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Perfecting The MBA Balance

Perfecting The MBA Balance

Working full time and studying can be a juggling act.

As global economic volatility shows little sign of abating, the UAE’s MBA community is growing in tandem. In a slower economy, an MBA can improve earning potential and promotion opportunities.

“Part-time programmes are very popular, as students tend to continue working while enrolling in our programmes,” Patricia McCall, regional director Middle East and North Africa, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business told Gulf Business.

“We have seen an increase in interest in most GCC countries, especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – primarily among mid-to-senior level managers looking to make the next leap in their career.”

As the UAE prepares for a record intake this autumn, Gulf Business offers some tips for balancing a job and an executive MBA programme (EMBA). With preparatory steps, study while working can be less of a juggling act and more of an organic part of daily life.

An online calendar or spreadsheet can help manage a hectic weekly schedule full of personal, professional and academic deadlines. In addition to scheduling work
and school responsibilities, it’s vital to set aside time each week for personal responsibilities and relaxation.

“It is also important to have an explicit conversation with your employer about the degree you are pursuing and the time commitment you will need to make,” said Kristen Lynas, director of specialised degrees programmes at INSEAD school.

“We ask the employers of our Global Executive MBA programme to sign a company endorsement agreement confirming their willingness to release the participant from all work related activities during the on-campus modules.”

Dr. Mark Pierotti studied for an EMBA at Edinburgh Business School before going on to do a PHD. The COO of Abu Dhabi-based private jet company, AJA, said while the experience was invaluable for his current day job – particularly the finance and marketing modules – it’s important not to rush into the course.

“It’s important to understand the level of commitment and time taken. Think about it before you start and ask your family how they feel. Don’t presume it’s easy. Look at your life and your ability. Can you really do the course now? Should you wait three years and finish that difficult work project first?” said Pierotti.

“Don’t try to do it all in one year. Plan it carefully: one module every six months is a slow pace; two every six month is medium pace; and three every six months is a crazy pace. It’s important not to fill every spare minute with study.”

Concentrating all your focus on one pillar – the EMBA – may destabilise other pillars, such as health and family, and lead to burn out and non-completion of the course.

“One key is to study and work on homework assignments and projects on a regular basis, an hour or two each evening, as if you were doing a full-time programme,” said Lynas.

“Look for opportunities to find synergies between work and study. Using a challenge you are facing at work as the subject of a homework assignment is a great way of adding value to your workplace while fulfilling your academic obligations.”

Dr Pierotti added that after a hard day’s work it is beneficial to take a day off and catch up by an extra 30 minutes on another day.

“Choose the modules you will enjoy where possible. You must enjoy the MBA to get a good mark.”

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