Today I’ve decided to trade my time watching a romantic movie to make a recap on my EMBA journey so that I won’t let everything slip away while I keep myself busy making other plans.
At times I am approached by one person or another, asking whether or not an MBA Degree is really worth it. The truth is, the more you live in this life and the more you learn, it’s just not that simple to give a yes or no answer to any type of question. In other words, the answer to most close ended question would rather be: It depends!
Yes, it depends on many different factors, on how you see things and how other people view things.
Years in my early 20s
I didn’t think that I would need a master’s degree from the start. With a huge financial support from my parents, I was able to survive my three years of expensive college life in Australia. I thought I wouldn’t need another overpriced degree from another private institution unless I could find something else that really changes my mind.
I will forever be grateful for what I’ve achieved from my undergraduate studies as a hotel school student are the work experience and skills that I’ve got from some of the best hotel chains in the world. Right after my graduation, I went straight to the corporate world with a simple thought: I needed a job to sustain my life first then I would deal with everything coming my way after. I was 20 years old and ready to work as hard as I could, without a specific purpose or goal, I didn’t know what I could do and what I could have. Funny I said that, because I did actually enjoy the process, I saw myself loving what was doing and how I was doing it without caring about what the world got to think about me.
Years in my mid 20s
Because I enjoyed working so much in my early 20s, I started to get recognized by everyone, by everyone I mean my colleagues, my bosses, my business partners, my friends, my parents, and my siblings. I got promoted, from one position to another, even when I thought no way I would get another promotion after just a few months, but I did. Some of those unusual things that I started to happen to me:
- I started getting invited to attend events or seminars as guest lecturers.
- To become a work leader and to be responsible for other team members, some of them are a few years or a decade older than me
- I was approached with more opportunities, whether it was with career, education or relationships
- More meetings and reports and responsibilities
- More stress and politics
- The work was still fun, but less ‘peace of mind’ compared to what I had in my previous positions
Above all, I was happy with my job and my company, and I wouldn’t want to work for anyone else. However, not long after a series of promotions I obtained at work, I started to realize: What will happen when I reach the pinnacle someday? What if I will not like it? What are the options in life for me? What challenges are ahead of me in this new position? What am I missing?
My biggest investment up-to-date
I was never really good at handling money matters or dealing with numbers in general; I know I could make them, but I had no idea how to manage them. I never had any interest in the stock market or gold trading or real estate. My ambition was never to get rich, although I do want to gain financial freedom – what a dilemma. I was in the prime years of my career with some money in the bank, but I didn’t know what to do about it until I was convinced that it was time for me to resume my academic studies so that I could learn other management skills and knowledge to support me in the long run. In order words, to invest in my own education. I decided to apply for the Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program at RMIT University Vietnam and I stilI believe that was one of the best decisions I have made for myself and the best programme that was designed for me at that point. I would call it my biggest investment up-to-date as it cost me a lot, not just money but the time, effort, and other opportunity cost. Fortunately, I didn’t have many regrets in life and from the deep down I know this will only make me a better version of myself, not break me.
What I’ve gained from the MBA program
- Self-confidence: I thought this is a nice feeling to hold that thought for a while, the fact that I was a grown-up woman making a decision to advance my education and paying for my own tuition fee and other stuff in life.
- Relationships: Yes, here I am stating the obvious, but this is definitely an advantage, for you to expose yourself to an extended network of educators and professionals from various industries.
- Knowledge and Awareness: Yes, you learn from people through discussions, lots and lots of case studies, and authentic assessments. This is a great chance for you to experience the unknown while meeting with people from other industries. As one of the youngest candidates in the Executive MBA program, I did feel like I was a young kid sitting at an adult table sometimes while learning about a new topic that I did not have knowledge of.
- Time management skill: Tell me about it, I had my full-time job while being a part-time student, and all I knew about was deadlines, but I was able to nail every single task that was given to me. I know time is precious, so I better make the best use of it.
- Unlimited opportunities for further advancement: Okay, let me get this straight, this will not happen to everyone, but it did to me, perhaps because of the communication skills that landed me on several speaking engagements and interviews. Here are some of the key examples:
The Pandemic has given hospitality professionals a time to expand their learning. It shouldn’t be wasted.
This interview was made by Vietcetera in August 2021, I was coming close to the end of my EMBA studies. Find out more HERE
Life (right) after the (E)MBA
I know I couldn’t spend days talking about what I’ve learned or how grateful I am towards this program, but words are intangible, and we can’t really justify what the MBA actually does for us so I will just talk about my case then. Me, just like the weather, I usually have many sunny days, a few cloudy or some extremely groomy days, but I never really had a boring day out of 365 days in a year.
As of now, I am still working as a full-time hospitality professional, but I landed my second career as an associate lecturer right after I graduated from RMIT University with my master’s degree, just to give a happy ending to what I shared in the interview with Vietcetara. What do people usually say? Dreams come true. I guess that could be true.
I was told to be an ambitious woman, but I never thought of myself as one because I only see myself spending too much time enjoying the little things in a small world that I live in. Having said that, as I’ve been working on building my third, fourth, and fifth career, perhaps I am one hell of an ambitious woman that I didn’t even know myself enough to admit it.
Considerations before taking the MBA program
By this time, you may I know that my answer would rather be a “Yes” for those who consider taking an MBA for yourself, but I will just leave out some notes here for those who might need it:
- Timing is important, so as is your work experience: I started my EMBA when I was 25 years old. The programme was designed for senior managers. Although I am proud to say that was one the youngest EMBA candidates when got admitted, I could only do that because I had with me almost 7 years of working experience and I was an Assistant Director of Sales of an international five-star hotel, which made me a senior manager joining this class. I have seen many fresh graduates and young professionals (1-2 years of work experience) rushing to get a master’s degree. I think you can do whatever you want with your life, but to reach a level of maturity that allows you to reflect on your thoughts or decisions, you need a couple more years in life, and it will come with age. Don’t mind me if you are an exception of any kind.
- Programme reputation: Whatever makes sense to you and to the world that you live in. Do your own research and learn who are your potential lecturers and peers and see if you would be a good fit in the classroom with them – to understand why and why not. I chose RMIT University because I wanted to carry my studies with another Australian institution and the programme has the best reputation in the market. I did not mean it wasn’t expensive, but you get what you pay for, and I worked hard to pay for it too, but it was worth the effort.
- Time management: Many people said they wanted to obtain a master’s degree, but they didn’t have the time, they wish they could, but they were too busy. Let me tell you, I’ve been in an industry that operates 24/7 including public holidays. Most of my former classmates are either business owners or C-Suite level people. We may work in different industries, but there is a common thing that we always share: we don’t have time. My point is, if you really want it, you have to go for it. It doesn’t mean you have to quit your job because most MBA programme these days offer a very flexible study hour. You can either choose a full time or part time study mode. I chose to be a parttime student because I still need to work and make money, I understand it will take longer time, but we all have to start somewhere to get to where we want to be.
- Own your actions: I know we talk a lot about the possibilities of what an MBA degree can bring to you, however, what you need to bear in mind is, at the end of the day, we all have our own interpretation of our reality or success. All I can say is that you need to be responsible for your own development. If you want to be the best, you have to be willing to go through the paths that others are not willing to do.