DISCLAIMER: I wrote this post after finishing my first year in the MBA program, and my last job was in the military. It’s going to be heavy on the freedom fries and light on the political commentary, so buckle up tight!
(Unless that phrase offends you, in which case I totally agree that seatbelts are an egregious affront to the Third Amendment and ghostriding the whip should be taught in public schools.)
So a little backstory… I was in the Army for five years before school. Ask any of my classmates and they’d tell you, “He was in the Army for five years before school.”
I’m not bringing up my military service to make myself look good. Yes, I used to holler the preamble to the Constitution while fearlessly leaping from airplanes. Yes, I rode the nose of a space shuttle and launched voter registration pamphlets with pinpoint accuracy. No, I never knock at doors… because freedom rings.
I humbly mention my background because the military is a place where personal integrity and initiative are highly valued. And the GSM produces hard-charging professionals ready to tackle real-world problems as a team, something that I am very grateful to be a part of.
This past quarter my classmates Vienna, David Z.,Erik and I teamed up in one of the most intense courses the GSM has to offer. Together, we took on MGT 285: Time Series Analysis and Forecasting… also known as “Stats III: Return to Camp Crystal Lake.” That meant late nights, grey hairs, and a killer grasp of analytical techniques that have real-world applications.
Without a doubt, this class required a huge personal investment. But sometimes you have to pay an emotional price to emerge victorious on the other side. Like the old Army saying goes, you can’t make a cheese omelet MRE without throwing away the cheese omelet.
Anyone in Stats III was put through the wringer – losing sleep, wrestling with Minitab and Excel, constantly rewriting reports, Wikipedia’ing “R-squared” for some dim glimmer of hope, and becoming very familiar with working under extreme frustration.
But as a team, we got through it. We counted on each other to back each other up and make progress on the reports, and to meet each other’s deadlines. We learned exactly how to integrate each of our individual strengths for maximum efficiency. We communicated quickly and clearly, and challenged each other to build solid conclusions from our data. As my classmate Shareghe aptly put it, our “emotional stamina” was enhanced to the fullest.
And our sense of cooperation didn’t stop at the team. There were plenty of late nights that saw different class members stick their heads in the doorway of a neighboring study room to ask for advice on regression methods. We didn’t worry about competing for grades, since the intense nature of the class demanded that we all count on each other as a cohesive unit.
To me, that experience embodied a quality that so many organizations strive to achieve. Our success as a class lay not in our individual grades, but because we all truly wanted each other to accomplish our goals. No matter how busy we were, we always wanted to help each other understand and succeed in our collective mission.
And that makes the bald eagle of my heart soar with pride.