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Sarah-Jane Thurman

Sarah-Jane Thurman, 2016 Executive MBA participant
I have always relished a challenge and believe that anything is possible with hard work.
Sarah-Jane Thurman

Moving from business to corporate

My career has been varied within the discipline of finance. I completed my training in audit, later moving to corporate restructuring and then corporate finance, advising on sales, acquisitions, management buyouts and re-financing. Up until this point, my focus had always been on owner-managed businesses - acting as an external advisor - but soon felt that I was missing valuable business experience.  This prompted me to switch industries and start working for a large corporate.

Such a move was a vast change for me, not only shifting direction within finance but also moving to a larger organisation. People doubted my ability to adapt, but I have always relished a challenge and believe that anything is possible with hard work. I started my career within Openreach as a Finance Manager and was promoted four times in four years to become the Senior Head of Finance.

I'm currently responsible for capex roll-out to ensure super-fast internet connection across the UK, in addition to winning public subsidy for very rural areas that are difficult to reach. My role and that of my team is incredibly varied. We provide financial insight to operations to drive efficiency, lead negotiations with procurement, analyse the financial implications of new technologies, make strategic decisions as to where money should be invested and lead the usual finance functions such as building budgets and month-end.

Expanding horizons through executive study

Cambridge is a very special place and it soon became apparent that I wouldn't want to complete an Executive MBA anywhere else. For me, studying for the Cambridge Executive MBA means much more than just joining a world-class university with an impressive academic record. The programme brings together inspiring and successful people from very different backgrounds. Having always worked within finance, this diversity of thought is of great benefit to both myself and my course participants, in that it allows us to evaluate business decisions from a wider, more in-depth perspective. This key insight can't be taught purely academically or in the workplace.

Everyone I've met on the course has been incredibly supportive and it's refreshing to enter a safe learning environment where people can not only learn from each other's successes, but also from instances where things might not have gone to plan. Learning from these experiences is often overlooked in a competitive corporate environment, but this is where most can be learnt.  

The programme offers lifelong learning beyond the Executive MBA through engagement with the alumni network. This will enable me to keep up-to-date with the latest thinking and continue to learn alongside a strong network of peers from whom I can seek different opinions and advice.  

Completing an Executive MBA whilst maintaining a demanding career and work-life balance is, of programme, a challenge. However, I'm sure that this experience will not only develop my business acumen and strengthen my skill-set, but will also develop me as an individual and allow me to progress further as a business leader.

Programme

Cambridge Executive MBA 2016

Current position

Senior Head of Finance - Infrastructure Delivery, Openreach (part of BT Group)

Education

BA University of Manchester; ACA Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales