22 months and countless hours later, I finished my MBA program from the Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. It was probably more work than I expected, but I also got more out of it than I expected. I could have put in less effort and still completed the degree, but as with anything in life, you tend to get what you put into it and putting in more effort than the minimum needed, I think, was highly worthwhile. What I expected from this program was to learn how business is done, how managers manage, and how leaders lead out in the “real world” in ways that I could apply to the business of astronomy.
The program certainly did all this, but there was a lot more. I learned many practical things about personal finance including stocks, bonds, negotiation tactics and strategies that were only obvious after I discovered them, and a bunch of other stuff I figured I should learn about some day, but never did. I even now own a genuine financial calculator, although it is RPN, so I’m not a total sellout :). Perhaps, even more importantly, I learned about myself – I learned more about who I am, why I am the way I am, and what I want to do with my leadership and management initiatives.
For one of my last classes, I ended up defining the purpose of my leadership as being:
…to combine the data-based, scientific method of problem solving with
the human elements of trust, respect, and opportunity for all in order to form truly healthy teams and organizations.
I may still need some work on this purpose, but I think it’s a pretty good place to start. I want to help create, vibrant, healthy organizations in astronomy, specifically working to set up environments that allow people to perform at their best, whether they be scientific, technical, administrative, or other support staff. Similarly, I enjoyed bringing scientific rigor to my co-MBA students who worked in all kinds of non-profit and for-profit industries and were not well-versed in the scientific method. There is a lot of potential fulfilment in this line of work as well. Bringing the best organizational aspects of the rest of the world to astronomy, and the best analytic approach of astronomy to the rest of the world. This purpose helps me understand the two worlds I try to live in: the scientific and the professional management/leadership worlds.
And finally, I spent 22 months collaboratively and intensely working with 29 of the best managers and leaders in Hawaii. These people, my co-students, come from all backgrounds and fields, but shared this one crazy thing in common: a desire to learn more about how to run, manage and lead better organizations so strong that they agreed to give up their evenings and weekends to sit in front of their computers and join forces with each other to complete this program. While I may have been able to complete this program without them, it would not have been nearly as much fun or rewarding. I learned from each of their stories and each of their industries, as much or more as I learned from the faculty. They are all on my personal Board of Directors.
Another sign of Scot’s dual interest in astronomy and effective management and leadership is portrayed through Myers Briggs type assessments which, depending on when he takes the test, result in either INTJ (code-named “Scientist”) or ENTJ (code-named “Manger/Leader”). This whole astronomy management thing is starting to make sense.