A member of our first ever Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) cohort in 2016, Simon has spent more than 30 years leading a range of businesses from plc to private. He has held numerous positions as a CFO, COO and CEO in the UK, Europe and China. In his more recent roles, the development and execution of corporate strategy for private companies has been at the forefront of his responsibilities.
Why did you choose the DBA at WBS?
I chose the DBA at Warwick Business School (WBS) because of its outstanding reputation in the international rankings, supported by world leading professors. The course offered an excellent combination of broad learning, both academic and practical, supported by external tutors from industry who have hands on experience. One of my children was also studying at the University of Warwick, so I already had a good feeling for the university’s DNA and culture. In addition, with the workshops being based at the Shard, having the London skyline as a backdrop was an added bonus.
What was the topic of your thesis?
My research was into business ambidexterity and how a firm can organise itself to be able to balance short term performance (“exploitation”) and longer term goals (“exploration”). My contribution to the subject has been to design “a practical 5 stage pathway as to how companies become an ambidextrous organisation” grounded in an established and robust theoretical framework.
What were your programme highlights?
Having Professor Christian Stadler as my supervisor whose academic work on enduring business success complemented my own research interests was a highlight. An unexpected benefit was the quality of my cohort who constantly challenged my own research and helped to refine my findings. As a consequence they have become friends as well as colleagues and still act as a sounding board.
The programme helped me move from being an experienced business leader into a more structured advisor using a clear practical model. This combination of practical and academic experience has enabled me to offer much greater and robust advice when mentoring to other business leaders.
How has the DBA impacted your career?
I enrolled with the intention of bringing together many years of practical strategic work into a more formal approach to my existing business. However, as a result of my findings it opened up my horizon as to how this research could be used in many businesses. I left my existing business to develop and advise other businesses with a hands-on practical approach embedded in these businesses to implement the ambidexterity pathway I designed, so improving business performance. This has resulted in the setting up of Warwickcg Limited, a strategic consultancy with several members of my DBA cohort.
What are your plans for the future, and do you think the DBA will help you achieve them?
Having left my current business, one of my consultancy assignments triggered a new business venture and a start-up venture. Additionally, my assignments have caught the attention of professional advisors who now want to combine strategic thinking as a service into their existing portfolio of services to private businesses looking to create sustainable long-term value. I am also developing content to publish which combines my thesis with actual business experience. I have been invited to present at several WBS courses and hope to continue to do this in the future. All of this has only been possible with the credibility a Doctor of Business Administration qualification.
Find out more about the DBA at Warwick.