Tom Narraway

“I’ve always been keen to further myself and push my career forward.”

Tom Narraway

MBA student Tom Narraway

Programme: Executive MBA, 2019
Nationality: British
Pre-MBA: Development Manager, Skanska, London, UK
Post-MBA: UK Construction Lead, Amazon Logistics, London, UK
Current industry: Construction / Logistics
Transition: Function

I wanted to broaden my view and get more exposure to business, without necessarily moving jobs or sector.

My undergraduate degree in Construction Engineering Management was sponsored by Skanska, one of the largest construction companies in the world. I had a placement year with them, did well and was taken on full-time when I graduated.

The company gave me a fantastic introduction to the industry. I worked my way up the construction management side of the business, joined an internal international management programme and worked in the US within the commercial development team (a client side role). I enjoyed the experience so much when I returned to London I made a permanent transfer into the development team in the UK.

By the age of 30, I was starting to become conscious of the fact I’d only ever worked for one company, and my professional development was centered around construction. I’ve always been keen to further myself push my career forward and learn from others so an Executive MBA seemed like the ideal choice.

An Executive MBA is a very big commitment.

Whenever you decide to do an MBA, you need your family’s full support. And if you go down the Executive MBA path and continue working, you should think carefully about how to balance everything.

When I was choosing where to study, the location of Bayes to my office, its ability to attract companies and guest lecturers and the fact that I could take modules from the dedicated Master’s in Real Estate Investment ticked all the boxes. The latter in particular helped me secure sponsorship from my employer.

I’m a social person, so I really enjoyed learning in a group environment.

I relished the chance to debate, discuss and work in small, focused groups with a diverse collection of professionals from all sorts of backgrounds – legal, sales, finance, medical and politics. It was exactly what I was looking for.

The opportunity to learn from others and see how they operate was such an advantage, you build strong relationships and I’m still in touch with many of the cohort.

We acted as consultants for a rum and coffee producer in Colombia.

At the end of the first-year you do the Consulting module abroad, working in small groups to help a real business tackle a challenge – in my case, a family-run business looking to increase exposure across Europe. It was a world away from London and totally different from my background, but such a great experience.

Working with brands and on business case studies was what I enjoyed the most. The Strategy module gave us a deep dive into a large company that had collapsed, analysing the accounts and examining where it had gone wrong. Remarkably, we even got to question a former director in person about the failures.

The Real Estate Investment modules were incredibly useful, improving my technical knowledge, while the strategy-driven modules gave me frameworks, techniques and an elevated view of business – something I wasn’t exposed to in my project management role.

My Executive MBA opened the door to a much more senior role.

After the MBA I spent a couple more years with Skanska, but it was clear I needed to move to get to a more senior level. I joined Amazon and I’m adamant that if I hadn't done the Executive MBA I would not have progressed as far in my career so quickly. Part of that was because it gave me academic experience and knowledge of different areas of business I wouldn’t have been able to get with my previous job.

Thanks to the programme I now have a lot more in my toolkit. I’ve been able to come into my new role and introduce my team to more structured, strategic business planning. I presented the business case internally to support my team gaining chartership with the Chartered Instiutute of Building (CIOB) (equivalent to an undergraduate degree) which has come directly from my experience at Bayes and the importance placed on professional development. I’m really enjoying being a manager, mentoring and helping others on their career paths – something I’ve not done before.

I’ve also leveraged my experience on the MBA to increase my exposure to boards and governance – I now sit on a CIOB strategic committee and I’m the governor of a local school (something suggested to me by somebody I met at Bayes). In the longer term, I’m looking forward to increasing my levels of responsibility and accountability, and to continue to think strategically.