Geoff Gerschke grew up in the state of Wisconsin, where he spent his childhood and adolescent years before enrolling at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study a bachelor’s degree in business. He was following in his parents’ footsteps, who also attended the university.
He says he doesn’t regret the time he spent there for a second, but on an exchange to Hong Kong during his degree he was given a glimpse of a completely different world. He’s adamant that opening his eyes to that world was the catalyst for him craving an international career.
“I always knew I wanted to try and get back into an international setting, whether professionally or for school, so that was one of my motivations for doing the MBA in London, at Cass Business School,” he explains.
Based in the heart of London, Cass offers MBA students exposure to “one of the true global cities”, Geoff says. Indeed, it was exposure to the hustle and bustle of the UK’s capital that persuaded him to stay after graduating—he’s just launched a consulting career with a boutique consulting firm, Q5, in the city.
By doing so, Geoff, who graduated from the Full-time Cass MBA class of 2018, has completed the fabled MBA career triple jump—changing industry, role, and country. Before he enrolled at Cass, he was working as a banking analyst for JP Morgan in Chicago.
Switching from JP Morgan to Q5 wouldn’t have been possible without the Business Mastery Project (BMP), though. The project, at the end of the Cass MBA, is an opportunity for students to put their MBA knowledge to the test and take control of their own, independent consulting project.
Students can either produce their own academic white paper, use their connections to source a project with a company of their choosing, or go through the Career and Professional Development Team, who source BMP-calibre projects for students.
Geoff went with the latter and ended up working with O2 on a project as part of the sales innovation team. He says that the BMP played a direct role in helping him secure his new role after graduating.
“To show that you can work in that kind of [environment] with a company across different functions shows that experience I might not have had from my previous professional life, but I can do as a result of the BMP and what I was working on,” he explains.
He also says that because the nature of the MBA at Cass Business School is very team focused—which helps develop vital collaborative soft skills—it’s nice to be given the opportunity to own your own work, to also develop the ability to work independently when the need presents itself.
“It was very rewarding for me,” Geoff asserts. “Being able to apply everything I’ve learned over the course of the year into a kind of capstone project, it culminates into a nice ending.”
The BMP also allows students to build proficiency to successfully work in today’s fast-paced, innovation-demanding business world. Geoff, who says he’s always sought to bring high energy and a positive attitude to any project or group work he’s undertaking, implies that skill is indispensable for MBAs today.
“Creativity and innovation are important for a variety of reasons, and I would argue that a key one is due to the pace of change that is being seen across a variety of industries at this time,” he says.
While creativity and innovation have connotations with today’s startup economy, they are equally as paramount among already established, multinational companies, Geoff explains. Thinking about creativity, he adds, is key for any role—a mantra, for him, that was highlighted during the Cass MBA BMP.
“O2 is far from a small startup company, but the primary question I sought to answer was built around creativity, in an effort to innovate their sales channels,” he explains. “I think the project itself is a good example of why creativity and innovation will be important for MBAs in the future.
“If you are not thinking this way now, then there is a strong chance incumbent and new, challenging competition will leave your company behind due to the pace of change!”