Hi, my name is Andhika. I am a father of an adorable daughter and a beautiful wife. Here I would like to share my life changing experience during my MBA in Manchester Business School from 2012 to 2014. First of all, it might be interesting to know the reasons why I decided to take MBA, why Manchester Business School (MBS), and why UK. Prior to embarking on my MBA study, I worked in various industries. I graduated in October 2008 from the Department of Civil Engineering of ITB (Institute of Technology, Bandung) and subsequently after graduation I worked for a German construction company as a site engineer and was located in a very remote coal mining island for the next 6 months. Then I moved to a power plant consultant as civil engineer for about 8 months. And lastly, I moved again to an upstream oil & gas company for about 2.5 years as procurement specialist.
So yes, in the end, I decided to switch my career from engineering to more commercial strategy which to me is very interesting and one of the reasons why I decided to pursue MBA. I realized at that time, I did not have any international working experiences at all therefore I wanted an MBA school that provides me with not only good academic activities but also opportunities to work part time or project based. I had been looking at business schools in the US and UK and it came up that MBS provided me with not only interesting curriculum but also 4 live mandatory business consultancy projects with real business clients and a summer internship opportunity. On top of that, Manchester Business is UK’s top MBA School, placed at the same tier with London Business School, Oxford, Cambridge, and Warwick according to FT Magazine.
As standard requirement for MBA admission, I prepared myself for the GMAT and TOEFL 1 year before I submitted my application. Please note, 1 year is still considered very tight and was indeed a painful but fruitful process between splitting my activities in preparation and office job. To give a comparison, most of my MBA friends prepared more than 1 year in advance to be safe. Besides GMAT and TOEFL, there were also several essays needed to be fulfilled and letter of references. The essays required a description of your experiences, your responses to some kind of situations, your goals, and so on. And for letter of references, I used both from my previous academics and my office colleagues (super ordinates and peers). If you want to apply for scholarship, please consider applying early, preferably at the first batch of admission. Worst case, if you cannot secure the scholarship, you can postpone the start of enrollment to next year.
In August 2014, I moved to Manchester and my first impression to MBS was, what an ugly building! Seriously, I did not expect to see such a building as in the Harry Potter movie. The building has a brick facade and looks shabby. But it did not matter. In fact, the facilities are great and totally supportive for the exhaustive study of an MBA program. My colleagues were totally diversified. If I were to generalize, most students came from Southeast Asia, Peru, Japan, India, Pakistan, Mexico, UK, and US. In MBS, there is only a general management MBA, it does not have a specific MBA but you can tailor your courses to fit your aspiration and I focused myself on business strategy.
Now I would like to share what attracted me most to this school: live consulting projects. For each project, the school provided a list of potential clients with their business briefs. Students must create a team of 5 or 6 and choose up to 3 preferred project briefs then students must pitch the approaches and methodologies in regard to the briefs. The potential clients would decide then which team would get the project. On average, each project could have 3 bidders but also it could end up with no bidder. This scheme is exactly similar to the work of the real consulting firms.
My first project was related to non-for-profit organization and the brief was about analysis of readiness of a foundation to receive social-impact bond from the government. My team worked with this foundation client for about 2 months, we reviewed the requirement of the government and benchmarked it with the operations within the foundation. My second project was merger and acquisition project. The client, based in the UK, wanted to grow inorganically and our task was to find the right target and value them. So this was purely valuation. My third project was business expansion. The client, a UK based online property intermediary wanted to expand internationally and my team analyzed the demand of overseas properties coming from UK citizens. We focused on Spain, France, UAE, Australia, and New Zealand based on the number of historical property purchases and demographic emigration to those countries.
My fourth project was also about business expansion, but this one, I could say, was the grand project. The client was a credit bureau and they wanted to expand into the Baltic States (Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia). The team did the market sizing, analysis of demand power, risks, and so on until way of entering the market. I was in particular responsible for analyzing the Estonian market. I flew to Estonia in January, after collecting enough data to validate. It was average temperature of -20C and I stayed there for 10 days. In there, I met some government authorities, business practitioners, companies, and academics in order to validate my findings and earlier hypothesis. This lasted for 3 months and at the end of the project, the team presented in front of the client’s CEO, head of M&A, and business development manager. The presentation was very insightful and the lucky news was they agreed on our recommendation on how to enter the market and most probably they will enter in the near future. This is a huge mark for a business consultant consisting of MBA students. Bottom line, what I admire most regarding UK education system is, teaching activities are very interactive. A lot of questions and answers raised during the classes. And also, it’s not only about teaching activities but also real live practices. Please note that all expenses were on client’s responsibility. Also, not to forget to mention about internship opportunity, I worked for a B2B research company in summer 2012 in a 2 phase project analyzing heavy equipment market in Asia Pacific, including Indonesia.
The key message here is academic activities are good, but besides finding a good school in academic activities, consider finding a good school with attractive project/part time/ internship opportunities because this will bring an outstanding selling value when you are looking for a full time job.