Iain Todd (EMBA 2016)

Iain Todd

Tell us about your degree - why did you choose it? What elements of the degree inspired you to study it?       

I had spent most of my career working in project management. An example of this was leading a £350 million project to deliver secure communications services to the fire and rescue services. Though I was comfortable in the role, I wanted to progress into general management but didn't feel I had the skills to achieve it. This is what spurred me on to do an Executive MBA.

The MBA covered all aspects of business from marketing and strategy to HRM, finance, economics and beyond, as well as optional electives. However, one of the main elements of the course that interested me was business strategy. What it means. How to develop a plan. How to make sure that your business survives and then grows. All of these areas were really appealing to me.

What was the best part of your studies here? What did you enjoy the most?    

One of the main attractions of the Leeds EMBA to me was their focus on leading change. The ability to work in groups on specific projects, covering a wide array of topics, was also very appealing. This gives people practical experience and the opportunity to work closely with very bright people - which helps accelerate your own learning, too.

The course was delivered in a way that enabled me to do a real-life business exercise and that was very enjoyable. For example, one of the tasks involved creating a new enterprise. This was a really good opportunity to learn entrepreneurial skills such as;

- Market requirements

- Market testing

- Product creation

- Product marketing

- Finances - investment through to future cash flows

- Setting up the business

- Business operations

These are all really valuable skills to learn in business and provide the best possible foundations for someone to start making a difference in the business from day one.

What were your career aspirations when you arrived? Do you think the experience and skills you gained here will help/helped you in your future career plans? In what way?       

I came in as a Project Director and I’m now a Sales Director. I wouldn’t be in this position without having done the MBA. It’s taken me to the next level of my career, given me access to different elements of the business, improved my personal finances and given me the commercial experience to eventually run my own business.

How has your career progressed since leaving the Business School? Have there been any notable highlights?

My career has progressed in the sense that I first moved into an Account Director role, which then led to my current position at Masternaut as a UK Sales Director; which is fantastic. In my first year in this role, we have increased sales by 28% and finished the year a million pounds under budget on churn, which has obviously had a positive impact on the business.

Where are you currently working, and what is your role?           

I am currently working as a National Sales Director at Masternaut Ltd in Aberford, Leeds.

What are your ambitions for the future?             

To get into general management. Though it’s going really well at the moment, I still have a lot to learn off my peers before taking the next step, which would ideally involve leading a business unit within the organisation.

Do you think your experience and skills gained here will help you in your future career plans? In what way?   

Absolutely. You learn a lot about the topics on the EMBA, but it also teaches you to re-think how you learn in the first place, which, for an older gentleman such as myself - I’m turning 50 this year - is quite a revealing thing to discover. It has also equipped me with a lot of research skills. I’ve always been fairly autonomous when it comes to learning new skills, but am now far more autodidactic. I would say that this is one of the biggest gifts that the course has given me. It’s opened my eyes to a whole new world of business, people and finance. It’s honestly been like an awakening. I now understand why certain situations in business occur and how they can be controlled or manipulated to make my organisation more successful.

What was your impression/experience of the facilities, the staff, your peers, the student union, the City of Leeds and the region itself? What would you recommend to future students?

The facilities, food etc. are really good at Weetwood Hall, which is where the course was based away from the main campus. As a more mature student, I can’t really comment on the student union, nightlife etc. However, for those who aren’t that concerned with the attractions, having the modules offsite is probably a good thing, in terms of focus and fewer distractions.

I would say that most of the people on the executive MBA were around their mid-thirties on average. It was great to be part of an experienced group and listening to their views was really important. There were always lots of different opinions about lots of different topics so that in itself was really rewarding.

What would you say is your defining memory of studying here? (eg friendships made, confidence in your abilities, or any single event that you will always remember?) And would you recommend the Business School to others              

I would definitely recommend the business school to others and have two main takeaways from my time there. The first of these is critical thinking. Using unbiased reason, data and research to form judgements on situations is something that I will always treasure. The second is based more on what I’ve learned about myself, how I behave, how I think, and my general outlook on life.

The course has not only given me the ability to think critically but also the ability to think about myself and other people which, in my opinion, is a key part of leadership. These are the main skills that I will refer to, over and above any of the technical skills that I was taught.