Zero Cost MBA(Global Manager for 21st Century): An Overview

Zero Cost MBA_An Overview 2

Without execution, every idea is extra ordinary on the paper but a failed concept in reality.

This is what I thought 4 years ago, when idea of ‘global manager’ was still developing in my thinking process. But, an idea means nothing, if cannot be developed to make it real. Right?

So, let me tell you a small story, or rather a journey from conceiving an idea to taking steps in making it a reality. This story should have been told to you in the year 2014 itself, but I did not feel the existence of right environment for acceptance of this idea. Today, with online learning is gaining acceptance across different sectors, this is the right time in telling this story. So, here you with it:



‘Global Manager’: What is it? How it has started?

It all started during my visit to the European Commission in 2011, as university representative. By that time, I have almost finished my master’s in chemical engineering from the Technical University of Denmark. Apart from my technical education, I have worked extensively in cross cultural environment, sharpened my managerial skills in different activities, and enjoyed working across the dispersed disciplines.

To prepare for this visit, I studied public policy in much more depth this time. My previous interaction with public policy was during the participation at COP15 climate summat at Copenhagen, Denmark. Through my studies, I was amazed by the power of these public policies. Through carefully written words, clear guidelines; these policies can make or break things of an individual. Understanding them gave me perspective on long term impact of such policy formulation on personal and professional lives of an individual or a corporation.

Fast forward, I spent 4 days running around buildings of European hemisphere at Brussels, Belgium. Witnessing and participating in those high level discussions, understanding the complexity involved in decision making, and how I can be part of this entire process was just an amazing experience. It gave me realization about my ability to understand complexity of decision making process, long term vision during policy formulations, and roles play by different departments/stakeholders to make any policy formulation truly interdisciplinary in nature. And above all, a realization that I can solve some of these problems 🙂

Year 2011 was the year, when I participated in numerous events. Details of them can be seen in the presentation listed above. Most of these events talked about the challenges going to be faced by corporation in future. To me, they somehow looked similar to what I have experienced, while sitting at the benches of the European Commission. With interest in globalization, ability to think interdisciplinary, passion for solving complex problems, and past interest in business & management; I have started to develop a concept of ‘global manager’. A kind of person, who can use his/her interdisciplinary skills to provide solutions to such day to day complex problems, faced by Global Corporations.

My active participation at Young Environmentalist Camp at Azerbaijan further enhanced my confidence in my ability to understand the problem and build consensus among different stakeholders through my interdisciplinary approach to come up with practical/innovative solutions.

In the early 2012, when I my blog about cross cultural understanding of Denmark won 5th best exchange blog award in the world, I felt that I can really go ahead with this entire concept of ‘global manager’.

Next step: Identifying the required skill-set [March 2012-April 2012]
In the early 2012, it was just an idea developing in some remote corner of my brain. I decided to explore it further after my return to India after finishing my masters from Denmark. 2 months of extensive study of various different sectors finally shaped up the vision of ‘global manager’

A person who is quick learner, have an interdisciplinary approach of problem solving, has ability to work outside his area of expertise if situation demands, can work anywhere in the world, make decision with least amount of information and can communicate with any kind of person.

I have identified 5 key areas for this person to have a good knowledge(with expertise in any one of these is good). They are:
International Economics, Soft Skills, Global Management, Cross Cultural Understanding, Future Trends/Interdisciplinary Aspects.

You can read more about skill identification work here.

Overcoming Dilemma: Running a Pilot Project [May 2012-June 2012]
Skills identified, so what? I have not go those skills yet. In fact, I faced a huge dilemma after this entire process. First of all, a highly educated chemical engineer going to study managerial education? Doesn’t sound so logical. It was clear to me that problems of the future need an interdisciplinary approach of thinking, something I already can see in myself despite being graduated in chemical engineering. What if this entire idea itself is crazy?

– The concept of ‘global manager’ with mix of interdisciplinary departments has not been envisioned yet in the conventional curriculum. So, I have to either scrap this idea or go on my own.

– Even if, it was possible to fulfill my vision through the conventional education system, it might be still difficult. I have to wait for more than 1,5 years and there was uncertainty that I would be able to afford the expensive managerial education. I had no intention to take hefty educational loan for this.

Going ups and downs with all those confusing questions, I finally decided to choose skills over degree. I realized that with years of university education, I proved myself enough as a good student. With my sole intention was to gain skills, there is no need to go back to the university system again to prove myself again in the same way. It is time to try something new!

I gave myself 3 months to try this crazy idea. Along with my own learning path using OCW(OpenCourseWare) at the start, I also initiated my search for suitable jobs simultaneously as a back up plan. My job search did not result anything significant in first 2 month but by accident, I discovered MOOC and Coursera on one of the tweet of my Romanian friend. I have preserved this tweet.

After this discovery, there was no question in abandoning this project. I left all the doubts and decided to go with this crazy idea on full time basis.


Gaining Skills: How did I go? [July 2012- June 2014]

I studied online courses offered by universities (Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Wharton) offered through different online learning platforms. Apart from that, usage of books, libraries, and virtual discussion forums were also became part of this project. I also used company annual reports, newspapers, and reports published by international institutions to build my knowledge base.

List of courses studied , List of other resources used

I tried to self-learn, a few foreign languages and also studied cultures of different regions (China, Japan, Latin America, Russia, Islamic world etc).

Self learning German , developing cross cultural competence through MOOC: Case study ‘China’

I tried to keep everything 30% theory and 70% practical. For practicing the knowledge, I used several methods. It included doing online course assignments, designing own projects, participating in competitions, and helping different NGO’s as a volunteer consultant. I have also provided strategic advises on freelance basis to start-ups and medium sized organizations.

Read: Learning business strategy using easily available resources, Read: Maximizing learning through professional networking platform, LinkedIn , Read more about the other ways of practicing knowledge here

Challenges:
There were many challenges in this entire journey. Starting from lack of high speed internet connection to synchronizing time zones, lack of sufficient resources to finding a suitable project to put knowledge into test. But, each of these challenges presented an opportunity in front me to come up with better solutions and methods to get things done.

Outcomes:
A crazy idea became a reality. I was debt free, got the skills I wanted,and invented many things in this entire journey. It provided so many learning lessons both personally and professionally. It was like a building a new door rather than waiting for door to open up for me.

Despite novel approaches, every new idea is always criticized by established thinkers, as they fell threatened by such new concepts. Same happened with mine too!!People questioned the quality of such thing, as I did not go to the university. They did not see that all the courses taken during this project were offered by the same top universities, although in a different manner. It is being said that I may not have proper skills developed. It also sound very illogical, because ‘real world’ is much better classroom than anything, which was totally addressed by this project. Someone questioned about not having alumni networks. This question itself a question mark on itself in the age of ‘LinkedIn’, ‘Twitter’, and other social media websites, when you can easily find anyone,anywhere, anytime; as long as you know ‘what you are looking for’.

And, what better proof it can be, then my experience of handing difficult situations. A manager must know, how to manage the difficult situations regardless of how much he scored in theory exams. I think, I have that capability, so if someone is too much concerned about other factors, I simply pity on them. World needs ‘executioner’, ‘problem solvers’ , who can do; not ‘talkers’,’criticizers’ , who cannot do.

In fact, the endorsement of many universities later proved that ‘one man’s vision is actually higher educations mission’.

Also, the iMBA program at Coursera, Nanodegrees by Udacity and tie-ups of many companies with MOOCs providers to train their work-force in the recent times reflected the vision, I have shared through my project. Investment by the Government of India, France, and other countries in building online education as an alternative way of gaining education, demonstrated the potential of online education.

Maximizing output with minimum resources, developing own techniques to solve problems, optimizing usage of time, and taking the best usage of available things instead of waiting for best to happen. I took ‘global manager’ ideology to from paper to presentable level. This entire journey itself made me very proud and confident. I have also shown others ‘power of dreams’.

This project is called ‘Zero Cost MBA’, because it was done with freely and publicly available resources. Although, it is much more than a conventional MBA, yet I decided to use this word to make people understand the concept easily.

This project was not possible without the wonderful support of universities, professors, open source provides, language learning websites, companies, international institutions, my language exchange partners, and many of those; who were somehow became part of this project(directly/indirectly).

This entire write-up is too small to summarize my entire project. You can either visit my website http://www.ankitkhandelwal.in to know more about this project or ask me directly, in case of any questions.

Further works [July 2014- March 2016]

‘Global Marketing’: Publication of work at UNESCO/MIT/Harvard, and in many other prominent national/international media

‘Global Translation’ :Translation of the project into 105+ major world languages.

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