When you want to make a career change – be it for personal or professional reasons – an MBA is often the best way to make it happen.
But choosing the right MBA program is as important as the decision itself. Richard Hinwood chose Cranfield University School of Management’s MBA, based in the UK, and thinks that the people you study with are an important part of the experience.
Why did you decide to begin an MBA program?
I’d already built up five years’ of practical work experience. I was enjoying my role, but I didn’t feel that I would progress by doing the same thing again for another year.
Cranfield actively seeks MBA candidates who have a greater number of years of pre-MBA work experience, which meant that I could develop more in one year at Cranfield than I could anywhere else.
What separated Cranfield School of Management from other business schools?
The Cranfield MBA isn’t just about business, but more importantly about management.
I wanted to work with and learn from people who brought a wealth of experience from other industries and cultures.There are more outstanding lecturers at Cranfield than I can sensibly name in this interview, but what sets them apart is their current business consultancy experience. They don’t just take the time to tell you what they know; they help you work out how you can use the same knowledge in your own career.
What are the main takeaways you got from the school’s program?
While people will forget both what you said and what you did, they’ll never forget how you made them feel. The Cranfield MBA helped me to understand that pre-MBA, I would naturally focus more on tasks than on people. It wasn’t necessarily the best approach to take in every circumstance.
A year later, I’m now far more likely to take the best approach in any given case. You really are tested emotionally, psychologically and culturally.
I understand far more about the values that different individuals can bring to a team. In the second term I was fortunate enough to sit next to James Hobrough, who used the MBA to transition away from the British Army. I learned so much from him about executing strategy, leadership and negotiation in practice, which has made all the difference in my post-MBA role.
It’s that sort of learning that made Cranfield stand out for me.
You started your career as a solicitor but shifted to business management-related roles. What triggered that career change?
I’d love to say that it was pure intuition on my part, but the reality is that it came from the recession giving me a short, hard slap. I’d always seen being a solicitor as a reliable career path, but it just didn’t feel like it when I qualified.
I realised that while I still had an interest in the law, I was more naturally suited to management.
You also play percussion – you performed at for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. What was the experience like?
Percussion and drums in particular fascinate me. Anyone can make a sound out of a drum, but the challenge is to make music from something that can’t produce a tune. I also love the versatility – there are just so many styles of world music that feature percussion in some way.
Several thousand of us stood in the middle of an empty stadium for about six hours in torrential rain rehearsing an imaginary athletes’ parade. I don’t know what Danny Boyle [organizer of the ceremony] had planned to do during that rehearsal, but he put those plans on hold and instead walked around the entire stadium and talked with each performer in turn and thanked us for our commitment.
It was a simple thing to do, but it motivated us far more than anything else could have on that day.
Please Enter the Code Below