Stuart Pendlebury (MBA 2010)

Stuart Pendlebury

What attracted you to studying an MBA at Leeds University Business School? 

After searching the internet, I chose the Business School due to its high ranking MBA programme and its reputation for research with the University of Leeds being a member of the Russell Group. Additionally, its location is close to my home in York and this was important as I have a wife and two young children.

What was it about the MBA course in particular that you found the most relevant to you? 

I found the broad syllabus to be attractive and I could identify aspects that would be directly applicable to my industry (pharmaceuticals and related healthcare industries), such as an option module on the management and exploitation of intellectual capital. Intellectual capital is of the upmost importance in my industry and many of the current challenges faced by pharmaceutical companies relate to their reduced product pipelines and therefore lower levels of prospective intellectual property.

And what else did you enjoy about studying here? 

The best part of my studies at Leeds University Business School was the opportunity to study such a diverse range of disciplines covering every aspect of business from corporate finance, economics, strategy and accountancy to organisational behaviour, human resource management and decision theory. I particularly enjoyed the high standard of teaching that really allowed one to develop a deep and critical understanding of each subject.

Another aspect of my studies that I enjoyed was the project work and particularly the development of a hypothetical business plan. The preparation of the business plan was a group project and I thoroughly enjoyed working within the multicultural team. I feel that this project allowed us to draw on our different professional and cultural experiences and to combine the knowledge we had developed across many of the subjects that we were currently studying.

Completing my dissertation project with Pfizer Health Solutions was one of the highlights of my MBA. Not only was this an opportunity to work within such a prestigious pharmaceutical company but also to communicate with many of the leading thinkers in health care organisational improvement in the UK.

Where were you in your career when you decided to embark upon the Leeds MBA, and how did the MBA help you widen your career choices? 

My career aspirations when I began my MBA were to obtain positions with a higher level of seniority and strategic involvement within pharmaceuticals or related industries. I arrived at a point in my career where I had spent number of years within lower level project/research office manager positions and felt that I needed a higher level degree and greater business acumen to achieve career progression. My career had previously been largely focused on research management. The MBA has provided me with the confidence and opportunity to consider more strategic and business oriented positions such as my current role.

And what is your current role and with which employer?

My current position is Health Economics and Outcomes Research Manager for Lundbeck SAS in Paris. Lundbeck is a Danish multinational pharmaceutical company that is exclusively focused on mental health and central nervous system disorders.

My role is to contribute towards the development of the global outcomes research dossier and associated strategic documents in preparation for the launch of Lundbeck’s next mood disorder product. The role therefore includes such activities as the planning and commissioning of health economic and market research, the development of strategic planning and product positioning documentation and the development of health technology appraisal submissions to be provided to national bodies such as the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Thinking specifically about your current role, what did you take from your MBA course that you could provide on a day to day basis at work? 

I feel that the breadth of understanding of business and knowledge of associated language I developed during my MBA has provided me with the confidence and ability to communicate effectively within senior management environments. In particular an understanding of marketing and the ability to consider the international business perspective has been particularly useful in my role.

One aspect of my studies that surprisingly was directly applicable to my current role was the understanding of decision theory I developed in the module management decision making. My knowledge of decision theory has been particularly useful as many international regulatory and health technology appraisal bodies are currently considering the use of decision tools such as multi-criteria decision analysis to improve their decision processes and increase the transparency of their assessment of health technologies.

Where do you see your professional future going, and how do you see your Leeds MBA contributing to your plans? 

My ambition is to continue to obtain positions of increasing seniority within the pharmaceutical/health care industry or related consultancy. Alternatively I may also consider finding an opportunity to utilise the knowledge I have gained to date to help in the development of lobbying campaigns for patient advocacy groups.

I believe that my current position will assist inmy career progression as it has a strong strategic focus and a wider international perspective (including Canada and most of the markets in Europe). My career experience has previously been largely centred on health care product development in the UK, Australia and USA.

How did you find the facilities at the Business School and the region in general? 

I felt that in general the facilities at the Business School were good and the standards of teaching were excellent. Although the course could be very demanding I found a good spirit of camaraderie among the majority of my MBA colleagues.

Although originally from Yorkshire and I have spent most of my professional career in Oxford. For the four years prior to my MBA I lived in South Australia. Coming back to study in Yorkshire therefore felt like rediscovering the region. I feel that Leeds has a great deal to offer culturally with thriving theatres, excellent museums, great nightlife and a wide variety of good quality restaurants.

What advice would you offer to students or alumni looking to pursue a similar career?

I obtained my current role mainly as a consequence of my previous health economics experience. I would suggest that the best route for students who wish to gain positions with pharmaceutical companies that do not have previous pharma experience would be through the companies MBA/recruitment programmes.

Finally, what will stand out in your memory about your time here?

I believe that my defining memory of studying the MBA will always be the sense of achievement obtained from completing such a challenging course with many diverse subjects in which I had no previous knowledge. I would recommend Leeds University Business School to others considering an MBA as the quality and breath of teaching is excellent and the school provides exposure to the most current research.