Written by Toby Shephard, first year Executive MBA student at Hult International Business School.
My journey to an Executive MBA has not been a traditional one. I first spent 6 years at medical school to become a doctor and then started working as a junior doctor in a hospital. When we graduated, all my medical school friends were passionate about their new careers, but for me, there was something missing. The future felt a little blurred and not clearly marked out. So, what should I do? Stick it out and hope that I find my place? Or look for other opportunities that would utilize my transferable skills and medical knowledge, and find success on another path?
That was my story from 1996 until late 2001 when I took the decision that clinical medicine was not going to give me what I needed to fulfill me in my professional life. I had to find another career path. So, in March 2002, I found myself starting work in Paris for a small French pharmaceutical company, Les Laboratoires Servier, in their global marketing department as an International Scientific Project Leader. My role was the scientific and medical back-up to the global marketing teams for brands they marketed across the world. Since then, I have continued to successfully work in the pharmaceutical industry, in different countries, utilizing my medical skills to great effect. I can safely say the career decision I took in 2002 changed the rest of my life.
A time for decisions
2002 was not the only time I would be making key decisions in my career. Over time we hit points in our career journey where we need to take a breather, reflect on where we are, where we want to go, how we want to get there, and why? So, a few years ago, I took a step back to look at these 4 questions and how they related to me. I realized that I wanted to move up the organizational ladder, but wasn’t sure about the best way of achieving that? I was already relatively senior in my organization and I was working with some very talented people, so I needed something that could allow me to stand out from the crowd and provide me with a ‘unique selling point’. I looked at all manner of courses, at reviews of executive educational options but I always seemed to be routed back to the Executive MBA.
Being a medical doctor, an Executive MBA is not necessarily perceived as a match made in heaven as MBAs are often seen to be about ‘business and making money’ and medical doctors are about ‘making people better and improving their lives’ which, if you believe those perceptions, are like ‘ying and yang’. However, these perceptions could not be farther from the truth:
The learnings, experiences, and subjects that the Executive MBA student is exposed to broadens the mind, stretches your capabilities and develops you to become a far more effective leader and person overall.
The right school
So having decided on the Executive MBA, I had to decide which school? I believe this is a very personal decision which combines both emotional and practical factors. Practical considerations are the school’s location, its alumni network, access to resources, the curriculum, the quality of the teaching, the career development services, and so on, are all factors that affect the decision-making process. But I also believe that to truly engage with a course at a ‘mature age’ there needs to be an emotional attachment to the ‘school’ in terms of the people, the building, its culture, its values and approach and what it stands for as an organization. I liken this to my decision about the medical school I attended, which was based ultimately on an intuitive feeling I had when I visited it for my first interview. My choice of medical school was certainly the right one for me.
‘Hult just felt different’
What initially attracted me to Hult was the innovative and practical-based curriculum taught by experts in their field. What convinced me that it the right for me, was that there was an energy about the school that I did not experience at the other business schools I visited. Hult just felt different: When I attended a year 1 and year 2 lecture I saw, first-hand, the camaraderie, energy and drive that Hult students have. I saw the cultural diversity I was seeking. For me, and the stage of my career, I wanted to be exposed to a new world. I wanted to be taken out of my comfort zone through the curriculum and challenged by my fellow students. To date, Hult and my Executive MBA has given me this in bucket loads and more!
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