MBA diary: Come together

Ritesh Kotak, an MBA student at University of Edinburgh Business School, says diversity of thought is where the value of a programme lies

From the American election and Brexit, to the increase of racist acts broadcast over social media and the rise of lone-wolf terrorist attacks, the world around us feels increasingly divided. These are turbulent times, but should we crawl into a hole until it all blows over or just learn to deal with this new normal?

During the course of my MBA, I have learned numerous management theories, written several essays and listened to hundreds of lectures. But by far the most rewarding aspect has been the time spent with classmates, who span dozens of countries and represent just about every continent on our planet.

That has allowed me to build a diverse and global network. But as some cultures are being subjected to hateful treatment, I wonder if there is a risk of business school cohorts becoming less diverse and more homogenous. Will these destructive ideologies surface within the MBA classroom? Or be manifested in the institution?

Being born in Canada to parents who immigrated from India and Tanzania, I grew up with the struggles they faced in learning a new language, understanding a different culture and being a target of discrimination. They instilled in me the notion of perseverance and the importance of values which ultimately brought me to this stage in my life.

To do an MBA takes a special kind of person. One who wants to challenge the status quo, build communities, and does not take no for an answer. We take risks by temporarily exiting the job market, losing income and sacrificing weekends to pursue higher education. We are experienced in our own fields, determined and ambitious. These are the traits prevalent among all of my fellow students, and they transcend countries, industries and cultures.

This is the time to be critical and take the opportunity to open your ideas to challenge. Because it is not just cultural diversity, but the diversity of thought you get from a group with different experiences and a wide-range of beliefs and political views where the real value of the MBA lies.

You learn very quickly that you have to leave your preconceptions, political persuasions and egos at the front door. Which makes the classroom a safe and harmonious environment to debate and build, not fight and destroy.

We don’t agree with every opinion and perspective but we will listen. I am not aware of any other environment that brings 40 people from 17 countries and several industries, together in one location. We may have come from different places but we are all on the same path now.

If anything, today’s global challenges make it even more exciting to be able to step out of our comfort zones and back into higher education. It is not easy, but having a secure place that encourages mindfulness and promotes healthy discussion all generates a learning environment that just can’t be taught from a textbook.

It is the cohort’s uniqueness that has allowed me to travel to new cities as a local, gain intimate knowledge of foreign markets and embrace a culture.

Diversity is the glue that binds MBA students together, not splits us apart. This is the best time to do an MBA.

Readers' comments

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I think moving back to a classroom again is putting oneself into a comfort zone. When i hear that diversity of classes is what makes MBA worth the money i start to think that there is really no added value behind.


Of course, it is exciting to be able to step out of those hidden comfort zones and back into higher education.


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