held different positions throughout my career, but they’ve all been with the
different companies, in the same department. I enjoy my job, and it’s
undoubtedly challenging, but after nearly 2 years some level of comfort is
inevitable. To me, pursuing an MBA at ITM is a valuable opportunity to gain
knowledge and experience outside my current field, and interact with a variety
of talented people from diverse backgrounds that differ from my own. In other
words, it was a chance to step outside my comfort zone.
With one semester complete, I can attest that the program has
met that expectation and much more. Each course provided its own opportunity
for relevant discomfort.
Amongst the most nerve-wracking, Oral Communications, required
masterful presentations made under close scrutiny of peers and the professor
who counted every filler including “um and uh,” every clumsy gesture, and every
awkward shift of our body weight…on camera. Following in second place,
Negotiations required that we successfully navigate varying scenarios,
role-play, and face off against fellow classmates to negotiate terms of
potential transactions. Even Customer Insights, a course closely related to my
current occupation, challenged us to rethink the way customer insights is
traditionally defined within an organization and then tasked to present
scenarios in small groups.
By the end of the week, the rewards were evident with obvious
purpose to each uncomfortable challenge. Through the incorporation of peer
reviews and video documentation, pressure mounted, causing bad habits to
instinctually emerge. This made areas of improvement painfully clear. After
just a few short days, the level of confidence, clarity and professionalism my
classmates and I achieved was remarkable.
Throughout Negotiations, our natural dispositions to be overly
aggressive, overly passive or to anchor ourselves to a particular position
(including a need to even walk away without a deal) were tested. Many of us
found that focusing on the end goal and pushing beyond our natural personas
proved successful. Customer Insights allowed us to witness how new principles
learned, applied to real-life circumstances, changed the way we interpret
companies, brands, and business in general.
Natural resistance to go outside our comfort zones can be
directly connected to fear of failure. However, we learn from failure. As with
the filmed presentations described earlier, stress and struggle reveal true
aspects of ourselves, or skillsets we seek to improve. Lucky for us, the MBA in ITM creates a
setting in which we can test ourselves, safely. I appreciate how collaborative
the environment is, lending itself to the support of our classmates and
professors and truly stretch ourselves; even if it doesn’t always work out the
way we planned.
Positive and negative, I learned from both experiences during
those six days. These tools will positively impact how I approach life, my
career, and interactions with others. As I lay on the couch writing this post
in my pajamas with the heat on high, it lends an ideal opportunity to reflect
upon the week. And, it was fantastic.