Category: Executive MBA (page 1 of 4)

Embarking on an MBA as an Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur without a previous business background means that you learn on the go – fast, and in most cases not in a really systematic manner. In the majority of cases, the time constraints will push you to search for the solution of the specific issue, often without a good understanding of the broader context. That was my case. 

After 20 years of running different businesses – from a little retail chain to a virtual cell operator and a leading marketing automation platform in the ex-USSR market – I realised that I have a lot of intertwined, but incomplete knowledge in my head. I can understand and work with the Profit & Loss system of a SaaS company, but got stuck when things come to, say, inventory management.

Moreover, with the growth of my last company, I’ve encountered completely new pastures for an entrepreneur with my level of experience. I wanted to learn more about investment, borrowing, M&A deals, company culture and strategy. I have reached a stage in which I need to plan the next steps of my company’s growth, such as looking into new markets and new verticals, and errors could be costly. At this stage, it became clear that it was time to invest in education to benefit the growth of my company. 

I started to look at different courses, trying to find something holistic – enabling me both to close my knowledge gaps and organise my existing knowledge better in an academic manner. Obviously, the option to learn over the evenings or weekends was a must-have feature to continue running my business.

From this perspective, studying the part-time Modular Executive MBA at the Business School (formerly Cass) appeared as a great option, so after a thorough selection process, I chose this programme.

So far – it is great. I’ve definitely got what I was looking for and even more. During my selection process, I underestimated the essence of cross-cultural team collaboration experience. Joining the programme and meeting my cohort has opened me up to the ability to expose my company to peers and get extremely useful feedback. The way the MBA is conducted is an excellent way to hone my personal communication style and management skills as well, as learn from others.

I’m approaching my second exams on this course now and am incredibly happy with my choice to study a Modular Executive MBA at the Business School.

Ivan Borovikov, Modular Executive MBA (2022)

Virtual Consulting Week in Colombia

What is consulting week?

As part of the Executive MBA programme, MBA students work in teams of four or five people and work with a company to help them solve some business problem. Business problems can range from drawing up a business plan to expand into a new market or geography, draw up a go-to-market strategy for a new product, or assessment of areas of improvement within an existing business. The week has a number of cultural events sprinkled throughout and ends with a client presentation on the Friday.

Why virtual not in-person?

One of the consequences of 2020 being the year of the coronavirus was that instead of travelling to Colombia to do our MBA consulting week, people in my cohort had the choice between taking part virtually in 2020 or in person in 2021. I chose to do it virtually because several of the business problems on offer were very interesting.

Who was on the team?

I was very lucky to be on a team with people with some very smart people, but also we each have complementary skills, experience, and capabilities. 

  • Katrina – Our Brand, digital strategy, and marketing expert.
  • Ciara – Led our work to define the growth strategies and overall approach to customer experience management
  • Leslie – Our finance expert, let the work define the financial models and metrics we used to value the financial aspects of the business plan.
  • Damien – Led the definition of the Operations and Technology aspects of the business plan.

Damien’s Consulting Week Team

Who was the client?

Our client, Nikadi, is a Colombian premium dark chocolate producer that supports fair trade cacao production and directly employs women who are survivors of domestic abuse. The firm employs 9 other people in its head office, and receives cacao beans from several cocoa farms across Colombia. NIKADI operates both a B2B and B2C sales channels, and has had success across both channels to date, both domestically and internationally.

So what’s the business problem?

Our client wanted to expand their business into the UK. Our goal was to have a marketing, legal and financial plan to accelerate the firm’s market penetration and enter the UK as soon as possible within the constraints of launching with less than £15k and breaking even within two years.

Naturally, this is a very interesting problem for us having spent the previous year or so studying business from several different angles. It was a chance for us to put all the business related frameworks, models, and theories to go use. Although, ultimately the client was only going to be interested in the outcome, rather than the method used.

How did we work?

We worked virtually as a team each day over the week, with daily conversations with our client, professors, and two social events during the week.

We made very heavy use of an online collaboration tool, Mural.co, google docs and sheets, and Microsoft Teams to help us to both visualise our ideas but also to help us to collaborate and communicate.

How did the final presentation go?

The final presentation went well, there was not much in the presentation that Nikadi didn’t already know about because we had been sharing our thoughts through the week. It was just laid out in a way that told the whole story in one presentation. Here are a few key messages from the presentation.

Key Message – Nikadi is not alone in the UK market as a South American Fairtrade chocolatier.

Key Message – we considered the impact to Niakdi of launching each different business propositions from several different angles.

Key Message – From a finance perspective, an approach with a heavier focus on online channels (gift & subscription boxes & e-commerce sales) performed better than other options.

 

Key Message – At a high level there are 4 things Nikadi will need to focus on landing well to succeed in the UK market. Our approach hinged on the idea of raising brand awareness, making initial sales, gathering customer data, and then leading into growth within repeat business channels.

Would I do a virtual consulting week again?

The short answer is yes, absolutely. I certainly learnt a lot from my teammates, the client, and the various experts and professors we spoke with during the week. I also enjoyed the process of building a business plan for a client and thinking about how we can use our knowledge of the market, business, and chocolate to help Nikadi to thrive in the UK.

Also, I suspect we also drank a lot less and got more sleep than we would have had we all been in Colombia – but this could be seen as an upside or a downside, depending on your point of view.

Damien O’Connor, Executive MBA (2022)

Achieving Your Potential Weekend

The first term of the Executive MBA was as expected, busy and full on. Back studying while balancing work and life was a big change, so the Achieving Your Potential (AYP) weekend came at the right point to be able to reflect on the last six months, and take time to understand the direction that the MBA was helping to lead me in.

Organised by Cass Careers and iOpener, AYP is a weekend off site and outside London, giving the whole cohort real space to rediscover goals, to connect them with the learnings from the MBA so far and align them with future ambitions to maximise, as the title suggests, your potential. This is everything and more from what I gained from the weekend.

Coming from a background in luxury fashion product development and production in small-medium size companies, I chose to undertake the MBA to further my career with the goal of being a COO. However, having experienced a lot of change and challenges over the last few years within my roles, I had lost some clarity, especially with the new knowledge and skills I had learnt from the course.

The different elements of the weekend allowed me to process in a way to help strengthen my on-going development and learning, with a better ability to assess the future, where my drive was and what motivated me. Talking through “Strengths”, “The Happiness Model” and “Values and Purpose”, really gave me clarity to help me move forward with my career goals for the future, and while looking at situations through “The Sphere of Control and Influence” it really put things into perspective and gave me an opportunity to look at things from a different angle.

Not all elements were focused on personal insights. Workshops on “Coaching”, allowed me to develop new skills that I will be able to apply right away within my day-to-day, which is invaluable in being able to become a better leader.

The benefit of working with different cohort members was a lovely experience, bonding with people in a new way, and overall bringing the whole class closer together. The support and judgement free set up of AYP, allowed for an openness which helped maximise the most from the weekend.

For me the AYP weekend, was, as simple as it sounds, just what I needed, time to reflect and take solace in where I had been, understand how these plus the MBA are supporting learning experiences to guide you toward the future to achieving your full and true potential.

Victoria Hind, Executive MBA (2021)

Global Women’s Leadership Programme Scholar: You can read her profile here.

How my Executive MBA transformed my career in music

Choosing to study an Executive MBA is uncommon in the entertainment industry.

Having spent the majority of my career working in the music industry, I knew it was not an obvious choice. Working in music requires no formal education and many people simply don’t have one. Many roles within music require little to no specific training, regulations or practices in order to start – some basic industry knowledge, great networking skills and a good ear will get you started. This does, however, provide both a benefit and a hindrance… the benefit being that anyone can be anything, and therefore if you’re intelligent you can get very far very quickly. The hindrance being that occasionally you find yourself working with cowboys and there were many days when I felt I was in the Wild West. All success stories in music involve a certain degree of luck.

Soraya Sobh

I became curious about traditional business theory and desired to broaden my skill-set to see what I might be missing and not much else provides the breadth of learning quite like an MBA. There was a period of about 18 months before I started my MBA, when I tried to tackle problems regarding the business models of artist management agencies and found myself flailing. The music industry is cut-throat, exciting and intense and artist management is as close to the action as possible. I couldn’t understand why the industry was bouncing back, but management companies were starting to shrink and in the last few years I saw many either consolidate or disappear.

However hard I tried I couldn’t find the answers. Having now spent some time learning about business models through our corporate strategy modules, it’s crystal clear why this was happening.

Soraya Sobh and her cohort at a Cass MBA networking event

I’ve found Cass to not only be the most dynamic in terms of the cohort but also the only business school which genuinely asked me what I wanted from the investment. I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted when I started, I just knew I wanted something different. Studying the Executive MBA provided me with a new way to progress my career. Which, with the help of the Cass careers team I’ve been able to do successfully.

Soraya Sobh at the Women of the Future awards

An Executive MBA is not for the faint of heart, but I can now confidently say it is definitely for the entertainment industry. In fact, if more people in the music industry had an MBA, it might be a very different landscape today.

Soraya Sobh, Executive MBA (2021)

What makes you a social entrepreneur?

As part of my Executive MBA, I attended the Tech for Social Good international elective in Kenya. The study tour took us to Nairobi where we were not only introduced to some real-life applications of how technology is being used for social good but also gained a deeper understanding of some of the key drivers of social value creation.

Social value creation starts with the social entrepreneur, an individual who has made the conscious decision to focus more on value creation rather than value capture. A social entrepreneur addresses neglected problems in society, looks for sustainable solutions and operates in areas with underprivileged communities. We met several social entrepreneurs in Nairobi including Martina Taverna from Airfu, a mobile-based learning platform aimed at targeting learners of low-income status who have limited access to training and Erik Hersman, the founder of BRCK, which provides ICT related solutions and network connectivity to areas of Africa that currently have limited or no access.

Erik Hersman runs us through the technology behind BRCK

The second key driver of social value creation is scalability. As the focus of social enterprises is not on driving a profit but creating social value and finding a solution to a problem in society, social entrepreneurs need to seek alternative methods to capture value, otherwise, their solution becomes unscalable. Funding typically comes from public donations, the local government or the private sector. For Kenya, we learnt from the British High Commission that the UK government provides £300 million annually to the country.

Social enterprises must also consider the format of their business model as the traditional model doesn’t account for the focus on social value creation and therefore, needs to be developed. We were provided with a real-life example of business model innovation when we visited E4impact, who have developed a model focused on franchising. This allows them to provide higher-education to social entrepreneurs throughout Sub-Saharan Africa due to their partnerships with several international universities.

A summary of the range of services that E4impact are able to provide

It’s important to note that Kenya is already ahead of other countries in terms of technology use. The introduction of M-Pesa in 2007 revolutionised how Kenyans transacted and allowed them to skip straight to mobile banking, bypassing the traditional banking methods. Even now, Kenya is considered to be one of the top five countries in Africa that will experience significant grown in mobile phone penetration over the next six years; it is predicted to obtain nine million new mobile phone users by 2025.

It is this familiarity with technology that has allowed Kenya to be so receptive to solutions involving it and for this country, accessibility to the technology is imperative to it supporting social value creation. This holds just as much importance on a larger scale when considering how technology could be used to meet the UN’s Sustainable Developmental Goals. The UN already believes that technology will help, specifically stating that, “in order to eradicate poverty and reorient current unsustainable development trajectories over the period 2015 to 2030, affordable technological solutions have to be developed and disseminated widely in the next fifteen years.”

Kenya presents us with an abundance of social entrepreneurs using technology to create social value. Taking into account what they have done and limitations they have faced (e.g. scalability) will allow us to be able to apply their solutions on a global scale and address the challenges that currently present themselves in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Nil Sangarabalan, Executive MBA (2019)

Finding sustainable solutions through technology in Nairobi

I took part in the Technology for Social Good trip to Nairobi.

Technology provides many opportunities in creating these solutions to sustainability issues. We saw many innovative applications, both improving current solutions and developing and distributing new ones. Technology can be a key enabler in building scale and replication through standardisation, which in turn reduces the cost to provide the product. It can also play a pivotal role in accessing people who would otherwise be hard to reach.

M-Pesa, a phone app for money transfers, financing and micro-financing, is an inspiring example of this. Now, nearly 50% of Kenya’s GDP – of which 35% comes from the informal economy— is transacted on its platform and it has lifted 2% of Kenyan households out of poverty.

Technology can also be used to harness the power of data and analysis, whether it be in providing famers with better information about how and where to use fertiliser (Lentera), allowing micro-insurance to be paid on monthly rather than yearly (Blue Wave), or improving education provision (Whizz).

Technology needs to be carefully chosen to ensure that it maximises impact. Many of the businesses we met were not implementing the latest innovations but deploying clever applications of technology already in existence. As we often heard, it is important to consider the local context when determining the intended impact: start with the problem and find the most effective and cost-efficient technology to provide a solution for maximum impact. As Blue Wave highlighted to us, “innovate simply, and at the point of need.”

I was struck by some of the business models we saw, which play a key role in securing the viability of the companies and creating impact at the same time. Azuri is improving access to electricity by using a market hybrid model and offering payment terms on solar panels, lights and televisions to people too poor to afford the capital expense and factoring the receivables to fund its working capital. This is being operated on a commercial basis, even after receiving only 60c for every dollar’s worth of equipment provided.

These companies started out with a clear social mission and purpose and determined a business model to make it work. There must be a fit between the business model and strategic thinking, and so for those businesses looking for social impact starting with a definition of intended purpose and then innovating around the business model to create a viable business is more likely to be successful. It is unlikely that BRCK’s business model would have maximised the impact opportunity in focusing on value spillover if its only ambition was to provide internet access in Nairobi; it manages to offer free wifi to Kenyans by charging companies for using the data storage attached to the routers. It takes an impact-focused way of thinking to consider growing a viable business whose model is based on forgoing 40% of potential revenues as Azuri does.

Many companies were also using collaborations and partnerships as a growth strategy. This helps address obstacles to transactions by reducing distribution costs, improving access and bundling products to increase willingness to pay. Organisational theorist Henry Chesbrough explained the powerful network benefits of using open innovation for idea generation and go-to-market strategies, and we saw plenty of examples of this in action to maximise the social impact of the companies we met.

Freddie Woolfe, Executive MBA (2020)

Discovering tech for social good in Nairobi

Life is about choices, which career to pursue, graduate school to join, or elective to select – all to achieve the goals some of us are fortunate to choose to set and attain. An elective Technology for Social Good that took place in Nairobi, the pulsing heart of Kenya is new on the MBA curriculum. We sometimes choose our electives by the expected learning scope, not expecting that we can be the living contributor to the course environment itself.

This exciting elective was a result of an ambitious initiative of Professor Alessandro Giudici, who connected his passion for impact entrepreneurship with enormous academic and hands-on knowledge in Strategy; and a masterful on-the-ground course organization by Koby Cohen, a Cass alumni and entrepreneur, to deliver an interactive full 6-day study tour in Nairobi – one of the most vibrant cities in the East Africa.

Our schedule was packed with site visits to tech hubs and coworking spaces – the thriving centres of social entrepreneurship and innovation spread out across Nairobi. One of them was E4Impact Innovation Hub, an accelerator that has been a nest for impact-driven entrepreneurs in sectors like agritech, social housing, and green energy. All of the startups had incredible community outreach and demonstrated social impact. How astonished we were to know that the hub even hosts Nairobi Space Days!

Kenya is tech-savvy. Today the country is home to more than 200 startups worth of USD1bn. With most of these headquartered in Nairobi, the capital has been unsurprisingly named ‘Silicon Savannah’.

Over the course of the tour, we visited successful startups that have over the past decade shaped Kenya’s innovation landscape – such as M-Pesa, an ultimate leader in mobile payments, BRCK – a revolutionary off-grid internet provider and Ushahidi, a crisis management platform. We learned how these success stories reinvented themselves by supporting the startup ecosystem and reinvesting their gains to support the new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. My cohort and I were touched by the questions that were asked to us by the 14- and 15-year old students of the M-Pesa Foundation Academy, a state-of-art high school for high-potential young students from underprivileged backgrounds. They were bold and driven; they knew what they wanted and were unafraid to ask us why and how. In reality, we were lucky to meet these future leaders of Kenya.

One of the hubs, iHub, allowed us to attend a live pitching event for startups seeking seed funding. Kenyans and entrepreneurs from other countries presented to investors, often from a webcam! Their ideas were incredible and their pitches focused on how tech can enhance the lives of the communities, to make education, sanitation, health care and light accessible, or how to make farming more efficient.

I found the biggest benefit of the course was the opportunity to meet many young, passionate entrepreneurs who are thriving despite challenges. It was wonderful to witness how a moral choice to address the real needs and determination to find real solutions through application of technology can generate a tremendous impact for thousands, and millions of people.

A visit to Kenya makes you realise one thing – Africa has unlocked your mind and opened your eyes. And all you want is become part of this honourable journey that will change lives.

Anastasiia Liashchenko, Executive MBA in Dubai (2019)

Breaking the Social Class Barrier

Holding an Economics degree from City, my interests have always been skewed toward quantitative subjects. I was anxious to start my EMBA core modules on topics such as Organisational Behaviour. Little did I know that I would learn the mathematical formula that I now use to explain my ambitions during these lessons. In a simplified form, Vroom’s Expectancy Theory of Motivation states that an individual’s drive to pursue a goal is a function of two variables: 1) the strength of her or his desire to fulfil that goal, and 2) the probability that it will actually happen. It looks like this:

Another subject that wasn’t previously on my radar was our module on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), but my interest in the topic has flourished. For our CSR coursework, we were asked to analyse BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink’s annual letter to S&P 500 CEOs. In his 2018 letter, Mr Fink called on companies to take a more active role in addressing societal issues and also emphasised the importance of a diverse board.

This prompted me to browse the C-suite composition of the largest banking institutions in the world. I found that banks continue to make progress on diversity of gender, ethnicity, industry experience, and country of origin. When taking a closer look at the early life and education of randomly picked board members, a pattern emerged. Despite the characteristics that make them unique as individuals, most appeared to have privileged backgrounds that led them to receive similar education. How could they possibly not surrender to group think if they attended the same handful of universities and grew up within the same networks?

The reality is that social class is the ultimate barrier to break and that has nothing to do with gender or nationality. The probability component of Vroom’s formula is important in determining people’s motivation to pursue certain careers. Wealthy people with good contacts will have a greater probability to be successful, hence they tend to be highly motivated individuals.

Natalia Lopez

I cannot remember my childhood friends and I dreaming of going to university let alone becoming a chairperson, or a CEO. That is because, just like thousands of teenagers today in Britain, we had zero perceived probability to achieve these goals. Sadly, society labelled us as lazy but we were just a demotivated bunch of youngsters.

With an extraordinary influence on our global economic and political system, financial institutions are increasingly becoming a dominant force directing the world. How can they take decisions that are in the best interest of people if their boardrooms understanding of society’s struggles comes from an economics textbook?

In my opinion, a truly diverse team is one that is made of different social classes and this is something most corporations are getting wrong. Luckily, the desire component of my Vroom’s formula is bigger than a mountain for which I am highly motivated to achieve my goals. We need to show people like my younger self that it is possible to make their dreams come true. This is not just because equal opportunity is a hardly debatable subject but because, without them, the world is missing out.

Natalia Lopez, Executive MBA 2020

The Cass London Symposium: New Directions

When the theme of “New Directions” was set as one of the cornerstones of the Cass London Symposium, minds in the UK were focused on Brexit and the uncertain future of the capital, but speakers and attendees took the theme in their stride.

The London Symposium is now in its fifth year. Whilst it was initially launched for students ordinarily based outside of London, many London-based students now also attend the week-long programme to gain insights on their home city and some of the brilliant business minds within it.

The beauty of an MBA is learning from diverse industries and cultures. The beauty of the London Symposium is to bring those industries and cultures together in one of the most diverse and open cities in the world.

London Symposium Cohort – April 2019

The week started by looking back over the history of London through the eyes of the late Lord Mayor Charles Bowman, the 690th person to hold this position. The trip back in history highlighted how modern-day problems will be a minor blot in the landscape— a message we heard several times during the week.

The enigmatic Vernon Hill took us through the meteoric rise of Metro Bank, a success story following the outstanding success of his previous venture Commerce Bank in the US. Vernon and his team have certainly delivered new directions for the UK banking industry: when he launched Metro Bank in the UK, it was the first new bank to hit the UK high street in over 100 years. In the short time he was on stage, Vernon created a new fan club with dozens of students queueing for autographs of his book!

One of the starkest (but most accurate) messages of the week came from René Carayol – adapt or die – among other short and sharp messages on themes such as agility and innovation. The speakers were fantastic and their presentation styles were interesting to observe. We have long been taught not to rely on PowerPoint and witnessing great examples of the Ted Talk style approach in action was inspiring.

René Carayol – motivational speaker/coach

 

Day two was no less frenetic and covered how technology is taking over the planet, both in our professional and personal lives. For example, EY covered how Artificial Intelligence will undoubtedly take over some professional industries within our lifetime , and more so for our enjoyment the advance of creative visual effects was examined by the CEO and founder of Framestore. Hearing Sir William Sargent speak was one of the highlights of the week for me. He is an incredibly modest man despite creating one of the world’s largest CGI behemoths with a starting team of only four in Soho in the 70s. Now, he divides his time between different branches of the 2,500 strong company across multiple continents. Branding and customer service were addressed during the sometimes light-hearted and sometimes serious approaches of Rebecca Robins (Chief Learning and Culture Officer at Interbrand) and Matt Watkinson (author of award-winning “The Ten Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences”).

Sir William Sargent – Framestore

I greatly enjoyed the link of alumni involved in the programme. No less than four presenters were Cass MBA graduates, which is a testament to the draw of Cass and its network.

The varied locations were also a big plus of the programme. The Symposium brought us from the depths of the Tate Modern to the Royal Institute of Great Britain and the National Gallery. The week included 16-odd backstage passes to some of London’s greatest companies ranging from a 300-year-old insurance institution in the heart of the City to a Premier League football club.

My personal favourite visit was a curated tour and presentation from the property and real estate company Cushman & Wakefield. Their analysis of the regeneration of the King’s Cross area was a perfect embodiment of the week’s “new directions” theme. As pretty much a no-go area less than 15 years ago, it has now magnificently transformed into a campus-style hangout for tech giants Google and Facebook, while providing inviting public spaces too. I was also intrigued by their discussion about the future of real estate and their suggestions as to what companies will need to do to survive and thrive, pivoting their way through one of the City’s oldest industries. I took particularly detailed notes here seeing as I work in the real estate industry!

Model of ‘Pancras Square’, with the new Google HQ on the right. C&W

Embracing authenticity was discussed by alumna and successful entrepreneur Davinia Tomlinson, who launched rainchq with the vision of empowering millions of women to take control of their financial future through education, qualified advice and events. Charlie Guenigault, one the heroes who confronted the London Bridge terrorist attackers, was one of the most emotional presentations I have ever experienced. He delivered an uplifting message of overcoming adversity. As an unarmed police officer, Charlie put himself in the face of danger to help others and received five stab wounds in the process. I was privileged to shake his hand afterwards and to be able to say “thank you.” These kinds of discussions remind you to appreciate what is truly important and determine what your values are as an individual.

Bank Underground station – new central line tunnel

 

As one of the “locals,” I was hoping to experience more of the city that I have called home now for the last decade, and I was not disappointed. Seeing first-hand the external realities that future leaders will face opened my eyes. The week ended with two extremes: deep in the underground tunnels of the future extended Bank station (literally creating New Directions) to high above the City in Heron Tower for the closing celebration. Rather aptly for me, in a past life I was involved in the construction of the building. They were kind enough to let me back in to reminisce on a week well spent, reflecting on the contacts and connections made.

Find out more about the speakers here.

An explorer of ideas: from a PhD to an MBA

I have been a life-long student, with an extensive academic career in a lab and a few degrees to my name.

My passion for learning and my ceaseless curiosity has taken me to a variety of places both geographically and professionally. Soon after graduating, as a result of a serendipitous opportunity, I took a job at the California State Senate Committee for Natural Resources and Water. Which, let’s say, is not the standard path for a PhD in Biomedical Sciences with expertise in genetics and metabolic syndromes… But that odd career move that really sums up my career and my thirst for knowledge.

Induction day: meeting my cohort

I am an explorer of ideas, always willing to try completely new things and never afraid to put myself in situations where I need to very quickly become proficient in an entirely new subject area. I now find myself in London, where I currently work with strategy and Smart Cities – can you see the pattern? – and I realize that the fire to learn more and to explore new opportunities has not yet been extinguished.

I have been interested in studying an MBA since finishing my PhD in Biomedical Sciences. However, it wasn’t until the stars aligned that I had the courage to embark on this new two-year journey. I realized that I was growing complacent and needed to find a way to challenge myself again. My hope for the Executive MBA is to unlock greater career opportunities, enhance skills I developed empirically and provide me with a solid foundation to help guide me in whichever direction my interests take me next.

I found in Cass a school which not only accepts my unconventional academic and professional background, but proudly embraces it. Moreover, the Cass philosophy is similar to mine and people here truly believe in lifelong learning, which is something close to my heart.

My Executive MBA has just begun. I am incredibly happy with my cohort and am impressed with the high caliber of the lecturers. They are not only knowledgeable, but also have been able to make the eight-hour marathon sessions we have on weekends dynamic and enjoyable.

First Careers Beers networking event

Although the MBA is a time when one needs to balance coursework, lectures, and personal life, my cohort bonded immediately. We take advantage of the amazing networking opportunities and social gatherings the school organizes. Having an environment and a school that is so supportive and encourages these social interactions is ideal for networking, which is another one of my reasons for selecting Cass.

I don’t know what to expect next in my career, but I feel there is enough gas left in the tank to propel me again into new challenges and exciting situations. I know this MBA will lay down the business foundations I desire to acquire. Studying at Cass will guide me towards the skills I’ll need to once again set sail in my lifelong journey of personal development and fulfilment.

Leonardo G. Alves, PhD

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