Insider tips on how to make the most of your MBA

7 June 2018
5 tips that can help you maximise your MBA experience
Ashlea Wallington, graduate of the University of Sydney Business School MBA program, gives some inside tips on how to make the most out of your MBA.
Ashlea Wallington, graduate of the University of Sydney Business School MBA program

Ashlea Wallington

I used to sit in meetings that were going around in circles, facing problems that required innovative solutions, and worked with teams who didn’t understand the value of their diversity. I’d think to myself, “why won’t someone step up and lead?” I came to the MBA when I realised that person would be me.

Fast forward two years and I’ve just donned the cap and gown for the grand graduation ceremony. In the same week I transitioned from a role in the commercial sector, to a tertiary innovation and entrepreneurship directorship, and am gearing up to coach the next cohort of Capstone students. How did I get here in such a short amount of time?

Coming into the MBA, I needed a game plan to extract the most value out of my time there. Here are a few key pieces of advice to ensure your MBA serves you well in career and life:

1. Turn up

Sure it’s easier to just go home, but accept invitations to drinks, career nights, consulting clubs, whatever it is, and don’t go with the specific idea that you need something from the group. I have had so many fantastic avenues open up to me through the organic relationships I’ve formed through genuine conversation, including the role I’ve just started!

2. Understand your strengths

The hands-on group work and my success in innovation and leadership subjects made it clear to me that this was not just an area of interest, but a core strength that was missing from my current role. This helped me refine the focus for my next career move.

3. Get creative

The environment at the University of Sydney allows us to communicate and flourish in our own way. Tailoring my assessments to my personal style (illustrations, props, dioramas and interpretive dance!) meant I could be authentic and enthusiastic in my deliverables and get the most out of each subject.

4. Seek diversity

I liked the concept, but it really wasn’t until I saw this in practice within my groups that I truly appreciated the quality of work produced by diverse teams. You realise that working with people just like yourself won’t go far towards creating something innovative, and a bit of well-intended scrutiny from a team member is better than an error when it matters most.

5. Leave the world (and the MBA) a bit better

It may sound cliché, but we’re privileged to have the opportunity to access this quality education, so the onus is on us to use our knowledge to improve the world for others. My time within the MBA made it clear that this should be part of my next career move. Give back what you can to the MBA and general community, to enhance the world we live in and the University brand.

If not for the MBA (particularly Leading Business Innovation with Stefan Meiseik) and for the student network, I would have never discovered my true passion for organisational innovation, or have built a strong network which ultimately lead to the career change I’ve undertaken.

The real secret is to see each class and social opportunity as more than a task within the MBA, but an opportunity to build skills and test-and-learn your career ideas within a supportive network. You’ll never know where it can lead.

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