Name: Rebecca Griffiths-Duchiron
Programme: Executive MBA in Dubai
Year of graduation: 2023
Position pre MBA: Regional Marketing Manager
Post-MBA: Global Retail Operations Manager
Current industry: FMCG/Retail
Rebecca Griffiths-Duchiron has been building a successful career in the wine and spirits industry for more than 10 years, and currently works in brand marketing for global drinks company Edrington. Based in Dubai since 2014, she spoke about her time on the Dubai Executive MBA.
Fulfilling a long-held goal
“When I went to university the first time, I did what I loved which was writing, but I didn’t have a strong career pull in any particular direction. I was seeking a job with creativity so I quickly entered Marketing and I took my 20s to figure out what I liked, working in different sectors including automotive, education and publishing, before moving in to wine and spirits. I knew I would enjoy business and corporate life, as I like to work with people and I enjoy different types of work – be that marketing, commercial or retail operations. As I progressed, I knew that if I wanted to reach senior management for prestige brands, which is highly competitive, then I needed a very strong profile and I felt the Executive MBA would help me build this.”
“I’d set myself a goal that by 30 years old, I would take the plunge and do an MBA. It felt like the right timing in my career, although I did underestimate how much work it would be! I am always driven to achieve my best potential so although it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it was important to me to achieve the best grade I could. I was self-funded so I had made a trade-off – I could have used the money for a house deposit for example, but I chose the Executive MBA in Dubai instead. I truly believe that when you invest in yourself, you cannot lose.”
“When you are thinking about doing an MBA, there are many reasons why not to do it: Cost, time, the impact on social life and that you really have to give a lot of yourself to the process. Yes, I have made sacrifices, but the fulfilment I got from learning and meeting people gave me an energy I didn’t have before – I think the cohort supported each other through.
A truly immersive experience
When researching the Executive MBAs on offer in Dubai, Rebecca was clear about what she was looking for:
“I knew I wanted an in-person experience. To meet other students, learn in a classroom and feel fully immersed in order to do my best work. I did speak to other Schools and I felt the cohort at Bayes was similar to me in terms of age and career stage, with people looking to accelerate their careers. The one long weekend a month structure worked for me too and I knew people who had done MBAs with Bayes and were very positive about their experience.”
Bayes attracts students from incredibly diverse backgrounds, which was another reason Rebecca knew it was the right place to earn her MBA.
“I wanted to network across sectors, jobs and with people from different backgrounds. As an expat living in Dubai, working in the wine and spirits industry, you can be limited in the backgrounds you work with. It’s such a diverse cohort and we all benefitted from interacting and working with different cultures and personalities. It teaches you a lot about how to work with others and that’s helped me handle situations in my job, where I work internationally. I’ve learned to take a step back and assess a situation properly before deciding on the course of action, and to really think about the other person’s perspective.”
Another key factor for choosing Bayes was the option for international electives. “The trip to San Francisco and Silicon Valley is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It felt special because we knew it was the kind of trip we would not do on our own, and only as part of an educational experience. The trip was eye-opening in many ways, and a particular high point for me.”
Financial support to encourage diversity in business
Rebecca benefitted from the Women in Business Scholarship, which was a great help given she was self-funding her studies.
“Women are still underrepresented in business – often by their thirties they have family commitments or other responsibilities. The Women In Business Scholarship is an incredibly important initiative by the School, and I really appreciated the support.”
“I’m sure all women have faced bias at work, whether conscious or unconscious, and it can lower our confidence in our own abilities and may even lead to missed opportunities. The message from the School is that representation is important and the MBA experience is enriched by diversity.”
The scholarship is a competitive process with an application, essay and interview. “It was a great boost to my confidence when I found out I had been awarded the scholarship.”
Applying learning directly to the workplace
“The minute I started, I was learning all the time and each month I’d return to work with something new to apply. Modules such as Managing Strategic Change, Corporate Finance and Accounting meant I could use that learning in my daily role.”
“It’s also changed me as a person. I read more and enjoy the process of research – I love reading case studies now. It has changed how I present and explain my ideas and opinions. It’s given me a better sense of balance in how to approach work.”
Challenging modules deliver the greatest rewards
Before starting the MBA, Rebecca was most daunted by the Accounting module, but surprised herself at how much she learnt. “That’s credit to Dr Danielle Lyssimachou and how she made it accessible. Many of us didn’t come from number-crunching jobs, but it equipped me to better understand what my company’s finance team were reporting and feeding back, in a way I wasn’t able to before.
Rebecca says the New Venture Creation module was probably the hardest on the programme, but also the most rewarding. “It was particularly intense and involved working in teams, staying late and coming home exhausted, but not being able to stop thinking about what we were creating. I realised how much I enjoyed it, and decided to do my Business Mastery Project (BMP) on entrepreneurship as it presented an opportunity to learn across many facets of business. That module fundamentally reshaped my thinking by helping me understand how businesses can start up, what investors look for and the strategic mindset and passion that is required. It was very inspiring.
A change of mindset
As a result of her experience on the MBA, Rebecca now feels she has a greater understanding of her own skills and value in the world of business. This was inspired as well during the MBA London Symposium where author Viv Groskop spoke about her book How to Own the Room and getting over Imposter Syndrome. It proved to be a seminal moment for Rebecca.
“The MBA has helped change my thinking. I realised that Imposter Syndrome stopped me from reviewing all potential future routes of career. I had felt my skills were directing me to a specific career but my best scores were in financial and strategic modules, which tells me my future options should be much broader. I think I didn’t understand the skills I truly had because I hadn’t made them a focus in my work life to that point. However, I’ve realised that talent evolves as you develop in your career. Now I appreciate my other skills and see them as important strengths.”
“As a result of the Executive MBA in Dubai, I’m at a stage where I am thinking openly and positively about my future career, reassessing what is important to me and what my goals should be. My network is broader and more diverse, and my confidence is strengthened.”
“Without the experience and education on the Executive MBA at Bayes, I don’t think I’d have broadened my options about what I could achieve in the future.”