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."