Student experiences of Studying for an MBA
Name: Michele Rivière
Country of Origin: France
Place of Study: University of Western Australia
Born on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion, off the north west coast of Madagascar, Michele Rivière returned to her native France to attend school and university. She obtained her law degree from the University of Bordeaux in 1996. "I found studying in Europe very intensive and somewhat stressful. The French system depends very much on individual competition with little in the way of teamwork or learning as a group."
Already a confident international traveller, Michele decided to look outside Europe for somewhere to study her Master of Business Administration. "America appealed to me but studying there is just too expensive. I have a good friend who was then at the University of Western Australia. He sent me a prospectus and some literature about the Graduate School of Management. I must say I was impressed by the professionalism of these brochures. It was apparent they took the marketing and promotion of their own facilities very seriously."
Having decided Australia was the place to go, Michele flew to Perth in time to start her four trimester, full-time MBA course in September 1998.
"I was surprised by the degree of flexibility. In France, you must begin the course in a specific month. Here you can enter at the start of any trimester. It reflects a generally more easy-going attitude. Studying at UWA is still hard work and everyone takes it very seriously, but it is not so stressful as being at Bordeaux University. The atmosphere is friendlier and more relaxed."
Michele soon discovered that the cost of living - and of education - was also easier to cope with in Perth. Even the currency exchange rate was in her favour at the time she arrived. Since then she has been able to find accommodation close to the university campus and cycles to and from school every day.
Does she like Perth? "Oh, yes. It is quite a small city in many ways but very attractive, clean and cosmopolitan. I have met students from many countries - from Europe, Asia, India and of course Australia. There are even three fellow French speakers within the Graduate School of Management."
As for the course itself, Michele had few preconceived ideas about what the content would be and how it would operate. She finds herself pleased with the variety of subjects and believes that, being a post-grad course involving older students, it benefits greatly from an increased amount of teamwork and mutual self-help.
"Everyone seems willing to help everyone else. There is a certain camaraderie that means we can share experiences and opinions freely. This was not the case when I did my law degree in France; but then that was based far more on theory whereas the MBA is more practical, more involving."
Because Michele has opted to complete the course in sixteen months, she will certainly have to put in some intensive study periods. However, the course is designed to be flexible and she will still have the opportunity to concentrate on her chosen specialisation which is international business.
"I have a lot to learn in a short space of time. While being in a foreign country and having to speak English makes it a little more difficult for me, it also makes it more of a challenge; more exciting."
Australia's geographical proximity to Asia makes the study of Asian business systems an essential part of the University of Western Australia's MBA program. Case studies involving companies trading with Asia are a popular part of the course.
"Unfortunately, many of the major companies in the Australasian Pacific region have their Australian headquarters in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide. This makes it difficult for UWA to forge many long-term links with those involved in local industry and commerce. It is not easy for students to make contacts with large companies so, when it comes to in-depth case studies, the number of potential subjects is limited."
It's a comment about which the university administration is only too aware. Consultations are already underway to encourage more links with local industry and to investigate the introduction of scholarships and sponsorship schemes involving Perth-based organisations.
On the subject of geographical location, Michele also feels that the Graduate School of Management, situated as it is on the outskirts of the university campus, is a little isolated. "The social life on campus seems to be very lively but we MBA post-grads sometimes feel we are too far away from the centre of things. But, then again, study doesn't leave much time for partying and perhaps the school's location only enhances the feeling of being a group and of having to help one another."
And what of the future for Michele Rivière?
"I believe that with an MBA from a well-known university like UWA I could work almost anywhere in the world, but I will probably return to France. I certainly intend to make more use of my MBA than my law degree although it too will no doubt prove useful. I would like to work for an international fashion house or cosmetic company. But we'll have to wait and see."
The University of Western Australia
Phone: +618 93803838