What was your first degree?
MEng in General Engineering, specialising in Electrical Engineering at Cambridge University.
How long did you work before deciding to go to business school?
I had been working for ten years in engineering environments between my first degree and beginning the MBA. Over that time I gradually moved away from the technical design side to consulting and project management within the telecoms sector.
Why are you doing an MBA?
I wanted to consolidate the business knowledge and skills I had gained through my career, and complete the transition into managing the business side of things rather than working on technical implementation.
What do you think are the benefits of an engineering with business combination?
Engineering is all about applying science to create useful products and services, and business is all about commercialising products and services to turn them into viable businesses, so the two can be combined very powerfully.
Those with an engineering background are generally good at paying attention to detail, thinking processes through logically and ensuring that plans are structured and able to be implemented.
Studying for the MBA has taught me to be more comfortable stepping back and looking at the big picture, and also understanding how my approach can complement the skills of others to form a stronger overall team.
If you were 17 again would you study engineering or go straight into a business degree?
If I were 17 again I would still study for an engineering qualification first which provides a strong technical grounding, and then spend at least a few years gaining some relevant engineering experience in a business environment. I believe that route provides a better foundation from which to study for a business degree than focusing on business straight after school.
Can you name any famous people with engineering backgrounds?
Almost the entire Chinese Politburo (the equivalent of the Cabinet) has an engineering background and running a country as large and complex as China proves what a group of engineers can do outside the engineering profession.
How do you adapt your thinking from something like producing a tonne of Tata steel to valuing the Tata corporate brand?
The two are really quite similar as they both require a structured, logical approach to the problem and a confidence to make assertions about the real world.