Please tell us what you hoped to get from an MBA, and why you chose to study at Henley
‘I started my career as an apprentice technician and worked my way up through the ranks to become a director at DAF in 2010, leading a team of 11 people. Having had no real management training, the company suggested that I should do an MBA to help my career progression, but that was cancelled when the financial crisis hit us. I was then offered the chance to complete my MBA again in 2017 and promised another promotion in 2019 if completed, when the company’s owners made it a condition that I should do an MBA.
‘Several of my colleagues had experienced MBA programmes at other locations, and the feedback I got from them suggested that of all the choices, Henley was the most welcoming, the most personal, and put the greatest emphasis on coaching and development. This particularly appealed to me, as did the fantastic facilities, so Henley was an easy choice.’
Looking back at the programme, what were your biggest challenges – and highlights?
‘Having not studied anything academic for 15 years, I was nervous going into the programme, but it was very professional. Yes, it was hard work, but there were so many positives.
‘I must admit that I hadn’t read the programme description as thoroughly as I probably should have done, so I hadn’t realised that the ‘international project’ actually involved a 9-day trip to South Africa, and the work we did there with a local charity organisation was such an amazing thing to do.
‘Equally, the quality of the lecturers on the programme was outstanding. I’d expected to learn from knowledgeable academics, but the people who taught us were not just tutors – they were all highly experienced specialist practitioners in their own fields. All real experts.’
So what impact has the MBA had on you, personally and professionally?
‘I can now think much more globally and strategically, and I think I add real value to the business. The programme broadened my horizons, and got me away from the day-to-day thinking. As a result, I’ve been promoted to Business Planning Director, and I’m working directly with the MD to look at the bigger picture, manage budgets and shape the company’s future, including how we can diversify our people and products. This would definitely not have happened without the MBA.
‘Also, the network of people I met on the programme has helped me hugely. I now have close ties to people in 20 or so different industries –as varied as the military, the NHS, telecoms and biscuits – across more than a dozen countries, and they each have different ways of dealing with challenges.
So how would you summarise your time at Henley, and what advice would you give to anyone considering the Henley MBA?
‘The programme forces you to plan and prioritise your time, so you can deal with the learning, your work, a pregnant wife and two daughters! But I learned so much. It’s a fantastic course and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
‘I can honestly say that he Henley MBA transformed me from someone who was purely operational to a genuinely strategic thinker, and my business and social networks have expanded.
‘What advice would I offer? Go for it! And even at the toughest times, when you question why you’re doing the MBA, just picture yourself graduating down by the river at Henley, and focus on the end benefits. It’s a brilliant experience!’