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Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Hello! I’m a little late getting this blog started, having only just finished my last exam for Term 2 yesterday. However, my plan is to give a bit of background in this post and then I’ll then try to use the next few weeks to wrap up the events of the first two terms. Feel free to ask if there is anything you’re particularly interested in about the Cranfield MBA and I’ll post on it.

My original qualification is in mining engineering, although I also have a Masters in Applied Finance. I have moved into more financially-oriented roles over time, albeit still within the mining industry. My most recent role was with BMA (a joint venture between BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi) as a Senior Business Analyst in the Business Development department.

My journey to Cranfield began in 2008. I’d had a loose plan to “one day” do a MBA. The most likely option was a part time course at my alma mater, the University of Queensland. However, this was relatively expensive and the course has no international standing, which I considered quite important considering the time and expense of completing an MBA. I’d also looked at the NUS/UCLA executive offering. Though this had a bit better standing than Australian courses, it was fairly expensive, particularly considering the international travel requirements. In early 2008 an email was forwarded on through my company’s HR department, advertising the Cranfield Australian Alumni scholarship. The first scholarship had been awarded the previous year to Sarah Nicholson a BHP Billiton employee. The opportunity to be able to complete an international-standard MBA without the financial difficulties normally involved greatly appealed to me. So I booked in to sit the GMAT, achieved a quite good result and put in my application.

As far as the GMAT goes, I highly recommend GMAT 800 by Kaplan. It provides some hard example questions that you don’t normally get in other practice books. I’d also recommend getting a guide to verbal questions. There are a lot of grammar and sentence structure questions in the GMAT. Australian education systems seem to do a very poor job at teaching such things in primary school so I would suggest practice in this area is crucial. The questions can be quite technical, particularly the hard ones, so judging the answer by how it sounds is usually not the best option. Mind you, those who aren’t as comfortable with mathematics might not agree that this is the most difficult area.

The application process involved an interview with recruitment consultants Egon Zehnder, an interview with the Cranfield FTMBA course director, Sean Rickard, an interview with the selection committee from the Australian alumni and two essays (one for the Australian alumni and one for the school). Regardless of the selection process, the chance to get feedback from a high-level executive recruitment firm such as Egon Zehnder was invaluable.

Unfortunately, I missed out in 2008, although I did get offered a partial scholarship. However, between the application and the offer, I became engaged to the delightful, enchanting lady who is now my wife (and may also have edited this prior to posting) and had also been asked to be groomsman at a friend’s wedding. With both weddings planned during the Cranfield year, not to mention the cost of a future wedding to consider, it didn’t feel like the best timing to take a year off work and head overseas, so I had to turn the opportunity down. At that point I thought I might have missed my opportunity to complete an MBA internationally. However, in 2010, I was asked if I was still interested in going to Cranfield. With my wife due to give birth just three months before the start of the MBA year, the timing was not any better, however, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity again and put my name forward. The process was a lot less stressful the second time around as I’d already been accepted to Cranfield previously. In the end I was fortunate enough to receive the 2010 scholarship and the rest, as they say, is history!