Remembering the unforgettable and being unforgettable

The VC congratulates me at Henley Business School's Graduation Ceremony on Friday, 18th October

The VC congratulates me at Henley Business School’s Graduation Ceremony on Friday, 18th October

Photo Credit: Ede & Ravenscroft Photography, Cambridge, UK

I almost forgot about 3 years of my life. I hardly remembered my fierce determination and obvious persistence. In the past year since completing my 3-year MBA (Master of Business Administration), I’ve faced small and medium challenges like starting a new job in a new company, finding my place in a new group, rekindling old friendships and making new ones. I was often worried about how I would cope or if I would survive. Indeed, I had almost forgotten what I could achieve if I set my mind to it.

It was last Friday, 18th October when I attend my MBA graduation ceremony that it hit me unexpectedly as I saw my classmates, many of which became friends of mine. They will be unforgettable because they taught me more than business.

I don’t know where strength came from. It often felt like there was a pipe pumping energy into my veins at high speed. I had low points when I thought I couldn’t continue, that the demands I had of myself were too high. But I was unable to accept that state for long. Looking back, I’m grateful for those low points as they helped me refuel. I’ve learnt to appreciate the stillness instead of panicking in the silence. I’ve learnt over time not to forget to be kind to myself in the excitement – to remain unforgettable in the process. Even as I shake the hand of the Vice Chancellor, I don’t think I fully got it. Hopefully someday, I will.

Looking for Patience – Research Woes

I didn’t expect it to be easy. But I certainly didn’t expect it to be blood-sucking and mind-draining. Have you ever tried to conduct a survey on your own? You may understand me then.

As part of the work for my MBA research, I’m conducting a 3-minute survey aimed at business-to-business marketers who have led social media programs in their organisations. Sounds straightforward, right? Well, it turns out these are very very busy folks and I can’t get 50 of them to answer my survey. Last I checked (2 minutes ago), 10 responses have been submitted, many of which I personally sent the link to. Advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn hasn’t generated many responses. It’s testing my patience…the little I have of it.

 

I started to think of all the surveys people asked me to fill and I ignored (forgive me for I was ignorant). I’m offering a copy of the results and it doesn’t seem to be attractive enough – actually, I don’t think people are reading that far into my message.

Perhaps I need to stalk my target audience. “Watch” them on LinkedIn to see their coming and going.

The survey is just 3 minutes long after all. How long is 3 minutes or have I missed something?

 

I’m making light of this but I’m quite frustrated. I don’t do being ignored very well and the number of “nos” and complete silences (worse) are unbearable. Sigh!

 

Alas, I need to persevere. There are a couple of other options that I could explore as far as the survey goes but I’ll give it till next week and see if patience pays off. I may even give it two weeks if I really want to stretch myself (unlikely).

 

I’m looking forward to the end – that’s what motivates me. I want to see it to. the. end. And get reasonable and fresh insight on the subject I’m researching. You can read more about my research at http://monthsofmadness.wordpress.com.

 

The end will be bliss. I’ll drink to that.

 

 

 

 

3 Real Reasons Why Engineers Don’t Want To Be Managers

You may have read similar-titled articles by top execs or by practitioners claiming to know something about how the minds of engineers’ work. Well, this here is my own opinion, fuelled by my experiences so far. To set the scene, you need to know that I’m a black woman approaching my mid 30s and armed with 2 engineering qualifications. I’ve recently dipped my toes in the waters of business and management i.e. taking on non-engineering roles. I’m also completing an MBA degree. Now that we’ve gotten that “stiff” intro out of the way, let’s get down to my reasoning.

You should have seen the faces of my friends and colleagues when I opted to try a non-engineering role. They didn’t understand my motives and I didn’t understand why they didn’t understand. Over the past 18 months. I’ve enjoyed getting in touch with my creative (and sometimes “fluffy”) side. For most engineers, that’s the problem right there. And now, even I am beginning to understand why…

1. Take job descriptions for instance. An ad for an engineer is often clear. The recruiter is looking for X number of years experience in this tool or that tool. They will require sound understanding of key principles e.g. fluid mechanics or production engineering or operations research and so on. You either have these or you don’t. Ads for managers are a little less straight-forward. Requirements like “Demonstrated leadership qualities” or “Ability to manage people” are not so obvious. I mean, does the annual school play with 30 children that I direct every Christmas count? I manage people all day every day – including my 2 children and 1 husband and numerous in-laws – does this count? You get the idea.

2. Let’s look at “managing people” more closely. Most engineers I know don’t really like people (I mean that in a good way!). There’s perhaps a valid concern that managing people requires counseling skills or the likes meaning suddenly, the standard chair in your new office marked “General Manager” may be exchanged for a 3-seater sofa. You do need to tolerate people (you don’t have to like them) and you need to be willing to listen actively. Still, with all the best management skills nothing can prepare you for that employee who comes into your office on a Monday morning saying, “look! I’ve grown a horn!” There’s never a dull moment…

3. Then there’s the basic fluffiness of it all. It’s unclear what you actually do…so don’t be surprised if the word along the corridors is that you do “nothing”. Don’t take it personally. You’re probably trying to ensure positive business impact by implementing printed strategies but this is rarely obvious. You may even be forced to implement a strategy you don’t agree with, or that you think lacks logic (shhhh!). Engineers despise the illogical so forgive them if they opted out of that “game show”.

In the end, there are significant advantages to both career paths. If you are comfortable with being a specialist at what you do – and you’re bloody good at it, then I can see how that can be profoundly rewarding. But having skills that are not always clearly defined; and having to deal with people as well as finding a balance between the logical and your instincts is what makes a great manager. And let’s face it – someone has to manage the engineers. Not an easy task I would imagine.

Making the switch has come with its challenges. I recently sat in a marketing course and watched as 52.5% and 63.5% added up to 100% on a PowerPoint slide. I didn’t dare say a word…

Likely Effects of Osama Bin Laden’s Death on World Economy (We hope)

I heard it first on CNN. There’s been a whole lot of rejoicing following the death of Osama Bin Laden, leader of Al-Qaeda. I personally didn’t know how to feel. I was glad – don’t get me wrong – but the sceptic in me asked the ‘now what?’ question. I’m hoping that it isn’t only justice served; I hope it also closes a terrifying era of violence and insecurity. It may even be the beginning of the consumers’ era when the world’s economy is suddenly in our favour.

Cartoon by Universal Press Syndicate 2011

In the mist of media reports and rejoicing, there’s bound to be anticipation that somehow, this man’s death has ended terrorism as we know it. I’ve decided to live in that fantasy world for a few minutes. What if in fact, Osama Bin Laden‘s death ends terrorism or at least the fear and uncertainty that comes with the threat? What will the world’s economy look like? Let me see…
Tourism: This industry saw a huge hit after 9/11. People just didn’t travel as much as they used to. If in fact terrorism is a thing of the past, this industry should benefit from it. Trans-atlantic flights are likely to be more popular and less stressful. The umpteen security checks at airports will reduce considerably and travelling will simply be…more fun. However, it’s naive to ignore the long-term effects of past decline. People may have reorganised their lives and holidays so that air travel, especially long haul flights, are minimal. Reduced travel may have also increased the use of social media and other internet technology for communication in the business world for instance. This is unlikely to revert back to the heavy travel days. As one saying goes, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. The rapid growth of globalisation is partially due to the need to work around reduced travel. And let’s not forget the cost implications.
Energy prices: The behaviour of the oil price is a peculiar thing. High prices are driven by doubt and risk. The more politically unstable oil-producing countries are, the higher the oil price. And- you guess it- the greater the profits cartels like OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) will make. With Osama’s death, there may indeed be reduced fear of terrorist attacks globally, causing oil prices to drop as has been experienced in the past week. It may also mean that prices at the pump drop too. While this is great news for consumers like us, it ‘s not fantastic news for the oil industry as a whole. If oil and other commodity prices drop, energy prices (utilities) should too. If prices drop, there’s likely to be reduced supply for two reasons:

  1. When prices drop, an industry can become less attractive for many players who may choose to leave or reduce investment in favour of moving to more profitable markets.
  2. OPEC can decide to reduce oil supply of member countries in order to force an increase in the oil price.

According to the Law of supply and demand, reducing supply will drive prices up again if demand surpasses supply. So overall, it’s a vicious cycle. Therefore, decreases in energy and oil prices may be temporal if it happens at all.

A recent article in The Economist titled, ‘Now, kill his dream’ states that Osama’s brand of brutal jihad is losing its appeal in the Arab World. Perhaps this is the case such that the seeming fantasy benefits on world economy could become a reality.

Blogging Theme Review- Why ‘My Business Addiction’?

You may not have noticed but I think it is fair to say that it’s not just business that I’m addicted to. When I started this blog, the intention was to write about my MBA learning journey and  my take on the business world. Granted-I’ve done a little bit of that. But all in all, business is not such an addiction in itself but more of an aspiration that I’m trying to untangle out of my life, which is my other addiction.

In many ways, this blog has revealed that there’s more to me than I thought. I have written on humor, life, family, friendship as well as business. I’ve put my mind up here and overall I’m pleased with the results. It took a while to relax in order for me to move from a guarded tone to one that let my personality through, even at the risk of dredging up the ‘irrelevant’. So I’d say I’m achieving a significant portion of my initial objective: to record a learning journey. I’ve got to know fellow bloggers and I sincerely hope that they know a little about me too. There’s more to learn and I’m sure there are a lot of things I can do much better. I have time to do this and many more miles before I’m picture perfect, if ever being perfect becomes a real aspiration or worse – an addiction.

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