Tom – tell us about your reasons for doing a Flexible MBA, and why you chose to do it at Henley?
‘I’ve always worked in the wine industry, mainly in sales and marketing roles. However, my role as an export manager for a Chilean wine producer left me feeling that my career options were limited, and I thought an MBA might help me to broaden my horizons.
‘I looked at several other business schools and based on location, price and the diversity of the programme and my potential network, Henley came out as a clear winner.’
You graduated a couple of years ago – looking back, what were the highlights of the programme?
‘For me, the programme really took off and became fascinating in year 2; we really gelled as a group, and I began to relish the intimate learning environment at Henley. I’ve described it as a boutique MBA because it’s very personal, and very profound.
‘People on the programme – including me – opened up about aspects of their lives they hadn’t ever discussed with even close friends or loved ones: about their careers, their background and personal circumstances. This is a very unusual experience for any adult – there was a real, naked truth about some of the discussions, and it made me realise that everyone’s life and work are intertwined, and just because we don’t know what’s going on behind the curtain doesn’t mean that it isn’t having an impact on their performance or behaviour. As business leaders, we need to be more aware of this, and accommodate peoples’ individual needs.
‘In terms of the learning, a real highlight came out of a cancelled study trip to Russia. To use the time productively, a group of us set up a consultancy company, and landed a real client in Portugal. We visited them, helped them, and actually got paid! It was a great experience for us to create something that generated such an immediate return on the time we invested in it, and showed us what was possible.’
So how would you summarise the impact the MBA had on you, personally and professionally?
‘After completing my MBA, I left my job and set up my own company, bottling and labelling Chilean wines. The MBA programme made me appreciate that asking for help from experts is not a weakness, it’s a strength. And despite the challenges, I’m loving it.
‘As a person, I’m now much more able to deal confidently with adversity, knowing that I have a Henley MBA and will always stand a good chance of getting a great job, whatever happens!
And finally, what advice would you give to anyone considering the Henley MBA?
‘The exams at the end of my first year came at a time when my wife had just had a baby, and work was incredibly busy, so you have to get organised. You have to get the support and backing from family and friends, and be prepared to unplug the TV.
‘Doing an MBA at Henley is not for everyone. It’s probably not for you if you’re very young and have no life experience. And if definitely isn’t for you if you think it will be an easy ride with lots of partying! The process can be painful at times, and it will test you to the limits.
‘But getting your MBA does mark you out as someone who is capable and knowledgeable and ambitious. And the Henley programme is extraordinary. It may not be absolutely at the top of the rankings, but if you want a richer life, not just a qualification, I can’t recommend it highly enough.’