Nicola Cardy quit her job as a CEO to pursue a full-time MBA at the University of Bath School of Management. Now, she’s starting two ethical businesses.
A seasoned businesswoman and mother of two, Nicola has almost twenty years’ experience in industries ranging from health and fitness to HR. She started her own property and dance businesses in the UK.
And she broke into the c-suite, leading the turnaround of Bristol-based non-profit Learning Partnership West, before joining the Bath MBA.
At Bath, Nicola got the opportunity to take a step back, network internationally, and reevaluate what she wanted from her career. 98% of Bath MBAs land new roles within six months of graduation. But Nicola turned down jobs at big corporates to take the leap back into entrepreneurship.
She visited India during her MBA, where she came up with the idea for her ethical fashion line Chynti, designed to empower women in India. She’s also started her own leadership coaching business – Lead4Good - focused on business ethics and social impact.
Despite her vast and varied experience, she wouldn’t be where she is today without the Bath MBA.
Why did you decide to quit your job as a CEO to pursue an MBA at Bath?
The MBA was always in the back of my mind. You get to a point where you either continue on the same path, or you start to look at life differently. I was at a time in life when I thought I’d like to do something for myself.
I wanted to learn and challenge myself with lots of different people from different backgrounds. When I looked into Bath, I was taken by the international mix of the MBA class.
Plus, Bath has an excellent reputation as a university. I wanted to learn more about ethical business and corporate social responsibility. Bath was a place where I could explore what I was passionate about.
How did the idea to start Chynti come about?
I’ve always believed that business can be a force for good. In the past, the businesses that I’ve been involved in have always been secondary to my full-time job. Now, the MBA has freed me from a lot of things that would have held me down before.
Chynti came out of my MBA dissertation; researching business models that empower women in India. A good friend and MBA colleague invited me to India. And there, I met with different ethical providers set up to support women with artisan trades.
We’re starting with a line of handbags. And we’re making a statement that beauty and style can also be ethical. It’s a different kind of business model. We’ve set up as an ethical business right from the start; all through the supply chain and in every way that we operate.
Would you be where you are right now without the Bath MBA?
No, I wouldn’t! As you become more senior in roles, you take on a lot of responsibility. That weighs fairly heavy. It’s not easy to free your mind for something different.
The MBA has allowed me to step back from an extremely busy work life and look at things differently. The whole process has brought me to this point and helped me get back in touch with where I started in life, my values and what I believe in.
What is the future for women in business?
In the UK, we are in a better position than a lot of other countries. We’re starting to see women move into all sort of different roles. Just in my lifetime, there’s been a massive change, and I’m sure that will continue.
As a woman in the boardroom, you still need to speak up and be heard. That’s quite an art. We do still have a society that perhaps would say men’s opinions are more valuable than women’s.
How have you found combining family and business?
Bringing up my children is more important to me than a career. That has sometimes been a difficult path to tread. But I’ve realized my importance as a role model for my children; that children don’t take in all that you say but they take in what you do. That’s one of the things that inspired me to really move forward with my career.
What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?
Not all MBA programs are the same. Do your research carefully about the different schools and what they’re offering. Think about what you really want to get out of it and the areas that you might want to develop. And go to a place that you’ll enjoy. You’re going to be there for at least a year. It’s intense and you need to feel comfortable.