Many people ask why I’m even attempting an MBA, especially at this point in my life. School aged kids, growing a business, an already full dance card of volunteer and sporting commitments. Surely it isn’t worth it at this point? The answer is yes, it is returning so much more than I need to put in!

I won’t lie – it has been hard work so far and I don’t expect it to get any easier. The core reasons stand: learning new things; and meeting new people. It is so easy to get trapped in “what and who I already know”, and doing the MBA is a perfect opportunity to break that.

I chose the Executive MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) for a few reasons – I spend a lot of time at UNSW anyway, so it is convenient. Mostly I was sold on the Strategic Management Year (SMY). It is a year of intense network creation and experiential learning. A year of diving deep into putting the learning of coursework and prior experience into action on real problems. Perhaps even an opportunity to focus that on my own business.

International experience

One thing that I had not considered was the value of the international opportunities offered. As a working mum and owner of my own business, I believed international experience would be something out of my reach. I couldn’t have been more wrong; and my recent study tour has certainly been the highlight of my MBA studies so far, and may well be an experience that even the SMY can’t exceed.

The AGSM organised a study tour to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, a week long tour with a packed agenda. We experienced some of the very original Valley (Intel) and all sorts of established and up and coming players in the area, from salesforce.com to Nitro, GoDaddy to Google. We met with venture capitalists, lawyers, manufacturers and founders at all stages for their ventures. I was astonished at the generosity of the individuals who presented. We heard from many Australians who where incredibly open and honest about sharing triumphs and tragedies of their journeys to the Valley.

The experiences were eye opening – I had no idea of how little I knew of the startup ecosystem. A week does not make me an expert by any means. If I wanted to make a start I would know a lot more about where to begin, and who to ask for help. I look forward to applying the learning and insights to my own business, and to the benefit of my clients. More importantly, I am keen to share this experience with the same generosity that was shown to us.

Thank you AGSM

I can’t thank the AGSM enough. This is truly why they are such a highly rated business school at a global level. The team that put the tour together did an amazing job at cramming in the maximum number of amazing experiences. The faculty that accompanied us were generous and knowledgable and committed to each and every student getting the most out of the experience.

I will do some follow up blogging on particular areas and insights. There is more to cover, particularly on approaches to fostering innovation in all types of enterprise.