Lisa Sohanpal

Lisa Sohanpal

Nationality: Australian
Programme: Executive MBA, 2008
Pre-MBA: UK Product Manager, IMS Health, London, UK
Post-MBA: Co-Founder & CEO, Nom Noms World Food, London, UK
Current industry: Retail / FMCG
Transitions made: Function, Industry

Why did you choose to do the Executive MBA?

I was in a sales management role in the medical devices industry and I wanted to move to a more senior position. To do that, I needed an MBA to broaden my business expertise beyond sales. Being brought up in a business family, I had a lot of experience and insights, but not at a global level. So, I had a very specific goal – to be promoted to a senior level and triple my income by the time I had finished the MBA. I was on a mission! If I was going to commit to an MBA, I had to make the return of investment worthwhile.

I looked at all the options and Cass Business School particularly appealed to me for several reasons. Firstly, it was listed in the global Financial Times Top 10 ranking. Secondly, it is located in the heart of London. And thirdly, throughout the interview process and meeting key members at Cass, they were very welcoming towards women and had a diverse group from a wide range of backgrounds. I was more comfortable being part of a group with varied experience and skill sets, so Cass was the choice for me.

The Executive MBA enabled me to study in the evenings and weekends – around full-time work. It was quite intense. But it has also made me a lot more efficient at working and juggling things – which are essential skills for me now as I’m a mum of three and need to juggle motherhood and business.

What were the benefits of the programme?

The quality of teaching was fantastic and the international electives in Argentina and China were absolutely amazing. I went on the consultancy programme with Rio Tinto in a field I wasn’t familiar with – mining. Regardless, I was able to apply a lot of the learning, which made me realise how transferable EMBA skills are.

It was very enlightening to learn all the facets of business. Unfortunately, I couldn’t apply my learning to my role at the time. However, having an EMBA from a highly credible institution on my CV carried weight – and I made sure that they knew about it in interviews! Within six months of starting the EMBA, I had changed jobs and tripled my salary – so I achieved my goal, fast.

I became an international director for a leading medical device company, managing 47 countries, so I was able to use a lot of the learning from the EMBA and apply it within my work.

It made me realise that it doesn’t matter which industry you go to, you can apply your EMBA learning and skills set. That’s why, some years later, I did not hesitate to change industry again when I became co-founder and CEO of Nom Noms World Food.

Professionally, the EMBA has had a huge impact, I’m a lot more confident in my approach and decision making. I know what I want, and the EMBA has given me the confidence to go for it and take Nom Noms World Food from strength to strength. We’ve launched in the UK and we're also going global sooner than we expected. We've been selected as part of the TERRA growth accelerator programme, collaborating with big corporates like Nestlé, on a pilot project based in the US. The MBA has not only allowed me to fulfil my initial goals, but given me the confidence and skills to go even further.