Sainsbury Management Fellows

Interview 7: Nick Asselin-Miller

Nick Asselin-Miller (MA, MEng, CEng, Cambridge, IMechE), INSEAD

Nick enjoyed a varied and successful career in the sustainable energy sector before securing a place at INSEAD.   Most recently he was a Business Area Manager for the Sustainable Transport practice at Ricardo Energy & Environment, a leading environmental consultancy.  Here he was responsible for co-managing the practice, including developing the practice’s business plan, resourcing projects, leading on sales in the private sector and line managing a number of members of the team.  Nick was also responsible for leading from the front on some of the most technically challenging projects and bids, for clients including the European Commission, UK Government and key private sector accounts, including Heathrow Airport.

Through these projects and previous experience whilst at Element Energy, Nick has developed an expertise in supporting the commercialisation of sustainable transport technologies, leveraging his detailed understanding of the technical, economic, political and regulatory context surrounding their commercialisation, as well as his knowledge of the practical barriers which must be overcome.  Nick rapidly rose through the ranks to his position of Business Area Manager, whilst also achieving his Chartered Engineer status in the process.  He also gained experience in the technology venture capital field, through a stint with a boutique technology VC advisory firm.

How did you learn about the SMF scholarship?
I found out about the scholarship scheme through a recommendation from one of the MBA courses I applied to, on one of their scholarship pages.

What was the most challenging part of applying for the SMF scholarship?
Trying to convey my case for support in the relatively concise and focused questions on the application form was, for me, the most challenging part of the application process.  It required a lot of thought to fit the required information into the space provided.  It was very important to keep an eye on the eligibility criteria at all times, to ensure that I was able to respond to those criteria effectively.

What does winning the scholarship mean to you?
Winning a scholarship means a lot to me. Without this source of financing, I may have decided against doing an MBA, as I will be moving abroad with my wife and young baby, which would have made the risk very substantial if I had not had support from SMF.

The SMF application process has also opened my eyes to the need for more business-minded engineers in industry and it makes it more likely that I will seek a position in industry after my MBA.  Finally, I look forward to the networking opportunities which may be afforded to me in the future through being part of a unique group of successful engineers – this is also a key attraction of the SMF.

What tip would you give an applicant for the SMF scholarship?
First, I would recommend that they apply and not be put off by the small number of scholarships awarded each year! Second, I would also advise that they review in detail the application criteria and that they incorporate this thinking into their application form – this is essential given the small amount of space available to convey their eligibility for the SMF scholarship.  Third, regarding the interview, I would recommend that they think about what they will do after their MBA and how they can contribute to UK engineering.  And finally, in order to support their application and generally become more involved in UK engineering, I would recommend that applicants become chartered prior to applying and going to business school, as well as taking an active role with their respective institution.

What’s your career goal after gaining your MBA?
My goal immediately post-MBA is to seek a position on a leadership development programme in industry, in order to apply my combination of management and technical skills in one place. This kind of programme would enable me to rapidly progress through the ranks of the business in question, whilst being supported on obtaining and further developing the various skills required to reach the top. Ultimately I would like to reach a very senior, board-level position in a major UK engineering firm (ideally aeronautical), where I would seek to apply my technical skills, coupled with the business skills learned on my MBA and my strategic mindset, to help them continue to be successful in the rapidly evolving current technological climate.

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