Reflecting on my Executive MBA experience

15 October 2020

"Do I or don’t I? Don’t hesitate. Apply and let your amazing WBS journey start without delay." Executive MBA participant, Paul Bayliss, talks us through his MBA journey, from researching different universities to starting his first module.

How do I achieve my career goal of leading a FTSE100 organisation? After my first taste of leadership, this was the question I asked myself over 10 years ago, and after some research and conversations, I decided I needed to get an MBA to broaden my education. But after further research I found that it needed to be at a top business school, and at that point my search stopped.

Fast forward 10 years and now sitting on the board of the UKs largest Energy focussed Systems Integrator, I was approached by the group CEO about completing an MBA to help me achieve my career goals. My initial thought was, do I still want to do an MBA? What value will it bring? Will it really help me achieve my career goals? How am I going to find time for an MBA as well as now having a family, training for triathlons, and a demanding job?

So, after researching different options I applied with the full support of our business to the Warwick Business School (WBS) Executive MBA programme. The individual module approach where you complete one module every six weeks, followed by an assignment to finalise the module was the key characteristic for me, yet I was still very apprehensive about a few things. How was I going to find time to complete the reading and assignments? What were my fellow cohort members going to be like? I thought it might be like the cast of the Apprentice, with big ties and even bigger egos.

During our induction we had a presentation from a WBS alumnus, who gave us his MBA success tips:

  • You will spend more time thinking about MBA coursework than actually doing it
  • You will find time to do all the work, don’t worry
  • And finally, enjoy your time at WBS. You will make some amazing friends.

The first module quickly followed the induction, and we were introduced to the group assignment which we had to complete in the evenings, present on the Saturday and was 20% of our mark. I was left with thinking wow, how am I going to do all of this? A word of warning, the first week is intense and you are left physically and mentally exhausted and you then have to quickly go again with a 2500 word assignment to write within five weeks…

This intense week though is to set you up for the course. You get thrown into a module group of six people, you make some great friends instantly and all work together.

So a year down the line and eight modules in, embarking on my project and dissertation, what have I learnt along the way?

  1. You fit the workload in, whether it’s pre-reading on trains (before COVID-19), whilst waiting for children at football practice, or getting up a 5am to start writing an assignment. But my top tip is have a plan, even if it’s just to do some pre-reading, schedule the time and treat it as a meeting.
  2. Find what works best for you to study. I’m personally a morning person so getting up early works best for me.
  3. Have a separate area with plenty of space to work, in a quiet place in your home (you will struggle with the kitchen table).

Finally, the network of likeminded people with a diverse background is unrivalled. I was told 50% of the MBA is about broadening your business network. WBS attracts the best talent in the world, and I now have a network and friends from all across the world, from pharmacists, to entrepreneurs with successful businesses, all with the same passion.

And for those who are thinking ‘I’ve been doing all of that stuff for years, I don’t need to do it’, don’t underestimate the effect of embedding your working practices with solid theory and the reflection time the MBA gives you. It allows you to sit back and challenge your own approach which allows you to improve and go again.

If you are reading this you are probably in the same position I was - do I or don’t I? Don’t hesitate. Apply and let your amazing WBS journey start without delay. 

Find out more about our MBA programmes.