First degree: Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
Year of graduation: 1990
Postgraduate degree: MBA, Oxford Brookes University Business School
Year of postgraduate degree: 2003
Occupation: Director at Cotswold Brewing Company
Why did you decide to continue your studies?
I’d reached senior positions within production at the breweries I worked for, and I’d always been head brewer or chief of production – apart from in my first role as a graduate trainee with Courage. All the companies I worked for seemed to be making obvious mistakes. With hindsight, that even included Courage. But someone was getting rich out of these breweries despite the mistakes. I wanted to know how the money was made, but I wanted to continue brewing. I also wanted to know what was the ideal world for a business to operate in. I’ve now discovered there’s no such thing. I also wanted to clarify whether I should continue brewing, or if there was another money-making industry that was more appropriate for me. On reflection, the brewing industry is great fun, and it would have been crazy to have gone elsewhere.
How did you fund your postgraduate studies?
It was self-funded. I felt it was important to acquire the knowledge, and I rationalised that over a period of 30 years it would be worthwhile.
What was the workload like?
As with any degree or subject, it’s all based upon how much you put in. If you want to acquire more knowledge, you could put yourself under enormous pressure by trying to read everything. But it’s possible to pass the exams by working hard but without stressing yourself out.
What was it like studying again?
It was interesting – I stopped work and did a full-time MBA, as I didn’t want to be do both badly. I became engrossed. It covered a variety of subjects, ranging from pure accounting to softer skills and self-analysis.
How was it different from undergraduate study?
You need to be much more self-motivated. Because you need more worldly experience, they recommend you have at least three years’ work experience before embarking on an MBA.
Did you enjoy it?
Yes – and I highly recommend Oxford Brookes. The thing that appealed to me was that it was local. Also the style of the MBA there was a friendlier learning environment, where you’re encouraged, rather than forced, to stretch yourself. You meet a range of different people with different experiences. People’s own business experience is invaluable.
Advice to those considering taking a postgraduate course:
Do an MBA because you’re interested in it, not just to gain another qualification. The timing might be right in your life – it can be a great help if you’re at crossroads in your career.