Fred Sharp, Global Accelerated MBA (July 2017 intake)
Director of International Business Development, East-Gate Asia Consulting Co.
"After graduating from college I worked in investment banking in NYC. I then took a consulting project in China and did some lecturing for a few years. I loved China, so I set up my own procurement consulting firm there in 2005. After twelve years, the market has changed a lot and Chinese companies are a lot savvier, so it’s a lot tougher for SMEs to be profitable. As such, I was looking for an MBA ‘to show me the way’ and give me added credibility. I had launched my business without formal management training and made some inefficient decisions and mistakes. I felt an MBA would help me analyse the market better and make more structured decisions and goals.
"I chose Alliance MBS (AMBS) because I wanted international experience, since I am a global businessman. The UK is a centre of European and global business, while AMBS in particular offered a focus on developing skilful business analysis and consulting, plus a global perspective and learning by doing. This was exactly what I wanted – not a purely academic degree but a focus on business analysis and global business management.
"I originally applied for the full-time programme but the admissions team suggested Global MBA Accelerated, given that I was a more senior applicant. I like the structure and the fact I can continue to work, and it is truly international. Most of the cohort work and live in a country that’s not their home country, so we are all expats and global professionals.
"The Global Accelerated MBA is slightly different to the standard Global MBA. We complete the programme in 18 months, rather than two years, and we study as a closed cohort of 28 students. We also travel to different AMBS centres to attend our workshops in a set order. So far, we’ve had our induction in Manchester and a six-day workshop in Shanghai split across two courses: Operationalising and Communicating Value (Marketing & Operations) and Strategy & Competition.
"After the induction in Manchester, it was nice to come together again in Shanghai. The workshop was awesome; it was very intense but so rewarding. No one complained about the level of work and commitment, everyone dug in and gave it their all. It was a great chance to get together, learn and put into practice what we’d learned from the course materials. We could tailor what we were learning to our own professional experiences and hear how colleagues do things differently at their respective companies. Because of our diverse backgrounds, everyone brought a different perspective that was beneficial to us all. It is a very rich experience and this kind of learning goes beyond the course materials.
"While in Shanghai I arranged a Company Tour Delegation to VOITH Turbo Mobility Asia Pacific, which complemented what we had learned and practised in class. The VP gave us a presentation and we had a Q&A session with their Chief Engineer, Sales Manager, Operations Manager and others. We toured around their facilities and had a step-by-step walkthrough of their manufacturing operations.
"I also organised “TheSTRETCH”, a ‘Student-Alumni Mixer’ for us to network and socialise with local AMBS students and alumni, and other local Shanghai professionals. Groups of us informally got together for dinner and drinks. Shanghai was not just an amazing opportunity to learn and practice, but to build stronger bonds and discover more about one another. I am working to repeat both the Company Tour Delegation and TheSTRETCH in Dubai, which is our next stop.
"I only started the MBA in July, but I would say that I’m already looking at the world through ‘new eyes’. I notice this when I’m reading business reports and news stories about companies. Now, I spot things that must be considered and I look at companies differently. I think about who their competitors are, how they fit into the global business environment and how their business ecosystem functions. It’s a whole new world of perspective.
"In my own business, where I focus on production, supply chain and quality management, I now see more clearly where I can make improvements to my manufacturing partners' production processes and operations, and the peripheral effects that would have. I’m also better able to serve my clients; I can work with factories and help them improve processes and their value chain.
"You can definitely put the MBA into practice from the start. Many schools claim this, but at Alliance MBS it’s really true. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait 18 months to get this value. Already, I’m starting to see how those amazing ‘superman’ feats that other businesspeople pull off are actually completely achievable."