Ricardo Topham
Telecommunications Engineer
Distance Learning MBA (2022-2026)

Tell us a bit about yourself

Born in Spain and a citizen of the world. I am very lucky to have plenty of life experiences through living in ten cities across seven countries: Spain, the UK, The Netherlands, France, the U.S.A., Canada, and now Luxembourg. In addition, I've travelled to over forty countries across five continents.

I’m an engineer not working as an engineer. I studied a five-year Telecommunications Engineering degree, followed by an MSc in Telecommunication Technologies and an MSc in Space Management, and I'm now closing the circle with an MBA.

I've worked in a Spanish public university, the world's leading space agency (NASA), a small consulting firm specialised in the space sector (Euroconsult), one of the world's leading satellite communications operators (SES), and a large research technology organisation (the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, LIST).

That should briefly describe me!

What first attracted you to Warwick Business School?

It is pretty simple: Warwick Business School’s (WBS) track record and solid reputation: having its Distance Learning MBA consistently ranked among the top distance learning / part-time MBAs among other business schools. I did not want to do an MBA for the sake of doing it, I wanted a degree from a well-recognised institution; nowadays there are too many MBAs on offer that provide limited and / or questionable value to students.

Why did you ultimately choose Warwick Business School for your MBA?

It was either WBS’s Distance Learning MBA or nothing. At this stage of my life a Full-time MBA is unfeasible. What I found game-changing from the WBS Distance Learning MBA is the possibility of meeting fellow students twice during the first year and being able to do face-to-face modules. Spending time with my classmates is priceless, the bonds you build with virtual interactions are no way near what can be achieved with physical interactions. I admit it is not the same experience as a Full-time MBA, though it manages to find a very good balance between allowing students to continue working and benefit from meeting in person several times during the studies. This provides an invaluable opportunity for us.

What elements of the programme do you value the most and why? 

The two weeks we spend at WBS and the possibility of undertaking face-to-face modules. Again, meeting with fellow students is priceless.

What is it like studying for an MBA?

Challenging and intense! You need to juggle your work commitments with your MBA commitments, without disregarding your social life. It’s doable, though binge-watching shows and movies are a thing of the past until I graduate.

Has the Leadership module had an impact on your leadership style? If so, in what way? 

It was an eye-opener in terms of all the variables, parameters, situations, contexts, cultures, that are at play. In the past I had some limited exposure to leadership courses, though nothing comparable to the Leadership module of the MBA.

The lessons and teachings from Associate Professor Dimitrios Spyridonidis were thought-provoking and challenged us. Something I really enjoyed. Over the approximately three months I spent studying leadership, it made me realise that, to be successful as a leader, I need a multi-dimensional awareness of my surroundings. I need to avoid falling into the trap of not adapting to what a specific situation and context require, and that what worked in the past might not necessarily work in the future, there’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. In the end, it’s about adapting your leadership style to efficiently manage change, that’s why we’re Change Makers!

How did you find the work/life balance?

There’s a learning curve to find the sweet spot. In my case, I try to fit one to two hours of study per working day, and find some time during the weekend. I find it easier to spread out my time commitment over the full week rather than give it my all during a day or two per week; the latter is mentally exhausting as there’s not enough time to digest all the content and learnings.

Time is a very precious and limited resource and you need to make the best use of it. What’s critical is to spend quality time studying and working on the assignments, you need to focus on what you’re doing, and need discipline too to avoid falling behind with the lessons; what you don’t study today you’ll have to tomorrow! Things accumulate much quicker than you imagine.

Do you have any advice for anyone currently thinking about studying for an MBA?

The first thing is that if you have doubts whether to pursue an MBA or not, I strongly suggest to apply. Once you’re accepted into a programme, if you do not feel ready or your work commitments stack up then you have the option to defer to the next intake. I always say it’s better to regret something you’ve done than something you haven’t.

What shouldn’t be under-estimated is the time it takes to prepare a successful application; it quickly becomes a month or two until you prepare all the documents and essays that are required.

Regarding Warwick Business School’s MBA programs, the opportunity cost of the Distance Learning MBA is much lower than that of the Full-time counterpart. For those that want to continue working, it’s a no brainer, go for the Distance Learning MBA, or, if you have the luxury to live close-by to Warwick or London, the Executive MBA is a very interesting option. For those that can do a Full-time MBA, it’s ideal as it provides a full year of interactions with your classmates, a unique and invaluable experience.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with Warwick Business School’s MBAs. Amazing campus, amazing faculty, outstanding reputation, very reasonable fees. What else can you ask for to an MBA?