Lockdown was the catalyst for change for Cameron Martin. Having spent four years working in private wealth management, he decided he wanted to focus on making a social impact. He is now pursuing the MBA to equip himself with the skills and knowledge he needs to launch his own business. His ultimate goal is to level the playing field and ensure there are equal opportunities for all, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds.
I have a slightly untraditional background for a business school student. I grew up in a pretty deprived area of Scotland called Motherwell, where I was brought up in a single parent family. But I was incredibly fortunate to have a mum who really drove my work ethic. She pushed me at school so I was able to get good grades, and I ended up being the first person in my family to go to university. I was also the first person from my school to go to the University of St Andrews, which was a big achievement.
I’d always imagined that I’d go to university, but the process was difficult because I didn’t have anyone to answer my questions about the halls of residence, or funding, or how to make friends. I had a lot of anxiety about it. Not many people from my school went to university at all, but those who did tended to stay at home. So when I moved to St Andrews to study my BSc in Management at the age of 18, I genuinely didn’t know a single person who had moved away from home to go to university.
I thought I would stick out like a sore thumb, but when I got there I realised that everyone had their own story. There were people who were much worse off than me, but also people from really privileged backgrounds. Within the first few days I felt settled and had made some friends, and I quickly got over my impostor syndrome.
After university, I secured a job at J.P. Morgan and worked there for four years, in private wealth management. I was really content in the role but during lockdown I had a bit of a reckoning, and I started thinking about the impact I was having on the world. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to make a social impact, specifically towards economic equality and social mobility. There are a lot of people who are capable but don’t have a role model pushing them along, the way my mum did for me. So I want to have that impact on others, by levelling the playing field and giving capable people the opportunities they deserve.
I started researching how to pivot into different career paths. I’m interested in becoming an entrepreneur, with the goal of starting my own business with a social agenda. I knew the skills I’d learn from an MBA would be incredibly transferable. People say you start an MBA with one idea but end up travelling down many different paths, so it seemed the perfect way to open myself up to new directions.
There were a few factors that drew me to London Business School. My boyfriend graduated from the School in 2016 so I’ve been exposed to so many alumni, and the diversity and scale of their ambitions were big selling points for me. I was also aware of the social impact work happening at the School. It offers some really interesting electives in topics such as sustainable finance, and I knew the Social Impact Club could help facilitate entry into careers such as impact investing. Crucially, I also knew the School could offer me the entrepreneurial support I needed.
Finding out I’d received the CAP Social Impact Scholarship was game changing. I was really anxious about the level of debt I’d be getting myself into. I knew it would be worth it, but I’ve always been risk averse when it comes to my personal finances, probably because of my background. I knew going to London Business School would be the right decision, but the scholarship was hugely beneficial.
I’ve joined both the Social Impact Club and Out in Business as Chief of Staff, and I’m really enjoying the roles. The Social Impact Club is huge, with a broad appeal. I want to get exposure to everything so I can refine my own social agenda. That way I will know who I want to benefit, and where I want to benefit them, and I can bring that into whatever business ideas I have going forward.
Out in Business is another amazing club, and one of our main roles is to organise the EUROUT conference; last year we had over 1,000 attendees. Being gay has affected me throughout my life, and I feel like I’ve had quite a lucky experience. There are people who fall within the LGBTQIA+ umbrella who don’t have it easy at all. I want to make sure that I’m being as actively inclusive as I can be, while learning from them to see how to translate that into whatever work I do in the future. I want to make everyone feel comfortable regardless of how they identify, which is my main goal in being part of the club.
Academically, the Global Leadership Assessment for Managers (GLAM) module has been one of my biggest highlights so far. It really challenged me to look at my own strengths and weaknesses as a leader, which was invaluable. I’m also learning a lot from my fellow students; 92% of the students here are international and you can’t appreciate how brilliant that is until you’re sat in the classroom with them. Learning about their past experiences and careers has had an incredible impact on me. For example, in my class alone we have a former Formula 1 engineer and a former helmsman of a submarine. They bring their own perspectives to our discussions and it makes what you’re learning in the classroom seem much less abstract. We know that in the real world, this is how things happen, because we have people with real experience of it sitting in the room with us. It’s so beneficial.
Next, I’m looking forward to working on some of the electives. I want to be exposed to new things, such as digital strategy and marketing. I think it’s important to understand all the different aspects of the business cycle if you want to have a successful career and be a good leader.
I’m also looking forward to enjoying the social aspects of the School. So far I’ve biked from London to Paris with the cycling club and travelled to Rome with the rugby sevens team. There are so many fun activities to get involved in here. I’ve already got an amazing group of friends from all over the world, and I feel like we’ve known each other for years.
I’m now considering an internship in management consultancy, so I can have more exposure to that world, but my number one goal is to start my own business embedded with a social agenda. I’m not sure what direction that will take, but I’m considering a sports business, as I think sport is such a good leveller in terms of social mobility.
I have three main pieces of advice for anyone considering the MBA. Number one, don’t stress about the GMAT exam. The School will look at so much more than the results, so don’t focus solely on that. Number two, don’t worry about the financing, as there are always going to be options such as scholarships or government funds that can help. Number three, be honest with yourself and never try to be anyone else or fit into the mould of what you think an MBA student should be. Finally, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable throughout the application process. For me, being vulnerable really helped the School to understand what my needs were and what made me different to other people.