Sainsbury Management Fellows

Interview 8: Ben Banks

Ben Banks (BSc, MASc, Queen’s University), London Business School

Ben enjoyed an exciting career in the energy sector before accepting his place at the London Business School. Obtaining his bachelors and masters in engineering in Canada, he focused his research on optimising cooling systems for electric vehicles. This was followed by a transition to the oil & gas sector, moving to Scotland to work as a Design and Project Engineer for TechnipFMC. Responsibilities grew from product design and optimisation work through to leading diverse product and process improvement initiatives focused on changing behaviours and redefining both standard operating practices, and key objective measures. 

What inspired you to study for an MBA?
As an engineer, I have always been interested in breaking down problems and building solutions. I entered the oil & gas sector right before the oil shock, and while I could apply my skills to the day to day issues that arose from the downturn, I recognised that I was lacking the toolkit necessary to evaluate the challenges that faced the business and industry as a whole. I saw a window of opportunity for me to branch out and grow my knowledge base, allowing me to tackle bigger and more complex challenges, and this drove me to seek out an MBA.

What is your first impression of business school?
Quite intense! Lots of friends told me that I should expect to be overloaded, but I don’t think I really believed them. It’s fun though, most of what you end up swamped with are things you are just too interested in not to attend.  The opportunities to meet people with amazing back stories, work with people that have accomplished brilliant things, and travel with friends from around the world really brings to light how much there is to learn out there and how much fun you can have learning it.

Other than your studies, what activities are you involved in at business school? 
There are so many interesting things to do at the London Business School that it’s hard not to get involved with everything. I have taken up rugby and joined the Men’s Rugby Team, an interesting choice as I have no prior experience, but the team is incredibly open, helpful and fun.  I am taking lead on the operations team for the schools 2018 TedEx event which will be a daunting but amazing opportunity to bring and share ideas with the community.  Given my background, I am a member of the Energy Club of course, and I have also joined the Consulting Club given my interest in exploring the consulting career path.  The Sailing Club has been an awesome experience, taking home third place in our division at the 2017 Rolex MBA Conference and Regatta. The list could probably go on for ages.

What is your career goal after gaining your MBA? 
After gaining my MBA I am looking to go into the consulting field. I would like to work as a generalist in strategy consulting in the short term gaining experience in the variety of problems that companies see and the ways in which these differ between companies and industries.  In the long term, I would look to specialise in the energy industry and focus on the transition area between fossil fuels and renewables where I think a lot of change and innovation will take place.

How do you think your MBA skills will take you forward in your career?
My engineering background has given me a basis in breaking down problems, solving components, and assembling a path forwards, however, the MBA will give me the context and vocabulary to take this and apply it on a much broader level. The MBA will give me the tools and knowledge to make changes at a company and industry level, and to see issues with a much wider view and a better background on influences I didn’t know existed before. I see the MBA helping me to transition from a very focused and specialised position to a much broader and more impactful role, and helping me to start tackling bigger and exciting challenges in the future.

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