Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peace Out R World...

It seems fitting that on the night before my final exam at Rotman I took some to contemplate, ie procrastinate, and think over the past 20 months of my life, most of which were spent in, talking to people from, or bitch about the goings on at, 105 St. George Street, which is colloquially known as the Rotman School of Management. As I thought long and hard about it I realized that there had been some good times; some bad times; some teary times; some downright weird times; some new friend times; some times that made a national newspaper; and this one time at orientation camp...

As with most of my decisions in life I realized retrospectively that I didn't think hard enough about actually going to Rotman until I found myself knee deep in first year finance thinking: "where I come from cum day means something totally different then what this guy is talking about." I mean sure, I did the administrative tasks necessary: I applied, interviewed, quit my job, and basically sold my soul to the Bank of Nova Scotia. But truthfully, did I think long and hard about what it would mean to become a permanent and flummoxed fixture at Rotman? No. Not really. Rotman was sort of like this one time I woke up and decided I needed a new pair of pants. 2 hours later my whim found me standing outside of Club Monaco on Bloor Street with a pair of pants and also a bag full somewhat expensive clothes that I wasn't exactly sure I needed. Similarly, one very expensive whim later, I found myself on Bloor Street with a Rotman branded knapsack full of textbooks that I wasn't quite sure when I would use again and with my head crammed full of learnings. But hey, I had those 3 letters I wanted so... Such is life; I really should think about things before jumping headfirst into a data pool.

Those 3 letters of course provide no answers to life's greatest mystery's; in cheesy terms it provides a tool-box. In consulting terms it provides a framework. In banking terms it lowers your WACC in order to achieve positive project NPV; or something. An MBA provides nothing beyond a foundation. A foundation for what you may ask? Well that's the ironic beauty of a degree as broad as a business degree; it provides a foundation for anything really. The veritable world is your oyster. Spotted: a double edged sword of frightening. Much like Ontario, the MBA is yours to discover.

In some ways I wish I could look back at my Rotman application essay and see how I responded to the seminal question of: what do you want to do with a [Rotman] MBA? Sadly my computer crashed halfway through school (please, as if I back shit up) so I can't actually look at what I wrote. I remember vaguely how I answered, but what I also know is that if I was asked the same question today my answer would be completely dissimilar to what it was two years ago. Truthfully I'm not even sure I could even answer that question anymore; in many ways, I've become entirely less certain of myself in the twenty months since I started Rotman. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The precocious kid whom entered Rotman and who believed he know all of the answers to life's greatest mysteries found out he knew almost nothing beyond his comfort zone.

In reality my answer to that indomitable question of what I want to do with my life is about as truthy as asking my 4 year-old nephew, Ethan, what he wants to do when he grows up. With certainty I can picture him saying: "Uncle Jono I want to be Buzz Lightyear." Sure kid... and I want to be the King of Spain. Rotman is like the adult version of finding out that Santa Clause doesn't really exist. As a reality check it sucks at the time, but its seminal. And leaving your comfort zone is well... what life's all about. Uncertainty breads reinvention and it instills a sense of drive and purpose. This probably is the art of the MBA; beyond of course the rote learnings of Porter's five forces, an MBA is a kick in the pants.

And so, after twenty months at Rotman, which included one too many self reflection papers, a lot of group work and countless trips to that weirdly stocked general store where I would look in disappointment at my food options (really?), it is time to quote the legendary Edward R. Morrow: Good Night and Good Luck.

It has been a slice R-World.

And remember everyone - there are just as many's B's in MBA as there are A's.

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