Graham, why did you want to study for your MBA, and what made you choose Henley?
‘I’d been working in online media for a decade, and wanted to transition into consultancy; I saw the MBA as a way of gaining expertise and experience. I originally moved to Henley to pursue a rowing career, and during training, I’d often pass the Greenlands campus, and gaze at it, wondering what went on there!
‘So I went to some Henley taster sessions, and was really struck by the emphasis on personal development, rather than the career or earnings focus that I’d seen at other business schools. This aspect was very congruent to my personal values, and was a key to my choice.’
Tell us about your experience of the programme: its highlights and challenges
‘I’d been told to expect that the programme is a slow burn, with the more academic modules at the front end providing the foundation for the personal development journey to come, so that wasn’t a surprise, but I did gain immediate tremendous value from the way individuals from such diverse backgrounds bonded together in teams in a completely non-hierarchical way. I was the youngest and least experienced member of the cohort, and I found myself alongside leaders from different industries with glittering careers spanning several decades.
‘I’ve since regularly applied the academic skills I learned during that time, but it’s the soft skills that really had a profound effect on me. Any business school can provide the books, but the self-awareness and network that Henley gives you will set you up for life.
‘Even at the toughest times, you’re learning. There were times when my own journey was an emotional roller coaster: the low point, when my wife suffered a late-term miscarriage around the time of some important exams, then the elation when our daughter was born the following year. Many other students had their own situations to deal with, but we all came out of it better, stronger.
‘And the trip to South Africa – during which we worked with a domestic violence charity, focusing on sufferers in a township near Cape Town – was a unique learning experience. I gained so much from the volunteers’ humility, gratefulness, community, service, passion, humour, respect and authenticity. It was truly life-affirming.’
So what impact did the programme have on your professional development?
‘I learned the value of listening, and the importance of home life, family, health and exercise. And how to step back and aggregate other peoples’ views before making judgements. I’ve learned who I am as a person, and what I want to be.
‘Since graduating, I’ve moved into a COO role in an experiential learning and training consultancy, and I’ve never been more fulfilled. I have a wide, diverse and relevant network of alumni who have already helped me to get where I am, and having that is very reassuring.’
Finally, how would you sum up your Henley journey, and what advice would you offer?
‘If money is your goal, or if you are attracted purely by the rankings, other places might serve you better. But based on my experience, the Henley MBA will take you on a challenging and exciting personal journey of learning and development, leaving you equipped to lead a more fulfilling life and having a positive impact on the environment, on society and your own personal world.