The Cass Executive MBA Inspiring stories
â€œ The Cass Executive MB journey of transforma place you at the interf academic insight and preoccupations of the Dr Sionade Robinson Official designation?
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BA is a two-year ation that will face between d the real-life e business world.â€?
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Make the connection An international perspective Working together Exploiting opportunities Making connections Stimulating change Inspiring innovation A major investment A life-changing commitment www.cassmba.com 2
â€œ Our international standing and location in the City of London guarantee a diversity of culture, business and talent that can only be fully exploited by those who understand the power of human networks.â€? Dr Sionade Robinson Official designation
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In this age of social media and unprecedented human connectivity, the value of networks â€“ and networking â€“ to career success has never been more pronounced. Similarly, the fast-moving and ever-changing arena of international business is equally dependent upon the links forged every day between organisations, individuals and new ideas. At Cass Business School, the reputation we have established for striking a mutually beneficial balance between academic rigour and practical application demands that we, too, must devote energy and enthusiasm to the creation and maintenance of a series of essential connections.
Perhaps the most potent expression of this comes through the Cass Executive MBA, a two-year journey of transformation that will place you at the interface between academic insight and the real-life priorities of the business world. Not only does the challenge of studying for an internationally recognised qualification while continuing to work test your capacity to manage sometimes competing goals, it also offers unrivalled opportunities to think critically and apply new skills in concrete situations. As soon as you join us, you will be immersed in an environment defined by a diverse cohort, an international faculty and a worldwide alumni network. Even before you arrive, you are encouraged to start your MBA reading, build relationships with future colleagues and start planning your professional development. As the programme unfolds, you will be expected to demonstrate hands-on capability and a global perspective both
in the classroom. In your emerging markets consultancy trip and international electives, you will be working with local businesses and the advice you give to small and medium-sized enterprises will have a real impact. Our international standing and location in the City of London guarantee a diversity of culture, business and talent that can only be fully exploited by those who understand the power of human networks. The global economy needs business leaders with intellectual breadth, flexibility and cultural sensitivity. We need to be more curious about different social, economic and political contexts, to gain a deeper understanding of people from different geographies and cultures. The Executive MBA is a period of personal transition. If you intend to use it to change or accelerate your career, you will quickly come to appreciate the power of connectivity.
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**PLACEHOLDER SCAN** 5 Cass Business School The Executive MBA
An international perspective Khurram Jafree Cass alumnus, visiting lecturer and Investment Manager at Gerrard [?]
In addition to my day job, I am a Cass alumnus and visiting lecturer at the School – teaching in both its London and Dubai centres. This gives me a particularly interesting perspective on the Executive MBA.
I am always amazed at how international Cass is. It’s a compelling fusion of different cultures, languages and ideas that generates an exciting atmosphere. This sense of purpose runs through every facet of the organisation – from faculty to students to course content. Over 100 countries have been represented in the Cass experience, with an international network of alumni who look out for each other. The core emerging markets modules, international symposia and electives offered on the programme give you the opportunity to work alongside business leaders in China, Vietnam, Argentina, South Africa and the Middle East. This sort of experience gives you credibility in different cultures. You learn how to convince people from a wide variety of backgrounds to invest in you emotionally and financially, and help turn your ideas into reality.
“ You learn how to convince people from a wide variety of backgrounds to invest in you emotionally and financially, and help turn your ideas into reality.”
Working together... Anna Faelten graduation year and/or official designation?
After gaining a Business Studies degree at Cass, my career took me to Deal Monitor magazine where, as editor, I would sometimes return to my old stamping ground. On one such occasion, a conversation with Scott Moeller (Professor in the Practice of Finance and Director of the Cass Mergers and Acquisitions Research Centre) sparked a series of events that would transform my career.
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In January 2009, I rejoined Cass as a researcher at the recently established M&A Research Centre (MARC), which marks the first time a major business school had established a focused centre for research into the global M&A industry. In the immediate aftermath of the global financial crisis, it felt as though the world was changing, and I was excited by the opportunity to work for a body positioned on the axis between academic and industry-facing research. I was impressed that the Centre would be a fully funded enterprise while also being strongly academic in focus and composition, and I could see the potential to share insights and forge stronger links between two communities that stand to gain much from closer collaboration. The location seemed appropriate, too, as Cass is ideally placed to provide a balanced perspective by drawing on both its internationally renowned faculty and on the expertise of M&A bankers, lawyers, consultants and accountants based in the City of London.
Working in this stimulating environment and surrounded by people engaged in the business of learning, it soon became clear to me that the time was right to embark on my MBA. Progress to the position of senior researcher (and later to Deputy Director of the Centre) would be best achieved by increasing my knowledge and skills while continuing to work, so I opted for the Cass Executive MBA, which would enable me to balance my priorities. Like anybody in this situation, I approached my boss, whom I would need to convince of the value of allowing me to combine my work with two years of intensive, part-time study. Fortunately, as my boss was Scott Moeller â€“ who also teaches on the MBA programme â€“ I was guaranteed a sympathetic ear. The course would not be an easy ride, but the synergy between my own professional agenda and that of my employer was plain to see.
â€œ Working in this stimulating environment and surrounded by people engaged in the business of learning, it became clear to me that the time was right to embark on my MBA.â€?
â€œ Studying alongside people from a wide range of professional and cultural backgrounds not only improved my network, but also convinced me that the Executive MBA is a breeding ground for future business leaders.â€?
...to build relationships The Executive MBA is a serious undertaking and I was keenly aware of the dedication and energy required to make the most of the opportunity while continuing to perform at work. It can be tough to motivate yourself to study at the end of a long day, and at the end of the programme it comes as a shock to discover that you suddenly have free time again. That said, having peers pushing you to keep focused and keep working is undoubtedly a positive thing. Motivation and commitment come more easily when you see that others are finding life equally hard. Studying alongside people from a wide range of professional and cultural backgrounds not only improved my network, but also convinced me that the Executive MBA is a breeding ground for future business leaders.
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My background is in corporate finance and the programme gave me the opportunity to move into new areas and develop a broader portfolio of skills. Cass attracts changemakers and provides a forum for debate, bringing people together around key issues and encouraging a potent blend of competition and collaboration. In many ways, my MBA experience mirrors the work of the M&A Research Centre, of which I am now Deputy Director. To succeed, it is often necessary to find ways of resolving seemingly incompatible agenda by remembering that communication and collaboration are every bit as important as competition. The Centre brings together communities with sometimes divergent perspectives, focusing on insights and common ground that lead to the mutually beneficial
sharing of information and insight. Our research generally culminates in a commercial report to industry and an academic paper â€“ an embodiment of the theoretical/practical balance espoused by Cass itself. In a tough economic climate, the M&A Research Centre is retaining and securing new sponsors by building strong, flexible relationships; involving Cass academics and industry experts on an equal footing; and focusing on the delivery of tangible results. In other words, we practise what we preach.
opportunities Graham Smith graduation year and/or official designation?
It was Christmas Eve 2009 â€“ my last day working for Thompson Reuters Markets. I had been made redundant as a result of integration and, although I had already secured my next role, I was determined to make the most of a unique opportunity. The redundancy had provided me with a small amount of money that I decided to invest into my education. My overall goal was to become a better businessperson though a deeper understanding of how to value strategic opportunities. A visit to the London MBA fair had given me a good overview of the options open to me and I opted for the Cass Executive MBA, which seemed perfectly aligned with my focus on strategy and finance. Despite its academic credentials, the Schoolâ€™s location in the City of London and its atmosphere and facilities create an environment that feels neither too scholarly nor overly commercial. That said, the faculty and research are top notch, and Cass offers a staggering array of resources. The visiting lecturers at Cass also provide a unique learning environment; they are some of the sharpest and toughest business people I have worked with. One lasting memory concerns the first set of exams. After many years outside education, the prospect was daunting. It was the peak of summer and I was living next to a pub. I remember listening to the clink of glasses outside while I studied bond duration with an MBA colleague over Skype. Two weeks later, we streamed out of the exam hall and went to celebrate in a local restaurant. We all agreed that the
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feeling of achievement on that night was so intense that it far outstripped any afternoon spent in the pub. During the Executive MBA I had the opportunity to travel to Argentina for a consultancy trip. Due to previous visiting students setting such an impressive standard, much was expected of our group. My project was to tackle strategic challenges for one of the largest public transport providers in Buenos Aires. By day three, we had had such an impact on the organisation that we had been invited to join the CEO and owner for lunch to discuss our findings. The great thing about Cass is that you have the opportunity to work with other intakes of Full-time MBAs and Executive MBAs. Working with a larger and more diverse pool of people creates a new set of challenges that you have to take in your stride. Some take the MBA path to accelerate a career change, either across industries or up the hierarchy. For me, the plan was to improve my skills in business and to perform better in my role. As it turns out, six months after the Executive MBA I moved roles to a different industry and a larger remit.
â€œ The faculty and research are top notch, and Cass offers a staggering array of resources.â€?
I decided to undertake an Executive MBA at Cass because, having just been promoted to the position of Director of Business Processes and Resources in the British Council’s English and Exams Division in London, I wanted to increase my knowledge and skills with a view to moving on to an even more senior role in the future. My work involved regular contact with academic institutions, so being a student again didn’t come as too much of a shock. I enjoyed being taught by lecturers who had strong academic credentials but who were also working in business. I knew that balancing my studies with my professional life – not mention the needs of my family – would be a challenge, but a supportive employer and understanding teaching staff go a long way towards making the workload manageable.
My area of interest and expertise is digital language learning, with a particular focus on mobile platforms. Like many large, well-established organisations, the British Council is finding it difficult to respond to this rapidly developing environment, and opportunities to apply the skills and insights I had gained during my studies appeared scarce. Towards the end of the course, however, my division was restructured and my job and team disbanded, so I took the chance to leave and started my own company. I now have three. In business, the quality of your network is crucial. I still go to Cass events, and am a member of Cass Entrepreneurs Network. Also, I was able to use Cass as a venue for my own event in January 2011. Without my MBA, it would have been a lot harder to leave the British Council and start off on my own. I may not have anticipated such a swift and dramatic change of circumstances, but I quickly discovered that I was more than ready for the challenge.
It’s tempting to regard studying for an MBA as a means to an end – a way of enhancing your portfolio of skills and becoming more desirable to current and future employers. But its value also lies in helping you to think creatively about your career. Cass places such a strong emphasis on entrepreneurialism that it’s impossible to emerge without an appreciation of the importance of innovation and flexibility to every aspect of modern business.
“ In business, the quality of your network is crucial. I still go to Cass events, and am a member of Cass Entrepreneurs Network.” 13 Cass Business School The Executive MBA
Making connections Caroline Moore graduation year and/ or official designation?
â€œ The Cass experience changed the trajectory of my career. It has been a stepping-stone to a better life.â€?
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change Hem Mehta graduation year and/ or official designation?
My background is in engineering and IT, and my career has included working as a project manager supporting business process improvement initiatives and as a technology and business transformation consultant. Before I joined the Cass Executive MBA, I knew quite a lot about inspiring and managing change in a business context. Now I know a lot more.
I can vividly remember my first day at Cass. My fellow students seemed very smart and very focused â€“ and this was only the first day! Why had I put myself into this situation? Why had I entered this place of dauntingly bright strangers? I quickly gained a sense of the immense diversity at Cass â€“ not only in the nationalities of my fellow students, but also in terms of professional background. My cohort included a Russian diplomat, a GP, the manager of a renowned restaurant chain, ex-armed services personnel, investment bankers and entrepreneurs. Over the next two years, I was fortunate to learn from this highly qualified group of people. For me, the Cass experience involved learning and growth on many levels. My education spanned personal and professional development; it gave me a chance to reflect on my career to date, and provided the opportunity to test management theories and skills in a relatively risk-free environment. As a result, my leadership skills have evolved to a level where I now feel comfortable leading people who are older and more skilled than I am.
The alliances that I have formed with my classmates and the network that I have created are among the most important and valuable things that the Cass Executive MBA has provided. I strongly feel that the associations formed during my time at Cass are resources that can be drawn on for years to come. Since completing my MBA, I have moved to the Corporate Finance team at Deloitte, working on high-profile transactions across various industries. This is an area that has always been of interest to me and the MBA has provided me with the technical skills and knowledge to make the transition into Corporate Finance. I work for a firm that respects and values the individuality of its people. It fosters a culture where leaders are celebrated by how they represent and develop their people. As a consequence, my own style has evolved to become more flexible over time â€“ I find that my ability to use different styles with different people becomes more intuitive as I progress. The Cass experience changed the trajectory of my career. It has been a stepping-stone to a better life.
John Sreetharan graduation year and/or official designation?
I was in a lucky position where I had worked with many companies across a range of sectors. Having gained a lot of practical, hands-on business experience, I thought that an Executive MBA would provide a solid foundation to lay my experience on. I hoped it would arm me with the knowledge and principles I would need to grow my own business. I was looking for a broad range of experiences and Cass offered a good mix of relevant modules, electives and overseas consultancy trips. The location is great, too. Cass struck me as less stuffy than its competitors â€“ not full of hardcore academic types and with more industry experts. My colleagues were a social bunch and the culture encourages you to build lasting relationships. Running a business and working towards an MBA during the credit crunch was a pretty intense experience. That said, it is really useful to apply what you have learned literally the next day. I made a point of applying the skills and knowledge I was acquiring in my business immediately; it encourages the sort of mental agility you need to succeed in highly competitive markets and I think you get true value for money when you can do this.
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At the outset, the plan was to grow the business I had been running for seven years, but during the Executive MBA I came up with a new business idea, which I plan to launch in Summer 2013. The Cass Entrepreneurship Fund and incubator have shown interest in my venture, and the access to support and advice for startups from within the School has to be a good thing for everybody involved. It proves that Cass is willing and able to cross the threshold between theory and practice on a daily basis. Encouraging entrepreneurship is central to Cassâ€™s philosophy, and the process continues after graduation. The research databases are a great asset for alumni and the opportunity to study a free module every year is also hugely valuable. Being an entrepreneur is about more than having a great idea and getting it off the ground. You need to make sure you can keep it afloat for long enough to succeed.
â€œ I made a point of applying the skills and knowledge I was acquiring in my business immediately; it encourages the sort of mental agility you need to succeed in highly competitive markets.â€?
â€œ I cannot emphasise enough how critical it is to ensure strong support from the people within your organisation who own the training budgets, and to put together a robust business case.â€? 19 Cass Business School The Executive MBA
A major investment
Scott Henderson graduation year and/ or official designation?
In 2010, my role with a Global Private Bank in Mayfair was enhanced to take on a more strategic focus, shaping the investment and banking proposition for its UK jurisdiction. I had often considered doing an MBA to round out my skill set and, having weighed up the options and chosen Cass, I set about the delicate business of discussing my decision with my employer.
I began the process with some fact-finding with friends and online to find out how others had obtained sponsorship in the past. I then checked whether provision was made for supporting such things and sounded out my direct line manager, Human Resources and the CEO via informal discussions. It was only then that I formulated a business case tailored to the questions they had asked, and outlining why supporting my studies made sense to the business. It helped that several of the management team had either undertaken an MBA earlier in their career or had aspired to do so at some point, and that Cass is a respected name. Ultimately, I agreed to do an evening course – the Cass Executive MBA – and use my existing annual leave allocation for any days off needed. I funded additional costs outside of the tuition fees, such as books and additional travel. I also offered to sign a retention agreement for the duration of my study, but was ultimately not required to do so. Studying whilst working was extremely challenging. There will be times when the course encroaches on work time, so you need to manage expectations with you line manager and give early warning where possible. You will also need to ensure that you have the support and understanding of your friends and family. For me, the investment has been thoroughly worthwhile. My employer is satisfied that I am making the most of my studies and
achieving distinction-level results. The process has opened executive management’s eyes to my ambition, self-motivation and drive, which may yet lead to a transfer to one of our overseas locations to gain experience in a different market. My opinions and advice are also given more weight when the business is making key decisions. For anybody considering a similar move, I cannot emphasise enough how critical it is to ensure strong support from the people within your organisation who own the training budgets, and to put together a robust business case. I believe a common mistake people make when seeking sponsorship from their company is not approaching it the same way they would a request for any other investment; the company needs to understand what it is investing in, why and how they will see a return. For my company, key factors were the retention of my skill set and experience, the Business Mastery Project being on a topic of use to them, the fact that new skills and knowledge could be used in my existing role from day one, and that I could undertake the study in evenings and weekends. You should also consider other alternatives such as Salary Sacrifice, applying for scholarships or accepting part funding. Be aware that many companies don’t have a firm policy on MBA sponsorship, so you need to be prepared to negotiate something that works for the business and yourself.
“ Almost every piece of coursework can offer an opportunity to apply new skills to the real world.”
A life-changing commitment… Hilary Moore graduation year and/or official designation?
My MBA story is somewhat unconventional. I arrived five-months pregnant, and had been worried about how I’d be received in such a clearly stimulating and driven environment. But Cass is also a very inclusive place and I was welcomed with open arms. I found Cass’s teaching superb – and I say that having experienced PhD-level teaching at an Ivy League university. The permanent faculty, visiting professors and guest speakers were excellent. They all had either formidable business experience or great academic and teaching skills – often all three. Studying during my pregnancy, then while on maternity leave and through the early months of my daughter’s life was both a challenging and hugely enlightening experience. Having a baby placed professional matters into perspective, but balancing all my commitments took immense determination.
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I handed in my first Finance and Strategy essays nine days after the birth. I sat my first exams when my daughter was eight weeks old. It was tough but I graduated on time, with good marks, a healthy and happy daughter, and in a great position professionally. Prior to enrolling for the Cass Executive MBA, I was a communication trainer at a boutique international business communication training company. Almost every piece of coursework can offer an opportunity to apply new skills to the real world. I wrote eight papers on different aspects of my own company, some of which were presented to my executive board. Without my MBA, I would undoubtedly still be at an excellent firm with a good reputation in its field. However, my role there was quite limited. The Cass MBA gave me the skills and the confidence to move on.
…with tangible rewards I didn’t go into the Cass Executive MBA intending to become an entrepreneur, but within months of leaving I had set up my own company and my own publishing and online venture, and secured a new job at McKinsey. These new directions have increased my income and my ability to advance to new things. Before I started studying at Cass, I was aware of the daily mechanics of business. Through my MBA, however, I grasped the significance of strategy, the value of building for the future, and the role of innovation in creating true wealth and growth. Basically, I would never have had the skills, vision and courage to create a venture of my own without the Cass MBA. Equally importantly, I didn’t have a professional network within London before joining Cass. I felt quite disconnected. It came as a shock to see the degree to which networking was emphasised at Cass, as it was not something that came naturally to me. However, I went to a training session Cass provided for ‘networking newbies’ and this helped me to see it in a very different light. I realised that there are all kinds of fascinating people out there, with all sorts of knowledge and insight that you can benefit from, and the opportunities to build a network of friends and trusted advisors proved invaluable. I left with a diverse and supportive network of intelligent people with the power to help me achieve my goals.
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But it’s not just about networking. I employed what I had learned in Strategic Brand Management to work out the positioning and branding for my new English for Business books. I recently started at McKinsey as a Communication Specialist, and have already used knowledge I gained from modules on Change Management, Finance, and Operational Management. With a career in consulting and training, the sheer breadth of knowledge I have gained about numerous business areas is essential to help me add value to clients. Business needs to change in so many ways to adapt to – and even lead – shifts in society. One area I am deeply involved with, and passionate about, is the need for business to capitalise better on diversity. That can mean getting more women onto boards, or helping business people communicate better across linguistic and cultural barriers. While there are clearly ethical reasons for doing this, I believe it’s also a business imperative. At the moment, an immense reservoir of untapped value – human talent and the profits that can flow from that talent – is squandered through miscommunication and mismanagement. The Cass Executive MBA trains you to see the big picture and envision the future, equips you with the knowledge and skills to act on that vision, and provides the network to help you take the next steps in a journey of transformation.
â€œ With a career in consulting and training, the sheer breadth of knowledge I have gained about numerous business areas is essential to help me add value to clients.â€? www.cassmba.com 24
â€œCass attracts changemakers and provides a forum for debate, bringing people together around key issues and encouraging a potent blend of competition and collaboration.â€? Anna Faelten graduation year and/or official designation?
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Cass Executive MBA Course information
Youâ€™ve read the stories. Now examine the facts. www.cassmba.com www.cassmba.com
Cass Business School 106 Bunhill Row London EC1Y 8TZ T: +44 (0)20 7040 8600 www.cass.city.ac.uk
Cass Business School In 2002, City University’s Business School was renamed Sir John Cass Business School following a generous donation towards the development of its new building in Bunhill Row. It is known as Cass Business School for short. Sir John Cass’s Foundation Sir John Cass’s Foundation has supported education in London since the 18th century and takes its name from its founder, Sir John Cass, who established a school in Aldgate in 1710. Born in the City of London in 1661, Sir John served as an MP for the City and was knighted in 1713. All the information contained within this brochure was correct at the time of going to print.