August 22, 2013
I attained my MBA from Kingston University in Surrey, England back in 2003. The degree was a two-year part-time course, which suited me perfectly due to work commitments. What this meant was that for two years I would finish work on a Friday and then drive from whichever part of England I was working in to Kingston-Upon-Thames. Then I would be up on a Saturday and Sunday to attend further lectures. It was gruelling to say the least.
Having completed my bachelor’s degree in 1992 I felt my brain was atrophying and my mind was restless in constant search for intellectual stimulation. So I took the plunge and decided to take on the challenge of an MBA in strategy. Even though it required a lot of dedication and time it was worth every minute and every penny I spent paying for it. It was an absolutely amazing learning and social experience studying with other fellow working professionals.
However, my story this week is not about me graduating with my MBA but about a fellow student. When our course started we were all put into groups of six or seven. These groups were known as study groups whereby we were a team and would tackle assignments and projects as a team. The team would then get scored based on how well we wrote our reports and gave presentations on case studies.
In my group there were five others, consisting of two women and three men. Every one of the team except one was a native English speaker educated and brought up through the British education system. English language therefore was second nature to them all.
One of our fellow team members was from Romania and he had graduated from university in Bucharest. Even though he spoke good English his grasp of it was not effective enough for him to respond and debate at the speed of the native speakers. In essence he became the weakest member of the team, just because English was not his mother tongue.
He was successful in every other respect working as a business development executive for a UK firm. He travelled up and down the country selling his employers services to business customers. He lived outside London with his wife and having moved to England aspired for success in all its various guises. They worked hard and took on further education to improve their prospects.
Alas, in our study group the remainder of the team without directly saying so pretty much shunned him and left him to his own devices to cope as best as he could. So right from the outset he sought solace in my company both for companionship for the duration of the two-year course as well as support in terms of the study material. I did what I felt was right and took him under my custody.
I did not cover for him or defend him and ensured he did his part of the teamwork. What I did do though was be there when he wanted to ask a question about something he did not understand. I would help him through some of the financial calculations required at post-graduate level and read his written work for grammar and logic.
He did not falter and for the two years he struggled sometimes but never gave up. He kept on going through thick and thin and I would say put in the most effort out of the whole team. He successfully wrote his thesis with the minimum twenty-five thousand words and presented his viva voce. Both of which he successfully completed and passed
In the summer of 2003 we all sat our finals. When we got our results towards the tail end of summer he passed. He may not have achieved honors MBA, but he passed. On that day of getting our results he was the happiest guy on campus.
I was pleased as punch and all credit went to Armand for he showed that hard work and dedication can get you superb results and anything is possible if you put your heart and mind to it. He showed me that we are all different and learn differently, some of us required an extra hand than others. Most of all he taught me that no handicap is stronger than a person’s desire to succeed. So wherever you are Armand, here’s to you pal.