Joel Kwan is a corporate lawyer based in Los Angeles, California. Currently acting as financial/legal associate for Westwood Group, a specialty finance company, Joel focuses on general regulatory compliance, creditor rights and structured finance. Visit his website to learn more.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Life at 26

Turned 26 this week. I led the reflection period in my MBA class. The reflection period is all about looking back at our experience as students and professionals since the beginning of the program.

The theme I suggested was Transformation and Discovery:

When we decided to an MBA, we had some ideas of what we wanted to accomplish pedagogically. We might brush up some accounting and finance here and some marketing there. However, at the same time we are learning to balance books and evaluate return on investments, there is also something far more subtle that happens. We learn more soft skills such as interpersonal skills, cross cultural communication and dealing with stress for example. I call this the transformation of an individual through an intensive learning and socialization process.

I have heard friends and family of my peers say how they have changed since the beginning of the program, how they had breaken out of our shell and now were much more open to others. That's all about the personal development, or the transformation of the individual.

The other part of being an MBA student is also Discovery. We learn things about ourselves that we did not know before. Be it personality traits or interests that we did not even consider before, many of use are acknowledging new potential in ourselves.

One peer from a marketing background that had never done some finance before discovered that she really likes finance and might go on and specialize in the field.

Discoveries and transformations are extremely important in the learning process, more so than the actual hard skills learned in class I would add. In order to optimize the opportunities for discoveries and transformations, our MBA class came up with some suggestions:

1. Go out of your comfort zone.

Try new things, join new clubs and meet new people. These new experiences will definitely catalyze the discovery and transformation process.

2. Exchange with people you disagree with.

There is nothing less productive than a group of people that have the same opinions sticking together all the time. It is important to acknowledge that there are other ways to look at things and keeping ears and eyes open to those issues may make us see things differently.

3. Be open to change and serendipidy.

Having a plan is important, but it is also important to realize that along the way, many doors will open itself to us and we have to explore other avenues as well since we never know what is at the end of the path.

Well, with these words of wisdom, I have to greet my first guest for my 26th bday party.

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