30 years on since I joined the first Executive MBA cohort

07 March 2023

We are excited to be welcoming the 50th cohort of the Executive MBA programme at WBS, to celebrate we are looking back and sharing some of our alumni stories. Susan Fenwick joined the Modular MBA back in 1993, as part of the very first cohort. Learn more about why she chose to step back into the world of study and her journey on the programme.

My journey to being in the first intake of the new Modular MBA at Warwick Business School (WBS) started when I attended a work conference. I was impressed with the campus and thought it looked like a great place to study – if only there was something I wanted to study!

Fast forward a few years and I was taking stock of my career and thinking about what I wanted to do next. In truth, I was bored. At the time I had a director-level position with a housing association in London, and while I enjoyed being responsible for a variety of business areas, I couldn’t see myself doing that forever. I was aware that my CV was a little light on academic achievement and was thinking about an MBA. I was hoping to gain some private sector insight and open my mind to learning new things.

I did some research (I don’t think Google was much involved – hard copy brochures sent by snail mail only) and narrowed it down to WBS, London Business School or Cambridge. Distance learning was out as I knew I didn’t learn that way and I would fail quickly. Full-time was out as I needed to continue to live in London and pay a mortgage. I did not have a year’s living expenses saved up. Evening classes were possible but difficult as I was also a councillor at a local authority and meetings were at night. The best way I could see to complete the course and not bankrupt myself was the new modular delivery at WBS. And I remembered what a pleasant environment it was too!

I persuaded my employer to fund half the cost and give me three additional weeks of study leave. I remember the first weekend of team building involved the sort of exercises I hate, like designing a means of dropping an egg out of the window and it landing intact. Our team did this successfully, but no thanks to me! We then had a week of lectures on organisational behaviour, an assignment and then on to preparing for the next module. I think the module on Europe was my favourite and the one on business statistics my least. I did however learn to use regression analysis, which I have continued to use since!

I would like to say that I remember loads of my learning and use it most days. That would not be the case. I remember snippets about things like group behaviour, leadership, operational management, and marketing. I remember a dispute with a particularly opinionated professor and some nights out with fellow students (the extent of the hangover following our final module put me off a certain beer for life) – and the adventures in Brussels on our European module. As a few of my fellow students were employed by Land Rover, I also learnt a little too much about cars.

The course did, however, have a big impact on me in making me realise that the private and public sectors were not as far apart as I thought. I changed jobs (along with a large number of my fellow students) and used the learning in my new role.

I have been living and working in Australia for the past 13 years and my MBA certainly gave me the grounding to be confident in starting again in a new country.