Like many important steps we take in life, deciding to study for an MBA abroad is a serious matter that requires huge investments.
You need a financial investment to cover tuition and living costs, time investment to research the right course and to study, and emotional investment as you have to leave your family and friends for a new life in a foreign country. You also need to consider your career opportunities should you decide to continue with your current career.
Getting an MBA from a foreign institution could be considered a leap of faith, because it’s difficult to predict what you will get out of it, and what your future career path will be — whether you decide to return home, stay in the country where you studied, or even move elsewhere.
I cannot tell you what your return on investment of doing an MBA would be, but I can tell you about mine which has, so far, proved more than satisfactory. After getting my BA in Korea, I chose to study further in the UK and got my MA in marketing communications as I was thirsty for more knowledge in an international context.
My investment was worth it as I instantly got a job with a global PR consultancy. For the next nine years I worked as a marketing and communications professional for various companies in Korea.
I was in a stable middle-management position which involved communicating daily with different organisations, departments and nationalities, which could be very challenging.
I often wondered why it was so difficult to communicate with such a varied group. I came to realise that problems occurred when people were unable to see or understand the other person’s perspective. A lack of good communication between these groups meant nobody realised that objectives may differ from one department to the other, let alone the differences in communication between cultures.
I thought that doing an MBA in a multicultural environment would be the perfect solution to overcome this challenge, as I would learn the theories and practices of almost every department within an organisation whilst sharing ideas with like-minded professionals from different backgrounds.
But, another degree? Giving up all I was enjoying? Leaving my family and friends? At the age of 32? I considered all of these questions, but I decided to invest in an MBA because I had a clear objective: to acquire knowledge, skills and experiences that would allow me to put myself in others’ shoes.
After setting my objectives, the decision-making process was relatively straightforward. Finding the institution to fit me came out of the blue during a business trip to the Netherlands.
At that time, I was working for Nuffic Neso Korea — a Dutch organisation that helps Korean students with their decision to study in the Netherlands. I already knew a lot about it, and I liked the idea very much. I realised that due to the open-mindedness and trade-oriented nature of the country, it would be the right destination for me.
During my business trip I visited Nyenrode Business Universiteit. I believe that education is a very personal experience which should meet your needs and desires. And Nyenrode was one of the few schools I encountered which really put this into practice.
Small, culturally diverse classes — I studied with 36 students of 18 different nationalities with diverse backgrounds — allowed students to interact with each other and staff in the most personal manner possible.
The prospect of doing a one-year intensive course whilst living on campus was also appealing as I’d be constantly surrounded by my fellow students, and would get to know them and learn from them in more ways than just professionally.
This combination of being rationally prepared and emotionally taken by the institution had made it easy to decide where to study. I am a good example of the phrase ‘where there is a will, there is a way,’ as I was so certain of my path, both in my head and my heart. I applied, attained a scholarship, and started to study within three months of visiting Nyenrode.
Staying true to my goals helped me to remain passionate about my studies and overcome various challenges. I used to say I was ‘allergic’ to numbers, but the MBA helped by requiring me to present reports in classes such as Accounting for Managers, International Financial Markets and Business Process Management.
In addition, I became a member of a truly global family comprising my classmates, alumni, faculties and staff who know me not as just another student, but as a person. I was also emotionally torn to pieces when I had to return to Korea during my studies as my father had become very ill, but my classmates took care of me as if I was family.
The ROI of my MBA has been higher than I expected. It started with setting a goal for myself — not what society imposed on me. I’d suggest others should do the same: set a clear goal, be rationally prepared, listen to your heart when making decisions, and continue following your passion.
Then I am quite certain your ROI will surge through the roof and you will not hesitate to answer the question ‘are you happy?’ with a definite ‘yes’.
Yoony Kim completed her full-time International MBA at the Nyenrode Business Universiteit in the Netherlands and is now working as the international marketing manager for the university.
Discover the ROI of your MBA and become the best leader you can be. Meet Nyenrode in your city during the MBA Roadshow:
30 September 2014, Amsterdam WTC
14 October 2014, The Hague WTC
2 December 2014, Rotterdam WTC
9 December 2014, Eindhoven