David Scollon, Sixth Scholarship winner 2012

David Scollon, 2012 Scholarship winnerWe have just trudged through the snow in the dim morning light to arrive at lecture room L29, Building 122 at Cranfield School of Management for the first lecture of the day. It’s cold. The days are short and we all look bleary eyed having backed up a WAC weekend with a night of teamwork in the syndicate rooms completing yet another assignment. With our green mugs filled with coffee in hand, we are ready to face another day in the life of the full-time Cranfield MBA student and in a way life couldn’t be better! After all, how often do you get to spend a year at a world-class institution, supported by dedicated lecturers, and a dynamic faculty, with friends from countries spanning the globe? It truly is a remarkable year!

It all started in the last week of September 2012, when Ben Elias, Aashlesha Venkatachalam and I arrived at Cranfield for Orientation Week and met the international cohort. Anna Baggoley (2011 Scholar) was there to welcome us, provide us with wise words and set us on our way. In true Cranfield style, by the end of the week we all knew each other and were ready to embark on the year – and what a year it was!

In my blog, I wrote that an MBA year seems to exist in a time warp; you manage to cram an inordinate amount into the year. There was the course content with its long list of subject acronyms (OSC, EOS, SDS, MKT, ACC), lectures, teamwork, WACs, assignments, presentations, examinations, business competitions, language classes, career evenings, field trips and guest lecturers.

In between lectures and coursework we fitted in annual events like Burns night, Trafalgar, Diwali, International Week, Cranstock, Cranfield Regatta, MBAT in France, Intervarsity sports competitions, the 24-hour Three Peaks Challenge. We also squeezed in the beloved Social club, precious family time and even, occasionally, some sleep. One of the highlights was the IBE trip and this year we had a choice of a business trip to Brazil, China or Japan or a field trip to Mongolia, Nepal, Ghana or Uganda. These were all successful in helping broaden the MBA experience.

The Australian contingent, as always, made their mark by providing the typical antipodean perspective and by getting involved in everything. Some of the highlights: Aashlesha deservedly winning the annual Tasman Cup; Ben being part of the winning Entrepreneur team and myself being a finalist for the annual Odgers Prize.

There were quite a few changes through the 2012/13 year: we saw the UK economy stage a turnaround, with clear green shoots appearing by the end of the year; and the English Cricket Team stage a turnaround of a different kind, having to hand back the Ashes! At Cranfield, we experienced changes with Professor Joe Nellis (who had just celebrated thirty years at Cranfield) taking on the role of interim Director just as our year finished, and Professor Sir Peter Gregson being appointed Vice Chancellor of the University.

The pressure on established MBA schools to attract quality students heightened due to an increased supply of schools and disruptive models such as online courses. Cranfield is certainly rising to these challenges. I look forward, with interest, to watching this space. While the headwinds are strong – having been to several post-MBA Cranfield events in London recently including: the Annual Cranfield Female FTSE Report; the Cranfield Trust presentation; the Annual Awards night and monthly alumni catch ups – I recognise that we have a great history and alumni foundation to build upon. One thing that hasn’t changed is the influence of the alumni in promoting and attracting interest in this world-class school.

As our MBA finished, the new Aussie contingent of Daniel George and Kevin Ha arrived to take over the reins. Ben returned to Australia to apply his entrepreneurial flair with his new business ‘Ideocial’, a unique internal crowd-funding platform for company employees, which I look forward to seeing succeed. Aashlesha continued the UK experience and moved to London to work for Santander as a Business Consultant. I also moved to London with National Australia Bank as a Senior Manager within Group Strategy and will soon return to Australia with my family and continue to work for NAB.

I take this opportunity to thank the Cranfield Australian Alumni for their great support throughout the CAASF Scholarship. It has been life changing for me and I cannot speak highly enough of the experience. I look forward to returning to Australia and to ‘paying it forward’ to ensure that we continue to build the Australian Alumni community and attract more Australians to embark on the Cranfield MBA journey.

David Scollon  MBA 2013