning market forces, such as consumer demand and supply, price mechanisms, cost analysis, and resource allocations. Some of the macroeconomics issues examined are the issues of unemployment, monetary policies, inflation, and economic growth. This section of the course gave me the chance to understand market principles, enabling me to get insight into the forces that influence the business both internal and external. I have to admit that the microeconomic section applied plenty of theoretical frameworks with little practical component being incorporated. I had to figure out most of the explanations by relating to my real life experiences to get the concept.
This course introduced new knowledge and expanded existing knowledge in the fields of finance, managing people, accounting, marketing, economics, and understanding the international business environment. The focus on strategic decision-making was the standout in my entire training. I have always aspired to use my knowledge to improve the living conditions of women and children in Saudi Arabia. The focus of the rest of the world concerning Saudi women and children has been on the restrictive culture of the country. However, this study and discussion fails to address the need to establish institutional frameworks that target the improvement of healthcare and education. I have now established that I want to head back to my country and improve on the status of women and children by working the public sector to spur this change. The first step is realizing the problem, now it is my turn to create the strategy to tackle the problem. This I have to do by applying my creative, innovative, and ethical approaches to business management that I learnt in the MBA program.
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