Tag Archives: MBA

From Cambridge to Jordan – Bridging the Gap Between Technical Education and Industry Demands

SMF Nick Sullivan, co-founder and managing director of Heritage Independent Living, is one of many Sainsbury Management Fellows at the forefront of initiatives that help business and industry grow and thrive.

Nick was recently invited to give a presentation at the Amman Chamber of Commerce in Jordan on an innovative Roadmapping project that he is leading on behalf of Cambridge University Institute for Manufacturing (IfM). The project is funded by the Newton Khalidi Fund and administered by the Royal Academy of Engineering, which also administers the Sainsbury Management Fellows scholarship of which Nick was a beneficiary enabling him to study for an  MBA at INSEAD.

“The Newton Khalidi Fund is being used to establish a Roadmapping capability at the Al Hussein Technical University (HTU), which was established by Jordan’s Crown Prince Foundation.  HTU provides excellent, rigorous and industrially-relevant technical education that enables its graduates to obtain quality employment and to contribute to the development of Jordon’s industry, economy and society. The Roadmapping project bridges the gap between technical education and industry demands,” said Nick, who is now teaching and embedding the fast-track approach to Roadmapping at the university.

Following initial successful workshops, Nick and his colleagues are looking at helping HTU to work directly with industry and particularly with SMEs.

Nick explained: “SMEs all over the world have similar challenges, a pressing one is time constraint.  Typically, the senior members of the team wear multiple ‘hats’, managing many tasks and they have little time to take a step back from the detail of the business to focus on strategic matters.   Their knowledge of available markets and best practice also tend to be limited.  Our intention is to develop the Roadmapping capability at HTU to enable them to use a range of tools and techniques developed by Cambridge University IfM to tackle such challenges.  Many of these tools have already been used extensively within UK SMEs.”

The programme will focus on specific industry sectors.  As Jordan already has a well-developed Computer & Informatics Industry, the next HTU roadmapping workshop will look at other major industry sectors including Energy, Engineering, Technology, Architecture/Civil/Construction, and Manufacturing – the SME tools and techniques are especially pertinent to the manufacturing sector.

HTU’s programme not only develops the fast-track roadmapping capability, Nick and his team are delivering advice and support.  Initially, Nick and his team will train HTU practitioners at Cambridge University; they will then work with SMEs with HTU personnel shadowing them, and then HTU will work directly with SMEs with Nick providing support as and when needed.

“We are all very excited about the potential of HTU’s educational programme and we believe it will have significant trickle down effects on the growth of small businesses and the economy in the coming years.”


SMF Awards £50,000 MBA Scholarships to 11 Talented Engineers

SMF has announced the 2018 SMF Scholarship awardees, each of whom has received £50,000 towards their MBA study at a leading international business school:

Awardee Business School
Jonathon Simister LBS
Emmanuel Lawal INSEAD
Jad Abi Esber Harvard
Ian Taylor Stanford
Samir Szamocki INSEAD
Rachel Fitzsimmons INSEAD
Jacob Mills LBS
Meenal Pore INSEAD
Abhishek Morey INSEAD
Jegadeesh Sithamparathas MIT

The Sainsbury Management Fellows scholarship is open to professional engineers who are heading towards business leadership roles – in large organisations or as entrepreneurs – and wish to combine business education and engineering skills to take their careers to new heights.

This year’s 11 scholarship awardees share their thoughts on studying for an MBA, how it will help them fulfil their aspirations to help businesses flourish and make a positive impact on society. They also talk about the benefits of becoming part of the Sainsbury Management Fellowship and their commitment to mentoring young engineers.

SMF works with the Royal Academy of Engineering to select each year’s scholarship awardees and details can be found on the RAEng’s website.  The value of the award recently rose from £30,000 per awardee to £50,000, providing even greater support to successful applicants. Professional engineers who are interested in studying for an MBA at one of the 14 business schools that support the SMF scholarship scheme can register their interest with the SMF Office.

You can read interviews with current and past scholarship awardees.

What to Expect in the First Week of Your MBA Course

Starting a new MBA course can be a daunting prospect.  Most courses appreciate this and begin with an orientation week so that students can find their feet and prepare to get the most out of their course. Writing for the Financial Times, former MBA student Mehul Ruparelia recalls her first week:

“After the first weekend, we had orientation week, also popularly known as disorientation week. This was a week organised and run by alumni from the outgoing class, full of parties, team-building activities, organised sports, treasure hunts, presentations and more parties. The aim of orientation week was to let people get to know each other and to become more familiar with the campus and the surroundings. Orientation week culminated in a talent night where groups got to showcase their collective and individual talents in front of other students, faculty and alumni.”

Evaluation and preparation
Your first week of an MBA course is your chance to evaluate what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what you hope to achieve through study. The course itself, regardless of which institution you attend, is often described as a ‘sprint’, requiring an enormous amount of work. This first week is a chance to really reflect on what you need to improve in order to succeed.

You cannot achieve a goal without knowing what it is. That means your first week should also include time spent identifying what your life goals are, and what you require in order to reach them. Where should the focus of your study be? Who do you need to meet in order to learn what you need to know? These are the questions you need to be asking yourself because it will be difficult to take a step back and be objective once the course really gets up and running.

Meeting and networking
In the first week of your MBA, you are likely to meet many of the students you will be learning alongside, most of whom come from varied backgrounds and have different levels of experience. Many MBA students find that their fellow classmates are almost as interesting and useful as the course itself, so it is important to use the first week to try and get to know them. Think about what you are offering, too. What are you bringing to the table? Dig deep.

Don’t hold back
The first week on many MBA courses is about pushing boundaries. Students who learn to break the mould are much more likely to succeed in the world of business, which is why courses often include leadership courses and seminars alongside imaginative team-building exercises. There might be some trepidation at first, particularly with regard to the more physical challenges, but it is a great idea to ignore any jitters and fully take part in all the activities that interest you. It will also make it easier to learn other students’ names, something that will come in handy over the course.

Your first week on an MBA course will set the tone for the rest of your time studying. It’s vital to get things off on the right foot.

An SMF MBA Scholarship Awardee says…
In 2017, Kofoworola Agbaje (MEng, Imperial College London) was awarded a £30,000 SMF Scholarship to study for an MBA at Wharton business school.  Asked about her first impression of business school, she said: “I’m surrounded by amazing people and amazing opportunities. I have classmates that have climbed the highest peaks in the world, visited over 60 countries, speak five languages, worked in the FBI, started multiple businesses, sold their start-ups etc. The course is very extensive, a lot more work than I expected but the classes are very interactive and I get to learn from both my professors and other students. There is so much to do and a lot of activities to get involved in, I have joined seven student-run clubs and every day feels like a stretch experience.   I’m loving the experience and taking it one step at a time.”

Read more about the SMF scholarship winners’ first impressions of their business school:
Will an MBA really make a difference to my career? Part 1
Will an MBA really make a difference to my career? Part2
USA or Europe – where to study for your MBA?
Searching for the right post-MBA job
Reflections on the start of my MBA journey

Learn more about the SMF MBA Scholarship.

Photo:  Grace Madeline on Unsplash

MBA Scholarship Awardees Share their Experiences

£300,000 of SMF Scholarship Awards Help 10 Talented Engineers Attend Top Business Schools

Wharton, INSEAD, Kellogg, Stanford and LBS are welcoming 10 awardees of the Sainsbury Management Fellows MBA scholarship.

The awardees each received £30,000 towards their study costs.  They are Kofoworola Agbaje who chose Wharton; Nicholas Asselin-Miller, Qiang Fu and Andrew Glykys are attending INSEAD; Mukunth Kovaichelvan is studying at Kellogg; Imogen Rye is at Stanford, and the other four awardees – Benjamin Banks, James Diaz-Sokoloff, Matthew Dixon and David MacGeehan – all chose to study at London Business School.

The SMF Scholarship scheme is run by Engineers in Business Fellowship (EIBF) which helps young engineers fulfil their aspirations to become business leaders by supporting them financially in gaining business skills including leadership, strategic thinking, marketing, economics and finance.

The value of Sainsbury Management Fellows awarded now totals £9 million.  During this time the scholarship has helped over 300 engineers forge outstanding careers in diverse areas including the corporate sector, social enterprise, charity, healthcare and education.

The success of the scholarship scheme is measured not only in terms of the career achievements of the SMFs but in their contribution to society.  For example, 153 SMFs have founded or co-founded businesses valued at £4.6 billion, creating 18,000 jobs; 265 SMFs support and mentor young engineers, helping them with career or entrepreneurial goals and 122 SMFs are actively involved with charitable organisations.  Several SMFs teach business and innovation as visiting professors at universities, including the EIBF President, David Falzani.

After graduation, the scholarship awardees become Sainsbury Management Fellows and become SMF Alumni.  Many say that the Alumni is, perhaps, the most rewarding part of winning a scholarship, because of the lifelong support. The Fellows benefit from ongoing career and entrepreneurship mentoring which can often lead to important collaborations and high-level networking via SMF, the Royal Academy of Engineering and other leading institutions.

Commenting on the purpose of the SMF Scholarship David Falzani said, “The world is changing at an unprecedented rate, creating new challenges for UK businesses, these include globalisation, cross-culturalism, the rise of the Asian markets and flux in international politics, the economy, technology and environmentalism.  The need for multi-skilled engineers is actually increasing.  The SMF scholarship expands the pool of business-minded engineers available to employers.  The more SMFs we nurture, the more they can help boards make sound strategic decisions and deal with the challenges arising from new paradigm shifts.”

New Applications Invited
The SMF scholarship is open to engineers with the potential to gain leadership roles early in their careers, who have a clear vision for their MBA study and career aspirations.  Candidates submit a written application and shortlisted candidates undergo a panel interview with members of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Sainsbury Management Fellows.    Find out more about making an application.

To learn directly from 8 of the successful awardees, click the grey panels on the right and read their Q&As.

Eight Interviews with MBA Scholarship Winners

Choosing MBA Master of Business Administration program for outstanding career

Welcome to the Q&A interviews with six young engineers who have each won a £30,000  Sainsbury Management Fellows scholarship to study for an MBA at a leading business school.

Over the next few days, we are publishing a new Q&A from an  awardee who will share why they decided to take an MBA and how a business education will help them achieve their goals.

Each year Sainsbury Management Fellows supports engineers with business leadership ambitions by awarding  up to 10 applicants a scholarship to help offset study costs.

Equally important, the scholarship awardees become part of the SMF network , a diverse, dynamic and experienced group of professional engineers who provide the MBA candidates with mentoring and support as they advance their careers.

If you’re a young engineer with ambitions to start a business or gain a leadership role in a blue chip company, gaining an MBA degree will augment your engineering qualifications and experience with strategy, marketing and finance skills.  These combined skills-sets will enable you to push your career in an exciting new direction.

We hope the interviews  inspire you to consider applying for a scholarship.  Learn more about how to apply.

Will an MBA really make a difference to my career? Choices & Options – David Falzani, SMF President

MBA Blog Part 2 iStock_000061959038_Large EDITED 2

In our previous post in this series, we began to explore in a general sense how an MBA can give your career a huge boost – if you make the most of it and are in it for the right reasons. MBAs give you a toolbox of new skills, enable you to make important contacts, provide access to the school’s brand and help you develop your personal bandwidth. They also can let you gain real-life experience through placements, develop personally as well as professionally, and, of course, specialise.

It’s this specialisation and personalisation that an MBA offers which we’re going to be focusing on today. Of course, choosing the right school is important. Small schools can be tightly-knit communities, inclusive, and cohesive – and may offer unique specialisations. However, they won’t offer as many electives or as much customisation as a larger school, and you may find your thinking will be less challenged at a smaller school.   In contrast, larger schools give you a broad choice of electives and tend to have much larger alumni networks – although it can come at a cost, with such schools sporting, for some, daunting student population sizes.  Thanks to specialised cohorts, however, the size or location of school isn’t nearly as important as programme length and structure.

When it comes to selecting an MBA, you have a wide range of choices and options in terms of course structure, length, and teaching style. We can classify MBAs into three different types: part-time, full-time, and executive. Selecting between them is one of the first major decisions you’ll have to make before applying for an MBA.

Part-time MBAs
Often pursued for their lower financial cost, part-time MBAs are great for people looking to boost their careers without necessarily overhauling or changing things too much – they’re often referred to as career enhancers, rather than career changers. These courses last at least 2 years and you will often be taught during the evenings or weekends.

A part-time course allows you to continue working, which inevitably makes the course less of a financial burden and should put you on a good track to promotion at your current workplace. Some employers will even pay the tuition fees for such a programme in part or in full – but beware, it is likely that you will not have the same access to fellowships or other funding from the business school.

However, the part-time nature of these programmes means you are not exposed to the same intensive learning environment as in a full-time MBA, as we will explore. Whereas you are placed in a tough, immersive environment on a full-time course, typically your central focus in a part-time programme will still be on your day job. You will not be as exposed in your thinking to radical new ideas.  This is why many argue that a part-time MBA is not so much a career changer as it is an enhancer – but if you’re concerned about the cost of tuition, or if you’re set on pursuing promotions in your current job or industry, a part-time MBA could be the right choice for you.

Full-time MBAs
The full-time MBA tends to be the mainstay of most business schools, and with good reason. These are frequently billed as the ‘career changers’ – an opportunity for you to take a complete break from work for up to 24 months and re-evaluate your personal approach, skills set, and mindset towards management.  Of course, as we discussed in the last post, an MBA is what you make it, but a full-time programme is particularly special thanks to the immersive environment it offers.

MBAs attract an incredibly diverse range of people, from a huge variety of personal and professional backgrounds. Like in a real business environment, you will be working with people you may not normally come across in your personal life.

Your interpersonal skills aren’t the only thing that will be tested on a full-time programme. Exposed to new disciplines and what might be entirely new ways of thinking, learning quickly is one of the most important skills you’ll develop thanks to a full-time MBA. The internship opportunities that come as a result of this will open up even wider career opportunities in finance, investment banking, consulting, start-ups, NGOs, and more. In this way, it is not just a career changer, but a potential life-changer.

Full-time programmes aren’t without their issues, of course. There’s the financial element as we’ve already discussed. There’s also a possibility of ‘group think’ developing as a result of working so closely with the same people in such an intense environment. Heterogenity of views can be lost in the process of working together towards common project goals – leading to a lot of people pursuing the same career path after an MBA, such as in consultancy or finance. It’s important to remember that a full-time MBA opens a lot of doors for you, and carving out your own path using the skills and knowledge you acquire is a major benefit of MBA study.

Executive MBAs
An executive MBA is much like a part-time MBA. They’re designed for people who are still working, with flexible timetabling and attendance in recognition of this. They’re designed to be completed in two years or less. The main difference is who they’re designed for: experienced managers, executives, and other entrepreneurs around halfway through their career.

For this reason, the knowledge and skills developed on an executive MBA programme are rarely transformative – instead, an executive MBA is about updating your existing knowledge and skills as well as increasing the number of career options.  Again, they are a career-enhancer.

You will usually be encouraged to pursue an EMBA by your company’s executives, who want to fast-track you ahead in the company hierarchy. While EMBAs do tend to be more expensive than the regular MBA programme, they are usually sponsored by the company – so financial considerations are less significant.

Your career ambitions and tolerance to risk and financial outlay will determine which type of MBA will help you achieve your goals. Once you know the type of MBA you want, you can decide which type of business school will enable you to flourish and make the most of the MBA experience.

Read part 1: Will an MBA really make a difference to my career

You may also be interested in reading interviews with the winners of the SMF MBA Scholarship.


MBA Scholarship Applications Open

Are you a professional engineer considering studying for an MBA?

We are pleased to announce that applications are now open for our Sainsbury Management Fellows MBA scholarship  – applications can be made via the Royal Academy of Engineering.  Follow this link for further information and details on the application process.

SMF Calling Young Engineers Infographic Feb 2016

Read interviews with the winners of the SMF MBA Scholarship.

Will an MBA really make a difference to my career? – David Falzani, SMF President

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To a large extent, that’s up to you. An MBA (Masters in Business Administration) is much more than qualifications and getting the most out of the experience requires the right mindset and purposeful action.

Pursuing an MBA programme is likely to be one of the biggest development challenges you will face.  Certainly, for full-time programmes, the time commitment, the temporary loss of a regular income when you leave your job to study, and the fact that so many MBA graduates are filling the market each year, leads prospective candidates to question whether an MBA degree is worthwhile.

An MBA programme with a great reputation at an internationally renowned business school is invaluable for those looking to advance quickly to senior management roles. If you reach your full potential, it can be a genuine stepping stone for getting ahead in your current sector, or starting up successfully in an alternative sector. An MBA not only opens up opportunities in terms of experience and contacts, it also gives you an excellent practical and academic background in essential areas of business including finance and marketing.

The MBA will stretch your mind, not only through academic rigor, but also by enabling you to work with a diverse range of people with differing views and perspectives. You will also benefit by pursuing new interests through specialisation and developing long-term goals that help your personal growth.

A map for the future
Where do you want to be in the next five years? To ensure an MBA makes a difference to your career trajectory, you should ideally have some clarity about your future career path. At the outset, this doesn’t have to be as specific as working in a defined sector or industry, but it should cover factors such as time-bound career progression (eg when you want to be in a senior management role in a blue-chip company or set up your own business) and a strategy for using the MBA programme as a springboard to achieve your goal.

A roadmap will help you to decide which business school to apply to and in which country, the length of programme and electives. Your roadmap doesn’t have to be set in stone; it can be continually updated as opportunities arise and your interests develop throughout the course of your MBA.

Your MBA gives you access to a wide range of elective course modules both within and outside of your current programme. This might be anything from life sciences, property, environmental studies to digital media and computer science.

The MBA allows you to contextualise your studies within a business perspective. You might spot a new opportunity within a sector for a start-up. You could use that elective in ‘big data’ to work out new, broad strategies for your current company. Alternatively, you might be looking to move from a technical expertise-oriented position towards management, and require new skills and knowledge.

One of the most powerful things about an MBA is that it enables technical specialisation and growth of expertise in the context of a strong, business-oriented education. By making the most of your options on your course, you’re ultimately enhancing employability – boosting your expertise, opportunities, and potential salary. 

Many people, rightly in my view, place a high value on the people they connect with during the course of their MBA programme. You are in a diverse, international environment full of very talented people with vastly different experiences and aspirations who enrich the learning experience. But do be careful not to see this as an enhanced networking opportunity. Your MBA represents a major opportunity for developing new expertise and specialisation.

Many MBA programmes involve a company placement period where you will gain real-life experience in management on major projects, often at big brand companies. This is a powerful element of the MBA: it throws you into the deep-end of the management world and demands rapid learning and quality work. This experience will not only enhance your cachet and boost your CV but provides a valuable insight into what’s to come when you complete your studies. The lessons you learn during your placement will come in handy in your later career.  Often placements turn into real jobs.

Different business schools have different teaching styles and cultures so naturally, produce different kinds of managers and entrepreneurs. How you fit into the programme or a school’s environment will have a large impact on the outcome of your MBA – not least because the best schools are often recruiting grounds for big companies.

The impact an MBA will have on your career prospects and personal development will most likely change the course of your future. This is a major chance to study, develop your expertise and personal skills, make new contacts and collaborators, and even travel.  How you approach it that will determine whether your MBA fast-tracks you into your dream career, or whether you’ll end up having to learn on the job regardless.

Various scholarships exist for MBA programmes. If you’re an engineer seeking a scholarship, why not consider applying for our Sainsbury Management Fellows scholarship. Ten of these are awarded annually to professional engineers by the Royal Academy of Engineering. 

Read part 2: Will an MBA really make a difference to my career? Choices & Options.

If you are making decisions about taking an MBA course, you will also be thinking about whether to study in Europe or America.  For some thoughts on this topic, read our blog USA or Europe – where to study for your MBA?   

You may also be interested in reading interviews with the winners of the SMF MBA Scholarship.

Cathy Breeze – Steering SMF Communications for 20 Years


Cathy Breeze took up the role of Director of Communications at Sainsbury Management Fellows (SMF) around the time that email started to take off in business! 20 years on Cathy is managing a wide ranging campaign that embraces everything from the Annual Dinner and the Annual Report through to social media communications; running an active LinkedIn Group, Engineers in Business; an e-newsletter for Fellows, publications, research projects and a university business competition.

The communications channels may have changed, but the mission of Sainsbury Management Fellows remains the same – to help ambitious young engineers gain the skills and experience that enables them to become business leaders, either in their own start-ups or in blue-chip companies.

Cathy has spearheaded the external communications campaign to raise awareness of the scholarship scheme and attract high calibre candidates to apply for an award, as well as working with SMFs’ Trustees to build relationships with leading institutions such as the Royal Academy of Engineering and EngineeringUK. Cathy has helped to foster many mentoring relationships between Fellows and young engineers and helped the Trustees in the organisation’s transition to a registered charity.

At a dinner to celebrate her 20th anniversary as SMFs’ Director of Communications, Cathy said: “This has been the most rewarding job of my career, and I’ve had some interesting posts. I am fortunate to work with Trustees who have a strong vision for the charity and a commitment to deliver great results. They have inspired my work on the communications front. I very much look forward to our next challenge – raising £10 million to continue the charity’s work. We have already raised over £1.7million, which is a great start.”

From LBS to Schlumberger

James Harding SMF

I began my MBA experience at London Business School as a Chartered Civil Engineer and graduated as a Management Consultant in the upstream Oil and Gas industry, following two diverse internships and some studying in Hong Kong.

Prior to submitting my hopeful application to LBS I was living in Malawi, Africa, securing key contracts with major international donors for the construction of industrial warehouses and various smaller housing developments. I managed the full operation of my business and successfully grew the company to over 200 employees. The entrepreneurial skills I obtained during this period were favourably looked upon by LBS and successfully led to me securing a position on its  high ranking MBA programme.

I entered the programme with both trepidation and excitement. I was instantly surrounded by so many successful and highly qualified individuals; it was quite overwhelming at times. However I immersed myself in the student body and quickly realised I had so much to learn from my peers. I was lucky with my placement in my allocated study group. We were six very diverse individuals who all had so much to offer. We worked well as a team bringing our experience from different sectors and cultures together. That’s not to say we didn’t have our trying times, as we overcame personal challenges and weaknesses within the set tasks, but on the whole we worked together towards success – winning more team events that any other study group. I am proud to now call these people friends, who I wouldn’t hesitate in contacting for advice long after my MBA has come to an end. The MBA has no doubt enabled me to expand my global network on both a personal and professional level, which, thanks to the Sainsbury Management Fellows Award, may not otherwise have been possible.

When I began the MBA, I was unsure exactly what direction I wanted my career path to take, so I used the programme as an opportunity to experience the various industries that might be open to me. I knew that in particular I needed to develop my finance and strategy knowledge and I set about choosing the relevant courses in order to do this.

I was fortunate to land two excellent internships in very different industries during the MBA. The first was a very structured banking role at Nomura, followed by a venture capital position at Octopus Investments. The variety in the three months I spent during each internship was extensive; an experience that I would be hard-pushed to obtain otherwise.  Both internships allowed me to gain hands-on experience of what I could expect from a role in each industry and again allowed me to build-up a varied network of prominent contacts.

In my second year of study I had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong to develop my understanding of the venture capital industry in China. I jumped at the chance and relished the learning opportunities I was offered from attending various presentations of high profile organisations and individuals that were set up for me and fellow MBA students to attend.

On the successful completion of the MBA I had to make the tough decision of joining GE on its Experienced Commercial Leadership Programme or Schlumberger in the Management Consulting Division operating solely in upstream oil and gas.

After much deliberation I accepted the latter role and I believe it was the right decision for both my career and my family life. Just a year into my role at Schlumberger, I was offered the role of Head of Production Forecasting and Performance Management for Talisman Sinopec.  I find it a challenging yet rewarding environment where I am continuously having to apply much of my learnings from London Business School on a daily basis.