Sunday, March 2, 2014

Have you ever regretted not doing an MBA?


Well, no, I never wanted to go for an MBA (even if occasionally I considered the idea, in particular when my alma mater EPFL started sending me the pamphlets detailing the executive MBA in Management of Technology); I remember too well the sense of relief I had upon finishing my degree, and how much more at ease I felt in the real world rather than in pure academia.

Am I ready to change my mind, just when a few recent articles evaluate the actual value of an MBA sizeable investment (examples of such articles can be found on Forbes, or on Business Insider)? No, I don't think so, but I have become more curious of the different opportunities out there.

My life still doesn't afford me the extra time to go back to school; and programs that I have evaluated tend to be exemplary for how they address other people need for development, but never seem to truly apply to me. My niche is HRIS - it branches out in many different disciplines, but I have never had the ambition to become CIO; even less now that HRIS systems (on premise, in the Cloud, for large corporations, for small 1 to 200 employees ventures, as well as everything in between) are in such a frenzy of novelty.

Enter here the MOOC approach (my last blog in December was about my recent discovery). Quickly, I found myself using many waking moments (I will not say all, because I have an employer and a family, each having every right to expect my full attention during large parts of my days) evaluating which courses I would prefer to pick and how many I can manage to learn well from simultaneously.

Suddenly, I had a rapidly growing, disjointed group of courses; I was learning about Psychology, but also about Law, about Management, about Political Science, about Relativity and about Human Rights; I was leveraging great learning institutions, such as University of Washington, Darden School of Business, Iese Business School, or Stanford University.

Little by little a pattern formed. I stuck to some trainings, and selected others to explore further in similar directions; I dropped out of others, as they were getting deeper in topics that didn't seem to fit me.

When I read an article about people using MOOC courses to build MBA-like programs at a fraction of the cost of a classic MBA, I had an ah-ha moment. In fact, that was exactly what I had been doing all along, without thinking of formalizing it. Not that it actually mattered to me, nor it matter now, as I was in it for the learning, and not for an additional title.

The realization has made me even more selective with the courses I am choosing.
Here is my current, carefully culled list (but most likely not my final list... the great thing of such a plan is that it doesn't have to stop!). Most of the time, I can't manage more than two at the same time; but the most challenging part is toward the end, when deadlines multiply... I can add multiple courses, and drop out if it becomes too much - there is no penalty there.

Updated April 1st.
International Organizations Management, University of Geneva on Coursera
Globalization's Winners and Losers, Georgetown University on EdX
Design Thinking for Business Innovation, University of Virginia on Coursera
Public Privacy, Universiteit Utrecht on Iversity
Designing and Executing Information Security strategies, University of Washington on Coursera

Gamification, University of Pennsylvania on Coursera
Globalization of Business Enterprise, IESE Business School on Coursera
Organizational analysis, Stanford University on Coursera
Analyzing Global Trends for Business and Society, Wharthon U of Pennsylvania on Coursera

Coming up:
The Changing Global Order, Universiteit Leiden on Coursera
Configuring the World, Universiteit Leiden on Coursera
Behaviour and Leadership, Università Bocconi on Coursera (TBD)
Sustainability in Practice, University of Pennsylvania on Coursera

What is my specific pattern? I would say I am focusing on globalization, on the legal diversity of multiple countries, on the impact that this has on large organizations; on Data privacy and on the chances we have as world citizens to obtain a legislation that will protect our right to privacy in a global manner - plus some occasional diversification, essentially "because I can".

Maybe some day I will give myself the diploma, and take my family out for a well-deserved dinner, given all the patience they are having with my studying patterns.