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Giles holds a BSc in Management Sciences from the University of Manchester. After several years with Colgate Palmolive, he moved to work as Marketing Director for Lindt & Sprüngli. Giles joined London Business School’s Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy in January 2008.He took up his current role with Heinz on completing Sloan.
For me, Sloan was very much about understanding the broader aspects of business. I come from a strong consumer products background, but I had almost no knowledge of areas like corporate finance. I hoped that Sloan would teach me the right questions to ask, whilst giving me access to global thought leaders in a diverse and rigorous academic environment. The programme also has a wide portfolio of electives available, including a strong entrepreneurship offering that supported new initiatives taking place within my organisation and allowed me to personalise my learning experience.
ROI was very important to me – I have a young family and was conscious that if I chose to head back to fulltime education it needed to pay off financially. I was aware of London Business School’s strong reputation and knew a couple of colleagues who had done the MBA programme, but Sloan was a much better fit for me. It targets senior professionals (I had just finished my first Director-level role), the exclusivity appealed, and I was also keen to take advantage of the shorter oneyear length.
I found my finance electives incredibly valuable, particularly the core Corporate Finance module, which gave me a base level of knowledge from which to work.
Nearly all my core courses and electives required an element of teamwork, too – not always easy when you are navigating different personalities, approaches and commitment levels.
Sloan broadened my perspective on business generally, helping me to understand that there are numerous different ways to approach problems and succeed.
Within three months of returning to Heinz I had developed and presented a recommendation to the UK board for an investment plan, a direct result of a project I worked on during the programme. The proposal was approved and gained extra investment. Skills gained about building different business models and low cost approaches to testing were particularly helpful, and we successfully launched a Heinz Gluten Free business within 12 months.
Even before I started Sloan I was excited about learning again, partly because I knew that I would be studying alongside an eclectic and motivated group of people in a totally new environment. By the time I left the programme, I had a far better appreciation of business, a deeper functional understanding and I was much more self-aware as a leader. Back at Heinz I’ve brought more creativity to my work, and introduced new ideas and ways of working into the business. Fundamentally, I’m now better able to strip things back to their core essence instead of over-complicating matters, and rounding out my skill set has made me much more confident in my own abilities.
All of this has helped me perform and standout within my organisation. I certainly have a better understanding of what makes a good leader now, so it’s fair to say that Sloan has accelerated my career in a number of ways.
But perhaps most importantly, I had a challenging, fun and energising year, one that introduced me to a new group of friends from different countries and industries and gave me experiences like the Shanghai field trip that I would never otherwise have had. Above all, it was a personalised learning platform – an opportunity to learn, to reflect, and to prepare for the next stage of my career.