Graham Hogg served in the British commando forces for eight years before he decided to transition into the business world.
After an MBA from the UK’s Cranfield School of Management, he went into a successful corporate career, landing jobs at leading firms like Barclays and BP.
Now, he’s switched career paths again and taken the leap into entrepreneurship, co-running his own software company, Connectworxs, focused on big data and advanced analytics.
For Graham, the Cranfield MBA—ranked among the best in the UK by the Financial Times—was a life-changing experience. More than anything, it helped him realize his strengths and map out a career path based on them.
BusinessBecause caught up with Graham to find out more.
How has the Cranfield MBA helped you develop your business?
We’re helping enterprises unlock the potential of big data and advanced analytics through our product. My partner has deep expertize in the space and what I bring to the party is my experience in the forces in the intelligence world, but also behavioral science.
Cranfield is top in the world for organizational behavior. What I learned on the MBA about those behavioral dynamics in large organization is invaluable. I’m now also able to reach back to those professors and they help us with our product development. It’s great! I’ve gone back six years later and tapped into the school network as an academic resource.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Cranfield School of Management?
After the military, I wanted to get a broad education around all aspects of business, in the breadth of the MBA. I also wanted to immerse myself in a full-time program to meet people from all over the world with alternative perspectives.
What stood out about Cranfield was the diversity and the age range. I was 29 and didn’t want to be with students who were 26 without that life experience. I think European schools have it right with the average age. You need experience before you start.
What stands out from your MBA experience?
I remember drinking some deadly cocktails on an emerging economies trip in Sao Palo with a Russian guy, an Indian guy, and someone from China! I remember thinking this is such an amazing experience. We’re all friends from amazing parts of the world and we’re having fun.
It’s moments like that that you really remember. You don’t remember the accounting lessons; you remember the social experiences. One of those guys is now one of my best friends and someone I lean on. He helps me in loads of aspects in life—you can’t put a price on that.
The MBA also gave me a safe environment to learn about myself and identify what I’m good and not good at. The network is invaluable—I got my job at BP through an alumni connection who I then followed to Barclays. Ultimately, the MBA instilled humility and self-awareness. I learned a lot about myself from other students as well as experts in various fields.
What advice do you have for anyone considering an MBA?
I met a guy at Cranfield School of Management who flew his whole family there for the year and he inspired me. He had this fearless attitude.
I say, just go for it. Is it the right time? Can I afford it? It will never be the perfect time, so stop procrastinating and go for it.
Also, go to the best school you can get into. Don’t try and save money because there’s a difference between programs. I’ve met MBA students from all sorts of schools, and what I can say is go to the best.