06 April 2023

A breath of fresh air at EADA Business School in Barcelona

Author: Valeria Rolando, International Part-Time MBA

A few days before the start of our first international week at EADA Business School in Barcelona my phone couldn’t stop ringing. Our several International Part-time MBA WhatsApp groups were ringing restlessly, reflecting the same excitement I could feel. We were still a bunch of strangers, identified just by our small profile pictures (one of us has an otter) and we were still in our evaluation phase of the members of the class, of the teaching methodology and of the courses. Our expectations and our confidence were so high that some of us decided to book an apartment for nine days, ideally to study together, but in practice to get to know each other better, to create bonds and to transform complete strangers into friends, partners and peers.

Sometimes, overwhelmed by work commitments, deadlines and endless working hours, it is easy to forget about fundamental things such as creating relationships not only aimed at immediate survival, getting lost in curiosity about something for the pure pleasure of learning more, and taking the time to actually appreciate what you are doing. Surely, this week has brought a breath of fresh air. These few days have awoken such a grit and a desire to learn that, over time, with this “economy of effort”, smart-working, social distancing and the quest for performance were fading.

I wasn’t prepared for such an experience.

One of the reasons I chose the International MBA at POLIMI Graduate School of Management was the possibility to participate in some international experiences during the 20-month program, but I could not have imagined that it would be such an immersive, challenging and exciting experience.

We had the first lesson on Monday afternoon. I arrived in a hurry after my half-day of working and rushed into the school without really realizing I was effectively starting my 2-year journey, moreover in a foreign and prestigious business school, one of my greatest dreams during college.

As soon as the lecturer started speaking, I was brought back to reality, and I realized. In a fervor of excitement, I couldn’t help but listen to every single word spoken by the professor. Very soon, it became clear that the whole class was having the same “mystical experience” as we were all listening in religious silence. However, after a while, the strong interest in the lecture and our common willingness to contribute with our experiences interrupted the spell and the lesson quickly became an open dialogue between the professor and the students. As in a ping-pong match, open-ended questions led to insightful answers leading then to other questions… and then… other answers…

Probably also because of the lessons in macroeconomics, which sometimes threw us into despair, at times overwhelming us with the quantity of notions concentrated into a short time (after 6 hours, Pietro said, “Professor, please, too fast” in his perfect British accent), we immediately adopted an extremely collaborative approach, supporting each other with our individual knowledge to reach a complete understanding of the concepts.

Once again, I was surprised at how different the lessons were from what I had been used to. Thanks to the Leadership, Negotiation and Macroeconomics professors we had the opportunity to meet, the lessons were stimulating, interesting and with an intense exchange of opinions and experiences. The possibility of piloting the lessons on topical issues which had emerged during the lectures then allowed us to finally connect the theory with the business world around us and to interpret it.

I was remembering my first impression of my colleagues, a bunch of people with pretty much nothing in common except for the willingness to embrace this two-year challenge and get the most out of it. I had been afraid that building trust and sound relationships based on just this shared goal would be difficult, if not impossible, but I found out I had been wrong. The expertise of Maurizio helps us to link BCE’s choices to the wage-inflation spiral, Richi’s cynical attitude helped us question everything while Luca’s building engineering background helped my team to build the highest flyers tower of the challenge (1.76 cm by the way).

It has been a few months now since the end of this experience, but despite the several personal commitments and duties, the bonds that we created during that week (and the knowledge we developed) are still there, showing up while studying together for the next course weekends or just talking through calls or WhatsApp groups using terms like “network externalities” while discussing dating apps. I think that this week really gave us an incredible opportunity to experience “student life” again, while (almost successfully) forgetting our work for a few days. It’s not easy to combine a full-time working life with an MBA but I think that having panda eyes is a small price to pay for this amazing and enriching experience.

Now we can say out loud: the journey has begun.

06 April 2023

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