Diversity in our Cohort

Marc ArmitageBy Marc Armitage, current student of the University of Sydney Business School’s MBA program

“If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” (John F. Kennedy)

So exactly how diverse is our MBA cohort? I would argue a lot more diverse than the term suggests. The word ‘cohort’ was originally used to refer to a battalion of Roman soldiers – and it’s a term that really resonates with me, as I think it is representative of some truly positive qualities of our group. This cohort of students is united in its commitment to common goals, teamwork and professionalism.

The comparison becomes less accurate when the group’s Latin-speaking abilities are taken into account – and, unfortunately, while the CBD Campus is very well-appointed, there’s a distinct lack of Ancient Roman weaponry or armour available to us. It’s a pity, really – keeping a pilum and galea close by could be beneficial in the cut-and-thrust world of business…

More seriously, the area in which the term ‘cohort’ is least applicable is in its implication of uniformity. The academics responsible for recruitment into the MBA program have focussed on enriching the learning experience beyond formal classes. Key to this approach was ensuring a rich diversity among the students.

In our cohort we have people who have been in the workforce in excess of twenty years, and as little as three years. The cohort has people who work in the public and private sectors, people working across all industries, and from a huge range of backgrounds.

To be honest, I don’t see much of a challenge in putting together a group of people like that. Different people can be found everywhere. The challenge exists in making sure that some characteristics of those different people stay the same.

So what needs to run through the whole cohort? In which aspects do we want consistency? It’s the qualities of commitment and the willingness to have an open mind to the views of others that must run through the whole group. Having the belief that difference represents value is important for everyone. So far, we’ve been very lucky with these.

It can’t be easy to find people who are committed to work together in their free time, on weekends and after a full day’s work. The Business School should be proud of the group of people that has been assembled and accepted into the program, and proud of what we are learning from each other.

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