Case study from Flexible Executive MBA alumna Susan Scripture-Shardlow, Consultant.
Susan, why did you want to do an MBA, and why did you choose Henley?
‘After I got married, we relocated, and I found myself at a crossroads, both personally, and professionally. I had an opportunity to reflect on the direction I wanted to take and I felt that an MBA would help consolidate my knowledge, and pull together all the strands of my experience.
‘Choosing Henley wasn’t a difficult decision because my background had always been in the voluntary and public sectors, and the other MBA programmes I looked at were much more corporate. I thought that my voice would be listened to at Henley, and my rather different perspective might be welcomed. Thankfully, I was right!’
What did you expect of the programme, and what were the biggest challenges and highlights?
‘I knew it would be a tough challenge, and in that respect, the Henley team does a great job in preparing you for what is to come! The pre-booking process is very good and I think I went into the programme with my eyes open.
‘The focus on profit during the finance module was a uncomfortable for me, but the biggest challenge was overcoming the imposter syndrome I felt; coming from a non-corporate background and being surrounded by CEOs and global business leaders talking about major economic decisions was quite intimidating at first, and I struggled to find the confidence to put forward my own, very different perspective.
‘However, Henley is brilliant at drawing in diverse people in from all kinds of backgrounds; people who are prepared to listen, and be challenged. We all learned so much from each other. People started to seek my advice because they felt trapped by their corporate culture, wanted to do something more meaningful and thus wanted some non-corporate advice.
I was able to give corporate peers an insight into the ‘real life’ situations I dealt with, which grounded a few people. For example, when I spoke about my work with disabled people, I realised that people were listening to my take on things, and they were being influenced by it. These conversations really helped to build my confidence.
‘There is one other thing of which I’m particularly proud, and that was winning The Henley Challenge, which is a public speaking competition open to all Henley students. I spoke about what the voluntary sector could teach the corporate sector, and how it could help them achieve greater stakeholder value. Winning such a high-profile award added enormously to my self-belief.’
Are there other ways in which the MBA has had a positive impact on you?
‘My winning presentation really seemed to strike a note with lots of people, and it gave
me a strong realisation that I could utilise my skills and knowledge professionally, without compromising my ideals. I was also very taken by Helen Tupper’s concept of The Squiggly Career during the programme, and I can envisage a future in which my own squiggly career can culminate in me making a real difference in helping communities.
‘The careers support I got from the Henley team, and the extra-curricular self-development, were really, really helpful to me, and I’m now better equipped, more knowledgeable, and fearless.’
So what advice would you offer to anyone considering following in your footsteps?
‘Don’t try to anticipate what will happen. Don’t over-prepare or overthink it. It’s a journey that needs to unfold. So immerse yourself in it, one step at a time, and enjoy wherever it takes you.’