The part time executive MBA journey: from sales manager to boardroom

By | December 15, 2011

jbartholetJulian Bartholet graduated from Bradford University School of Management’s Executive Part Time MBA in December 2010. He is now UK Strategic Business Development Manager for Bunzl Greenham Ltd, one of the UK’s leading industrial suppliers and a subsidiary of Bunzl plc a £5 billion FTSE 100 company.

Before starting – visualise the future

Before starting your MBA, it’s important to have a clear career plan so that you can ensure you get the most out of the experience at every stage. Doing a part time MBA whilst working full time doesn’t leave a lot of breathing space to plan out your future – and it flies by so quickly that you could end up graduating with regrets about missed opportunities during your time at business school.

The first year – stay focused on your career

There were times in the first year of my part time MBA when I wondered what the hell I was doing taking on such a huge commitment with my day job and young family! However, it’s important not to get so engrossed in your studies that you forget about how to transfer what you are learning in to your job. By staying focused on the skills I needed to achieve my career goals, I was more confident and able to speak a different language at work after just the first two modules. This brought back immediate benefits to my employer but also helped me realise that it wasn’t the best business for me to be in because of lack of progression opportunities at the time.

The second year – step it up a gear

By the end of the first year of my part time MBA, I was a completely different professional. The knowledge and skills I had gained made me a better salesperson and manager – but also taught me what I needed to do to sell myself as an aspiring board director. So, in my second year, I used my personal development module to develop a proactive strategy for targeting potential employers with which I could realise my aspirations.

Graduation – don’t wait for job offers to come to you

I took the sensible decision to stick with my previous employer until I had finished my MBA dissertation so that I could give back as much as possible to the organisation and finish my studies before implementing my new career strategy. I then used a combination of MBA theory, personal development planning and sales expertise to approach my employers of choice with radical mini business plans for them. I chose companies that I knew I could add really value to and demonstrated what return they would get in their investment in me. In a very difficult economic climate, I got four job offers, which I turned down to hold out for my preferred option.

I would never have had the confidence or ability to take such a proactive approach without my MBA expertise. I now have a strategic role with a FTSE 100 company where I can carve out a clear career path. My experience working for innovative SMEs has been invaluable but my MBA taught me that if you want to reach the most senior levels in business, you need to be in an environment where you can grow as an individual – and most importantly, be able to influence the growth of the company at a strategic level.

Bradford University School of Management was the best choice for me because it provided a dynamic but supportive environment where I was helped along every stage of the MBA journey. I was able to tailor the programme to my needs and was pushed to get the best results – both in my studies and in my career. I’m now part of an international alumni network of senior business people that I can share ideas and network with – so the future looks very bright.

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