Motherhood, Challenges, and Education: My Journey as a Global MBA Mom – Sindhujaa Ayyappan
Eight months back, I was contemplating my decision to pursue a Global MBA. It was a massive step for me. Was it because the program was structured in the two leading cities, Singapore and Dubai, away from home? Yes. However, it also meant letting go of my job, leaving behind my then-2.5 years-old, darling baby boy, and completely depending on my parents. It was scary, for sure, but also exciting.
The things that led to this were a mix of personal and professional reasons. I found myself at a place in life where I was hungry for more – hungry for challenges, adventure, freshness, and positivity in life. I did not want to yield a mundane life that I was living.
Now, several months later, I feel so much has changed within and around me. I am surrounded by diverse people, face new challenges, and have my share of adventurous moments!
Staying away from my son tore me down and continues to do so – but more importantly, it keeps me grounded with my purpose in life, gives me another reason to continue fighting and instils in me the courage not to give up on myself. I realised how strong I can be, regardless of the challenges that come my way. I fall but get up more determined and put up a fight – especially with my own doubts and inhibitions.
Over the past few months, I have encountered many people and situations that have tested my resilience. I am amazed at how much I learn daily – not just in a classroom setting. SP Jain’s GMBA program tests all your abilities to work cohesively in a group of like-minded or unlike-minded people, to put aside your difference of opinions for the collective good of the team, to set apart personal and professional choices, and work independently – all of this mostly in parallel with a series of stringent deadlines hovering over your head.
It is interesting how groups form over the program duration to ensure everyone gets to work together. It is a brilliant way of getting to know your friends and competitors, and their strengths and weaknesses, in a professional setting. The end result that you come up with as a team depends on how well you have leveraged the collective strengths of your teammates by efficiently masking or overcoming the weaknesses.
Some of my fondest memories include coming up with skits to set the stage for our presentation (setup, conflict, and resolution, as our faculty call it), uncountable presentations that we continued to work on a weekly basis, the brainstorming sessions around it, and the eureka moments on the way.
During your first few weeks of the program, you would probably end up spending a whole day on one presentation. But, down the line, you will be stunned at your ability to make efficient presentations in a couple of hours. You keep getting better at what you can do, and the program keeps raising the bar to ensure you fly high.
Isn’t competition eventually inevitable in the line of work or education, especially when you are with people, passionate and focused on carving the right path for themselves? As long as you avoid letting it carry forward to the bus, canteen, or corridor, all is fair! Enjoy the tough competition – that will nudge you further to discover your innate capabilities. With time, it has taught me to channelise my energy to my strengths to compete harder. Ultimately, grades only matter to some extent – but the core learnings you take away weigh heavily on your ability to understand real-world business problems, articulate your thoughts and come up with reasoning or possible solutions.
Some of the toughest battles we have are with our own inhibitions. I have faced some serious internal conflicts during the course of the program. I had to miss my son’s third birthday since I was in Dubai for my second term by then and could not travel back to India. In fact, I had an important reflective paper submission that day and was extremely overwhelmed by the helpless feeling. However, I powered through the night (with a lot of weeping) and completed the paper on time. Later, I got an outstanding grade in that subject and kept telling myself – it would all make sense backwards.
I remember when my son had hurt himself badly back home – the feeling of helplessness and guilt returned. Yet thanks to the unflinching support of my parents, he got fine in a couple of days, and I was also okay in a week or so.
Once, my son visited me in Dubai for a week. I had fun with him while continuing to work on my final project’s presentation, which went well. But soon, it was time for my baby boy to return home, and I was a mess and disturbed to the core. I wanted to go with him but had two key submissions in the coming week. After three days of numbness, falling sick and hating that I couldn’t be with my son, I powered through.
I continued to work and got through those submissions as well. Both of them went really well, and I even topped one of the submissions. So, what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, right?
I am also a part of the Academic Committee, which means I am committed to trying and failing, if required, to ensure things are functioning well academically. I am at good terms with most of the faculty. Those people have vast experience and rich insights, and I connect with them outside class for guidance.
It is fascinating how people always remember you by how you make them feel. I am grateful that most of my faculty members have made me feel relevant, significant, and worthy enough to indulge in insightful discussions. I can never forget my thought-provoking conversations with the Dean and Assistant Dean. During my first round of interviews at SP Jain with the Dean, the last icebreaker question was, “Who is the CEO of Google?”. From there, and getting an opportunity in Singapore to attend an in-person workshop at Google, to now pursuing an end-term industrial project with Google, I have come a long way, thanks to the institute for throwing opportunities at us while chiselling us to make the best use of them.
It’s wonderful how we can adapt to situations in life if we give ourselves enough time and encouragement. So, let go of any inhibitions that seem to hold you back, and fight hard and fair for your place in this world. Let us make happier choices! Here’s to more happy learnings!
About the Author
Sindhujaa Ayyappan is currently a Global MBA student completing her third term at SP Jain’s Dubai campus.