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Working in Finance: the value of an EMBA

Three Cambridge Executive MBA students working in finance explain how their EMBA studies are preparing them for disruption, leadership development and future career prospects.

Cambridge Executive MBA participants

The Cambridge Executive MBA programme attracts talented senior professionals from a variety of professions and industries. For EMBA participants working in as broad a sector as “finance”, their motivations for joining the programme are similarly varied. We spoke to three participants from our EMBA Class of 2016 with careers in finance about their reasons for joining the programme and what they’ve gained from their studies.

Introducing our EMBAs

Tom Martin (EMBA 2016)
Tom Martin (EMBA 2016)

Tom Martin

Tom is the Regional Director for Halifax’s operations in Greater London, having worked within the Lloyds Banking Group for the last 13 years.

“I’m currently part of the Halifax Bank Executive team, leading a department of around 2000 colleagues and 150 banking branches in and around one of the world’s most valuable and cosmopolitan cities. I also play a leading role in our ‘Helping Britain Prosper’ initiative.”

Brianna SanGiovanni  (EMBA 2016)
Brianna SanGiovanni (EMBA 2016)

Brianna SanGiovanni

Brianna is Commercial Officer for EBS, an electronic foreign exchange marketplace within NEX Group.

“I’ve worked with NEX Group for about nine years, primarily within sales and am now leading on commercial strategy to drive growth and revenue.”

Rashid Zuberi (EMBA 2016))
Rashid Zuberi (EMBA 2016))

Rashid Zuberi

Rashid Zuberi has spent more than twenty years at Deutsche Bank with responsibilities across Pensions, Corporate Finance and Investment banking, culminating in his current role as Head of Debt Capital Markets.

“The bank has utilised my technical skills and experience over the years by providing me with ample opportunities to change roles and grow. It has been both pull and push.”

Prepare for industry disruption

The fact that there is so much change coming to financial services is exactly the reason I’m doing an EMBA.

Participants from financial backgrounds are increasingly choosing EMBA programmes to prepare for disruption within their industries. Tom Martin’s priority as a senior figure at Halifax is to equip himself with the skills, knowledge and network in preparation for this changing professional landscape.

“The fact that there is so much change coming to financial services is exactly the reason I’m doing an EMBA,” explains Tom. “I now know that in terms of disruption, it’s not a question of “if”, but “when”. Working for the largest retail and commercial bank in the UK, I feel duty bound to equip myself as best I can in shaping this better future for us.”

For Brianna, the EMBA is preparing her for such disruption by improving her decision-making skills and working patterns. “The programme has helped me to build and strengthen what I like to call my ‘psychological muscle.’ You learn to take in more information, better allocate your time, develop stronger decision-making skills and garner a more optimistic outlook. These skills are core to thriving in a time of disruption, especially when your personal motives are juxtaposed against the market landscape.”

Apply learning in the workplace

I can learn theories from academics who work closely with industry practitioners, and then apply them at the office.

One of the values of any Executive MBA programme is the ability to maintain a full-time career during your studies. For our Cambridge participants, this means that after each weekend of study at Cambridge Judge Business School, they can immediately apply what they learn when they return to work on Monday morning.

“At the start of the programme, we were told that we could apply what we learnt during the teaching weekends to our working week,” says Rashid. “I was sceptical at first, but it is fair to say that the EMBA has definitely expanded my skillset. I can learn theories from academics who work closely with industry practitioners, and then apply them at the office.”

The programme has a strong emphasis on personal and professional development, particularly in developing leadership qualities. Tom feels that he has become a stronger leader for his department by reflecting and improving on his ‘soft’ leadership skills.

“Every time I return to work after a weekend at Cambridge, I immediately find myself integrating and applying the programme to my workplace,” says Tom. “I’m much more aware of how I’m collaborating with colleagues and how I drive the outcomes required for the organisation to grow. Hard work and technical ability can only advance my career so far. I would have hit a glass ceiling had I not developed my emotional intelligence, self-awareness and influencing skills at Cambridge.”

Build a network beyond finance

I’ve only ever worked in finance. I wanted to get a better perspective on the world.

Cambridge EMBA participants can expand their professional networks beyond their own workplaces, and even industries. The EMBA Class of 2016 is a close-knit peer group of 84 senior professionals learn together, collaborate with each other, but most importantly form a potentially global, lifelong network.

“I’ve only ever worked in finance, and more specifically foreign exchange!”, says Brianna. “I wanted to get a better perspective on the world, be academically challenged, uncover new interests and create a more well-rounded life. My peers on the programme were an integral part of my EMBA experience. Without this incredible network of ambitious yet authentic people around me, I would not have achieved the goals I set for myself.”

Prepare for the future

As our EMBA Class of 2016 approach graduation, it is an opportunity for them to reflect on the impact the programme has had not just on their professional lives, but their personal lives too.

Tom joined the programme after starting a young family. “Juggling a busy job, family (two boys aged one and three), keeping healthy and studying for an EMBA can be tough. However, I’ve found it helps you realise how efficient you can be, and just what you can achieve!”

“I’ve noticed the value of spending more time managing my own career,” explains Brianna. “Applying what I’ve learned on the programme has better prepared me for growth opportunities when they come around. My perspective has widened, which has allowed me to view my organisation through a different lens, but also view myself differently as well.”

I’m a better leader, but also a better person…all because of this EMBA.

Tom believes the EMBA has given him options as to where his career will head next, whilst also fulfilling his personal and professional goals. “I walk with greater confidence, and speak with greater conviction. I’m a better leader, but also a better person…all because of this EMBA. Performing well in a variety of jobs got me to where I was, but the EMBA will undoubtedly get me where I want to go.”