The Designer Den

Early mid-life crisis? Do an MBA

Maria Huse

Linda and I have a lot of odd similarities. We both have Irish mothers; in Linda´s case this is not too peculiar since she is, in fact, Irish, but I am born and raised on a small island off the west coast of Norway. We both danced ballet when we were young. I very badly for a year when I was six, mainly to acquire a pink tutu, Linda pretty seriously, even considering a career in dance. We both at some point had an early mid-life crisis resulting in us doing an MBA. An MBA is an excellent cure for this. Not necessarily for what it teaches or any career-altering opportunities it gives, but for me, it was the possibility to press pause and spend a year talking about all the things you would like to do. To take classes without worrying about the grades, but just because they sound interesting. To have a whole heap of people presented to you that will be your friends, at least for that year. We have had that before, when we were actually students the first time around, but as they say, “youth is wasted on the young”. Just before going I wrote this, which sums up what I was thinking at the time:

September 2010

Every story begins at the point where another one ends. Or if not exactly ends - politely pauses for a moment to let another one enter the conversation. There are all the contours of a shaky start; the discarded wine glasses on the table catching the early morning light; the alarm clock being stopped before it began because its owner was just watching the seconds count down to the appointed hour; the silent dressing and brushing of teeth; the zip being pulled on the suitcase after the last items are in; the key turning in the lock. And then all is silent again. 

Although actually this is not the beginning at all. The beginning, the very beginning of the idea of leaving the country to take an MBA in Cambridge began a year earlier, when I was attending a particularly pointless course in Dublin. It was blowing hailstones and I had, as usual, not heeded my mother`s advice about packing for autumn in Ireland. I was running along the pavement on my way to Grafton Street when the thought suddenly struck me; “What I do feels utterly pointless.” I wanted an escape, an adventure, a break from the rut I felt my life had become when going to a dull course in Dublin actually was a welcome break from office life. Most sane people would probably have started an affair, snorted a line of cocaine, bought a new outfit, booked a one-way ticket to Bali, or even learned to golf. My chosen fix was none of these, but to spend a year in an utterly fascinating and fantastic place, a perfect setting for my beloved BBC countryside crime-scenes; Cambridge, UK. This of course came at a price: Taking an MBA. 

Of course this makes me sound rather frivolous in some ways. Taking an MBA just to live in Cambridge? Or course that is not the case; I don`t just want to live in Cambridge – I want to study there, live in a college, carry around books with a sense of purpose, live and breathe the traditions. Perhaps I am not, unfortunately, a great leader in the making, nor have I a Google up my sleeve ready to unleash on the world in a year`s time. I am, instead, wildly and deeply in love with the idea of Cambridge itself. I hope that living there for a year and studying for an MBA will be a great experience, perhaps the greatest of my life so far. And I hope to be physically allowed on the plane with the insane amount of clothes, shoes, and “stuff I don`t trust them to have in the UK.” I feel I need to look the part.