Head of Strategy, Risk and Assurance, Yorkshire Water
Executive MBA 2015
How did you hear about Leeds University Business School and why did you choose to study here?
Despite being an undergraduate at Leeds over 20 years ago, I didn't really know much about the Business School until I started researching where to do an MBA. I chose the Leeds Executive MBA because my previous experience at the University of Leeds was such a positive one and I had confidence that the teaching and facilities would be excellent. The Business School and the courses are consistently highly ranked in all the relevant league tables. An open evening at Leeds convinced me that this was the place and the course for me. From a practical point of view, I live and work near the University and this has made studying alongside family life and a full time career a little easier!
Tell us about your course – why did you choose it? What elements of the course inspired you to study here?
The Executive MBA (EMBA) course at Leeds offers a great variety of modules across the full range of business subjects. Importantly for me, the strategy module was the first module taught and acted as a touchstone for the courses that followed. The particularly inspiring and unique part of the course is the 3 ‘challenges’ that take place over the first 18 months. These are done in different groups and provide you with the opportunity to put the theory into practice – putting together a business case for a new venture, taking on a boardroom role in proposing strategic options for a real Leeds business, and working as a team of consultants advising a real client on particular issues.
Did you receive a scholarship to study here? If yes, why did you apply for the scholarship and why do you think you were successful? What did it mean to you to receive it and how did it help you?
Yes, I received the Dean’s Scholarship. I applied for it since the academic fees were prohibitive for self-funding and I was reluctant to rely on my organisation to fund the full amount. I think I was successful because I have a strong academic background and career history alongside a continued passion for learning and sharing best practice. It meant a lot to me that I received it, not only to ease the financial burden but also as recognition of the hard work and achievement during my previous academic studies and my career to date.
What has been the best part of your studies so far – what have you enjoyed the most?
I have really enjoyed the modules on strategy, change management and organisational behaviours particularly. Working on our consultancy challenge with the National Police Air Service was also another highlight. One of the most enjoyable parts however has been getting to know the other EMBA students and share our experiences. Undertaking an EMBA has been extremely challenging alongside family commitments and a full time career and we have been able to support each other on the journey.
What are your career aspirations? Do you think the experience and skills you’ve gained here so far have helped you in your career plans? In what way?
Before embarking on the EMBA I had ambition to progress further in my career but was uncertain as to how to do this and in what specific area. Having now gained an overview of all facets of how business operates, I feel more informed about the direction my career is heading. I aspire to a main board position in the area of strategy, sustainability and organisational effectiveness.
How has your career progressed since joining the Business School? Have there been any notable highlights?
Joining the Business School coincided with taking on a new role and so the timing was perfect in being able to apply the learning from the EMBA to the new role and new team.
Where are you currently working, and what is your role?
I have been with Yorkshire Water for 12 years and my current role is Head of Strategy, Risk and Assurance.
Do you have any noteworthy achievements from your study at the Business School that you can tell us about? e.g. prizes, highest scores etc.
The biggest achievement for me has been balancing my studies with family life and my career. It has been a struggle at times and has involved lots of late nights and sacrifices but the learning from each module has been worth it. Since almost all of the assignments have involved my organisation as a case study, another achievement has been a greater understanding of different areas of my organisation and their interconnectivity. The EMBA has also given me confidence that I understand and appreciate all the various elements of business and can see where my strengths lie and where I can add value.
What has been your experience of the facilities, the staff, your peers, the city of Leeds and the Yorkshire region?
I have had an excellent experience at the Business School and loved every minute of it. The facilities have been conducive to learning – however, this has been such a change from my undergraduate days since the modules have been held off-campus and all materials are accessed online. The teaching staff have been really good, with some in particular having been excellent in how they have made the subject matter so relevant and interesting. I have felt supported by the EMBA staff in my studies and also in my career development.
Would you recommend the Business School to others who are considering studying here?
I would absolutely recommend the Business School to others – it’s a great place to study, I’ve learnt a lot and have been able to apply the learning within my role already… and I’ve met some like-minded people along the way.