The first question I get, once I explain that for two years I am going to be out of the office for a minimum of 10 days at a time, for four times. Then I would be gone for a week twice, not to mention any other trips I decide to go on and the weekend residencies that I attend…. “when do you work???”
I get it. From appearances it looks like I don’t work.
That is far from the truth.
When I decided that the Executive MBA format was the right fit for me and my career (more on that in a later post), I realized that I had to convince my boss that being out of the office for large chunks of time would not detract from my work. It is a hard sell, but I was open and honest with him about the opportunities this presented for my career and that I would be able to manage the workload and ensure that the right points of contacts would handle things while I was away.
I could talk at length about having the right people in your corner, because those people become invaluable to you, but this is about the Global Executive MBA Program (the GEMBAs, as we are affectionately known).
He is more than happy to allow me the time I needed to pursue this program. He was actually very excited that I wasn’t leaving the company for a full-time residential program, so in a way, I think he may have seen it as a win.
Could that not be a cooler name? Talk about a great acronym that mirrors its operational meaning.
GEMBA – A term used in operations. “Go to the Gemba.” Get out behind the spreadsheets and the computer and get on the factory/warehouse/location-of-business floor.
That is what GEMBAs do. They travel to experience business across the globe. One year in and I have been to China, Hong Kong, France, Germany, and South Africa, with more places to go!
Why be a GEMBA?
This was such an easy answer for me. First of all, the cost was not much more than the regular Executive MBA program, which was exciting that a program that takes me around the world wasn’t anymore cost prohibitive than the one that only took me to one global trip.
Second, from a young age I recognized that being a global citizen was imperative not only for business but for for my life. I hadn’t been out of the country since graduation (except for a long weekend in Canada) and had somehow let my passport lapse! (This coming from a girl that had a passport at age two!) The opportunity to meet people where they are and to understand the true idea of what globalization means is invaluable. (Although, trying to prep for accounting when you are in a foreign country is less than ideal.)
Lastly, my career is important to me. And while I am in an industry that is more about domestic (US) business, that doesn’t mean that tomorrow I will not have an opportunity to be in a business that requires a thoughtful understanding of the global environment. Being able to take these trips was a way to expand my horizons and open my eyes to potential opportunities that were never presented to me before.
Over the past year, I have spent more energy and focus on the implications of my experience travelling abroad than any other thing in my life, yes, even work.
But, Seriously, When do you work?
The answer to that question is more about when do I NOT work. Flexibility is key and every classmate in the two cohorts has a different level of flexibility, but we all adapt to be able to be successful both at work and school (Life and Family should, and are, in there as well).
Discussing this topic with classmates is a funny thing. We all kind of laugh and ask ourselves the inverse question, if we are able to do all of this now (albeit there is some difficulty), Where was all of our time going prior to school?
Stay tuned for some in-depth articles about my travels over the last year.
If you want to know more about the format of the Executive MBA program at Darden, check out the link here