Imperial College Business School cemented our commitment to gender parity when we joined the 30% Club, an organisation which aims for gender parity in business.
In addition to the financial scholarship from Imperial, scholarship recipients receive a range of support from the 30% Club, including a cross-company mentoring scheme. As part of our membership, Imperial also provides mentors to the organisation.
Anna Morgan, Executive MBA Class of 2008-09, and a European Finance Director of a brand within Kantar, decided to give back to the Business School and become a 30% Club mentor. After completing one year mentoring, she is returning for a second year.
We speak to Anna about her role as a mentor and how the Executive MBA has positively impacted her personal and professional development.
30% Club mentoring programme
How did you become a 30% Club mentor?
I approached Imperial College Business School to volunteer – I don’t have a lot of time – but I inquired if there was something I could do to give about an hour a month. Imperial came back to me and asked if I was interested in doing the 30% Club mentoring, I jumped at the opportunity.
Why did you want to volunteer your time to the Business School?
I appreciated what the MBA did for me. I believe in paying it forward and I’ve been on a mentoring scheme in my current business. As you go through your career and become more senior, it’s important to give insights back.
Can you tell me about your relationship with your mentee?
We met two or three times in the first six weeks. Then it became every six weeks. My mentee changed jobs during the programme. I hope I helped as she ended up leaving her company for all the right reasons. It felt like I was supporting that transition for her.
As I mentioned I am a mentee myself in my business, but I actually prefer being a mentor. With the 30% Club in particular I think you learn more from the programme because you’re mentoring people from other industries, you obtain a different perspective.
You became involved in the 30% Club mentorship programme through the alumni network. What do you see as the value of being an Imperial alumna and the network that comes with it?
The content of an MBA is of course important, but it’s the network and the people you meet on that journey through your MBA that’s really significant in terms of connections. Particularly when you first finish your MBA, using your connections at that point is really vital.
When I was choosing where to do an MBA, it was important to me that I would be in a cohort of students at a similar stage of life and career. It was useful to meet other people at the same career point having similar career decisions. It was a good comparator.
Executive MBA at Imperial
Why did you choose to study an Executive MBA?
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. As a Finance Director at that particular stage of my career I wondered whether I wanted to step out of finance and go more into an MD role. I felt that I didn’t perhaps have enough knowledge outside of finance.
The Executive MBA taught me that I was good to stay in finance because I realised from my MBA lectures and tutorials that I have a lot of strengths in the finance arena, particularly on the commercial side. There were a lot of people on the MBA – engineers, chemists, doctors and more – who were thinking about that next career move. I realised that the knowledge would actually stand me in better stead to remain in finance.
Why Imperial and more importantly, did it live up to your expectations?
It did live up to my expectations. The content I use the most is from the innovation journey, leadership programme and pricing modules as well as obtaining broader business knowledge.
How did the learnings on your MBA help you in your role at Kantar?
From a personal perspective it helped me enormously. I had one child when I started the Executive MBA and I had recently gone back to work. When I returned to work after having my first child I felt less confident than before. Personally what the MBA showed me was in that peer group, I was where I should be in my career. And actually doing well in the exams, the business competition and open sessions boosted my confidence.
Do you think an MBA is an important asset for women in business?
Yes, it’s really important at particular moments of your career to do look at things differently in a way that complements your career, an MBA course enables you to continue to grow and learn. I think it’s important for women to feel like they can achieve tangible growth as they go through their career, rather than the emphasis being on just your job and expanding your family.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about applying for the Executive MBA?
Find an MBA where you feel like you will fit in with the cohort and that there is something that will really add to your career and experiences. For me, that was the Executive Leadership Journey and that the cohort was composed of individuals thinking of their next career move rather than recent first-time graduates. You have got to do a lot of research to find the right fit for you. You also have to be willing to invest not just the money, but also the time.