It’s been eight months since I left Accra, Ghana to begin the MBA program at Hult. In another four months I will be home again, in sha’ Allah. I miss my family and my friends. I miss my weekend morning karate training sessions with my Sensei. And I miss Sunday breakfast at La Galette, in the Spintex community in Accra, while counting all the Mercedes Benzes that are only driven on Sunday mornings.
I made the decision to attend Hult because I had reached a point in my career where I needed to develop more muscle for business management, given I’d come from a marketing and stakeholder relations background. Hult offered me a powerful blend of knowledge and expertise, and an innovative approach to teaching and learning.
But, business School is hard. Period.
It ranks high up with some of my most challenging experiences yet. I consistently have to improve skills, which means enhancing processes, being ruthless with my time, working better with my teammates, and mastering the fine art of bilingual swearing. Through deliberate practice I’m sharpening my work ethic, a value I am learning is a key aspect of grit, a critical skill for surviving in our world today.
I’ve done some cool, non-school related things, too. I took a Thai kickboxing class a few times—until I learned that constant muscle soreness and the race to meet deadlines don’t mix well. I’ve done yoga in an art gallery with incredible views of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure in the world.
I’ve also had some of the most interesting conversations about the most mundane things with people from all over the world (who also have the most exotic accents). I’ve had lunch with Kiran Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon, a Biotechnology company. And I’ve seen Alicia Keys in concert.
One of my friends asked me what I’ve learned so far, and whether the huge financial investment to attend Hult has been worth it. I answered yes. I’m having a learning revolution here.
The Dean remarked, earlier today, how she’d seen me attend almost every single Master Class offered since I started my program. She was right. Those supplementary sessions are amazing because seasoned business leaders from various industries provide a high level view of a business area I may not necessarily be familiar with, in just a three-hour session. It may be a long time before I find myself in an environment like Hult again, so I’m determined to make the most of the experience.
When I’m not in school, I’m taking extra sessions in areas that are of interest to me. For example, I learned a new skill today during a session on branding for start-ups off campus. I had the opportunity to work, briefly, during spring break with a local photographer who has covered every single World Cup series held in this region. I’m learning things about myself I didn’t know before.
Here are a few important things I would like to share:
- I’ve learned that nothing is ever clear nor will ever be.
- That my success may be measured by how I handle ambiguity.
- That there is something called power and I don’t have to be the hardest worker to have it.
- That stamina is important, so eating well and exercising is as important as drinking water.
- That I should continue to assault the commonplace each chance I get with my incredibly beautiful blazers, classy African print dresses and hearty smile (when I choose to).
- That kindness pays.
- That five-year-olds have so much perspective.
- That being coherent, humble, genuine and open are strengths, not weaknesses.
- That living your truth takes real courage.
- That trying to grow market share is a fruitless venture.
- That I need people. Heck, we all need people.
- That I’ll be more cool if I fail and bounce back.
- That Laura Mercier makes the most amazing oil-free tinted moisturizer for dark skin.
- That taking time to reflect as well as having fun is important.
It’s been a bumpy, funky and all-around fascinating last eight months—fueled by ambition, passion, lots of caffeine, bouts of self-doubt as well as crippling loneliness, sometimes.
As the end of Module C dawns and some of my classmates prepare to rotate to other campuses, I can’t help but wonder what the next few years will be like for us. What I do know is that I’m excited about the future and I’ve never felt more prepared.
Sarah Mills is an MBA student at Hult, Dubai, rotating to Shanghai in Module E. She is a doting aunt; a dangerous telekinetic; a believer in karma and lover of bright nail polish. She is also hardly ever impressed by reality; she goes for intoxication instead—but not of the alcohol variety.