Daniel George, Seventh Scholarship winner 2013

Daniel George

I triumphantly slung my “jolly good looking” rainbow trout onto the kitchen table, a trophy of my trip with the Lawyers Fly Fishing Club. While performing a rolling cast on a private lake, side-by-side with a barrister in tweeds who was complaining about the rise of Britain’s “antis”, I reflected how unusual this experience was for me, the son of vegan artists and regular protestors for animal rights.

The Cranfield MBA is a year beyond a year – a year in a parallel universe nestled amongst apple and pear trees, just 40 miles north of London. I, and sixty of my fellow students turned right at the roundabout and entered a bubble in which time seemed to slow while our ambitions and dreams sped up. Looking back, the Cranfield MBA seems to have taken up a great deal more of my memory and given shape to far more of my character than a single year could possibly allow.

The MBA taught me that every aspect of a person can be a strength. It taught me how to control, develop and amplify my own strengths and how to use the environment to my advantage. It gave me confidence, introduced me to fascinating people and showed me the true value of difference.

An example of this in action was the International Business Assignment project in Malawi, which I worked on with my fellow MBA Gerard. Our Myers Briggs Type Indicators and Belbin Team Role Descriptors were complete opposites. We both loved and loathed different elements of the project. Details not being my strong suit, I would draw diagrams and scatter plots with masses of ideas on how we could improve the business. Gerard, in contrast, would mull over the project details and would calmly list our constraints and ensure there was no scope creep. I would build risk models and plans to restructure the business. Gerard would draw detailed process maps and value chain analyses. Our partnership worked well because we were different and we both worked to our strengths. The result: our project was acclaimed in the Malawi national press!

Cranfield gave me the language to express my talents, and the confidence to carry out a project in my own way, rather than mimicking someone else’s success. This allowed me to bring my own strengths to the projects I have led since my MBA and to innovate beyond what I previously knew. After Cranfield I joined Deutsche Bank as a business consultant and found myself using skills I didn’t even realise I had learnt. Working on a project that was starting to fall apart, I threw out the old approach and developed a new one with the result that the project greatly beat its target.

Cranfield gave me the opportunity to visit places I never could have imagined and a few unexpected experiences as well. Walking through the old town of Tallinn, I drew looks of dismay after innocently buying a real Soviet army coat just days after Putin’s army had massed on Europe’s border, much to the amusement of my Russian MBA friends. Our football team, built around our Chilean ‘Pit Bulls’, beat London Business School for the first time in many years and then competed in the MBA Tournament. We lost on the field but still felt victorious, celebrating in Paris into the early hours of the morning.

Most valuable of all, I have had the privilege of experiencing wonderful moments with fellow Cranfield students. I have shared their homes, cuisine, banyas, dreams and adventures as well as their friendship. I have no doubt that the bonds forged over this year will last a lifetime. Already we are planning some incredible ventures together.

I left Cranfield with colleagues who feel like family, who are already achieving amazing things and will remain close to my heart for the rest of my life. I came across different perspectives, cultures, ideas and moral codes that I found challenging but which either enriched my beliefs, or stretched them and made them stronger. I learnt the most from those most different from me. The skeleton of the rainbow trout in my bin is testament to that.

Daniel George MBA 2014