Alex Holden

Programme: Evening Executive MBA, 2017
Nationality: British
Current position: Managing Director, Oliver Burns

My career path was atypical. I’d been part of some amazing projects and gained great experience, but I was aware that areas in my skillset were weak or hadn’t been used.

I wanted to fill those in. At the time, I was working for a niche luxury brand, and was considering my next career move. I wanted to complete an MBA to enhance my skills and put a stamp of authenticity on my CV.

Cass Business School was the perfect fit for me. Cohorts include everyone from owner-operator entrepreneurs and pharma-tech execs to lawyers and bankers. It was a dynamic that suited my skillset and ongoing goals.

What also attracted me to Cass was the faculty. They are at the top of their field and very diverse, from academics to people that have been in big industry. The range of external speakers, make the programme thoroughly engaging.

When you start the Executive MBA, you are given a mountain of reading and literature to consume – all while balancing a job, a family and some form of social life. The truth is, it’s a challenge. At the beginning, I thought that there was no way that I would be able to do this, but gradually, you chip away. Day by day, week by week, month by month. Before you know it, you have an entire shelf full of textbooks and articles, and you can talk competently about all of them.

This programme has taught me that, with determination, you can overcome any obstacle. Interacting with your peer group, hearing about their challenges, really opens your eyes to what’s possible if you put your mind to it.

The first-year modules set a solid foundation. They are so valuable and really come into play in the second year during your elective modules. The electives are incredibly broad ranging, so you can specialise in what really interests you and get deep into a topic.

One of the highlights of the programme was the compulsory international elective. It was probably the best 10 days of the programme. My group went to Vietnam to consult with Habeco, a Vietnamese beverage company. It was absolutely fascinating, repositioning, and reinvigorating one of their main stay brands.

Another highlight of the EMBA was the ball after the London Symposium week at the Savoy. It was a really great evening, very well put together, and a wonderful chance to spend time with the cohort. Network opportunities are fantastic at Cass, there are so many networking opportunities – you could go to one every night!

Part way through, I was thinking seriously about leaving my previous role. The Careers and Professional Development Team offered invaluable assistance. We looked at my CV, which is now unrecognisable from when I first took it to the team. The interview guidance and psychometric profiling were very valuable, helping me define and articulate my strengths, and secure my current role.
Today, I’m Managing Director at Oliver Burns, a luxury architectural interior design studio.

Overall, I couldn’t speak highly enough of the EMBA programme. You have to make sacrifices in other areas of your life, but it’s 100% worth it.

Contact our Recruitment Managers and find out more about the Executive MBA Programme starting this September.