Miha posted about his recent MCA board experience here. I wasn’t on Miha’s board, but I was on boards that week with the four people who were and I imagine it was 80 minutes of tough questions.
Like Miha, I walked out of my board second (and third) guessing myself. I can’t believe I didn’t remember that. Why did I take that approach? Why didn’t I talk about such and such? For me, that was the hardest part. I said “I don’t know” way too often. I also said “I don’t know a lot about this, but …” a lot. In my mind, I could justify passing or failing.
It amazed me as a candidate and continues to amaze me on the board at how quickly the questions zoom in on the soft spots. Then, when the occasional question that you actually know the answer to comes along, you’re cut off 5 seconds into your 3 minute answer. Typically with “I have what I need”. Not, “you obviously know this well”. Not even a “thank you”. Just a semi-polite “stop” followed by another question – then another – then another. It’s exhausting.
On top of not knowing much about a lot of the questions, the questions are all over the map. Seemingly random. One second you’re talking about the internals of garbage collection, the next you’re asked to explain the ROI of a project to a CFO. Then you’re talking about what went right or wrong. How would you do it if <insert random assumption that the board member knows a lot more about than you do>? Why didn’t you choose <insert random choice that the board member is partial to – and knows a lot more about than you do>?
Then there’s what I call the nightmare questions. They often start something like: “I want to go back to something you said earlier …”.
It truly is a grueling process. But, it’s not as hard as some of the situations I’ve faced as an architect – it’s close though. It’s also the only way that we, the community of MCAs, know of to ensure the quality of the candidates we certify. It’s also the reason I hope the MCA program succeeds and is what drives me to keep investing my time into the program.
The one thing I’m sure Miha learned is why nobody wears a tie in the summer in Austin. Look at the bright side Miha, at least it wasn’t August 🙂