A rebalancing act
“Sloan encourages you to look at other aspects of life. It’s a great opportunity to pause, reflect and balance the books.”
A different journey
“My path to Sloan was atypical. I joined the Royal Marines straight out of pro-football, something that was really a translation of my physical attributes from professional sport into the military environment. I spent the first eight years consolidating my experience there and found myself on multiple deployments overseas. I then volunteered for Royal Marines Commando training."
“My subsequent roles have involved strategic planning, execution and learning but I’m now beginning the transition back into civilian life. And that’s tough. A family connection I know is a serial entrepreneur who advises on London Business School’s VC panel. When I started thinking about moving into a business role, I asked him how people go from simply being good at a job, to being outstanding. He recommended business school but advised me to look above an MBA or even an Executive MBA, and to shoot for Sloan."
“I’m one of those people that can’t sit still. I’m a pace setter in terms of leadership so I decided to try it and see if I could kick on into, and cope with, an executive level position."
“One of the things I loved about the Sloan programme was that key faculty – Dominic Houlder, Richard Jolley, Jessica Spungin – all understood my positioning. They were great, right at the top of their game and offering different things. I loved Richard Jolley’s pragmatic view of business, for example…he was pretty honest about the narcissistic tendencies of the business world. Jessica put me onto McKinsey and David Arnold networked me into a social enterprise."
“On that note, I probably started networking earlier than anyone else in the programme, and I was out in the workplace working CEOs earlier than anyone else, even though I was the least experienced at a business level."
“That was a really important part of the programme for me, and part of my transition back into the real world. I spent time in Germany advising BP’s Global VP of Refineries and a senior leadership team of 21 on organisational behaviour, leadership and strategy. I’d have an elective, head straight out to Germany, then come back to another elective, so I was pretty shattered. I also had a friend who started up a cyber security company leading the way in AI. I acted as a business development advisor for them during Sloan; in the first two years it’s gone from a market valuation of £6m to £75m.”
A balancing act
“I didn’t have a clue what I was signing up for when I started Sloan. The cohort is a mix of very powerful people from business, many of whom helped mentor me through the process. They’re the type of people – usually either senior managers or executives – who are all driving hard to be CEOs. As someone who has spent two decades in the same industry, I learned a huge amount from my cohort but what’s more important is that I made lifelong friends."
“One thing that everyone takes away from Sloan is a reflective focus on whether you’re looking to be a good human or simply a good executive. Sloan encourages you to look at other aspects of life. It’s a great opportunity to pause, reflect and balance the books. And of course that’s the typical senior manager dilemma. So many people at that level just tend to get their head down and ignore what’s going on around them."
“My key learning takeaways have been around strategic innovation. Now I focus more on high level engagement that considers the importance of the outside principle – so I concentrate on performance but don’t over-compensate. Instead I think much more about networking."
“For me, Sloan has been all about rebalancing. The transition from military to civilian life isn’t easy – my family is used to me being a certain person in a certain role but now for the first time in 22 years there’s uncertainty about where I’ll be in 5 years. I’m rebalancing the books in terms of my home life, workload and performance. I’m not as keen to please in the workforce as I have been in the past; I’m happy to diplomatically argue my point of view instead."
“Culturally the marines are a human capital organisation but not data driven, so being a ‘pleaser’ gets you further. Since Sloan I’m more likely to assess strategic results and data when I’m making decisions. So I’m already using what I’ve learned, implementing strategic planning points to communicate and drive change. I’m currently mentoring 17 marines who are in various master’s programmes. I’m a big advocate of continuous learning to ‘freshen up’ skills."
“What’s next for me? One of the things we had to do on Sloan was to write our own obituary. That was pretty intense. I started thinking about the 20 to 40 years I’ve got left in the workplace. What is it I want to achieve? Something new? Something to do with social enterprise? Or do I drive as hard as possible to start my own business? I finish transition from the military in 2020, so I’ve deliberately given myself time and a bit of breathing space to figure that out.”
“It’s a great opportunity to pause, reflect and balance the books.”
“I learned a huge amount from my cohort but what’s more important is that I made lifelong friends.”
“I’m already using what I’ve learned, implementing strategic planning points to communicate and drive change.”