Alumni profile - Kelly Brandli
'If you are looking for a well rounded MBA programme that offers a high level of practical application and personal development you will struggle to find a better programme than the Henley MBA.'
- Kelly Brändli European Marketing Director, Renal EMEA, Baxter Healthcare SA
Having trained initially as a critical care nurse and after working several years in the field I realised I wanted to do something new. I was attracted to the pharmaceutical industry as it allowed me to use my clinical expertise while moving into the business world. In order to break into the industry, I decided to study marketing and in early 2000 landed my first position. I have been working my way up through the ranks and have spent the last few years as a marketing director in both the pharmaceuticals and medical device sectors.
What motivated you to think about taking an MBA?
I wanted to do an MBA for a number of years to improve my business knowledge but it never seemed like the right time. It was actually my boss who suggested I do it to advance my career and when he said my employer would be willing to sponsor me I jumped at the opportunity and started sending applications the very next day.
Why did you choose Henley?
I knew I wanted to do a general MBA as I work in marketing and I wanted a programme that was practical and not too heavy on the finance side. I attended a number of open days but Henley really impressed me as the programme is very practical and it has a significant personal development element which I think is quite unique for MBAs. Also, the campus took my breath away and I felt it would be a fantastic environment to learn in.
How far are you into the programme?
I graduated in May 2009 from the Executive MBA programme.
What are your highlights so far?
For me the international trip to Hong Kong has to be one of my highlights of the programme. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about a new culture and business environment and I have some great memories of our time there.
What have been the greatest challenges?
Two things come to mind here. The first is the workload, you realise very quickly that the programme throws more work at you than any person can ever physically get through. It takes some time before you find the balance and learn to prioritise the key activities and not focus on all the details. The other tough challenge is all the group work. You have a team you need to work with which is unlike any other you will have worked in before. You are 6-7 people from entirely different industries and backgrounds and the only thing that connects you initially is that you all want to be leaders and take charge. Obviously this leads to some major power struggles and frustration. Initially, establishing our group and working together was a challenge but once we found our way and started to play to each others strengths it was a fantastic team and we produced some outstanding results which we were very proud of.
Tips for managing your studies alongside work/ personal life?
From a work side I was able to negotiate some time during work to use for my MBA work which helped a lot. I also travelled quite a bit so I would use time on planes and in airports to get through a lot of the reading and put down my thoughts on assignments. From a personal life, my husband was hugely supportive and very understanding which made it so much easier. We did however realise you need to find some MBA free time otherwise the programme can consume your personal life. We agreed Sundays would be for us and we also went on vacation twice during the programme to reconnect which I would recommend.
Tips on being a successful distance learner?
For me, scheduling time in the evenings to work on my studies kept things manageable and meant I didn't end up working all weekend to get things done. Also, regular weekly Skype calls with my syndicate group to breakdown the projects and stay in touch on progress was vital to getting through the workload and delivering on time.
'The campus at Greenlands creates an environment which is unlike any other as you have the opportunity to switch off from your work and distractions and fully immerse yourself in the learning experience. '
How has your performance at work changed since you started?
Definitely the MBA has given me more confidence in areas outside of marketing and I feel I can contribute much more to strategy discussions and decision making for the business.
What have been your greatest achievements since starting?
I am very proud of the fact that I became a Director in my early 30s which I think is a big achievement for someone who started in business as a second career path.
Advice to those thinking about studying an MBA at Henley?
If you are looking for a well rounded MBA programme that offers a high level of practical application and personal development you will struggle to find a better programme than the Henley MBA. Also, the campus at Greenlands creates an environment which is unlike any other as you have the opportunity to switch off from your work and distractions and fully immerse yourself in the learning experience.
What are you hoping for now you have finished your MBA?
The MBA opens up possibilities to you that you never would have thought of before. I think my future may take me on a different path, maybe a new industry or starting my own business.