Alexandra Chapman—entrepreneur, expert consultant, and president of Cranfield School of Management’s alumni chapter in Australia—was a trendsetter for women in business when she completed her MBA in 1988.
An IT specialist at the time, she sought the credentials needed to be listened to when she spoke about wider business strategy in the boardroom. Now, she’s keen to stress the advantages of an MBA from Cranfield in the UK for other Australian business professionals.
“I describe going to Cranfield like a combination of a sleep deprivation experiment, boot camp, finishing school, and a lifelong friend maker,” she says. “I don’t know of another school that crams in as many hours as Cranfield.
“Everyone who goes through the school says that the leadership and management courses are outstanding. There’s also a truly international nature to the cohort, which is invaluable. You’ll meet people from Africa, Russia, and all over Europe. It’s a small and incredibly diverse cohort.”
Cranfield’s alumni network comprises of over 28,000 grads operating in over 130 countries worldwide. The school’s average MBA cohort size is just 50, meaning students get the chance to make close personal relationships throughout the one-year, full-time program.
Since graduating, Alex has taken on the role of president of Cranfield’s Australian alumni society and, together with a team of highly-skilled Australian grads, has been doing everything possible to provide other Australians with the same opportunities she had.
“There isn’t a big awareness of business education in Australia,” Alex admits—reflected by relatively low number of Australians sitting the GMAT each year. “It’s not in the culture. There are a large number of internationally-recognized organizations who do value business education, but there are lot of companies in Australia who don’t.”
In Alex’s eyes, the GMAT test also doesn’t help Australian applicants accurately reflect their ability. “Unless Australians really study, they tend not to do that well because there’s a bias in the Australian education system to literacy skills and not mathematics,” she says.
Despite these difficulties, Cranfield School of Management’s Australian alumni chapter is one of the most active and, in 2005, Alex helped establish the Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship Foundation (CAASF).
Now in its 12th year, the CAASF scholarship has helped 22 talented Australians undertake the MBA program at Cranfield.
The scholarship, Alex says, is a community effort with fellow board members pitching in. With a ‘pay-it-forward’ ethos, Alex is hoping they create long-term success for Australians in business.
“We consider that we are playing a long game and, in another few years, we hope our early winners start to get to senior leadership positions—then we will see the fruits of our labors.”
The interest from global business for Australians to be involved in further business education is demonstrated by John McFarlane, the chairman of Barclays Bank, and his involvement. With no funding when the scholarship was founded, John McFarlane underwrote the first CAASF scholarship.
Now, it’s funded by alumni around Australia who chip in to the cash component, but John has still handed out 11 of the last 12 years’ awards.
With Cranfield School of Management’s MBA program triple-accredited and ranked among the top 10 one-year MBA programs outside the US by Forbes in 2017, there’s good reason for Australians to look to Cranfield for further business education.