Lisa Sohanpal graduated from an Executive MBA programme at Cass Business School in 2008. She now runs her own business Nom Noms World Food. Founded in the UK, Lisa manages the business remotely from her home in Toronto Canada. The business came from wanting to feed her children authentic international cuisine that was aimed at kids but flavoursome enough for the whole family. Nom Noms World Food is the first family focused brands in the UK and every meal purchased feeds a hungry child in India. So far Nom Noms has served over 400,000 meals to school children in India, to keep them off the street and in school so they can gain an education.
Lisa says ‘‘Nom Noms allows families to be able to enjoy international cuisine together. We’ve secured a deal with 550 stores with Carrefour across France and a major international airline which is amazing for the brand’’.
Nom Noms World Food launched in February 2017 with the world’s largest online grocery retailer Ocado, and sold out within 50 minutes of going live. The brand has gone on to win 18 global awards including the Great British Entrepreneurs award 2016 for the small business category and is sponsored by BMW, Natwest, Diageo and AXA insurance. Lisa credits her family upbringing, extensive international business experience complemented with the Cass Business School, London’s Executive MBA as a factor in her business and career success.
How would you describe your overall experience of the Executive MBA?
Overall it was excellent. It was workload intensive, but that is to be expected from an MBA. The programme is open, collaborative and the professors are very approachable.
The course began with an intense team building activity at HMS Bristol, which involved saving your team members from a sinking ship and it allowed us to get to know each other. Among our cohort it felt like a family including academic staff. When you go into an MBA you know that we are all here to achieve similar things so we supportive of each other.
What made the Executive MBA the right choice for you?
I chose the Executive programme because I wanted to improve my business knowledge and move into a more senior leadership role. The EMBA also enabled me to continue working full time while studying. This worked really well as I was able to take the things I learned from lectures and apply them immediately to my day to day work.
Are there any life lesson you have taken from the experience?
One key lesson I learned is how important time management is. With so many deadlines and the time pressure to achieve everything, you find you are just constantly on the go trying to meet every deadline. Going through all this whilst managing a full-time career meant that when I became a mum to three children in three years I was able to adapt to the fast paced demanding role and I now believe that anything is achievable for me and my business.
Do you still keep in contact with members of your class and what do you think is the value in maintaining those relationships?
I do yes. We all got to know each other really well during the programme. I feel like I can always pick up the phone and call friends from the MBA and it doesn’t matter if we haven’t spoken or seen each other for years. In terms of the value, well one of my MBA colleagues is the CFO for a major retail brand and that brand is one of our targets to get our products into. There is an immediate connection from the programme that could prove invaluable.
What was the most rewarding aspect of the MBA for you?
At the time of starting my MBA I was quite clear on my goal, and that was to triple my salary and get into a business leadership function in a highly reputable and credible global organisation within the medical devices industry. The most rewarding aspect for me is that the Executive MBA enabled me to achieve this goal. It is an extensive programme especially if you are self- funding, I wanted to make the most of it and I feel proud that I have achieved my return on investment.
What advice would you give to someone considering to do an Executive MBA at Cass Business School?
One of the biggest reasons for me choosing to join the programme at Cass was that they were very encouraging for women to join. The cultural, gender and sector diversity among the cohort was strong.
My advice would be to look for a programme with strengths that align to your goals rather than your current position. You have to expect that when you embark on an MBA programme that you will be expected to step out of your comfort zone and be challenged many times over. I would also advise going to the information sessions and speaking with alumni from different and similar industries to your own. This will allow you to hear about what previous students have achieved and the value they’ve received from their own Executive MBA experience.
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