Family comes first, and the Cambridge MBA offers a wide range of opportunities and experiences for partners as well as families, making it an exciting move for everyone involved.
For many MBAs, starting their studies at business school involves a relocation to another country. Some not only move themselves and perhaps their pets, but they relocate a spouse, partner or even children in the process. Having the support of your family is crucial to your MBA success, but if your partner or spouse is coming too then their own career aspirations and direction also must be factored into the decision.
Keiko Fukumori, current Cambridge MBA from Japan, is here with her husband and her four-year-old son. Working for a Japanese company based in Indonesia, she was told to apply early to secure family accommodation, which she did, and she was successful through the second application rounds. She had thought all along that taking an MBA was a journey for all of her family and so it was always part of the equation. Initially she had looked at places in the US and in Europe, but each time she considered the living environment and safety for her family as well as the language abilities of her partner. Cambridge was an obvious choice as the tech cluster surrounding the city, and the proximity to London, meant that her husband might also look at securing work once her MBA had started.
“I was already thinking where I could bring my family – it was not an option to be separated from them in any way! My husband was also very open to being part of that journey.”
Keiko had reached out to Japanese nationals who had done MBAs in Cambridge and they had said that Cambridge was great for families.
“With such an internationally diverse and experienced mix of students on the Cambridge MBA I also felt that there would be other students like me who had their family or young children alongside them here in Cambridge.”
Keiko also had a school place to think of for her son. She started applying for places for their son as early as January. “The process can be overwhelming in a different country, so I would advise starting early and putting in the time to ensure the right school is available for your child. My son is enormously happy in his school and loves being close to the countryside and the city at the same time. Each morning I cycle and drop my son off and then dash to my morning classes”.
“Our aim across the year is to really explore Europe together and spend some family time together, fitting around my MBA as well as the new job my husband is now starting here in the UK as well!”
Phil Holbrook is combining his MBA year in Cambridge with his family home in London, splitting his time staying in Cambridge during the week and focusing on his family at the weekends. “My family dynamic is working really well now – my wife is also changing direction and taking some time out for study this year”.
Charles Heller noticed that the MBA Team took the trouble to meet and get to know his wife during events; he said, “They know so much of a student’s success is based on their partner’s support across the year. My wife has joined me here in Cambridge and together we fully intend to immerse ourselves in the history and culture of this hallowed city”.
Nic Bryant and his wife Laura have relocated from the States. She was in a demanding role running a catering business but was delighted to change track for a little while when Nic wanted to move to the UK for the MBA.
Laura said: “This is an adventure and it is so cool to be doing it together”. Nic said “I wasn’t going to do this without her!”.
Nic and Laura are an energetic duo and together they have put themselves forward for as many things as they could: Nic is Social Chair on the student representative body and Laura is Partners Chair. Together they have embraced every aspect of the MBA life, from organising the recent seasonal social gatherings to walking dogs for fellow students. Nic and Laura have brought their pet cat and so the hunt for accommodation that allowed pets was that much more important. Nic is making the most of the further connections that the collegiate system offers, based in Queens’ College there are many additional resources, networks, as well as social opportunities to tap into. For Laura being part of as many things as possible during ‘her year off’ is “my way to connect and discover Cambridge at the same time. You get out of it what you put into it”.
Keegan Ziady and his wife Hanna, from South Africa, are another couple embracing change and new experiences together. They chose a centrally located two-bedroom apartment through the private rental market and have already enjoyed having family to visit and share the city with. “Being central means, I can step outside the front door and be straight on the market square, browse the shops or grab a coffee”, says Hanna.
They took the decision to do an MBA together from the outset. Now Hanna is taking a step out of the daily thrust of financial journalism to support Keegan during the year. Still writing as a freelance journalist, she is keeping her options open across both the London and wider European market for employment opportunities.
Keegan had always planned to do an MBA, they got married only a few years ago and had saved up specifically to ensure that they could make the most of the opportunity when the time was right. They even bought an apartment in Johannesburg with the future rental market in mind, knowing they would be overseas for a year or more.
“We are very lucky as we have close family in Heidelberg, a twin city to Cambridge, and so we will be making the most of the European links and the opportunity to travel – such as bouncing to Lisbon for the weekend”. They are, for example, taking French lessons together in the evenings.
Hanna has also started a blog about her Cambridge experience and is looking at developing some business ideas across video platforms within the financial sector.
“Make the effort to meet other partners, it helps you build a network that shares more than a WhatsApp group”.
Deema Alafaliq started the MBA with her two-year-old son in tow. Her biggest piece of advice is; “Apply early to give you more time to research all the options. Take time to investigate and secure the right school or nursery place for your child. There is a lot to consider when it is not just you”.