Tough decisions, creative strategies

"The faculty blew my viewpoint wide open to a number of possibilities I’d never considered before."

Gus Downie

Head of Programme Delivery, Enterprise Data Hub, Lloyds Banking Group
Certificate in Management


New ways of thinking

"I'd be saying one thing, and they'd be doing and thinking something completely different - I developed a totally different understanding."

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Real-world business expertise

"I’ve worked for myself for the last 10 years as a contract consultant. Currently I’m with Lloyds working as Head of Programme Delivery for their Enterprise Data Hub – it’s a big role. I’m responsible for looking across the entire group, understanding the group’s data and how it can be centralised, and seeing how we can perform analytics to help customers. It takes in lots of aspects - big data, AI, machine learning – and requires in-depth, intelligent analysis. The idea is to take the data we hold, look for trends and find ways to help improve the customer experience.

I started working when I was quite young, after I did my A levels and left formal education. I reached quite a senior level on the job, but started to realise I needed to have some more formal training behind me. I considered an executive MBA, but the ROI didn’t make sense for me. So I looked through the top two or three business schools and realised London Business School (LBS) was just 25 minutes down the road.

One of the crucial things for me was connecting with a really strong alumni base - that’s what I was interested in initially. And when I began exploring my options, I realised LBS offered this great programme called the Certificate in Management, which involved doing four short executive courses and which would give me full alumni status. It offered a really varied range of programmes, but the key things I needed to focus on were leadership, decision-making and strategy. The nature of my work meant I was already strong on operational change; what I wanted was to delve into was the behavioural side of strategy, because I have to make such a huge number of decisions.

Since I knew the outcomes I wanted, I drove my programme selection in alignment with those requirements - I chose Decision Making Strategies for Leaders, Finance for Non-Finance Executives, Developing Strategy for Value Creation, and Market Driving Strategies. I work in finance so I understand large amounts about retail and investment banking, but I’d never had much exposure to accountancy. I wanted a really good grounding to enable me to sit at board level, be taken through company accounts, and understand them at a granular level, whilst the decision making programme offered me a framework to drive the right results.

One thing about both my strategy courses - the faculty really were world-class. I wanted to be taught by the best, the most published, but my professors weren’t just academics, they were people who actually go out and do business. John Dore, Rajesh Chandy, Costas Markides, Yiorgos Mylonadis, Andrew Likierman and his discussions on decision-making and AI – they were all wonderful. It’s so fantastic to be in a room with people who have better smarts than you in a specialised subject, who challenge your perspective of the world and open you up to a whole new range of options. The faculty blew my viewpoint wide open to an infinite number of possibilities I’d never considered before.

The other thing that was brilliant was arriving and finding out that within my cohort of between about 20 and 40 people, only 2 or 3 were from the UK. I found that amazing. I found I could be saying one thing, and they could be doing and thinking something completely different - culturally, I developed a totally different understanding. And what’s great is that we now have an established Whatsapp group, so I can be at work in the UK and discussing a shopfit with someone in Colombia at the same time. They’re discussions I’d never otherwise be having."

Real-life crisis management

"We ran a real-life crisis management simulation that was incredible, I became totally immersed in it."


Strategic success


"I now distill everything right down and make the right decisions, based on the right strategies, to get the right outcomes."


Getting the balance right

"My new knowledge is already helping my clients but as I move forward in my career it will also help me work to a more entrepreneurial vision."

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Next steps

"We all have a capacity to change once we understand more. The strategy courses I attended were amazing – it’s such a complex subject, but it was broken down so simply. It’s about choosing what to do and what not to do, cutting through the noise and focusing on which things to drive forwards. We ran a real-life crisis simulation that was incredible. In the work that I do I’m constantly dealing with high-pressure situations, but this was quite different. Even though I knew it was a simulation, I became completely immersed in it.

Coaching sessions were also really interesting – I’d never done that before. They helped me understand a little bit more about myself and clarify the key areas that I need to concentrate on to be successful. For me, those were about getting the right balance. There’s so much to do and so many things to experience – I needed to learn how to strip that back and focus.

I’m constantly making partnering decisions involving both software and consultancy views, and now I’m able to understand more clearly what the long and medium term strategies are. When there are multiple selections available I now distil everything right down and make the right decisions, based on the right strategies, to get the right outcomes. In turn, all of that knowledge feeds into better and more effective commercial outcomes.

I needed my learning journey to be efficient. I’m good at what I do and I have a lot of experience already, so I wanted a surgical set of instructions and frameworks that I could take away and deploy in key aspects. I don’t know how other people find it, but my Certificate in Management wasn’t so much a journey, as a rollercoaster! I was really focused on doing it in the minimum time possible, and I did two programmes back to back. That enabled me to immerse myself in the experience and ensured I didn’t lose momentum.

I’m always strategising for the next step. Down the track I have quite clear entrepreneurial ambitions focused on sustainability and emerging economies; I also do a lot of extra-curricular activities where I talk with people about forming new kinds of entities and work with developmental charities and organisations in Africa. I give advice on how to drive strategy and operations there, so I have lots of things in play. My new knowledge is already helping the clients I serve, but as I move forward in my career it will also help me work to a more entrepreneurial vision."

Certificate in Management

Gain the insights and skills you need to shift your career and performance to the next level; and formal recognition of your development.