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Andrew Freeman

  • Programme: Executive MBA London
  • Nationality: British
  • Job Pre-programme: Senior Technical Officer, Operations Management, The Global Fund
  • Job Post-programme: Advisor to Assistant Director General, World Health Organization

Building core business skills

I wanted to study for an MBA for three reasons - to improve my existing career opportunities, to facilitate a potential career change, and because I was interested in the subject material itself. I’d worked almost exclusively within public sector institutions, and with an undergraduate degree specialised in politics and French, I lacked a core understanding of the world of business.

The global health sector demands advanced academic qualifications, but these are usually completed in public health. To stand out and reach the senior management position I was aiming for, I needed a programme that would expose me to cutting-edge business and management theory and practice. I also needed something that would improve my leadership and decision-making. With these prerequisites in place, choosing which school to study at was easy. I wanted to go to the best business school I could, with a diverse international cohort. London Business School stands out in terms of global reputation and academic rigour, and as I only had limited time off work, the Executive MBA schedule fitted my requirements really well.

Tailored electives

Intellectually, EMBA was incredibly stimulating. The opportunity to learn from world-class academics in a setting that encourages reflection and debate is rare, and the quality of the faculty really stood out. I had great experiences during the core courses and as it’s an extremely flexible programme, I was able to tailor my elective choices to support my career goal. I focused heavily on strategy, leadership and organisational management, learning an enormous amount in electives like Paths to Power and Negotiations and Bargaining.

A new approach

The Executive MBA broadened my perspectives both professionally and personally, and it is largely my classmates who are responsible for that. I met some inspirational people, both in my own class and across other programmes. There was a real transfer of knowledge that took place; since many of my classmates had worked in areas I had no prior knowledge of, and vice versa. It’s a great feeling to have such a global, high-calibre group of friends that I can call on for advice or help.

I’m already benefiting from the confidence that the programme has given me. In my new role I’m responsible for coordinating the development of the Polio ‘Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 20132018.’ I’ve approached my new role with definite ideas in place and the opportunity to propose them. I’m implementing fundamentals from the Operations and Project Management courses in terms of planning my work; I’m also using what I learned in Paths to Power to manage my interactions with senior leadership. WHO is just one of five core partners working on polio eradication, so I interact regularly with national governments, donors, and other stakeholders, and manage cross-partnership relationships that can be deeply political and complex. Long-term, I believe the skills I learned on the programme will make a real difference in helping me reach a senior leadership position.