Formula 1 Office

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Like many of my peers, at the beginning of my Full-Time MBA journey, I did not have a clear idea of what exactly I wanted to do following the programme. Essentially, I am passionate about innovation, sport and the automotive industry, and the only thing I knew is that I wanted to mix these passions with my work.

Thanks to the five leaders I met through my Interview a Leader project for my Personal Leadership Journey module, I realise I was wrong. I am neither passionate about cars nor about planes, but about mobility and new generations of racing.

These people helped me to understand that my interests are more about connecting with people, creating relationships and thinking about how we can generate added value in a win-win business situation. I figured out that these responsibilities are included in one word: partnerships!

What is partnership? 1+1>2

What is partnership? For me it is simple: 1+1>2. In other words, through the activation of partnerships, significant synergies and added values can be generated to create a better future together than we could have on our own.

The added value of an MBA is the opportunity to network and communicate with the world

I immediately understood that one of the best added values of an MBA is the possibility to connect with the world thanks to the Imperial reputation and my student status. I screened LinkedIn for hours (and I still do…), trying to find and to connect with leaders working in the mobility sector with shared characteristics such as being from Imperial or speaking French. Overall, I was impressed by how easy it is to connect with leaders here in the UK.

The Aviary Project The Aviary Project

The Aviary Project: extending my network and knowledge in the mobility industry

I connected with a startup called The Aviary Project, the first global network in Urban Air Mobility aiming to bring together the best talents to shape the future market of transportation. I immediately saw the potential of the project, how it could help me understand the industry and how I could add value to it. I joined their team as a Partnership Manager and thanks to this experience, I met more than 130 high profile experts in the future of mobility.

For my Interview a Leader project on the MBA, I was required to interview senior leaders and learn from their approach to leadership. I honed in on five leaders in the mobility industry. Find out my learnings from each of the leaders I interviewed

1. Robert McAllister is an example of career management with a strong understanding of the automotive market

A couple of weeks after joining The Aviary Project, I met Robert McAllister, Head of Special Projects at Volkswagen Group. I went to Milton Keynes by train and bus, and I inconveniently visited all of England’s countryside at the same time because of my inadvertence! He gave me precious pieces of advice for my MBA and I learned a lot from him regarding career management within the same employer for over 14 years. He showed me the different hedges of the mobility industry from a leading car manufacturer perspective and I started thinking about where I wanted to position myself.

Aston Martin Aston Martin

2. I realised my dream at Aston Martin thanks to John Moore

This led me to meet my second leader, John Moore, Head of Internal Consulting at Aston Martin. On a side note, Aston Martin is the brand of my dreams, the car I have always wanted to own to look like James Bond (OK… cliché). I decided to rent a Zipcar and drive more than 300km to Gaydon on a sunny Friday morning – what an adventure to drive in traffic jams for the first time in London!

I not only had the chance to meet one of the most important people in this company, but I also received a private tour of the factory/ I would have undertaken any MBAs just for that! John impressed me with his consulting journey and he helped me to better understand how crucial an internal consulting team is nowadays for a car manufacturer.

3. If you want engaging discussions around entrepreneurship and innovation, Mike Rosam is the perfect fit

Proud of my achievements and my eyes full of stars, I decided to continue my Interview a Leader project and I met Mr Mike Rosam, Head of Innovation at McLaren Applied Technologies. Hopefully this time the office is in London!

Mike is an impressive entre/intrapreneur. We had an amazing discussion about technology, mobility and entrepreneurship. We share common values and expectations about shaping the future of mobility for a better world. He opened my eyes to the motorsport industry and I understood that what he does is really in line with what I hope to do post-MBA.

4. The most important career influencer I have met so far, Murray Barnett, an exceptional leader and visionary

VW, Aston Martin, McLaren… well, the cherry on top would be to meet someone from Formula 1! I figured out that the commercial development team is the one I had to reach out to. As I already said in my previous articles, go big or go home!

I contacted Murray Barnett, Formula 1 CCO, and I secured a meeting. He is a true leader, a visionary and he taught me that, despite my efforts to know what I want to do post-MBA, I am still too vague and I have to narrow down my scope – it boosted me to work harder on that topic!

After that meeting, I understood that working in the development of partnerships is what I am looking for in my future. No matter the title of the position or the company, generating value from partnerships is what I want to do.

Roborace Roborace

5. Al Peasland is proof that having values and being successful in business is possible

Let’s talk about the future, shall we? During a meeting with Al Peasland, Head of Partnerships at Roborace, I discovered a futuristic world around AI, machine learning, autonomous vehicle and racing (please do visit their website to know more about the future of racing). This meeting was probably the most impactful for me in terms of being human and life management. Al taught me that, even if you are amongst the elites, you can promote intrinsic values together with respect, humility and friendship to run your business and be the best in your field.

I thought, from entrepreneurial experience, that this kind of behaviour was not compatible with business, but Al showed me I was wrong.

My next steps?

Although I would love to work for one of these leaders, things are not that easy, and I still have lots of things to learn before landing in their fabulous garden. Following this project, I know that developing partnerships to create added values and synergies in the mobility and racing industry is what I want to do.

Therefore, I can say that 50% of my MBA journey is a success thanks to these people who, through sharing their experiences and beliefs, helped me to find the path I want to follow. Now, let’s go for the remaining 50%!

A million thanks to Nik, Pamir, Damian, Mariya, Robert, John, Mike, Murray, Al and all the people I have met so far for your time and your support. Believe me, the time will come when I will return you the favour!

Interview a Leader Interview a Leader

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About Frederic John

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