"The MBA was a huge learning curve" - What I did after my MBA

03 October 2022

Gia Aradottir, Executive MBA alumna, shares why she decided to join the programme and how her career has developed since completing the course. 

Why the Executive MBA?

I loved my job as a research scientist working in agricultural research; I was and still am passionate about sustainable agriculture and food security, and the potential to use plant natural defences to protect crops from insect pests. However, as time went on, I wanted to be closer to the application side of science, making sure the knowledge generated would benefit the end user. Before, my priorities were more focused on publishing academic papers and writing grant proposals. I managed to secure a couple of projects that aimed at translating my research to innovation, including working with an African seed company, but felt I lacked the knowledge and skill to develop a product and deliver it to a market. I decided an MBA would be the right choice to help me on that path.  

I chose Warwick Business School (WBS) as I liked their programme and their approach to having cohorts with diverse backgrounds. I also have to admit that spending every other weekend studying in The Shard also attracted me to the Executive MBA programme at WBS.

My experience on the programme

For me, the MBA was a huge learning curve. All my academic training prior to the MBA had been scientific and technical, with most of the transferable skills focusing on academic writing, presentation skills and time management. I found that I really enjoyed subjects that I hadn’t expected to like, such as Accounting and Financial Management, the Psychology of Investing and Financial Decision Making, Managing Operational Performance, and Operations Management. I could relate most of my project work to the academic organisations and became very interested in how academic research could be managed in a better way. I also learned a lot around the topics that brought me to the MBA. My hands-down favourite module was Entrepreneurial Finance in San Francisco with module tutors Professor John Lyon and Professor Simon Barnes. I went on to do my dissertation project with Simon where I looked at the bottlenecks in innovation in agricultural research, which created a lot of interest from academic funders and organisations.

Everyone who has done an MBA mentions the benefits of the people you meet and it is no exaggeration that Cohort 7 at The Shard was fantastic, and a great source of help and inspiration both during the course and after. The wider WBS community is also always welcoming and I have met some fantastic people on elective modules; I was even able to meet up with an MBA cohort that was on a module in Beijing when I was there on a work trip. Perhaps it is the type of person that decides to do an MBA but the positive energy and enthusiasm from everyone is infectious and something I value hugely.

I entered the MBA mentoring programme in my second year of study and was fortunate to be paired with Nick Pope who is an executive coach with a science background. Nick’s support with clarifying my career goals and mapping out my next steps was invaluable, and I am immensely grateful to him for his time and encouragement.

What I did after the MBA

I had not thought about consulting when I started the MBA and my plans had been to get a job with an early-stage start-up where my background could be useful, but I quickly realised that there was interest both from academic organisations as well as from the start-up world in the skills I had developed. I therefore founded Mamoré Research and Innovation Limited providing consultancy services to public and private sector organisations. I have been very fortunate to have plenty of work right from the start and I particularly enjoy when I can help problem solve and make improvements that benefit the people I am working for. The projects I have worked on to date are varied and range from R&D support and management, writing and reviewing reports and proposals, technical and professional support for scientists and help with fundraising (from private sector and government) through to developing a proposal for a new advisory and oversight modality for a large international research organisation.

The unexpected benefit of consulting means I have been able to keep my academic interests going too and I continue to supervise PhD students and publish academic papers. I am a senior editor of an academic journal, which keeps me up to date with research directions and latest developments. In my spare time, I am also a trustee and treasurer of the Royal Entomological Society, a voluntary role, but here again the background gained in the MBA is hugely valuable and valued by the Society.

So, did I achieve what I set out to do when I embarked on the MBA? Absolutely, I now work with start-ups who are bringing new products to market, which is something I enjoy enormously and I love seeing them succeed. What I hadn’t realised, and is an unexpected benefit, is that I am now able to use the learning from the MBA to work differently with the academic organisations that I used to work within and help support the change I wanted to see when I was a researcher.

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