From fintech and finance to consulting and healthcare, we meet some of our most recent female Cambridge MBA graduates who are looking to make an impact in their careers.
Taking a healthcare career into consulting
So I was a pharmacist for a number of years. I worked in hospitals in Australia, first as a clinical pharmacist, and then I went into management for a number of years before the MBA. And I ended up achieving a lot more than I’d expected, a lot faster than I expected. So I started looking outside and outside pharmacy, and outside healthcare for what else I wanted to learn about and what else I wanted to do. And I thought an MBA’s a great opportunity to go and experience different industries.
I definitely wanted that international experience that the Cambridge MBA offered. Cambridge really stood to the forefront because it was the MBA combined with the university and it was Judge and the University of Cambridge. And that interplay between the two I thought really offered an enhanced learning experience. I’ve really enjoyed that experience of both sides of it throughout.
Making a change
So my career had been very health focused the whole way through. I’d done further study, it had been in health and health management. What I was really excited to learn about was that sort of broader economics and broader impact of business on the world and how the world interacts with business through finance subjects. Also the opportunity to learn about what it was to be in senior management positions what it was to work as a CEO, what it was to work your way into those positions as well. And that’s all been a fantastic opportunity to learn through the Cambridge MBA.
I did tailor my electives and the way I chose my subjects. I picked a lot of electives around strategy, which complemented our core courses around strategy. And then moving into each, attainment was much more about leadership and CEO positions, and that higher leadership structures of careers, which is what I’d come to learn about. It was definitely a key component of what I wanted out of the MBA. So I was able to tailor the MBA to really focus on that and get a lot of practical learning around that.
So I came into the MBA very much wanting to continue my journey in health and I had many opportunities to do that throughout the MBA, through the core courses and through my electives. But I ended up taking a bit of a pivot and trying something a bit different. I’ve always been really interested in sports and so I took this opportunity to embrace that, and try something a little bit different. And so I went with the Culture, Arts & Media Management concentration with a very heavy focus on sports. So I could really diversify my experience and through my GCP as well, I was able to do my project with Formula E, so I got that sort of hands-on experience in sports and sports management as well. So I’ve definitely embraced the MBA spirit in trying something different while I’ve been here.
Making the most of my time at Cambridge
I was a welfare officer on our MCR committee on our post-graduate committee for the year, which has been really rewarding and a great opportunity to meet other members of the College who are not business focused or don’t have the same background as I do. And so that’s been a really great learning opportunity. I’ve also played cricket for the university throughout the year, which has been a really fantastic complement of that sort of sport, College and MBA experience.
So I came into the year expecting to be very overwhelmed with all this new course content, which was nothing that I’d expected before. I really surprised myself in my ability to adapt and take my past experience and apply it, and be able to use that past learning to bring it into these really new concepts and together to get this really fulfilling experience where I’ve learned so much more than I ever thought I could just by bringing it all together and really applying that in a real life example to take the MBA that step further.
Catherine Brown (MBA 2021) from Australia, worked as a pharmacist for a number of years before her MBA. She worked in hospitals as a clinical pharmacist and then went into management.
She explains what led her to the Cambridge MBA, “I ended up achieving a lot more than I had expected, a lot faster than I expected. So, I then started looking outside pharmacy and healthcare for what else I wanted to do. And I thought an MBA is a great opportunity to go and experience different industries.”
Looking at MBA programmes in both the USA and the UK, Cambridge really stood out because of Cambridge Judge Business School’s (CJBS) place within the wider University of Cambridge.
“It was the interplay between the Colleges and the other University offerings in sports and the other events, which was really very exciting about the Cambridge MBA.”
Making the most of the opportunities at Cambridge
During Catherine’s year she made the most of the wider Cambridge community, “My career had been very health focused the whole way. What I was really excited to learn about was the broader economics and broader impact of business on the world and how the world interacts with business through subjects such as finance and operations.”
Catherine supported the Cambridge Judge team attending the prestigious MBA sports competition, MBAT, held annually in Paris. She was also a Welfare Officer for postgraduates at her College, Homerton College. And she played cricket for the University of Cambridge throughout the year.
Choosing the Culture, Arts and Media (CAM) Concentration, Catherine tailored her MBA year to her career goals, as well as giving herself the chance to explore other industries across the year in Cambridge.
“I’ve always been really interested in sports and sports management, so I chose to pivot somewhat during my MBA, opting for a self-sourced Global Consulting Project with Formula E – a sustainability and tech-based sports project.”
On pathways from the health sector into business, Catherine says, “My biggest fear was coming into the MBA from a different background – there is no set pathway from this sector. The GMAT for example, was a completely new concept for me, I had to start from scratch.
“But now I am coming out with so many opportunities and so many people that I’ve met and can now reach out to or call on. And for me, that’s really important and the thing that I’m really excited about going forward,” she continues.
Catherine is now an Associate in the Healthcare sector at McKinsey & Company, London.
Stepping out of the public sector with new finance skills
Taking my career to the next level
Before coming to Cambridge, I had a very, I’d say, non-traditional background. I worked in the public sector in infrastructure investments.
Thinking about my career journey, I’d reached a point whereby I was interacting quite a bit with C-suite executives, and collaborating with the private sector. And what this alerted me to was the fact that I needed to be able to have the business skills and the know-how to be able to interact effectively with private sector partners. An MBA was the perfect opportunity for me to gain those leadership and business skills to take my career to the next level.
So, once I started thinking about an MBA, I wanted a programme that was one year. And I also wanted a place that was recognised worldwide to give me opportunities to work in potentially different geographies. Cambridge stood out because of Silicon Fen, which is the ecosystem that’s here. So, trying to be able to see how you can bridge that innovation economy with my previous life. And I think the one thing that stood out for me that was unique was the collaborative nature of the programme. So, just looking at how the different terms were organised and the opportunities which were more experiential.
When I came in, I was very clear that I wanted to challenge myself in the Finance space, so I started taking courses that were related to that. So, one of the courses that I took was New Venture Finance. So, from a perspective, it opened me to a world of opportunities that I didn’t even know existed for me.
Gaining new skills and experience
The Global Consulting Project was a phenomenal experience. I worked with JP Morgan. And from my perspective, just being able to get into an organisation like that, so being able to get in there and work quite closely with senior leadership on some of the challenges that they’re facing was an experience that I would never have anticipated in my wildest dreams. So, I think what’s unique about the Cambridge MBA is it provides all these opportunities that maybe normally would not be available to you, and they bring very top tier companies for these projects that we work on.
The Cambridge MBA was about opportunity for me, being able to realise my potential. And I think, from that perspective, it’s done that and more. So, I’ve been able to figure out potential career paths that were not on my radar. I think I’m now very well equipped to make that transition to the corporate world. Now, as I reflect on my journey and think about some of the skills that I wanted to build, some of the networks that I wanted to engage in, I will say that my growth has been tremendous.
Coming from infrastructure investments in the public sector in Canada, Angela Khakali (MBA 2021) was looking to expand her skill base and widen her business experience.
“Reflecting on my career journey, I was thinking about the kind of skills that I needed and connecting the dots on the business side of things, and the Cambridge MBA offered the perfect opportunity to do that.”
Angela was not only looking for a one-year programme with great academics but also the hands-on experience of the practical projects on the MBA really appealed to her.
“When I applied the things that stood out to me were the Cambridge Venture Project (CVP) and the Global Consulting Project (GCP). And I have to say that those still stand out as some of my best experiences on the academic side, because of bringing in those team skills.”
Taking on new challenges
Angela was awarded the Social Innovation/Beyond Profit Scholarship and when she started the programme she was very clear that she wanted to challenge herself in the finance space in particular. “One of the courses I selected was New Venture Finance, and later Mergers and Acquisitions, and these elements opened me up to a world of opportunities that I didn’t know even existed for me.
“Thinking about my future, which I see either in the venture capital space or in corporate development within a tech company, all these courses are pointing or leading me towards that direction,” she continues.
“The Cambridge MBA was about opportunity. I’ve been able to figure out potential career paths that were not on my radar. With my previous experience in the public sector, I am now very well equipped to make that transition to the corporate world,” Angela concludes.
Taking her career forward while still looking at impact focused organisations, Angela is currently Entrepreneur in Residence at a cleantech accelerator, based in Toronto.
Forging a career in the fintech space
Looking for something new
I kind of took the unconventional route. I studied industrial engineering at Kuwait University, and then I went into banking at HSBC for around six years. And then I reached this inflexion point in my career where I felt like I wanted to do something different. I wanted to explore fintech.
I was always like looking to further my education, whether it was through the CFA or an MBA, but I knew the MBA would be a much more gratifying experience. And so once I was, you know, curious about fintech, I knew I kind of wanted to, you know, hone my skills further in the finance and business. And so I decided to venture out and pursue my education through an MBA.
I knew I kind of wanted to, I wanted to do business school, I wanted a one-year programme, it keeps me relevant in the workforce. There were tonnes of one-year programmes out there, but Cambridge, in specific, had the collegiate experience, it had the practical learning through the consulting projects, the GCP, and the CVP, you would be able to curate your own experience via choosing electives and concentrations.
Learning about myself through my studies
And my year has been phenomenal. It’s been, you know, from the academic side, just being able to, you know, explore all of these different courses, whether it was marketing or strategy. And then, from the elective side, being able to do courses like the design sprint course or the negotiations course, really basically, helped me, you know, come full circle, and, you know, explore all the facets of what the Cambridge MBA curriculum’s all about. And then via the consulting projects and, you know, the GCP and the CVP, I was able to, not only, learn a lot about how I work with others, but learn a lot about myself in the process. And so that was, you know, great about my academic experience.
Everyone wants to give back, everyone wants to, you know, help out. And so I was very fortunate in like being able to speak to different alumni from different countries in the fintech space and the tech space as well. And, you know, get a lot of insight from them about their experience, about their sort of career trajectory, post the MBA. So that was pretty great about, you know, just the Cambridge culture.
I came into Cambridge knowing that, you know, it might potentially open new doors and it might, you know, project, propel my career forward. However, it’s become more than that. It’s allowed me to see what exactly I want out of my career and allowed me to, basically, understand what I want to prioritise in terms of, you know, which industry.
The Cambridge experience kind of allowed me to understand how I work as an individual within teams, you know, it allowed me to gain a lot of leadership skills that I was hoping to gain because I was always in sort of a mid-tier role, and I wanted to get into that managerial leadership role. And so the projects themselves, definitely, helped me hone in those skills, in particular.
Coming from Kuwait, Noor Albahar (MBA 2021) had a strong background in the finance fundamentals but was looking to expand her global business career and to grow her fintech skills and experience.
“I was always looking to further my education, through the CFA or an MBA. But I knew the MBA would be a much more gratifying experience. Once I was curious about fintech, I knew I wanted to hone my skills further in finance and business.”
The benefits of the Global Consulting Project and the Cambridge Venture Project
Noor also embraced the learning opportunities presented by the team projects such as the GCP and the CVP.
“My year has been phenomenal. Just being able to explore these different courses, whether it was marketing or strategy, and with electives like the design sprint course or the negotiations course. These really helped me come full circle and explore all the facets of what the Cambridge MBA curriculum’s all about.
“During the consulting projects, the GCP and the CVP, I was able not only to learn a lot about how I work with others, but I also learnt a lot about myself in the process,” she continues.
“The Cambridge experience has allowed me to understand how I work as an individual within teams. It has allowed me to gain a lot of leadership skills. I was always in sort of a mid-tier role, but I wanted to get into that managerial leadership role. It’s been amazing.”