MB – wahey!

In June of this year I completed an MBA.

After running a business for over nine years I decided that I’d like to learn about the academic aspect of business. Most of my career has been based on trial and error (to be honest, whose hasn’t been?) so I set out to find a way of formalising that education.

Elin Smith, a friend and former co-worker, found an MBA course at University of Chichester and pushed me on to fill in the application form. Thank you, Elin!

Having not been a model student in my formative years I knew that having a tutor I could build a relationship with would be so important to both enjoying and succeeding at the course. I am so grateful for Rob Warwick. He equal part challenges and encourages and has such a considered, expert way of viewing the world that makes learning fun. He’s an inspiring character.

When I mentioned that I was studying an MBA most people asked “in what?” In America an MBA seems to be a right of passage for any MD/ C-level person but in the UK I’m not sure it has such widespread coverage. Just to clarify, it’s a Masters in Business Administration. Or a chance to focus on academic research into strategy, HR, leadership, marketing and how to effectively run a business. The thing that made this course so engaging is that most of the learning comes through developing real-world projects. During the three years I worked on exploring service based billing structures, how HR models from large corporates could work in SMEs and marketing strategies across a plethora of sectors I’ve not looked at previously. Over the three years the part I enjoyed most was exploring the strategic impact I could have on an organisation. Not only did this help relieve some imposter syndrome, but it also taught me the fascinating term “ontology.” Everything we see, hear and generally interact with is biased. We arrive at a judgement solely based on our life experience, demographic and socio-economic position. It’s so hard removing that bias and looking at situations without those “hats” on. Questions include “Is everyone interested in storytelling or is it more that I surround myself with marketing people?” “Why won’t this speaker hurry up and get to the point?” (too often the case but the fault lies with me, the impatient audience).

By taking a step back and looking at situations from a myriad of viewpoints helps to create empathy and understanding. I’m nowhere near there but I’m working hard to be better.

Having time out of the office to focus on running a business, rather than being “in the business” has shown the importance of time away from spinning plates. I’ve taken a lot of this through to the team, clients and beyond. Pause, listen and be strategic!

What’s next? I’m debating a PhD…