sWhen people hear that I'm doing my MBA, the first question I always get is why? The answer to this question is that, as a creative, I want to be able to understand the business sense behind everything I create, and be able to think critically about the content, data, impact and monetization.
As someone who has operated in the creative industry all my life, many of my peers and colleagues don't see the worth of doing a masters degree, especially one in business. After all, the media industry isn't what you know, it's who you know, right?
I have a problem with that saying. While it helps to have connections, and networking is an important part of any business, it definitely does come down to what you know. My mom always said, "if you don't have the tools, how do you expect to do the job?" Doing an MBA is definitely one way to begin to acquire the tools, should you want to do the best job possible.
Before I started on this journey of higher education, I wasn't sure if it would be the right decision for me. I had been out of school for the better part of 10 years, and I had convinced myself I had ADD and would absolutely not be able to sit in a classroom, listen to lectures and actually learn. I didn't remember what school was, and I was 70% sure I wouldn't like it. After doing some more research and going through the course descriptions with a fine toothed comb, I decided that if I ever wanted to make a drastic change in my career, and achieve my goals I would have to push myself outside of my comfort zone. Update: It turns out I don't have ADD.
I accepted the offer to attend the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto in their Global Executive MBA program, not knowing what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. While business core competencies are taught: accounting, economics, finance, etc. A great focus is put on self awareness, building relationships and understanding people. We are encouraged to reflect and be introspective, and are often reminded that business isn't about making the most money at the expense of everything else.
We have access to a network of great minds, and are encouraged to use the time during the program to create our own networks. While reflecting on my experience so far, I realized that I'd never been introduced to a group of people in my life where I've made as many connections as I have as quickly as I have, I'd like to think that this speaks to the school's admissions process. The administration were able to curate a group of people who I've been able to learn from, grow with and lean on.
At first, I felt like we were only scratching the surface in each course. I felt as if I wanted the learning experience to go far beyond what was being covered in class. I realize now that being at the head of any business requires that you know just enough about every department so that you can understand what's going on, offer support, and spot when something doesn't seem right, the rest is left up to the experts that you hire.
The Global Executive program sees our class travel every third month. While travelling, our courses are delivered at partner universities, we have the opportunity to speak to and learn from entrepreneurs in local markets and have taken part in business case studies directly related to the country and economy that we are visiting. This experience has opened my eyes to how business is done globally, and has made me aware of the cultural understanding needed to successfully operate a global business.
Has the MBA been worth it for this creative mind? 100% yes. I've learned how to read a balance sheet, and I've learned a lot about myself and how I contribute to both successful and unsuccessful situations in business. I am certain that these learnings will benefit my career in the media industry and help me navigate the path to success.