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Chris Coghlan

  • Programme: Masters in Finance part time
  • Nationality: British
  • Job Pre-programme: Assistant Portfolio Advisor, Charlemagne Capital
  • Job Post-programme: CEO, Grow Movement

Chris originally completed a degree in War Studies at King’s College, London. In 2009 he launched Grow Movement – a non-profit organisation providing volunteer consulting by phone and Internet to small and medium sized businesses in Uganda, Malawi and Rwanda.

Filling a knowledge gap

I've always been passionate about international relations and development, particularly in terms of what can be done to prevent genocide in vulnerable communities. Throughout my career, I have explored different ways to combine my business experience with international politics. Employed as an accountant, I also served as an election observer for the EU, working in Ukraine and DR Congo in my spare time. I eventually joined an emerging markets hedge fund, Charlemagne Capital, focused on Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.I set up Grow Movement the year before I joined the Masters in Finance. I want the world to think about business beyond shareholder returns. Grow Movement uses the power of business to end poverty and conflict in the poorest communities on earth. To be successful, we need remote volunteers, funding,organisational capacity and entrepreneurs – my Masters in Finance experience has done a great deal to help me meet these challenges. Whilst I was already confident in my knowledge of international relations, there were definite gaps in my business knowledge. I knew that business school would provide me with an amazing social experience and a global network, so when an opportunity came up through my job at Charlemagne, I jumped at it.

Boosting credibility

The rigorous and in-depth finance education that the Masters in Finance offered fit extremely well with both my position at the hedge fund and with my long-term career objectives. At a basic level, courses like Strategy helped me determine how we should position Grow Movement, while Global Capital Markets and Currencies gave me a high-level economic overview that secured my second year project. The project enabled me to experience what it was like to be in a development bank, building networks and boosting my credibility. I would never have had that kind of exposure without the Masters in Finance.Although I was combining work with study, I got as involved in business school life as time allowed. It wasn't all work – I was actively involved in the Sailing Club, volunteering as a skipper on three trips with MBA students and organising a small racing team in the Solent. 

Making a profound impact 

The London Business School TEDx talk I gave was a huge opportunity to market Grow Movement and was,I believe, a factor in us receiving a government grant to help 38,000 people soon afterwards. Different clubs allowed me to access student and alumni expertise and interest. The president of the Impact Consulting Club, for example, reviewed our operational processes for a project and then put an operations manual together that standardised staff procedures.

Global network 

As an alumnus, the student and alumni network is still instrumental in providing the large numbers of highly skilled volunteers Grow Movement needs. I receive regular input and ideas on how to grow the organisation, and I have access to a global business population that offers widely diverse areas of expertise. Both the Masters in Finance and the broader London Business School experience have contributed hugely to our success to date.