How I’m earning my MBA on the L90 Bus

Friday, September 4, 2015 - 10:13

Guest post by AIM Business School student Jacinta Bullock

Enrolling in an MBA had been on the cards for a long time but I became more and more hesitant every time I pictured myself in a room with young investment bankers and swash buckling private school executives. On top of that, I wasn’t entirely sure I was up to the study required. University was a long time ago and I still had mild PTSD from the trench warfare of multiple assignment deadlines and all night exam study. It wasn’t until I moved to Sydney for a great new career opportunity that I started to think more seriously about studying an MBA.

While I was hiring for a number of roles that would report to me, it felt like 90 percent of CV’s had an MBA listed. I suddenly had that sinking feeling like I was missing something, like I’d snuck into the show without a ticket. The thought of getting shown up by my new hires was unacceptable. It was only a matter of time before I was caught googling “Kaplan and Norton’s closed loop planning process” under the table while I nodded and pretended to have a clue what they were talking about.

But with a busy job, a husband and two beautiful (furry) kids as well as a seriously long commute from Newport (Sydney’s northern beaches) to Circular Quay, where on earth was I going to find the time to study an MBA?

While staring out at the scrolling scenery of the L90 bus one evening, I was pondering why the time spent on a bus always seems to feel exponentially longer. Is it the stop start motion of traffic lights or the acrid stench of body odour from that guy who insists on wearing his sweaty gym gear every day? If only I could make the time pass a little quicker.

So, armed with a Microsoft Surface tablet and some anti-bus-sick tablets, I decided I actually had between two and four hours of down time every day that I could use to start my journey towards an MBA.  

I started in April of 2014 and found that my initial fears of being surrounded by boisterous young business school whipper snappers were completely unfounded. Everyone I was studying with was just like me - working professionals looking to get that next layer of expertise for their career.

The learning curve wasn’t as steep as I’d anticipated either and although I rewrote my first assessment four times, I realised this was only because I was second guessing myself and I ended up with a Distinction! After that, I felt about ten feet tall and I continued to get Ds for every assessment in that subject.

I found the lack of exams in AIM’s MBA program meant I was actually retaining the information I was learning as opposed to the way I’d previously studied - 48 hours of continuous and repetitive reading before an exam only to promptly erase my memory afterwards while drinking six glasses of celebratory wine.

Another huge benefit was being able to focus my assessments on my business - I’ve actually given my boss a few assignments that I was particularly proud of. Also, working on parts of the business that are not my core area through my assignments has enabled me to effectively analyse processes and how they relate to my own part of the business.

As a career brand marketer, I had spent a lot of time in meetings with the rest of the executives while they talked about EBITDA and Balance Sheets, having no real idea what they were talking about and caring even less to actually understand. Now having a good knowledge of these terms and being able to read financial statements with a pretty competent level of comprehension has meant I can really take part in every high level discussion in the senior leadership team.

Most days on the bus fly by now as I chip away at my study through the AIM Connect online learning platform, reading eBooks and course notes. I’ve even managed to write a few of my assignments while bumping along Military Road, oblivious to the nightmare of peak hour traffic.

I’m currently five subjects in and have managed to maintain a Distinction grade average overall. I’ve graduated from my Grad Cert and I’m on my way to starting my sixth subject next week. It’s hard to believe I’m nearly halfway through an MBA just by using the down time I had on the bus and making the most of a practical and flexible MBA program from AIM!

If you think you’re ready to take the Postgraduate Education challenge, visit www.aim.com.au/mba to get started today. If you've got any burning questions about studying an MBA with AIM, register for our next AIM MBA Information webinar by clicking here.