Akankshu Dhawan looks surprisingly calm for his busy schedule.
What does life look like when you work full-time in a city that is miles away from Chicago and fly in every weekend to attend classes at Chicago Booth? It's definitely not for the weak-hearted! Here's what drives me to get on that flight from Seattle to Chicago every Friday.
Every Saturday I leave Gleacher at 4:40 pm for the airport and as I discuss the day gone by and my plans for what is left of the weekend, I look back at the time I spent at Gleacher. What is this MBA worth? Is it worth the flight from Seattle to Chicago every Friday evening? Is it worth staying away from family for those two days? And as I talk to others onboard the bus, I realize that this is a question that many of my peers ask every week.
I work as a Program Manager at Microsoft. Yes, getting an MBA degree while working full-time is a balancing act. But somehow we all have found our rhythm. A typical work day commences with early morning study time that I use to go over homework and readings. I then head out to work and as the morning seamlessly transitions into a busy afternoon, I find myself applying the tenets of classroom learning almost everywhere. My MBA experience has allowed me to learn alongside exceptional peers from all over the country. They bring with themselves an invaluable wealth of wisdom that has helped me to pick best practices across industries.
After work I head home and more often than not I have a study group meeting. Owing to geographical constraints we cannot meet physically, so it's Skype or Google Hangout to the rescue. The meetings are crisp, efficient and extremely engaging. Probably this is the reason why it doesn't feel like a chore at the end of a full workday. As the week goes on, the same rhythm continues and we win our mini battles over cases, homework and the like.
Every Friday as I set off from work towards the airport and fly to Chicago, I realize that over the past eight months I have learnt a lot about myself. The experience has strengthened my love and passion for creating successful products. Before I joined Booth, thanks to the techie in me, I always thought that "business" was the dark side. [smile] But now my passion for creation has been redefined. I have come to appreciate the nuances of creating a business and how it is one of the best ways of mobilizing people to leave a lasting impact. It has reinforced my goal of productizing research technology and creating long-term value. It has given me a framework to better understand strategic interactions and organizations.
On a personal note, it has improved my time management skills significantly. I am amazed at how efficient we are in flights at absorbing the essence of the week's work. Who would have thought! On Saturday morning as I enter Gleacher, I know I will be challenged. I know I will experience something new. And I know I will have fun!