Tag: career

Choosing the Full-time MBA: Follow your gut instinct

Choosing the right business school for you

Selecting a business school can be a very confusing process.

There are hundreds within the UK and thousands globally. The top schools will teach you marketing, accounting, HR, entrepreneurship and offer a range of exciting elective modules. They’re triple accredited and rank highly in the FT rankings. They will all ensure high percentages of post-degree employability and have notable alumni and promising partnerships among globally renowned firms.

This can make selection of a business school very challenging. To make the best choice, I came up with the following criteria: location, quality, size and gut feeling, all which led me to study the Full-time MBA at the Business School (formerly Cass).

I hope that this account of my selection process and experience with the Business School can help to guide anyone making one of the biggest commitments to change of their professional career.

Peter Walls

Location

The first level of selection was done purely on location.

I started my professional career in London. As such, I am fortunate to find much of my professional and personal support network in a city which is home to a number of globally renowned business schools. This proximity to my ‘nearest and dearest’ made it very challenging to look beyond London.

I attended a number of open days and even interviewed outside of London, however when it came to decisions and prioritisation, the location put the London-based schools leagues ahead.

Prestige, quality and investment

A second challenge was to find a balance between three measures: prestige, quality and investment.

When looking at such a significant investment of time, opportunity cost and— let’s be honest— money, the return on investment was a key consideration. Programmes vary in length, generally one to two years for full time programmes and financial investment.

In addition to the quality of the teaching, the name and prestige of the school play a significant role in the cost.

There are a variety of scholarships, bursaries and financial awards available, so finding those which I qualified for and could feasibly be awarded also had an influence.

My priority at this stage was to ensure the highest possible quality of education and prestige while remaining in the realms of the financially viable.

By this stage I had a shortlist that you could count on one hand and a very challenging decision to make. I applied to all the schools on my shortlist, attended networking events, webinars, open days and interviews. I asked them about their unique selling points.

Size

Cohort sizes are generally between 50 at the smallest size, up to three or four hundred students for some of the larger programmes. Research within my connections and network lead me to favour a smaller programme.

Size helped me to narrow down the shortlist to three schools – each of which with extremely impressive teaching faculty and wider teams. They all had small and intimate cohorts, guaranteeing a personal experience whilst still ensuring a high degree of diversity.

Full-time MBA: Class of 2021

Gut instinct

In the end, the final decision came down to gut instinct and the quality of candidate experience. The Business School team were helpful, supportive, challenging and genuine. They were always quick to respond to queries and offered flexibility in the application timeline.

The open day was remarkably fun, especially the sample lecture which was delivered by the charismatic programme director. Dr Paolo Aversa’s introduction was entertaining, engaging and down to earth. He described the Business School’s Full-time MBA programme as “the Vodka Redbull of MBAs” and one with teamwork and cooperation at its heart, rather than competition, which greatly appealed to me.

The interview process was informed and caring. My final interview was with a senior faculty member, where other schools had me speaking with another member of recruitment. The interviewing Professor offered me invaluable advice on how to choose a school and his inquisitive nature and passion for his subject and education were highly infectious.

The whole application process made me feel highly valued— a person rather than an applicant, and a true asset to the future cohort. All things considered, when waiting for my final offers, during the agonising days of refreshing my email every thirty seconds, I knew that the offer I was truly excited to receive was the offer from the Business School.

Questions to ask yourself

My advice to business school and MBA applicants would be to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Think about your personal balance of investment, prestige and quality when looking at the schools. Do any of them offer a specialty that resonates with you and your future career goals?
  2. Find potential locations: cities and countries. What about them appeals to you?
  3. Do you want a big, competitive cohort of 300+ or a smaller, collaborative one?
  4. Go with your gut. How do you feel about the interview process? Which school’s email are you waiting for? At this stage, you’ve got to do what feels right to you. 

Welcome!

Peter Walls, Full-time MBA (2021)

Lessons in resilience: using my MBA to adapt to Covid-19 in the travel industry

Growing up in poverty taught me the importance of education.

I vowed to work hard while obtaining professional qualifications to strive for a better life. I am driven to finding the keys to success and my drive has shaped me into a better and more authentic leader.

I have worked as a European tour operator serving Asian travel agents for 16 years and I am passionate about ensuring all of our travellers have the best quality experiences. I endeavour to make sure our travellers enjoy amazing moments as they discover the unique cultures of each incredible travel destination on our list.

Cass provides an exceptional learning journey and powerful networking opportunities. I am inspired by the energy of my cohort: each is a positive professional and an exceptional global leader. My cohort are committed to sharing and contributing their valuable experiences, knowledge and ideas to make the business world a better place. I also love the fact that Cass promotes women’s leadership and provides mentorship and skills workshops for women.

We have now shifted to online teaching in light of the current pandemic situation and I am impressed by how the lessons have remained highly engaging. Our lecturers have demonstrated a world-class example as to how learning should be: dynamic, exciting and insightful. The programme has opened my eyes and taught me how to apply what I have learned immediately into my current organisation during this challenging time in the travel industry. I am learning to assist and support my organisation’s President with business planning for the future. In addition, I have gained confidence in my leadership skills and my ability to develop strategies to overcoming business challenges. I am able to identify the opportunities to restructure the organisation and ensure our business is sustainable and aligned with our global core values and beliefs.

I can’t express how proud I feel right now knowing I am not only making the right choice in embarking on the MBA course. Studying the Modular Executive MBA at Cass has been the best choice because I am surrounded by a good mix of people who have invaluable knowledge and experience from diverse cultures, backgrounds and industries and have the same goals in mind. What could be more exciting than embarking on a new learning journey with a like-minded cohort for the next two years?

Vivian Kmiotek, Modular Executive MBA (2022)

 

Building a bridge to my future career: My Full-time MBA journey at Cass

An MBA programme is like a bridge that connects yourself from yesterday to your future self. Crossing this bridge is a journey. You unearth your skills of detecting problems and delivering compatible solutions by learning and practising mechanisms, methodologies and frameworks. The ingeniously designed campus life at Cass and studying on the Cass Full-time MBA, ranked top one-year programme in London by the Financial Times Global MBA rankings in 2020, have helped me build this bridge.

To define the trip, I would like to break it into three categories, being described by the triple ‘re’: rediscover yourself, reshape your thinking and mindset and revitalise your transferable skills. The triple ‘re’ happens coherently and cohesively throughout the programme.

Rediscover yourself 

Our magical journey started with a careers orientation week. Self-awareness is one of the most popular words from then on. Truly knowing yourself is easier said than done.

We immersed ourselves into designed activities, including taking personality tests to know our strengths, following instructions to list life goals in time slots, reviewing personal profiles to examine previous performances, attending learning workshops to find out where we may have weaknesses and talked with the Careers and Professional Development Team.

Following all these activities, I got to know what the starting point was in my bridge and what my next steps needed to be to link the two points on this bridge.

Reshape your thinking and your mindset 

As a group of people who had achieved professional successes, we do not lack basic competences. What we are looking for is to become even more competent and to bring our skills from good to great.

What we share in common is our desire to develop a keen eye to see the core causes of work-related issues, to discover the logical structure to analyse problems and to develop our creative thinking to come up with solutions. All these things are already skills we have developed on the programme.

In class, the core modules of the programme have taught us more than technical knowledge. Through numerous case studies and discussions, we learned how to decipher the main clue from an abundance of information, how to draw a whole picture of the situation strategically, build up an independent analysis system and how to create a personal toolkit to solve problems.

Out of class, the two and half days of professional development teach us how to handle the relationship between an individual and a group. We investigated leadership and groupwork models, such as the leadership/followership model, role-modelling, contribution and regular debriefing.

We learned how to find appropriate solutions under strange circumstances by learning about how to choose a correct direction, the best way of doing an appraisal of task, and looking into creative trails, agile progress and independent thinking.

When it comes to soft skills, we learned more about how a good spirits and trust in a team can help individuals and groups under pressure: it is important to remain calm, build trust, collaborate, remain open-minded and to build resilience.

Revitalise your transferable skills 

Practise, practise, practise! Teamwork, exams, integration week, strategic projects, international consultancy week and various events provide loads of opportunities for us to test what we have learned.

Studying and working together with a cohort of 30 nationalities is exciting and memorable. Getting convergencies within a multicultural group needs mutual understanding, smart influencing and persuading and thorough communication. Critical analysis is the underlying skill tested by exams.

Working very hard for four days to solve a mixed problem with lovely group of members from day to night was an excellent and interesting experience. Swiftly understanding the core question, making up a logical structure and defining efficient actions for each person are major factors for success.

The two consulting projects we undertook with real companies were amazing experiences that allowed us to use all of the knowledge and skills we have gained throughout the Full-time MBA, particularly the ability to dig out the strategic problem and use a top-down method to delegate the problem mutually, exclusively, collectively and exhaustively.

I have also found that attending events is the best way to network and learn fresh ideas from talented people.

A special episode of the trip 

When the MBA programme is disrupted by an unprecedented event such as Covid-19, what can we do? There are multiple choices and using the triple ‘Re’ is one option I suggest. Analysing the situation objectively and strategically by using tools learned from lectures made me keep independent thinking.

Our “Achieving Your Potential” week at the Sandhurst Military Academy, which was a key part of our professional development training, reminded me how to make myself become calm, peaceful, positive and resilient under pressure. The week gave me extra energy and taught me how to encourage and console my cohort.

Today, we are learning to exercise our leadership skills during group assignment remotely. I found more extensive engagement, trust and positive spirits in my group, which we have used as pillars to maintain collaboration when face-to-face meetings were replaced by virtual ones. Our great effort in adapting to a challenging time and new ways of working meant my team was awarded a distinction as part of a recent team group project.

I would also like to extend my thanks to the School. The dedication, support and collaboration of the staff has helped us continue studying the programme in these unprecedented times and has also taught us how to cope with unexpected global crises.

As I reflect on what I hope to be the next point of my bridge, I hope to be a person who has strong insight into the essence of things in this changeable world. My MBA journey is leading me to that point. Covid-19 can disrupt our physical distance temporarily but cannot disrupt the pursuit of our dreams.

 

Lin Yang, Full-time MBA (2020)

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