Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Program review by Arvind Ronta (MBAST 2005)

Arvind Ronta from the MBAst class of 2005 has written a program review that has appeared recently in the Punjab Engineering College alumni society newsletter, "PALS". Arvind's article starts on page 15 .Click here to see the article.The article is also mentioned below:

(Arvind graduated from PEC in 2002 with Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. After working as an engineering consultant for Fluor Daniel in India for more than 2 years, he graduated from Queen’s with an MBA in 2005. Currently he works as VP of Business Solutions at Aura Advanced Technologies, Calgary in Canada.)

Stellar reputation,
renowned faculty,
brilliant peers,
beautiful campus,
and proud legacy:
that describes the Queen's University of Canada.

Even though Queen's which was established in year 1841 needs no introduction within the Canadian borders, it is widely recognized as "The Harvard of Canada". Located in Kingston,facing the beautiful Lake Ontario,Queen's is one of Canada's leading and prestigious universities, with an international reputation for scholarship,research, social purpose, spirit and diversity.I believe it was sheer stroke of luck that I found myself applying to a Canadian B-school for my MBA. To be honest, this was the only Canadian B-School that Iapplied to. Even though I was interested in an MBA from US, I knew I was looking at high tuition costs (without scholarships). My decision to apply to MBA program at Queen’s was initially motivated by the program’s top BusinessWeek rankings; the program ranked No.1 worldwide (outside US).

Things, however, changed when I received admit from Queen’s MBA program. I was happy and nervous at the same breath; happy because I had an opportunity to pursue MBA from one of the best places and nervous because I was still apprehensive about the overall MBA job market in Canada. Compared to its US counterparts, Queen’s one year
and a full time MBA program seemed both reputed and affordable.After completing a spate of paper work for visa, funding etc, I was relaxing now on board Air Canada airplane. I started imaging new opportunities and was looking forward to an exciting year doing stuff that I always wanted to do – business.

Queen’s MBAst (as it is often called, stands for MBA for Science and Technology) is only for students with a science and engineering background. This program is grueling and demands strong analytical aptitude in students. Now if you are imagining a room full of engineers and scientists— extremely competitive, crunching numbers, working long hours and living on caffeine, then you are right! But Queen’s MBA is a lot more than that. In the following paragraphs, I have tried to capture my experience at Queen’s. It is a tough job to encapsulate a year in few lines; nevertheless, I will try my best.

The year started in May with a CAP (acronym for Career Advantage Program)
week involving team based exercises, movies and lectures; we were divided into groups of five to six team members.Based on the results of a behavioral personality test, students with different personality types were grouped together in one team. Of course, it is always challenging to work/study with people who do not share same personality traits. As if it was enough to deal with, there was another surprise: we were told that we could not change our teams for the whole year. It seemed absurd, at first, but nobody cared much and assumed that they will get along with their team members. After all, during the first week in the program, everyone had fun working with each other. Unfortunately, most were proven wrong. As soon as we were bombarded with assignments, case studies and projects, everyone was stressed out and soon the corridors and lobbies were full of disgruntled students complaining about their team members and their stubborn attitudes! I guess it is for this reason that the school assigns Mentors to each team who work closely with team members to resolve all outstanding issues. But if anyone ever thought that they would change their teams by persuading mentors, then they were wrong. It was mandated that no team member will leave a particular team unless he/she decides to leave the MBA program.
Sounds harsh?? Well! It makes sense if you think about this “rule” in a broad perspective. The school argues that “You do not choose your team members
when you are in a corporate environment. You work with people and the team assigned to work with you. You manage people and situations like this.” The aim of this exercise is to enable students to work and excel in difficult team environments. I couldn’t have realized it much more than I realize it now, everyday on my job. It is
not the intelligence of a manager alone;it is a mix of personal intelligence and
relationship skills with peers that constitutes a recipe for success in aknowledge economy where the “human factor” plays a dominant role.

Coming back to classes, the day started at 8:30 and one could see swollen eyes
staring at the white board, trying hard to keep awake. It happens when you sleep at 4:00 in the morning completing your assignments and readings. Classes were important and nobody wanted to miss lectures taught by the reputed faculty members whom we could offer hear on Canadian and US media. School has an amazing faculty: from professors who are named in Canadian Who’s Who to those who have earned their place in AMA’s Marketing Hall of Legends, they have made remarkable contributions to the society. Queen’s MBA Faculty members have been consulting industry and government leaders in Canada. Most courses were analytical (and, I think, MBA is a lot about learning new analytical tools) but there were good number of courses that touched our creative brain cells too. Courses in Leadership, Change Management and Organizational Behavior added a new perspective about most of the things in life.

The best part of the week, however, was the Point4. It is a cherished “legacy” from the students of our previous batches, who found a great way to bust stress by organizing Point4s small parties held every Thursday evening. They say that it was once calculated that attending these parties reduces one’s final grade by only 0.4 percent! After several rounds of beer, few people would either go back to school to study (I am serious, that’s called drinkin’ hard work!) or hop to a different pub/pool/bowling place. Next morning (Fridays) everyone felt hangovers and professors could make out from our responses!!

There is everything for everyone at Queen’s. Whether you’re contemplating a career in consulting, general management or investment banking, there are amazing faculty and industry resources to help you with that. Several MBA clubs are formed to assist students with their future career goals. Few of us who were interested in new ventures and the school supported us more than what we had asked for. After our business plan was selected, I along with my team went to Vancouver, B.C. to pitch our business idea to a group of Venture Capitalists (VCs). From the administration to faculty and even my class mates were involved in helping us prepare for the big‐event. I remember the long hours that we spent working
with our marketing professor for developing a strong marketing pitch. It was a good feeling to see everyone supporting us. How many times will you see (or even expect) this level of camaraderie in a competitive environment of Business Schools;
Queen’s MBA program made an exception.

MBA Games were the best part of a frigid January. We spent four days competing, playing sports and drinking with MBA students from across Canada who had come together at Quebec City (a typical French town in Quebec, Canada). The diverse mix of our batch added punch to that “Njoy” flavor! We had international students in our class representing Israel, Italy, Peru, US, Hong Kong, Japan, India and China.The class profile was quite interesting: from senior executives, consultants and directors to entrepreneurs, aircraft engineers, lawyers, doctors and even army men, we had a rich representation of 55% of international students.As our last semester approached, even though everyone was busy with major projects, we spent more time with each other. School organized bowling, paintball and boating events for us. We
received an amazing farewell with lots of surprises for everyone. Admin staff had captured special moments in camera; photographs showing few of us sleeping in classrooms, studying late hours in Goodes Hall or getting nuts after drinking n mugs of beer!

MBA is all about learning new things.Whether it is golfing with your peers or
pitching a business idea to a group of VCs; MBA is about realizing your fullpotential.For me, MBA experience has brought a positive change in my perspective. I sense opportunities in situations and I feel empowered both by my knowledge and attitude to capitalize on those opportunities and make it happen. For everyone, Queen’s MBA experience meant something special: full of stress and fun at the same time; a year of realized dreams, cherished friendships, and experiential learning. The Queen’s MBA experience, to me, is special in many ways. I feel good that I spent one year of my life with extremely talented individuals (and I have no doubts that more than half, if not all, of my class will be the CEOs of some future organizations), I learnt the best skills from the best masters (or Professors, as you would call them) and I developed a new vision for my life and realized how much more I can do in this lifetime!

As a proud Queen’s Alumni, I now share a special place in the hearts of the Queen’s community who are out there, helping each other move ahead in life. Indubitably, Queen’s MBA experience has been extremely rewarding.


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