Nat Southworth

Entrepreneur, Founder of bricksub.com

Executive MBA 2018

Why did you decide to undertake an EMBA at Leeds University Business School?

I went to an open evening to look at the course with a view to doing a full time one-year course. I was planning to take a belated gap year before finding a job closer to home in Harrogate. However, the more I heard about the Executive programme the more it appealed. The key difference is that the Executive course takes two years, and most people do it whilst maintaining full-time employment. This brings its own challenges, but offers a huge benefit in that your classmates are all senior managers or rising stars in their respective companies. Ultimately I now have 34 business leaders as peers and this network will develop over time. Trust me, this network is just as important as the academic part of this course.

How has it helped your career?

During the EMBA course we don’t just do academic essays or exams. We have an appointed Executive Coach who encourages you to work through personal reflection about what truly motivates you, and to understand how we maximise our true potential alongside this reflective work we complete group exercises.In making the commitment to a two year EMBA course I decided to couple one life goal with another and start my own business.

Three months after starting my EMBA I launched my first business, www.addedsmile.com, which is a marketing business offering support to companies looking to develop and grow in the UK & Eire. This coincided with completing modules on Strategic Management, Marketing, and Finance. This business has similarity to my old “day job”.

The first group exercise on the course is called the “New Venture Challenge” in which you work as a team to launch a business idea. I enjoyed this task and working with my group. It made me recognise that I wasn’t completely satisfied with Added Smile Ltd and I needed to look at an additional challenge. Six months later I launched www.bricksub.com and we are making exciting progress. It is a toy subscription business and I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed working through every step of its delivery. 

What are the benefits for an employer from encouraging staff to take part in an EMBA?

Having been an employer, and having watched the rest of my cohort go through the learning exercises, I think employers have to invest in their future leaders. The MBA tests your all-round intellectual skills in strategy, finance, operations, HR, and if you encourage candidates to embrace it, they get exposed to a lot of personal feedback that will help them professionally develop into a much better manager, coach and ultimately a business leader. 

I think with the Executive MBA you also benefit from the experience shared by other students. Our group has people with some unbelievable talents who haven't necessarily recognised this in their day-to-day environment but the group exercises encourage acknowledgement of what people have to offer. I've learned a lot from others which is all part of it!

What advice would you give to others who are thinking of doing an EMBA?

Absolutely go for it. But, before you leap in, take the time to speak to people who are currently on the course. You can contact the Business School MBA team to find out when there is an open event or ask them if there is someone you can talk to who is doing it right now. It’s a major commitment in time, and money so you need to know you definitely want to do it.

The EMBA cannot guarantee you success but the course encourages you to challenge your status quo at work and yourself. It has reignited my passion for business, and given me the proverbial shove to go out and do what I want to do. As I now enter my second year I’m busier, and juggling to fit in the assignments but I look forward to every session as I’m going to learn something new. It might just generate the next business idea for me!  

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