Emily Fisher expected tough competition when applying for the 30% Club Scholarship to help fund her Executive MBA (EMBA). She was right. London Business School (LBS) received many applications for financial backing to study on the programme, but Fisher’s impressed the most.
Naturally, the American was delighted to secure a scholarship. “It was a wonderful surprise and very exciting when I received the news,” she says. “You’re competing with so many wonderful women, so to be the recipient is incredibly flattering.”
After working at auction house Christie’s for nine years, Fisher – who as IT director liaises with senior leaders to deliver IT components that meet their strategic needs – felt the time was right to broaden her business knowledge and skillset. “My goal was to learn things that I wouldn’t pick up at work,” she says.
The EMBA covers topics such as corporate finance and financial accounting – subjects that Fisher hadn’t explored while at Christie’s as they didn’t fall under her job description. “They’re really practical subjects that you need to know about when looking to grow in your current company or if thinking about joining another organisation.”
Since joining the programme, Fisher has relished exploring different aspects of leadership. As a director at Christie’s, she is well versed in managing people and leading teams, but the EMBA has given her the chance to analyse her own leadership style and approach.
“You have lots of conversations with your study group about what it means to be a leader, while exploring your own personality traits and the qualities you should draw out to be a more effective manager,” she says. “We then practice what we learn in group sessions and take that knowledge back to the workplace.”
The opportunity to learn from world-class thought leaders is another programme highlight, according to Fisher. “It’s a privilege to be taught by them ,” she says. “They all have their own unique approaches and ways of looking at things.”
For Fisher, taking a part-time programme while working full-time is ideal. She and her classmates spend every other Friday and Saturday studying at LBS, enabling them to apply what they learn immediately in their roles. She adds that managing work, study and leisure is about finding a balance that works for you.
“I plan two weeks ahead so I know if I’m seeing friends, spending time with my husband or doing school work,” she says.
Fisher’s social calendar also includes lunches, dinners, nights out and end of term celebrations with her classmates. “We have two wonderful social representatives in our class who organise various activities throughout the term. It’s a great way for people to bond while getting to know each other better outside the classroom.” As well as studying and seeing friends and family, Fisher also finds time to sit on two committees – for corporate social responsibility and women’s networking respectively – at Christie’s.
Despite her hectic schedule, she considers herself lucky to be based in London. “Some of my classmates get the Eurostar from Paris every two weeks and others come in from Atlanta or California,” she says. “We have a few people travelling from Russia and Israel and one lady who has commuted from Singapore for two terms while waiting for a job transfer to London. I have a very easy situation in comparison.”
The best advice Fisher can give to anyone thinking of applying for the EMBA is to make sure you have a good support network before committing. “At LBS you’re surrounded by passionate, intelligent people and everybody is so dedicated to the programme and to what they’re learning,” she says. “Throw yourself 100% in and make sure you have support from friends and family to get the most out of it.”