Initially graduating as a Chemical Engineer and doubling down on it by obtaining a PhD in Physical Chemistry, my professional career suddenly took an unexpected turn 20 years ago when I joined a blue chip international banking corporation to deliver change projects and programmes.
Working through a number of increasingly complex projects, I was fortunate to develop my experience and build a wide and strong network of relationships. While working for a portfolio of well-known financial services institutions I learnt best practice in leadership and management, but there was always a small degree of imposter syndrome in me because in the end I was “only” a Chemical Engineer.
Five years ago, after a chance occasion to catch up with one of my former senior managers, I moved away from Ireland and took up a Programme Management role in the West Midlands to transform the Finance function in a fast growing UK challenger bank. While initiating my Transformation programme, I opted to also work on my own development by joining the Warwick Business School Executive MBA programme.
Finally, the opportunity to properly validate and expand on the learning I had practiced in the previous 20 years was within reach and there would be no more scope for any feeling of inadequacy. My cohort was the last one of the three year Executive MBA; yet it was my intention to make sure that once my work and study rhythm was adopted, I would continue on, lining up the elective modules as tightly as possible once the core curriculum was covered. In the end, I was fortunate to complete the programme six months ahead of schedule and graduated in January 2020.
Towards the end of the first year of study, I signed up for the WBS Global Mentoring Programme to make sure I made the most of all the resources and support available. Just like with the overall MBA programme, the experience delivered some rich and important learnings. My WBS mentor helped tailor our engagement to my needs, by focusing it on career management, offering critical reflection on what mattered to enable me to influence potential next steps positively.
Mentoring always felt to me like a perfect way to plan re-integration into my own career path, even if, the part time nature of the Executive MBA format didn’t mean I had stepped back from my demanding job. It allowed me to get a sense of control over the events that shaped my professional role and therefore consider future options in a proactive manner, with the certainty that the learnings gained through the curriculum would form a solid platform to build on.
As a result, it is fair to say that the whole experience left me with less appetite for compromise or complacency when faced with role progression or career choices.
The combination of extensive senior leadership changes in my organisation, the successful delivery of my transformation programme, graduating from Warwick and the Covid-19 pandemic led to me returning to Ireland in June 2020, where I moved to a new Global Programme Manager role in the business services division of a large international pharmaceutical company.
This move was undoubtedly made possible by both the Executive MBA curriculum and the WBS Global Mentoring Programme as the key people behind them all made me realise the alternative and best strategies I could put to good use to pursue goals that not only delivered for my employers but also for me.
This change of mindset, greatly helped by the tools and skills acquired along the way made the hard work and the effort of challenging myself thoroughly at times more than worth it. That’s why I am now keen to give back, share my experience and journey: To perhaps help convince anyone who has a strong inner belief the Warwick MBA and associated resources available might be useful and positively change their lives for the better.