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Mike Wahle

  • Programme: MBA
  • Nationality: American
  • Job Pre-programme: Pro-football player / Trader
  • Job Post-programme: Founder, CrowdCam

As a professional American footballer I didn’t have the stereotypical pre-MBA profile. By the time my football career started winding down I’d already been introduced to a trading company, but even though I was really passionate about the industry, it was apparent I needed to rebrand myself. A lot of people wanted to have conversations with me, but the focus was always on sport and not business.

There were a lot of gaps in my education that needed filling so business school made sense. I knew I’d have to leave San Diego, but it would have been easy to go to school in LA, or to one of the East Coast Ivy Leagues. It was important to me to get a global experience, though,and as our kids are still young, my wife and I decided that London was the top option. In the end a visit to the School combined with the strength of the brand made it a relatively easy decision.

A year into the programme here and it’s the School’s proximity to the City that really sets it apart from competitor institutions. I’ve been amazed at the access to Canary Wharf and major companies. On more than one occasion I’ve been able to talk to MDs with a simple phone call; another time a classmate and I simply walked into the front office of a large business and had a really useful conversation with the HR people there.The alumni network has been fantastic in this respect –in addition to meeting interesting people it also helpsyou build relationships and discover opportunities inareas you’re not familiar with.

The standout experience on campus is the diverse and high-calibre student body and I’ve been very lucky to have a great study group. Although professional sportand a top MBA both invite competitive people, theclassroom environment is a little bit different. We havesome very cerebral personalities which you wouldn’tnecessarily find in the sporting environment, andalthough everyone is striving to be successful, the way that people go about things is very different. Everyone in my study group has a niche that they are into and it’s a hugely collaborative effort. We’re all happy to pick up the slack for one another and we’ve had a lot of success this way.

Making the transition from pro-sportsman to businessman has definitely been easier via my MBA. It was useful to go straight into something like trading that I’m really passionate about but studying has really reset the business conversations I have now. I already have a couple of good options that I’m considering post-MBAand although we love London, we will probably return to the US. The global alumni network is extremely strong and I’m pleased that the California clubs are well established – it’s important to me to stay engaged with the School community both financially and in areas like recruitment. I want to make sure that others get to take part in the same amazing experience that I’ve had.