For me, doing an MBA was all about exploring options. With a professional background in consulting and banking I had become used to working extremely long hours, but hadn’t been able to find time to investigate any alternative career paths. Business study was the perfect opportunity to look at the creative industries and entrepreneurship, two areas of specific interest to me. Once that decision was made, London Business School was a very easy choice, offering a great global network, a top brand and the two year timeframe I was after.
Although I had worked for some big professional organisations before business school, I had been in fairly junior roles without the chance to lead teams. The MBA was the first time I’d undertaken proper academic or professional projects managing other people. Talking with classmates and alumni and hearing about their varied experiences, nationalities and cultures was a fascinating way to learn how to motivate people from different backgrounds. It was also enormously useful training in terms of building the skill set that I now use to manage an ever increasing number of employees.
When I started my MBA I was sponsored by Lehman Brothers, but the demise of the company led me to start my business, Gelato Mio, whilst I was still studying. A key factor in my decision to focus on entrepreneurship was seeing colleagues and alumni around me successfully transitioning to their own ventures. The chance to speak with people who had done it all before was hugely motivating and helped me develop a completely different, more entrepreneurial mindset. It also gave me the courage to take the leap, and, right from the start, the London Business School network was crucial. Gelato Mio opened in the summer of 2008; on our first day of trading there were over two thousand customers lining the block – all there through the support and word-of-mouth buzz created by the School community.
My MBA was a truly life-changing experience, involving 360 degrees of activity. It opened my eyes to opportunities outside my existing sphere of knowledge and linked me to one of the most dynamic, global networks any business school can offer. I am enormously proud to have started my own successful venture which has grown from one store in 2008 to eight stores in 2011. Using everything I learned, and with a careful eye on the economy, I have plans to expand to around twenty outlets within the next few years. None of this would have been possible without London Business School.