Back to reality: A post-MBA reflection
By Poonam Harry-Nana
Exactly one year ago this time, I remember questioning almost every day why I had made the crazy decision to give up my life, career and any sense of normalcy and saneness by embarking on the journey of doing my Full-time MBA at USB. From 18-hour days on campus, juggling between lectures, readings, quizzes, assignments and assessments, barely even finding the time to eat yet alone sleep, the MBA started with a bang that left one feeling completely helpless.
“It’ll get easier,” they said. “It will all be worth it,” others said. “What you put in is what you get out.” And so, I listened, and immersed myself fully into the experiences that came our way – not without reasoning, questioning and voicing concerns of course. One year on however, having just received all my grades and having come out successfully on the other side passing all 20 of my modules, I can honestly say, that they were right; or at least mostly right!
“It’ll get easier,” they said. “It will all be worth it,” others said. “What you put in is what you get out.”
Today, I find myself not only looking back on these last 12 months with fondness and pride, but realising that they have become a part of my life journey that truly defined who I am, who I have become, and still have the ability to become.
The MBA experience made me realise that I can do anything. It made me realise that any goal no matter how big or small is not only doable, but achievable if taken on with the right mindset, heart, attitude and the ability to be strategic about the choices one makes. Having a clear vision for wanting to do an MBA – which was to discover the true Poonam and elevate my mindset to a new level as well as wanting to build relationships – meant that I charged head on into the adventure with a clear purpose and drive. This single notion, sustained me through those tough times and taught me the value of focus mixed with balance.
“The MBA experience made me realise that I can do anything.”
Now I find myself back in my hometown of East London, back in the same company that I left prior to my life journey quests; yet a completely changed, renewed, rejuvenated and confident individual. I feel ready to tackle any challenge that comes my way head on, yet still with a hint of caution, fear and anxiety that makes the next part of my journey exciting and enthralling.
My family business, the Harry’s Printers Group now sees itself entering its 90th year of existence with over 200 employees spanning over five locations across South Africa. I am in the fortunate position to be managing one of our companies, Harry’s Photos and Copies, which is in the process of opening its first one-of-a-kind retail customer experience store that aims to target consumers in the print and imaging industries through a range of innovative products and solutions. With a vision for expansion of branches across the country, I know I am coped with the leadership capability to drive such an initiative, thanks mostly to my experiences in the full-time MBA class. From the leadership journey to the learnings, teachings and interactions with classmates and faculty, I truly feel ready and prepared for the challenges and adventures that lie ahead, and encourage other alumni to do the same. Embrace the journey, and remember, if you cannot find the sunshine, BE the sunshine.