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Otago MBA: My best-ever decision

Tuesday 1 August 2017 11:45am

Allan Gray thumbnail
Allan Gray.

Allan Gray, current part-time Otago MBA student, shares his views about joining the Otago MBA and the excellent quality of the programme.

My name is Allan Gray and I am currently studying part-time for my MBA at the University of Otago. At the end of this year I will have completed nine out of twelve papers and will be close to completion. I feel we need to get a little context around this… I am a 52 year old man from Scotland who moved to New Zealand in 1995. I have six amazing kids, all of whom are well through their own educational experiences.

I have had a wide and varied career (check out my LinkedIn profile) which was not originally founded on education, but rather on getting out there and doing it. But here's the thing; somehow, God only knows, I actually did quite well and found myself in senior roles in some very large organisations. In fact, there I was sitting at board tables thinking "how the heck did that happen?" It was also around that time that I kind of hit a ceiling. Here I was surrounded by these mega smart guys and gals, all of whom, although not as experienced perhaps, had attended University, had multiple degrees and had learned "the speak". All of a sudden there was this huge communication barrier that I couldn't get past. Rather than be critical, it was clear that the Scotsman had to reinvent.

Joining the MBA programmes

So in my wisdom I thought, if you can't beat them, join them, so I signed up to do an MBA at Victoria University, Wellington. This was the second-best decision I have ever made albeit the most scary; I hadn’t been in a classroom since 1977. If that wasn’t scary enough thirteen weeks later I sat my first exam, Organisation Behaviour. All through that exam I was wishing I had brought spare underwear. However there was nothing to worry about, I got a great result and from there on it was magic. My confidence levels rose, my study buddies were excellent and all of a sudden I was being exposed to all these cool people, learnings and experiences. Geez – I have never felt so invigorated.

Then came my best-ever decision. At the end of year one I relocated to work in Dunedin and approached the University of Otago to see if they would have me. I needn't have worried; not only would they have me, they welcomed me with open arms. I did have to jump through a few hoops but nothing to worry about.

I loved the Victoria experience, but this Otago experience is completely different, in my view superior in many ways. From the moment you arrive the warmth of the people is amazing… I guess they have to be because the weather is bad… only kidding.

Loving the Otago MBA programme

Otago's programme is just bursting with diversity, from students to staff to lectures. My first four papers have been delivered by faculty from four different nationalities which brings a truly global perspective to the program. My class I think has about nine nationalities. Scotland counts for one.

Beyond the campus, which is the best in the world I think, the city of Dunedin, its beaches, cafes and bars just add to the whole experience. What makes Otago the best… simple… the staff, the students, the lecturers and every one of the great people here that look out for you. They encourage and support you to make sure that not only your academic experience is exceptional, but that your time in Dunedin will live with you as one of lives favourite experiences. My study buddies have been amazing.

I wish I had done it 20 years ago!