Coming to an MBA from a non-traditional background

21 April 2022

Executive MBA participant Michael Bryant discusses his experience undertaking the programme coming from a non-traditional educational background. Michael is Commercial Director of biometric access control and workforce management specialist, Biosite Systems Ltd.

I embarked on my MBA journey aiming to broaden my experience and exposure and to add some formal qualifications to my profile, having previously not undertaken higher education of any form. I’d experienced success and growth early in my career but was conscious it had been within one business, operating in a specific market, within one management team. I was looking to strengthen and expand my knowledge and experience to best equip me for future development opportunities.

I was hesitant about applying for the Executive MBA at first, as having finished full-time education at an early age, I was worried about my ability to complete a postgraduate degree – and such a prolific one at that. It would all be new to me. I contacted the Warwick Business School (WBS) team to understand whether someone with a non-traditional educational background, without a degree, would be suitable to undertake an MBA.  

I underwent an interview, which was particularly helpful, as it not only allowed me to see if the programme was for me, but also ensured that the WBS team would be confident in my ability to complete it – both of which are important. Once I got accepted, I was delighted, but then the nerves set in, primarily as I didn't know what to expect. On arrival, I was greeted by an engaging lecturing team and experienced a great induction session, which provided a fantastic overview. This certainly put me at ease. As I got to know some of my cohort, I quickly realised that we all came from diverse backgrounds and had different reasons for undertaking the MBA, which made me feel a lot more comfortable. 

I think it’s important to understand that an MBA isn’t an instant solution and should be part of a balanced career plan. It’s not a replacement for experience but it’s great when done in partnership. It can build confidence and provide reinforcement to what you may already be doing, by helping to build your knowledge.

For someone considering an Executive MBA, I'd highly recommend it – with the understanding that you need to make sure you have the desire, time and determination to give it your all. It can be an intense experience, especially completing it alongside your work responsibilities. I would also advise focusing on the value of what you're learning, as opposed to the grades you are achieving. I've learnt more completing modules where perhaps my resulting performance was not as strong as others, so it's all a balance.

You can find out more about the WBS Executive MBA programme to see if it’s for you here.

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