‘MY ROAD TO WIN THE MBA SCHOLARSHIP’

Author: Damir Prusac

Perfect time for a cold Mojito in a deep pine shadow near the beach and an interesting book in hands. Time to relax, reflect, recharge, and similar things starting with ‘re’…

For years, attending an MBA was a personal goal. It was more than just an unwritten line in the resume. It was unsatisfied curiosity and, I must say – a lack of knowledge and business confidence.

The scholarship competition for the Algebra-IGBS eLeadership program has been announced and drew my attention. I quickly scan through the brochure and the application terms. I did it few times before with other schools. Now, there is a difference – the eLeadership perspective built in with an emphasis on the technology. The technology ingredient is attractive. The aim to cover the Strategic leadership, Business and Digital savvy aligned with the EU commission initiative intrigues me further to dig more.
The deadline to apply – October 1st. There is a plenty of time.

Late September 2016.

Vacation and the taste of Mojito are quickly vanishing in my mind while the speed train of business activities rushed over September. I constantly struggle with the lack of time to resolve all the issues from my backlog. Should I apply for the MBA program with this furious life rhythm?
Then, I remembered my physics professor from the university saying – it is not matter of time, it is rather the energy that we need more (yes, he was teaching nuclear physics). This adds a final drop for a ‘go-Damir-and-try’ decision (actually, the final ‘go’ needs to be agreed with my family).
Let’s brush off the layer of dust from the resume…
Applied.

Thursday, October 13th, 2016.

Two days before the event, Algebra University College IgBS is organizing the preparation session for the E/MBA Scholarship contest – not mandatory to attend.
I am attending.
It would be good to see what kind of torture we need to go through at Saturday October 15th – the contest day.
First, it’s going to be a rigorously time limited personal-pitch in 2 minutes where we should present who we are. Then, we will split into teams and work on a topic related to the virtual currency. There will be an individual interview 15-20 minutes with distinguished jury members, and finally a written test.
The session is helpful.

Friday, October 14th, 2016.

Morning coffee. Tomorrow’s day is occupying my thoughts.
Thinking to myself: I am going there to challenge and show the best of myself.
Hmm.
Second try: I am going there to challenge and show the best of myself.
Sounds like a bad plan, but at least pressure will be lower.

Afternoon 18.00h – after work.
I am reading the articles about virtual money – the blockchain technology, the Bitcoin and Ethereum. Luckily, my brother running his own company has a large experience with the bitcoin and a few hours chat with him clarifies issues and fills the gap. One item to be less uncertain for tomorrow.
What about the personal pitch… in 2 minutes!?
I am starting to think about who am I really, and what should I say.  What I did? What have I achieved? What am I proud of? What is the direction I’m heading to? What are my plans?

I write all these questions and some more on yellow stickers and stick them to the wall – one at a time. Perhaps, I can bring them tomorrow and stick them to my shirt while presenting. That would at least be cool… or rather ridiculous.

Thinking further – I am not just the ‘business guy’, an MBA candidate – I’m a person and I would like to present that person.
But how?
If I just had bigger stickers… or… I can use slides. Ah, slides.
Yes, slides, but not digital ones.  I remember the Steve Jobs’ words for preparing the presentation – do your plans in analog.
Ok, I am preparing in analog, but I can also present in analog – analog slides. Even better – just pictures. And… I am presenting Damir, not business Damir.
Sounds like a (bad) plan.

Saturday, October 15th, 2016. – the contest day

Gathering in Algebra’s premises starts with saying hello with many familiar faces. This is one of the benefits being in such a place –  a great networking. It helps also to move away a jitter in the stomach.
Luckily, I managed to catch more than four hours of sleep last night.

It is 50 people in the room which is called after famous Steve Job, where Steve’s big illustrated picture on the wall is staring at everybody. Each of us stands up for 2 minutes, one at a time, presenting her/himself.

Being one of the last presenters, I am getting the picture of the candidates’ profile which makes me humble and proud in a same time. Being among such a highly skilled and educated people, with proven track records makes me think that each of us deserve to win the scholarship.

My pitch is made of twelve A4-size pictures showing my personal life-road until these days – the hometown, education, family, hobbies and few personal and business goals. These 12 pictures came out last night as finalists from around 30 printed sheets of paper with the intention to spend 10 seconds on each. I practiced the pitch until 1 am a dozen times with the timer set on 2 minutes. I had to resist to the urge saying many wonderful things about myself trying to say less rather than more. I’ve never thought that 2 minutes could be so short.
Nevertheless, I delivered the pitch and it seems that some others are more pleased than I am.

After everybody finished the pitch, we split into the teams and get the team task.
If we work in a team, then we should be aware that the outcome of the team is the common success, and if the team fails, everybody fails. In order a team to succeed, there should be a common goal, trust among the team members, respect to each other and there should be a working agreement how to deliver the result. I depend on my team and the team depends on me. As a bunch of extroverts in our team, we really don’t have communication issues and everybody is focused. No time hijackers. As agreed, every member has the equal time slot to present the outcome of a teamwork. It works well.

The part being most tricky turned to be actually pleasant for me – the 15 minute interview with jury members. This is the part where I have the simple strategy: be honest, don’t panic, say your values. But simple strategy needed some preparation. So, yesterday I draw the mental map around these statements, extending them over the family, business and society/community perspectives. It serves me as a reminder and a guide when answering the questions during the interview.

Finally, the 30 minute test. It is a big number of questions where there is no right or wrong answer. I just wanted to keep consistent with my answers and stick to the mentioned values.

Well, if I need to summarize the elements which will increase your chances to be recognized as a top candidate, here they are: show respect, consider others, be a real team player, well prepare your pitch, and be honest.
But I can tell you – being there you already won.


If you can imagine yourself with an MBA diploma in your hands you can start with the easiest step and that is by winning a full-tuition MBA scholarship.

How? Scholarship applications for the generation 2017/2018 are open until 1st of October 2017. All you have to do is apply online on the e-Leadership MBA scholarships website by filling in the application form. 

Challenge yourself! Apply now and start building a new digital leader by developing your potentials! Good luck!

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