Dear Mr. Malate,
I am writing to you right before you begin a very important chapter in your life, beginning an MBA at the Haskayne School of Business.
Now you sit here, about ready to start classes again for the first time since 2009, not sure what to expect and not sure what you are going to get out of it.
As someone who has experienced the Haskayne MBA, let me give you my top three things I think you will take from the program. Take them with a grain of salt, but I think I know you well.
1. An MBA will teach you the language of business.
Your academic classes will teach and clarify terminology that you have encountered in the past but that you don’t fully understand. The communication of ideas and concepts is so critical to doing business; the terminology and vocabulary you will learn will be invaluable to your future success.
Large organizations or small organizations, they all face similar problems in some respects. The use of case studies through your time in the MBA program will be invaluable to growing your understanding of current and future business problems. Case studies are an amazing way to learn from another person’s successes and failures. They are also a great tool to use to communicate to other educated business leaders; they’ll become your common language, like how lawyers use cases to communicate complex legal problems.
2. An MBA will expand your understanding of other industries.
Exposure to other industries is such an amazing part of the MBA because:
1. it opens doors for you to work in any field that interests you;
2. it will show you that business problems can be similar, even across drastically different industries; and,
3. it will awaken the idea within you of porting business successes from one industry to another.
The transitioning of expertise and processes across industries is one of the most powerful tools that will be at your disposal as an MBA. It elevates your standing as not just an industry expert, but also as you work to become a business expert. This will open more doors for you than you know. The type of conversations you will be able to have with sophisticated industry experts—through sharing knowledge with them that comes from other industries—will be very powerful.
3. An MBA will give you many irreplaceable experiences that teach you how to work with people.
You will learn the most important skills of the MBA through your interactions with your classmates:
1. Leadership is not always about being the loudest.
2. Integrity and respect are your highest value commodities.
The interesting part about group projects is that the instructor never defines a group leader when the teams are made. In all projects, though, a leader emerges. It is usually never the loudest person in the room that takes on this role; it’s the person who incorporates the most points of view from others on the team into the group’s discussions.
Even though they may not reward you in the short term, integrity and respect are two things that will always reward you in the long run. These are also two attributes that are hard to win back if they have been violated with someone. The MBA will teach you this through your coursework and case studies, but it is the real-life lessons you will learn from your peers that will inform the decisions you make, and really solidify the importance of these important attributes.
As I stated at the start of this letter, you are about to embark on one of the most important two-year stints of your life. This will be one of the best decisions you have ever made, in terms of the direction of your career, the direction of your businesses, and the direction of your life.
If I had one last piece of advice to offer you, it would be to savour these moments. You will likely never have the opportunity to dedicate two years of your life again to your own self-improvement. Take each moment in, and store these moments in your memory. They are worth the hard drive space.
Circa March 2017