‘Like McKinsey On Steroids:’ Cass EMBA Launches His Own Strategy Consulting Firm

Six months into an Executive MBA at Cass Business School, Jono Marcus resigned from his role as CEO to launch his own consultancy

Jono Marcus decided to do an MBA on his wedding day. Previously the CEO of a bespoke software firm in London, he opted for Cass Business School’s Executive MBA program – ranked 31st in the world and 5th in the UK by the Financial Times.

Six months into the two-year, part-time program, he was inspired to leave his CEO role and launch his own business, business strategy consulting firm TigerCat.

Described by Roche – a Swiss multinational healthcare company – as “like McKinsey on steroids,” Jono’s consultancy goes beyond raw data and helps business leaders delve deeper into their organizations, to ensure company culture and market positioning align.

Jono previously featured as a regular commentator on the future of digital for BBC Radio Leeds. He’s a seasoned executive with over a decade’s experience in digital and brand marketing to his name.

On the Cass EMBA, he’s not alone. In the 2018 EMBA class, 57 students representing 21 different nationalities share an average of 12 year’s professional experience between them.

Jono overcame severe dyspraxia as a child - to work his way up the corporate ladder - and credits it with his authentic leadership style. Now, he advises top-level executives from some of the world’s leading firms.

How did the idea for TigerCat come about?

The journey to TigerCat started a long time ago. As a very young child, I had severe dyspraxia (bad co-ordination) and the prevailing wisdom was that I should not be sent into mainstream school.

But my parents believed I was being underestimated. A good mainstream school took a chance on me and some unforgettable school teachers pushed me and encouraged me to be the best I could be, finding ways around and directly through my coordination problems. They even rather disastrously allowed me to play percussion in the school band! I knew I ‘owed one’ to a lot of people, so pushed myself incredibly to live to what I felt they expected of me.

These people made a big impact on me and showed me the value of looking at things from all angles, to help other people achieve more – more than most think they should.

TigerCat is the most authentic vehicle for me to try and do the same thing for top-level executives whom I believe in, as they deal with massive organizational and commercial challenges. The firm allows me to deep dive into these peoples’ worlds from all angles and provide them with a clearer way forward.  

Where are you at right now with your business? What do you hope to achieve?

The business is six months old and we have advised clients including blue chip organizations such as Unilever and Roche; fast-growing companies such as Makers Academy and PRC Elite; and startups such as BuzzRamp and Road Grand Tours; as well as a major investment bank. In terms of the future, I simply want to provide the best possible business strategy consultancy to our clients current and new.

Why did you decide to pursue an Executive MBA at Cass?

On my wedding day, I met a Gatsby-esque businessman called David Graham – who I now consider a friend – who credited everything he had to his Harvard MBA. I decided to pursue an MBA program, and chose the Cass EMBA because it’s highly-ranked, close to my office, and because I found the sample lecture outstanding.

I found the application process very enjoyable, and meeting the academic course director didn’t even feel like an interview. Getting a scholarship made the fees manageable. It was the icing on the cake!

How has the Cass EMBA helped you in starting your own business?

The EMBA has given me a breadth of knowledge outside of the disciplines I had worked at a senior level in, such as: Human Resources, Financial Markets, and Business Analytics. These disciplines were entirely new to me.

The volume of businesses we review in case-study form on a monthly basis in lectures has certainly strengthened speed of thought and access to the lecturers for advice has not hurt at all. The best thing about the EMBA experience so far has been Organizational Behavior lectures with Professor Cliff Oswick.

Confidently starting TigerCat without my EMBA studies would have been very tough; and my cohort have been very encouraging and providers of tough-love in terms of very vocally believing I should just go for it. However, it is my wife’s and children’s unconditional support that has mattered most.

If you're considering starting an Executive MBA this year and would like to know more about the Cass program, contact the recruitment team at cass-mba@city.ac.uk

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