Wouter Verheyen, Instrument Engineer, ExxonMobil
What is the first thing you do upon completion of your MBA degree? Have a few drinks to celebrate? Frame your degree and hang it on the wall in your study room? Perhaps you’re looking at the next career move or business opportunity? A few of us pick up some hobbies which we were forced to push aside when making time to study. Most of us, however, switch straight back into our old habits, racing through life in the fast lane. In writing this article, I’ve chosen to slow down and reflect upon my experience.
How can one describe an intensive two-year long journey into the inner workings of a business, and maybe even more so, into the inner workings of our psyche)? This was the question on my mind, and which I wanted to see answered in a simple and stimulating way. What were the highlights, and what were the key points I’d like to take away from it?
I decided that a little data analytics might help me with this question. A good hour later, after having run 30 essays worth 49,380 words through a word art generator, and prioritising words based on frequency of occurrence, the above picture emerged. As the title says, the picture represents my personal experience of my MBA journey visualised in about 150 words, where the size of the word represents the frequency of occurrence, and the position of each word is calculated by the software based on best fit. I’ve printed out an A3 version of it, and surprisingly found myself hanging it on the wall of my study even before the degree. It has been a source of inspiration ever since, as each word brings back memories of case studies and applications when it was written.
Whether it was just pure luck or not, the word ‘learning’ ended up right in the middle of the page, as it was a central theme in many of my course work. While learning about corporate finance, globalisation, project management or contract management, I also learned a lot about myself, and specifically how I learn (‘double-loop learning’). I found it useful to apply this at work and promoting a learning culture around me. I found it probably even more satisfying to apply it to my parenting styles with my six year old daughter (and I can’t wait to start applying it with my newborn son soon).
Upon completing my MBA, I’m learning piano, I’m learning data visualisation and I’m learning python programming for Raspberry Pi home projects. If you managed to read this article until here, take a moment or two to reflect on what you’ve decided to learn, and leave it as a comment. What are you learning this month?
And what would an article about learning be without a few quotes from some of our most important influencers?
You don’t really start getting old until you stop learning – Bill Gates
Live as you were to die tomorrow, learn as if you were to live forever – M. Gandhi
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other – J.F. Kennedy
If we knew what it is we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? – Albert Einstein