Jeff Willcocks is the Managing Director at Trend Machinery and Cutting Tools Limited. He was asked to take over the management of the organisation on completion of his MBA and has been Managing Director since 2006.
What attracted you to choose Surrey and to study the MBA here?
The University was one that I had wanted to study at when finishing my A-Levels. Since I missed that opportunity on that occasion, I decided that should I do an MBA, I would study at Surrey.
The course also covered all the core subjects I wanted to study as part of an MBA. I was able to study the MBA part time as a distance learning student. I already had a demanding job and family commitments, so the flexibility of this course appealed to me. The course included a laptop computer and all the core course books. All in all, it had been well thought out.
What is your strongest memory of your time studying for the MBA?
The MBA course encouraged me to think differently. It stretched me and opened my mind.
What is the one thing you would say about Surrey to someone who didn’t know anything about it?
Surrey is an excellent place to learn. The resources and staff available provide an effective facility for learning. Whenever I needed assistance on the course a tutor was available to assist me.
How did you change as a person during your time as a Surrey postgraduate, and how has your time here influenced your life and career since then?
It is true what they say in that knowledge provides confidence. The course gave me a lot of knowledge and understanding. This led to me becoming increasingly confident in dealing with ‘General Management’ issues that previously had been outside my scope.
For instance, I became proficient in business planning and strategy, understanding Marketing and also developed more of an entrepreneurial flair.
I chose my dissertation subject for two reasons ...1) to bring together all the aspects of the course and 2) because I thought it would help me if I managed to get a General Management role. The title was ‘Best Management Practice and Levels of Organisational Performance: A Study of Small and Medium Sized UK Businesses’.
I produced a checklist of 33 best business practices that companies must use to ensure good performance. I use many of these each day in my role as Managing Director at Trend Machinery and Cutting Tools Limited.
What were your qualifications and experience pre-MBA?
I was a Qualified Accountant and had held various Finance positions. These included Auditor for firms of Accountants, Insolvency Administrator, Financial Controller and Financial Director.
What’s been the biggest benefit of doing the Surrey MBA?
On qualifying I was asked to take over the management of my current employer and I have been in the Managing Director role since 2006. I have also managed our US-based business.
What was the one most important thing you learnt on the Surrey MBA programme?
There are two things. Academically, hard work was required to complete the course, so to gain something so beneficial there is some pain along the way.
Professionally, I learned the knowledge to enable me to confidently carry out my current role, and through the role comes the experience to deal with many different situations.
What would you say to someone thinking of doing the Surrey MBA?
I would say that the Surrey MBA was the best thing I ever did. The course is very challenging and requires dedication but in the long run was very beneficial to my career.