How did you come to be on the Flexible Executive MBA, Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship?
'Undertaking an MBA has been a lifelong ambition of mine to complement a long career in management and leadership. The opportunity arose following a conversation with my manager, the GM of ADP UK, who’d recently completed an MBA at Henley and felt it would be a great opportunity to further my development and future career.
'I wasted no time in starting to research MBAs, drawing up the most important factors including cost, location and reviews, and finally whittled it down to four; Cranfield, London Business School, Imperial College and Henley. When the Government released the Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship, which can be funded through your employer, the opportunity was too good to miss, and this left Cranfield and Henley to choose from. I’d heard good reports on both Universities from friends who’d completed MBAs there, however, after attending my first MBA Preview Day at Henley I instantly knew this was where I wanted to study.
'It’s hard not to see Henley’s appeal. Aesthetically it’s stunning, with a long pathway leading to a nineteenth-century grade 2 listed country house overlooking the River Thames. Upon entering the main building, you get a warm feeling of home from home with comfy sofas, carpets and paintings on the walls. The study facilities are excellent - spacious rooms, great audio-visual technology, plenty of breakout rooms and even sweets on the tables to keep your energy levels high, a far cry from the crowded and dilapidated lecture theatres I remember.
'The other appeal was the smiles and genuine friendliness of the Henley team, who were on hand to answer my questions without any pressure to make a decision. It was also reassuring to meet other business professionals looking to start their MBA journey - we all had similar doubts and concerns. Before embarking on an MBA it’s important to get support from family and friends, as inevitably the workload will at times encroach on their lives as well. After the Preview Day I discussed it with my wife and with her support I signed up with Henley to start my MBA journey.'
What were the highlights of the programme for you?
'My first day at Henley was memorable. I remember being eager and excited at being accepted on the programme, yet filled with apprehension and doubt around whether I’d made the right decision; was I capable of studying again after so long, will I be able to balance it with work and family life, and would I enjoy doing it?
'However, the Henley team were fabulous, with lots of icebreaking exercises and opportunities to get to know everyone on my cohort. I soon settled back into student life. It was also great to be put into a smaller learning group of seven, with a range people from different companies, industries and experience. Our group “The Mighty Ducks” have formed a very close bond, supporting each other throughout the programme and being there when times are tough.
'One unique feature about studying at Henley is the focus on personal development, which weaves its way throughout the MBA programme. For me undertaking an MBA was about understanding myself and becoming a better leader. Where this will take me at this stage I’m not sure, but at the same time I’m comfortable with that. The personal development element at Henley encourages you to reflect and grow as an individual - this makes the outcome of the MBA much more powerful, wherever it might lead.'
What was the impact on ADP?
'From an employer perspective the apprenticeship MBA not only develops the employee, but also helps to bring academia into the workplace to benefit the organisation. All assignments I’ve written are on real challenges and opportunities at ADP and throughout the programme I’ve tried incorporating the new learning from each module into ongoing activities at work. I’ve held offsite meetings to support my team with their personal development as well as using models from the course to help with change management. I’ve even investigated and appraised new countries as opportunities for ADP to expand into as part of the International Business module.
'The apprenticeship requirements of the MBA involve recording and demonstrating evidence of your experience in preparation for an end point assessment. I’ll be honest, this can at times seem like an administrative burden on an already intense study schedule, however you’ve got to remember who is funding this and it’s also the first year of this programme so I’m sure it will become easier for future students. One advantage of the apprenticeship programme at Henley is you are assigned an apprenticeship tutor; our tutor is fantastic and really helps me navigate through the process and supports with identifying and submitting evidence.'
So what advice would you give to anyone considering the Flexible Executive MBA for themselves or their team?
'My overall advice to anyone thinking about starting a Flexible Executive MBA – Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship is to approach it with an open mind, enjoy the journey, be curious and excited to learn. There will be subject areas where you feel confident and others, perhaps like Finance and Accounting, where most people (apart from the Finance leaders) were not so confident. However, if you stay positive and work hard you’ll find that when you apply it back into the workplace it all starts to make sense. Undertaking an MBA is about enjoying the journey. It’s like an endurance race - you must pace yourself, take each stage as it comes, stay focused and believe in yourself, and then when you look back you’ll find the whole experience rewarding and enjoyable wherever it takes you.'
“Approach it with an open mind, enjoy the journey, be curious and excited to learn.”