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“The international cohort you get at London Business School is much more diverse than MIT or Stanford.”
Matthew Vatcher found his business inspiration closer to home than most: his father, David. And what better way to celebrate that fact, than to undertake the same Sloan programme at London Business School (LBS), three decades on?
David, who attended the programme in 1984, spent 20 years directing leading edge technology-based projects for the worldwide leisure industry. His career spanned the Naval Architecture, British Embassy in Washington DC, Silicon Valley and private UK and international attractions and rollercoaster design companies.
He founded Dynamic Motion Rides, his own specialist attractions design, marketing and sales company in 2010, together with a manufacturing and systems integration company in the UK. It took three years to develop, including IP, and is now what he calls a “world-beater”.
When David founded Dynamic Motion Rides, he attended tradeshows around the world, showcasing his new company and its products. During this time, Matthew kept one eye on his father’s career and successes and immersed himself in market knowledge and developing technologies.
When the opportunity came for Matthew to join the family business, there was a stipulation. For Matthew, it was a big decision to walk away from a rising career at London Heathrow to a fledgling venture. And David didn’t want to hire him without a business degree.
So what is it about the programme that attracted two generations of Vatchers?
Matthew’s father, who walked away from an established and safe career with the UK government for entrepreneurial pursuits, had experienced business challenges first-hand. But the Sloan programme taught him lessons in leadership. He says: “I spent a year learning how other people tick, what inspires them and how to motivate them.”
So it wasn’t just any business degree that David sought for his son. He wanted Matthew to complete the same programme that had changed his life. “When Matthew showed potential in a position at the company, I decided it would be a better fit if he completed Sloan first,” David says.
Matthew, who completed the Sloan programme in 2015, was attracted by the diverse class makeup. He says: “What I didn’t expect is out of a group of 56 people, there are 25 different nationalities represented.
“You learn as much from each other as you do from the professors in the lectures. It is a learning journey you go on together. Everyone is there to pass on the knowledge and experience they have to everyone else.”
One of Matthew’s biggest leadership lessons from the programme, like his father more than 30 years ago, was in team skills. Now, he has a better understanding of the way diverse groups of people behave and react based on their personalities and previous experiences. “I can get the most out of the team as a whole,” he says – a skill he’ll take forward for life.