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Published: 21 October 2015

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Where has your MBA taken you? We are keen to feature graduate stories to find out your career path since leaving Surrey.

If you would like to share your story, please contact Lucy Evans at l.a.evans@surrey.ac.uk

This issue, current student Ian Wickham, winner of a Surrey Business School Executive MBA scholarship, talks about the driving force behind his decision to study for his MBA and how he had found it so far.

Glass half full during a moment of realisation…

“Why don’t you enter?” my wife’s words drifted across as I lay horizontal and chilled on a garden lounger one warm Sunday back in May 2014. Realising that I was being asked a question took a few seconds to register, so I sat up and took a look at the article in the local paper I was handed and read the application thoroughly, interest building………….

I was in a stagnant place. I wasn’t enjoying my work with a large American corporation, had been doing the same style of work for a few years with various companies and, having risen to the role of sales director, by the time I was 34, was finding it increasingly difficult to get to the next level of management – pigeonholed into that ‘sales’ bracket.

The longer I continued to engage with corporate life, the more disillusioned I became. This was highlighted when, the day after I announced to work that I was undertaking an EMBA part-time and over the course of a two-year period, they decided my services were no longer required – something about my dedication to my work role.

This was the moment of realisation – time to make a real change - a glass half full moment – the moment I realised it was time for me to take control of what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go and to just go do it!

The Surrey EMBA is structured so that you, ideally, use the tools learned in the classroom in your working environment as you go; to dynamically put into practice the theory and methodology from day one, making an immediate impact on who you are as a manager. Whether you are working for a large organisation, smaller one, SME or a brand new business (which was my decided route), you have the capability of practising what you learn. This, in turn, allows you to be more confident in approach, taking the lead rather than standing back and waiting for others.

I have been involved in the course for a year now. It seems like I’m over halfway and there is light at the end of what has been, at times, a very long tunnel. Five modules in year one was a big ask and being able to balance work, the EMBA and home was a learning curve in its own right with its share of late night/early morning finishes to complete tasks and submit assignments.

I can honestly say I didn’t have a weekend from April through to the end of June this year. However, this has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I may have a few more grey hairs and carrying a bit more weight (you can forget sports and exercise) than before, however I would never have been in the place I am now, with the confidence I have gained to run my own business, had I not been undertaking this course in parallel.

Rather than having that previous pigeonholing feeling, I am now in a place whereby I can competently assess business structure and needs for the short and mid-term, budget effectively, understand our business value proposition and uniqueness in the market that will enable us to remain ahead of the competition.

There is no doubt that this whole exercise has made me stronger. Long may this continue as I head towards the completion of my studies and continue to build a successful business for the future.

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