As one of the UK's best-ranked business schools, Cranfield School of Management has some experience producing business leaders.
The school's list of notable alumni includes high-flying executives like Lord Karan Billimoria, founder of Cobra Beer, and John McFarlane, the chairman of Barclays bank.
It's no surprise that on Cranfield's MBA program, leadership development is a crucial element. Compulsory modules include courses on the personal and professional foundations of leadership and change, two modules on 'Challenges for Leaders', and a 'Leadership in Action' course.
For Cranfield MBA Manish Saraswat, this focus on leadership was exactly what he was looking for. Originally from India, Manish had been working as a business project manager at software-industrial company Honeywell India, where he was in charge of the profit and loss of its largest oil and gas account, worth over $33 million.
Despite this high level of responsibility, Manish felt that he wanted to progress in his career, seeking larger leadership roles in international corporates. He enrolled in the MBA at Cranfield School of Management, and now he’s working as a pathways operations manager at Amazon in the UK.
BusinessBecause caught up with Manish to find out more.
How did the job at Amazon come about?
From the very first day, Cranfield's careers [service] was available to guide the development of a professional CV.
Beyond the CV, the personal development towards the interview process is carried out in a very structured way. There are simulated assessment centers which are carefully monitored and feedback is given on all aspects of performance. I [also] had a dedicated career coach who would meet me at scheduled intervals to monitor my progress.
The coaching was also available when my interviews were a few days away to get me into the groove and to polish away any rough edges. All this focus and the resources the university spends on each and every student is something I still feel thankful for.
I was also connected to alumni within Amazon from the very start, which helped me understand the work culture within the company—I could ask them my questions and get mentored.
How did the Cranfield MBA help you transition to work in the UK?
Some of the best lectures during the MBA were about culture—how such an intangible element affects different aspects of businesses and its profits.
Having a small class size with a diverse cohort gave ample opportunities to hear perspectives and opinions. How to convey ideas to colleagues from different parts of the world is something I learnt while studying at Cranfield. Developing the awareness that we are all driven by very similar passions but may have different ways of expressing [them] is something that Cranfield has taught me very well.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Cranfield School of Management?
I’ve always had a desire to learn and understand how the world works. Being a student of science and technology, I at first thought studying engineering would give me many answers. However, as I progressed in my career, I realized that so much of the world is driven by people and it is the people element that I wanted to develop while mastering the principles of running a good business.
I had received an offer of admission from two top-tier UK business schools. The Cranfield MBA ticked all the right boxes when it came to rankings, brand value, and prestige. However, the standout feature was its focus on developing leadership. This focus became evident from my first interaction with the school on its website to my Skype interview with the program recruiter.
What was the highlight of your MBA experience?
During the MBA, I was learning about business from brilliant professors and there were times where I would have an 'Aha!' moment and different concepts would suddenly fall into place. There were times I would be working with talented entrepreneurs and I’d see the knowledge from my classroom become useful and make me feel happy.
However, the single most pleasant memory is from my time at the International Business Assignment (IBA). We were in a new country taking on several challenging assignments and working through the week at our hotel.
It is this trip I feel is my best memory of the MBA because we went as colleagues and came back as friends. This group of brilliant, talented and dear friends, I believe is my single biggest achievement during the MBA [at Cranfield School of Management].
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Cranfield School of Management MBA & DBA Programs
Bedford - United Kingdom