After a long and diverse career in the automotive industry, developing from a graduate trainee to international roles with a leading global auto manufacturer, I decided earlier this year to take a break from the corporate world and return to academia to finally fulfil a career-long ambition to study for an Executive MBA.

While most friends and colleagues understood the timing and motivation behind my decision, some did question why I would need to go back into education at such an advanced stage of my career. However, my reply was always the same: although there’s no substitute for industry experience, an MBA programme would enhance the next stage of my career through three principal benefits:

1. Content

Providing an academic framework around career experience to better understand why things worked (or didn’t work!) in real-life execution, as well as exploring the most recent best practises in fields such as Business Strategy and Digital Transformation.

2. Cohort

Mixing with a diverse, international group of extremely smart people (who have absolutely nothing to do with the automotive industry!) who contribute different perspectives on business issues, as well as building a close, new network from around the world.

3. Contemplation

Taking a “time out” from a linear career path to reflect on past experiences and reassess the direction for the future, whether it be within the automotive industry or something completely different triggered by the MBA experience.

Is it living up to expectations so far? Absolutely!!

Each module has further developed an area of my knowledge gained through industry experience, whether it be a more structured understanding of finance and accounting, providing a robust framework for the development of effective business strategy or the understanding underlying issues around organisational behaviour.

Nobody could have predicted the disruption to all aspects of work, education and day-to-day life in 2020, but our cohort was fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet each other during the Induction Weekend before the first national lockdown was introduced. This enabled us to get to know each other, form our new project groups and subsequently bond as a cohort during the multitude of video calls that followed as the lectures and workgroups moved online.

Any regrets? Only that I didn’t find the opportunity to embark on an MBA earlier to have been armed with these skills for a longer portion of my career. That said, given everything that has happened this year, it may turn out to be the perfect timing to stop, breathe and refocus in preparation for whatever comes next!

Ian Hucker, Modular Executive MBA (2022)