Artis Kakonge

"See [studying the Modular Executive MBA in at Cass] as a valuable investment in your future and a highly transformative experience."

Artis Kakonge

Artis Kakonge

Programme: Modular Executive MBA (2019)

Nationality: British

Pre-MBA: Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, London, UK

Post-MBA: Barrister and Management Committee, Garden Court Chambers, London, UK; Childcare Advocate and In-house Counsel, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, London, UK

Current Industry: Legal

Transitions made: Function

What factors made you decide on the Cass Modular Executive MBA programme over other programmes?

Having researched several MBA programmes and attended an open evening at Cass, I had a chance to talk to graduates, and could see the following strengths: an outstanding academic and professional reputation, the best gender balance within the student cohort, multiple nationalities and industries represented, the top MBA for corporate strategy and the compulsory international group project. This demonstrated to me the school’s commitment to have a lasting global impact and to support links with entrepreneurs in emerging economies. I wanted to study in London as this was the most realistic option given my busy work schedule and I knew being based in London would provide a very diverse cohort.

What motivated you to do an MBA?

I wanted longevity in my career and to continue working with marginalised communities. I saw in my profession that the implementation of cuts to legal aid in 2010 changed the market for services in the area of children’s law dramatically. It is a much more competitive arena and increasingly despite how traditionalist the barrister’s profession can be, barristers now have to be more business minded. The same could be said about the impact of austerity cuts in the public sector, and the resulting need to find creative solutions to deal with dwindling budgets and having to do more with less. I quickly realised that in the long-term, specialist legal knowledge was insufficient to progress my career or to deal with the current challenges faced.  I also wanted to diversify my skill set in case more austerity cuts would impact my profession further. I saw that some lawyers who were senior executives in the public sector had an MBA and considered it a good investment. I anticipate that after the MBA I will be able to take on more management responsibility, create policy and contribute more to the wider community by ensuring greater access to justice- the very reason I became a barrister.

What are your career goals and what do you hope to achieve after you have graduated?

In the short to medium-term, my goal is to seek career progression to Principal Safeguarding Lawyer in Children’s Services, responsible for management of a team of child protection lawyers providing in-house local government legal services. I wish to lead a social care law team that retains and develops its talent and is highly regarded for the quality of legal services provided. Improving the profile of public sector legal services is important to me because of the important work that is done by social workers and child protection lawyers to achieve better outcomes for children at risk and their families. They are very hard-working people whose efforts are often unrecognised. In the long-term, I wish to start my own law firm specialising in Children’s Law. This will involve business development; formulating a business and marketing strategy; monitoring compliance with regulatory bodies; recruitment and mentoring of lawyers.

How would you describe your overall experience of the MBA so far?

The EMBA is a challenging course of study on top of a full-time job. The time between each EMBA weekend flies by and there is a wealth of information for you to grasp. However, the lecturers are engaging and as experts in their fields are able to simplify concepts and make it accessible to someone such as myself, from a non-traditional background. The best part is being able to apply what I have learned immediately at work because of how practical the concepts are.

How would you describe your fellow cohort?

They are a truly diverse and inspiring group of people. I would love to have the opportunity to follow each one of them to work and see what a day is like for them. It is an understatement to say how enriching the learning environment is because of what my colleagues add to discussions in class. I was encouraged by the fact that there are a few others from public sector backgrounds alongside the various industries represented in the private sector. It also says a lot about how international the programme is that several colleagues travel from Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the EMBA weekends. I can see that lifelong friendships will be made on this programme as we support each other through this challenging course of study. I am also looking forward to seeing where the EMBA will take everyone in her or his careers.

What encouraged you to apply for the Global women’s scholarship?

I think it is important for women to be equally represented in leadership roles. There is currently a ‘diversity deficit’ in the public/not-for-profit sector in the UK particularly at executive level. The scholarship was an opportunity to help me break the glass ceiling and develop the leadership skills I need to have more of an impact in the public sector. I was also attracted to the aims of the initiative and could relate to the importance of good leadership in working with marginalised communities. Alongside this, the scholarship provides the opportunity to receive support and mentoring from inspiring female leaders, which will help propel my leadership potential.

How did winning the scholarship influence your decision to choose where to study?

It made the difference between me studying at Cass or not. The cost of an MBA was out of reach given my public sector income and lack of funding available from my employer. As an alternative, I would have pursued an online MBA. A few months into the EMBA, I can see I am learning more effectively from attending the taught programme and interacting with my cohort in person on a regular basis.

What advice would you give to candidates considering to apply for the scholarship?

Give yourself plenty of time to go through the application and to reflect on the application questions. The word limits are tight and you want to demonstrate why you are a good fit, illustrating what you have learned from your previous experiences and what you will do with the scholarship in the future. Working through the questions and reading about the programme made me realise that this was the scholarship that best fit with my ethos and background. If this is not the case for you, then do consider other scholarships that will allow you to speak to your strengths and relevant ambitions.

What advice would you give to a prospective student thinking of doing the Modular Executive MBA in at Cass? 

I would encourage you to attend an open day/evening at Cass and ask former students about their experiences. It is important that you are highly motivated to study the EMBA, as it is very demanding and will test your limits in terms of workload. Equally, having the support and understanding of people at work and friends and family is helpful. This is because the programme will consume much of your weekends and evenings for the next two years, as this is when you will be preparing readings, coursework and group assignments. A great strength of Cass is that its location and reputation attracts interesting speakers and the school hosts many networking events. In my view, having this well rounded experience and making the most of the excellent support services at Cass, such as the Careers department, is essential to reaching your full potential. Overall, see it as a valuable investment in your future and a highly transformative experience.