Starting my MBA left me on top of the world

Alex MartinI’m Alex and I work for SAP’s vendor management office in Walldorf, Germany. I have just started a part-time executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at the European Institute of Purchasing Management (EIPM) in Archamps, France.

It is a procurement specialist MBA delivered through 14 residential modules over 18 months – lectures Monday to Friday, with exams on Saturday mornings. And over the next couple of months I’ll be blogging about my progress and sharing my thoughts.

I have always wanted to study an MBA with a procurement specialism, which is why I chose the EIPM for its centre-of-excellence status and clear dedication to our profession. The EIPM offers a broad range of strategic sourcing and supply chain qualifications taught mainly from Archamps, Shanghai, China (I intend to take a module here) and São Paulo, Brazil.

The topics for week one were team building, business and organisational dynamics, research skills and communication and presentation skills (no exam though!). We started with an introduction to our professors and fellow students, who were a mix of procurement professionals of various ages from various companies, industries, sectors and countries. The first tasks were working on a number of team-building activities and demonstrating certain groups can reach an objective without an appointed leader, and a ‘treasure hunt’-style activity with IQ-type questioning fusing the team together with the beautiful Alpine mountain range. One of the highlights of the first day was being up the French Alps eating raclette and sledging down the mountain on Saturday evening! It was a fantastic view of the scenery and the night sky – I have never seen the stars so clearly. Hopefully this MBA programme will let me see sourcing issues with the same clarity.

By Wednesday, I realised how much hard work this programme would be - and this was only the first week, without an exam or assignment. But I also realised how life-changing the experience would be for all of us on the programme. Wednesday was the turn of the programme’s dean and director to give the students a full overview of what the next 18 months has in store in terms of assignments, exams and our dissertation project, which was daunting as well as incredibly exciting. We also had an open forum with the former CPO of Nokia. To end the week, we spent two days on presentation skills. As a direct result of the teaching, this first week has already broadened my horizons in terms of getting to know myself, how I interact with others and managing different behaviour and talents.

The first week in Archamps has really set a high bar and February’s module has to be something special to impress as much as January. In fact, the remaining 13 modules will have to be something special to beat this.

Alex Martin is IT business service principal consultant at SAP. He welcomes comments and LinkedIn connections

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