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MBA To CFO: Bath MBA Explores Big Data Analytics And AI To Kick-Start Career In Finance

For Chris Frey, the Bath MBA is a launch-pad to a c-suite role. He’s explored hot topics like big data and artificial intelligence

Chris Frey chose to kick-start his career in finance with a full-time MBA at Bath School of Management.

After a decade working for big-name finance firms like Deutsche Bank, KPMG, and HSBC in South Africa and the UK, Chris wanted to get up to date on hot topics like big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), while crafting his own MBA journey.

The newly-designed Bath MBA – ranked among the top 60 full-time MBAs in the world by the Economist – was the perfect fit.

Throughout the 12-month MBA program, the ‘Bath Spine’ runs alongside the core curriculum and elective courses, with students developing their soft skills and applying their theoretical learnings in consulting projects for real firms.

Rather than a final MBA dissertation, Bath MBA students work on five different projects over the course of the year. Chris explored operations at a local craft beer brewery, marketing at online food retailer Gousto, implementing AI at a leading law firm, and developed his own startup project in the travel tech space.

Around 96% of Bath MBAs land jobs within six months of graduation. Chris is looking for finance roles in startups across London. His aim: become a CFO.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Bath?

It’s been 10 years since I graduated from university, so it felt like a good time to refresh and improve my business knowledge, especially in ‘new’ areas like sustainability, big data and social media. I also wanted to learn more about different industries and business functions to build up more commercial acumen.

I chose Bath due to its flexibility in structuring the course content. With a background in finance, it was important for me to have the choice of courses that provided new exposure. I knew that Bath was the best program for me.

 What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?

Be sure of a good cultural fit with the school. The Bath MBA is more collaborative than competitive, unlike some other top schools, and there’s a real sense of comradery and friendship within the cohort.

It’s a small cohort of just 45 students, so you build good relationships with almost everyone – but that also means there’s no place to hide and everyone is expected to make a contribution.

You also need to be clear about what you want to achieve from the course from quite early on, and structure your MBA so that you achieve it.

What stands out from your Bath MBA experience? 

The multi-suite project is a big differentiator for Bath. Instead of just doing one big dissertation, we do five independent projects, providing a much broader experience. I have worked with three companies, ranging from a large corporate, to a travel startup and an award-winning app, spanning topics like strategy, data and artificial intelligence.

A highlight for me was our entrepreneurship module, which ran throughout the year. I led a team to start a platform in the travel technology space which we pitched to an external panel and ended up winning a main prize.

How have you profited?

Personal development underpins the program. I learned a lot about myself and my leadership style. I feel like I’ve gained a lot of confidence as a professional.

We also work in very diverse groups throughout the year, so you get a good feel for your role in a team and how adaptable you need to be when working with people from all different backgrounds. The pace of the course is incredibly fast and my multi-tasking skills have definitely improved!

What are your plans for the future?

I’m looking to work in a fast-growing London-based company with strong values, that offers broad exposure to the business and the opportunity to make an impact. I’d like to focus more on the commercial side of the business where I can put my analytical skills and keen interest in data and strategy to good use. I love the fast pace of the startup world where anything can happen.

As a chartered accountant, I feel at home in the finance function and the MBA has broadened my skillset to enable me to reach the CFO level in the next few years.

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