Barnaby Spink

Programme: Weekend MBA

Nationality: British

Education: BA (Hons) Economics & Politics, University of York

Role: Executive Officer, British Army

My career background

Prior to joining Imperial College Business School, I was a British Army Officer for seven years. I served in the Queen’s Royal Hussars cavalry regiment, equipped with Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks. At 24 I was a Troop Leader, where I was responsible for the leadership, training, and career development of 16 Soldiers and the maintenance of four tanks. Then I became an Intelligence Officer, charged with analysing enemy actions and briefing them into the headquarters. Finally, I was appointed the Adjutant of the Regiment where I managed the welfare, discipline, and culture of a 500-soldier strong organisation. This final role would see me lead cultural change initiatives around my Regiment and regularly advise senior leadership on the running of the organisation.

Motivation for joining the Weekend MBA

Imperial’s focus on entrepreneurship really grabbed my attention. I want to develop my own business in the future so the Weekend MBA will give me insight into the early years of that journey. Imperial’s global reputation in STEM subjects highlights exciting opportunities in entrepreneurship and the programme structure has given me the opportunity to continue working for my final year in the army.

Despite multi-modal ways of working becoming more widespread and the norm, it is the level of access that Imperial College Business School provides that sets it apart from other schools. Whether it be the ability to flick between remote and on-campus study during the pandemic, the central location of the Business School in London, or the interwoven nature between different departments when it comes to elective selection, Imperial works hard to remove all barriers to learning and development.

The main factor for applying to the Weekend MBA was to help convert my achievements in the military into a civilian perspective. Key to this is familiarising myself with business vernacular and understanding a wide array of business fundamentals.

Modules and interrelated learning

My favourite module so far is Decision Analytics. This was a surprise even for myself, but it comes down to the fact that I was learning a skill I could see myself using in the working world, not to mention a skill I had never touched in my military career. It presented me with an opportunity to close a skill gap, and with my enjoyment of it, opened up a whole host of electives I had not considered.

My key takeaway of the programme so far is that so much of what we do in interrelated, meaning that the learning we do in one module supports that of another. This is fantastic because it means our understanding of the content accelerates as we move through the programme.

An ambitious cohort

My cohort is all equally invested in the opportunities that Imperial offers. The great thing about the Weekend MBA is that it offers a mid-point between the Full-Time MBA and Executive MBA. My peers have already achieved a great deal in their careers and are preparing to make their next step into leadership teams. It also means that the breadth and depth of experience is very impressive and a great resource to tap into.

One of the most challenging parts of the programme has been trying to keep up with those in the class that have been in finance for their whole careers. It is one of the most striking things, that each member of the class has something that they excel in, and it is important to learn as much from one another as possible

Group work

Group work is always challenging as you must diplomatically balance the views of the team, but it also results in better work. I have enjoyed building close bonds with my syndicate group and we are now in a position where we can recognise everyone’s strengths.

The importance of prioritisation

It is challenging to juggle the significant workload and there are sacrifices that need to be made, but I went into the programme telling myself that I had to prioritise the MBA. For me, that was the only way it would be worthwhile. Despite having to sacrifice some social occasions and weddings, it has never been hard to find the motivation to do the work as it is new to me and interesting. That said, evenings are rarely your own.

World-leading faculty

The faculty is professional, engaging, and made up leaders in their field. It was reassuring to learn that they have each had a successful career in their field of study independent from academia. This showed me that what they were teaching could be applied.

Supporting the local community

A hugely rewarding part of my experience is how involved Imperial gets in supporting the local community. I had an excellent opportunity to be involved in a pilot scheme to help members of the White City community interested in re-joining the job market and building their CVs. It meant that I was in a position to provide guidance and hopefully unlock some of the complexities of putting your career on paper.

Unique elements of an Imperial MBA

I have enjoyed a number of the Personal Leadership Journey lectures, designed to further us as rounded leaders in business. I found a recent presentation on Personal Branding by Joseph Liu particularly engaging. The one problem with the MBA is that there are so many opportunities that you can never attend all of them, so it is important to focus your interests.

I also chose the Entrepreneurial Journey as one of my electives so I have been able to see some of the work that is being developed in other parts of the university through the Imperial Enterprise Lab. It has been fantastic to learn about some of the genuinely ground-breaking work that is coming out of the College and have an opportunity to be involved in that work.

The transition into consulting

As I am leaving the army, my aim was to move into strategy consulting to enhance my profile and demonstrate my ability to transfer my skills in leadership, teamwork and management into the corporate environment. At Imperial, I have joined the Consulting Club. There has been an interesting array of events with a wide range of companies where I have had plenty of opportunities to build my network. The Careers team provided me with a great deal of support as I was going through my initial interviews for my post-military career. This included practice interviews as well as insights into the interview process. Having not interviewed at a company for several years, it gave me that crucial first insight into what employers were looking for.

Since joining the Weekend MBA, I have secured a role at a major strategy consulting firm, ready to embark on the next phase of my career. I intend to use what I have learned on the MBA to enhance the service I offer to my company and benefit the whole firm.

Advice for prospective students

My advice for prospective students is to start working on the application today. It is easy to put off the application if you have work to do, but once you build momentum, you will see the value of what the Weekend MBA can offer you.

Programme: Weekend MBA

Nationality: British

Education: BA (Hons) Economics & Politics, University of York

Role: Executive Officer, British Army

Is the Weekend MBA right for you?