My name is Alan Jackson and I am a member of RIT’s Saunders College of Business Online Executive MBA Class 21. Our cohort attended orientation at RIT from August 10th through the 12th, 2016 in order to meet our new teammates face-to-face along with the great staff RIT has put together.
I am currently working as an Owner’s Representative – Project Engineer for Saudi Aramco, in Saudi Arabia. Having considered pursuing an MBA for a number of years, I always held back because I believed my constant moving around would not permit me to get through any of the traditional programs.
Then, one evening in February 2016, I finally took a moment to read one of my RIT alumni emails offering an opportunity to pursue an Executive MBA online and realized this could work. Living in Saudi Arabia, made the online option perfect. The other factor sealing the deal was that it was my alma mater, RIT, where hands-on learning is the standard. Learn it today; use it tomorrow.
Arrival: The beginning of the journey!
While many of my classmates are traveling from all over the US to arrive in Rochester, NY, my journey began a week ago with an 8,000-mile flight to come back to the US. After a spending time with my family in West Virginia, I departed for Rochester, NY the day before orientation. Choosing to drive from my house in WV, I enjoyed the ride, thinking back to the many times I had traveled these roads while attending RIT previously. Now it is time to make new memories and friends.
Our day started with a quick ride over to the campus from the hotel where we were met by Marty, Kristi, Betsy, and Amanda; the group who had shepherded us through the upfront paperwork. After a brief introduction and breakfast the entire group of online and on campus students participated in an icebreaker activity. The Dean, Dr. Mozrall, also dropped by to introduce herself. Next the highpoint of the day for many in the class was getting their new iPads set up and meeting our technical wizard, David.
After lunch, we were broken up into our new teams and started working on our team contracts. Later, we had our first official class with Dr. Barbato, “Ethical Decision Making”. This generated several conversations that are sure to challenge the group over the next few days.
Finally, it was the end of the day and we had time to relax with our new colleagues – enjoying a nice dinner with good conversation. After returning to the hotel and reflecting back on the day, it was eventful and long but definitely did not feel that way.
Wow! Another busy day! Out the door early again to have breakfast with the group. Then we jumped right into a writing presentation with Dr. Scanlon who is likely to become one of our best friends going forward. What a refreshing perspective about how to talk plainly. As an engineer, I can get fully behind this idea!
Afterwards we had another session with our fearless leader, Marty, who was joined by Jeff Davis to provide quick tips on our classroom platform, Zoom, and how to give effective presentations. Their discussions only helped to reassure the class that the staff and faculty are there to help us succeed and be ready for the Capstone Project at the end of the program.
After a tour of the campus, where I and another one my classmates were proud about the solid growth of our alma mater during the last 25 years, we got our student ID’s and had lunch. The bulk of the rest of the afternoon was dedicated to getting to know our Accounting professors, Dr. Tessoni and Roberta Klein, and we had our first real accounting discussion.
Having completed the classwork for the day, we all headed out to get to know our team members better through a team building exercise and dinner at Dr. Barbato’s house.
Finally, we returned to the hotel to settle in for the night and try to get some sleep before heading into the Day 3 homestretch.
Well, the last day has finally arrived. As we gathered together today for our last face-to-face meeting for awhile, we were treated to another round of discussions with Dr. Barbato concerning ethics. He seems to have this ability to make us think just a little deeper and harder about what we want to say – which was good for all of us!
After a quick lunch, Marty enlightened us about the RIT policies on not performing, and did it with the same directness we are all coming to appreciate.
Our final task of the day before saying goodbye was to read over our DISC assessments which provided the entire group with plenty of jokes and laughs, but also that much-needed insight as to why some of our teammates respond the way they do in certain situations. This exercise really helped to set the stage for our teamwork going forward.
Finally, it was off to the airports and drives home where we are left to ponder if we can accomplish what lies ahead. I contend that we can by putting in the work, by supporting our teammates, and by accepting the support of those closest to us. Looking forward to this journey!