Once in a lifetime – doing an MBA (part 1)

Are you smart enough?

I spent more than 10 years in C-suite jobs in the music industry. I didn’t get there by being smart, or using my know-how alone. A lot of it involved using my heart, not just my head, trusting my gut and also a little sprinkling of luck. 

Being in the right place at the right time, for example gripping someone’s hand in a turbulent flight on an airplane, talking to someone on a train or in a lift or sharing a taxi with someone who might later cross my career path again.

Incidentally, there’s a book called Hearts, Guts, Smarts and Luck which one of my favourite authors, Dorie Clark, recommended in one of her recent TEDx talks.

So back in 2013, I left C-suites and set up as an entrepreneurial freelance consultant. Where had I got to in terms of my smarts?

Well, to be honest, I had been looking out for everyone else (staff, clients, family, friends) yet neglected my own L&D over the years. When it came to decision making processes, I simply relied on my experience and my gut feeling.

Time to do something for myself and my smarts! But what?

Spontaneity vs. planning

In my usual spontaneous fashion, I didn’t set out a meticulous plan nor did I take a map with me on my journey to improve my smarts.

Instead, my journey started – did you expect anything else ? – with a bit of luck. I attended the Creative Dynamics – Superbrands to Superfans seminar on 23 February 2015 at Henley Business School on a mere hunch, thinking more about networking opportunities than ever doing an MBA!

Once at Henley’s Greenlands location, I did not only fall in love (ah, the heart) with Henley Business School’s Greenlands campus. Have you ever been there?

I mean, location, location, location!

But it was also Henley’s people – I considered it to be the right place where I could fill my smarts gaps.

So I literally signed up the next day (guts involved there, an MBA doesn’t come free of charge) and filled in and submitted all the documentation required in what must have been record time.

On 2 March 2015, I had my first lecture!

Journey companions

One major advantage of the non-workplace situation you encountered at Henley within your MBA cohort made up of people from diverse backgrounds (in all senses of the word) was that there was immediate mutual openness and trust.

You could say what you wanted and didn’t have to worry about asking why –there were no ‘dumb questions’. You also didn’t need to worry about the whom since you were in a team without the usual encumbrances of intra-work competition and elbow culture.

It was a safe environment for play-acting difficult HR conversation scenarios or creatively dreaming up somewhat utopian strategic and international business scenarios – after all, that’s what innovation is all about.

When you came to Greenlands, you just left your usual rucksack of worries at home. And if you didn’t, you could share it with your fellow cohort members who were your new support network and in fact some became really close friends.

What next?

This is only one aspect of my Henley MBA journey – I’ll write about major key learnings and how I am using them now, as a freelancer, in my next blog – watch this space!

And what better way to finish this blog than by referring back to its title – here’s a quote from Talking Heads’ fabulous song Once in a Lifetime.


And you may ask yourself

Where does that highway go to?

And you may ask yourself

Am I right? Am I wrong?

And you may ask yourself

My God, what have I done?

Book a 1:1 consultation or campus visit to find out more about the Henley Executive MBA Programmes

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