Steven Neerkin

Steven Neerkin

Nationality: British
Programme: Executive MBA, 2016
Pre-MBA: Derivatives Broker, ICAP PLC, London, UK
Post-MBA: Director, Pennine Way Ltd, London, UK
Current industry: Real Estate
Transitions made: Function, Industry

Why did you decide to do the Cass Executive MBA programme?

Since graduating university in 1992, my entire working life had been spent on trading floors in the City of London. After a 23-year career as a Derivatives Broker, I finally decided I needed a change. I realised that my mind was starting to stagnate and that it was time to both refresh as well as learn new skills.

I found myself faced with the truly daunting prospect of going back to university at the age of 45. Suddenly the four walls of the trading floor that I knew so well were in danger of being replaced with the alien surroundings of the classroom.

I chose Cass for two reasons. The first was its location. Based right in the heart of the City, the building was just minutes from my office.  After a long day in the office knowing that I did not have far to travel in order to attend class was a major selling point to me. The second reason was the schools reputation. I have to be honest and say that knowing that the school was so highly thought of across the academic world was a real selling point to me. I should point out having now graduated that this reputation is hard earned and well deserved.

The School goes out of its way to be welcoming and to find ways of pushing you to be the best you can be. Before enrolling I attended an informal breakfast meeting with alumni and immediately you could tell that each of these people felt their lives had been improved as a result of having taken the course. This instantly made me feel that it was something that I too wanted to do.

The one word of warning we received at that breakfast event is the same message I would pass on to others. This is a very tough and time-consuming programme. For those who have families, I would suggest that you have their full support before enrolling. The first year in particular is very time consuming and I know from personal experience without the support of my wife and children I really would have struggled to have met all of the commitments.

What was the highlight of the programme?

Although I would refer to the entire programme as a truly unique experience there are certain parts that really stand out. For me these happened to be the international elements. I was fortunate enough to visit, Chile for the International Consultancy Week, Las Vegas and Cuba as part of my elective choices.  These opportunities gave me an insight into the business world that I had previously not experienced.  My BMP was actually on the Cuban cigar industry so the access Cass provided me with was invaluable.  The Las Vegas elective has been running for many years now and for anyone involved with Customer Relationship Management, I would go as far to say that this elective is a ‘must’ for them. The ‘behind the scenes’ access to some of the worlds finest hotels is a once in a lifetime experience and one I will certainly never forget.

How would you describe the overall experience?

The EMBA is two years of being constantly taken out of your comfort zone. It’s a lesson in showing you what you are really able to achieve when you look to utilise every minute of your day constructively. The programme has played a significant role in changing how I view everything in my life, both from a business and personal perspective. It educates you in the importance of team work and of being empathetic in the way you deal with others. These are lessons I practice every day in my new role as a Director of the serviced office group Pennine Way along with my other roles as a charitable trustee. The only down side to the programme is that you miss it so much once it is over, however the friendships you make continue long after you have graduated.