Ochieng tells TopMBA.com about life in the business school classroom at CEU Business School in Hungary.
When Duncan Ochieng visited the QS World MBA Tour fair in Nairobi in April 2009 he still hadn’t decided on whether the ‘whole MBA bit’ was really worth the effort. “But then I heard a representative from one of the business schools speak and I realized that I was able to identify with what he was saying,” Ochieng says.
“I was able to go through the MBA fair at full throttle in order to find out as much as I could about the available schools.”
Almost two years later, the Kenyan MBA candidate is living in Hungary and studying for an MBA with a finance specialization, one of his key criteria for an MBA program. “I was interested in a finance specialization but one that would have more than the bottom line as mantra,” he says.
Ochieng says international degrees from reputable schools are always well regarded in his home country of Kenya.
“A lot of respect is earned as it denotes a quality education. However, it places a greater challenge on the degree holder to prove that they are better than their local counterpart. Many people view their degrees as an international passport to go and recoup their return on investment wherever they can, depending on their perceived worth.”
Getting into the MBA classroom has its challenges. There’s the GMAT to pass, the MBA essays to write and the admissions interviews to survive, but Ochieng took them all in his stride.
“Writing the MBA essays was a tough but necessary assignment. It enabled me to take stock of the lessons learned through work and interaction and to have a very good idea about what I wanted to achieve in the long term, and the milestones to be achieved in the short to medium term,” Ochieng says. “It is important to be very clear about your goals and how the mosaic of events in the present will help to achieve them. My essay, in my view, brought this out clearly.”
Preparing for the GMAT required just as much preparation. “Firstly I spoke to those who had done their MBAs, both locally and abroad, to find out whether it had benefited them or not,” Ochieng recalls. “Their experiences provided an indicator of the level of commitment that would be required to complete the process successfully.
“With that out of the way, it was necessary to assess the application process, which required the GMAT to be taken. The GMAT requires a good level of preparation. Practicing with the sample exams is a good way to gauge oneself and improve one’s chances of success.”
“Financing an MBA is a significant investment, just like buying a house or getting seed money to start a business,” Ochieng says. “It is easy to suffer massive hair loss as you crunch the numbers on how to make it work.
“If lucky, you will have saved enough to pay for the whole course but those are exceptional cases. You must draw to your resources and that of family and other areas, like bank loans.”
Ochieng also advises other MBA candidates to look through potential business school’s online information pages to check for opportunities, such as management scholarships and other methods of MBA funding. “I received a partial scholarship from CEU Business School that helped offset my tuition costs, and was also awarded the Robert Oldham Scholarship.
“One, however, should not despair at the price tag [of an MBA], but instead think about what the effort will bring in the long run. It is definitely worth the shot.”