This article appeared in July 2013, in Romanian, in Adevarul.ro
It seems to me that personal development is in trending, it’s dans l’air du temps, like running or cycling through the city. Everyone is upgrading. One of the most complete methods of self-development is the MBA (Master in Business Administration).
Due to this new need for self-development, unlike the years of economic growth, people are now enrolling in the program more for the program itself (and less for the diploma) and they plan to use the information and the networking after graduation (and not the enriched resume). But, in my opinion, this phase of personal development is not enough. It takes more than that. Let me explain:
My favorite theory is the non-linear change hypothesis of the Romanian society, by reaching the critical mass. I think that, at the beginning, there will be 5 isolated islands of change in Bucharest, 3 in Cluj, 3 in Iasi, 2 in Craiova, one in Sibiu and one in Pitesti.
Islets formed by a few brave and naive / visionary people who, despite society’s disapproval, they will pawn their apartment to make a mentoring platform (I have a friend who did this), or they will coagulate communities in order to help them follow their passion (another friend of mine), or they will embark on a crusade to introduce the International Baccalaureate to top high-schools (a very passionate and charismatic man), or they will make, out of passion and need, an alternative university where you choose what you learn (some cool young people), or they will have the courage to choose innovation as the main differentiator of their business.
And these people, as catalysts, will inspire so many more. Then there will be 3 more islets of change in Timisoara, Brasov and Ploiesti and “boom!”, the critical mass is reached and, all of a sudden, in the whole country, it won’t be cool anymore to be judgmental, to drive on the tram line or to offer bribe. It will be cool to graduate with flying colors, to start a creative business, to have a hobby, to do social entrepreneurship, to vote responsibly and not influenced by television.
If you have a vision, you shouldn’t sit idly by; that’s why I took part in forming a local program of an Executive MBA (EMBA is the elite of business education) that aims to prepare these agents of change needed by both Romanian business environment and community.
The Executive MBA program I’m talking about, from the Maastricht School of Management Romania, focuses mainly on entrepreneurship (partly because it’s an organic need – we are among the European countries with the fewest entrepreneurial initiatives, and partly because, for several years now, most of the participants are no longer directors of multinationals, but entrepreneurs who pay out of their own pockets). When I read “entrepreneurs”, I read “people who move things for the better”.
This program, in addition to the business skills it offers, tries to make students become better people. Building the team of professors (some with rich experience in local business, others who teach at the most prestigious business schools in the world), adapting the curriculum to the immediate needs of Romania, selecting students so that the class becomes a team – all these are necessary (but not enough) steps to fulfill our vision to catalyze positive change in society.
These people need to be prepared to take on this role. They must understand that it’s necessary to bend the surrounding reality as in Matrix. It’s necessary to take a step forward, not individually, but with the society as a whole, like in 1848.
It seems to me that personal development is dans l’air du temps, like running or cycling through the city. And whether we are talking about leadership exercises through theatrical techniques, public speaking and personal marketing courses, Executive MBA, or marathon training, I really want the Romanian elites to understand that once they are self-developed, they must change the things around them through personal example, even for a bit.