Alumni Profile Benedict Stanberry

Benedict Stanberry'Through the Henley MBA I am developing the confidence that comes with genuine competence - meaning I can hope and expect to have a major impact in future senior management roles.' 

 - Principal Consultant, Oliva Health, Dubai, UAE



What motivated you to think about taking an MBA?

A couple of years ago I was applying for a consulting job with a major strategy firm and was invited to attend an assessment centre. All the candidates I was competing against were MBAs. Although my lack of an MBA had no bearing on my suitability for that particular job (as otherwise I presumably wouldn't have been invited to the assessment centre!) it was immediately obvious that the best candidates had superior analyti­cal, team-working and communication skills. Moreover, they'd obviously acquired these skills at top business schools. I decided that, as soon as I had the time and the money, I would acquire the same 'enhanced' skill-sets that the best of those candidates had, by taking an MBA at a world-ranked business school.

Why did you choose Henley?

I applied to and was accepted on two Executive MBA programmes - at London Business School and Henley Business School. After making several visits to both schools it was clear that Henley was the better school for me, for many reasons. Compared to other schools, Henley has a signif­icant quality and diversity of course members with higher than average management experience. I think that Henley has addressed the concerns of the 'MBA critics' better than probably any other business school - strik­ing an excellent balance between teaching the 'science' of business and the 'art and craft' of management, and emphasising both team work and individual performance.

How far are you into the programme?

I have just started the second year of the two-year Executive MBA pro­gramme.

What are your highlights so far?

That's a difficult question to answer - there are so many! The interna­tional study visit to Cape Town was fantastic. It was a unique opportunity to see the challenges being faced in South Africa: a country that is, in equal measure, both developed and developing. We had the privilege not only to visit a number of large, blue chip companies but also to see projects taking place in the townships. I'm already looking forward to our next study visit, to Istanbul. 

'Through the Henley MBA I am developing the confidence that comes with genuine competence - meaning I can hope and expect to have a major impact in future senior management roles.'

What have been the greatest challenges?

For me personally, it's been working in a team. There's a very big empha­sis at Henley on group work and group assessment. As someone who likes to be in charge, it's been a real eye-opener to discover the higher perform­ance that can be achieved as a team compared with as an individual.

Tips for managing your studies alongside work/ personal life?

Time management! The biggest challenge is not so much the academic content of the Henley MBA as the sheer volume of work. This requires you to be very disciplined. I think it's fair to say it took me a full term before I really 'got into my stride' and felt that I was staying on top of my workload.

Tips on being a successful Executive MBA student?

There's a big emphasis on teamwork and personal development at Henley, so from Day One you must have the humility to do some serious reflection as well as to listen to and act upon feedback from others - both faculty and fellow course members. Learning about business subjects like strat­egy and organisational behaviour really is only the tip of the iceberg. The far greater challenge for most course members is developing the soft skills of facilitation, coaching, communication and leadership that you must possess to be an effective senior manager.

How has your performance at work changed since you started?

A huge amount has changed in my working life. When I commenced my Henley MBA I was a director in a healthcare company. But by the summer of my first year I'd realised that I was neither being stretched enough in this role nor getting enough opportunities to apply my MBA learning. So I decided to return to consulting and have taken a senior position with a firm in Dubai. I'm now using my Henley MBA learning in a really direct and satisfying way (and I'm still only halfway through the course!) doing both strategy development and implementation work with major health-care organisations as well as teaching management development courses for senior healthcare executives.

What have been your greatest achievements since starting?

I've had some excellent grades for both individual and group assign­ments. It's particularly rewarding to get great feedback on assessed group work, since this reflects the achievement of the entire study team and the numerous ways that you've motivated (or coerced!) high performance from each other. On the non-academic side, I've made many friends for life from among my fellow course members and I love simply being in the physical environment of Henley - it has to be one of the most beautifully situated business schools in the world.

Advice to those thinking about studying an Executive MBA at Henley?

Well, other than effective time management I think that you've got to be ready to make some very big lifestyle changes. You cannot realistically put in the hours necessary to get the most out of a Henley MBA, continue with a full-time job and not have to make major sacrifices in other parts of your life. I would advise any prospective Executive MBA student with a partner or family to have some very frank discussions before they commit to the course. If you're single, don't expect to start a new relationship during your Henley MBA - unless it's with another course member!

What are you hoping for when you have finished your Executive MBA?

Through the Henley MBA I am developing the confidence that comes with genuine competence - meaning I can hope and expect to have a major impact in future senior management roles, whether that is in manage­ment consulting or general management. But I also hope that I will be able to demonstrate real thought leadership in the subjects that have most fascinated me most during my Henley MBA and perhaps continue my studies with a Henley DBA!