Todd Myers, Fourth Scholarship winner, 2010

Todd Myers, winner of the Fourth Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship, 2010As I sat to write this, it was hard to believe it was only seven months earlier that I handed in my last assignment at Cranfield. My journey there started all the way back in 2007. Sarah Nicholson, who I had not met previously, despite studying engineering in the same year at the University of Queensland and working for the same company, had started her year at Cranfield as the first winner of the Cranfield Australian Alumni Scholarship. I had been considering undertaking an MBA for a number of years, though this had never got beyond reviewing a few EMBA offerings and a loose plan that I would do it ‘one day’.

Then, in late 2007, I received an email from my HR department advertising the scholarship and mentioning Sarah’s success. I had always presumed that I would not be able to afford to take the time out of the workforce to complete a full time MBA. Now I saw that this might be a possibility. After researching the Cranfield MBA, I was even more excited by the prospect and made the decision to apply.

I was offered a partial scholarship in 2008, but turned the offer down as I was due to be married during that school year. At that point I thought I had missed my chance at an MBA. However, I was lucky enough to receive a call from Alex Chapman in 2010 asking me if I wished to reapply. Despite my wife being due to give birth three months before the Cranfield year started, we both agreed that this second chance was too good an opportunity to pass up and I again put my name forward. Before long I was given the exciting news that I was the fourth scholarship winner.

The following months were a blur with the new baby and trying to arrange visas, etc. You’d be surprised how hard it is to get a passport photo for a week-old baby where they need to look directly at the camera and have a “neutral” expression. Fortunately she easily met the requirement of not showing any teeth in her smile! Despite the challenges of making arrangements in Australia, the flight over went very well, all things considered.

My main memory of the Orientation Week at Cranfield was of being extremely intimidated for probably the first time in my life. Everyone seemed to have achieved so much professionally and many already had extensive practice in starting and running their own businesses. It was a fantastic opportunity to spend an entire year learning from all these people and their past experiences. It was an even greater opportunity to strike lifelong friendships with many of these individuals.

The MBA at Cranfield met and then exceeded my expectations. The focus on ‘soft’ skills did not disappoint, with ample opportunity for self reflection and personal development. And the teaching staff’s combination of knowledge, care and support for each individual’s learning and development is something rarely seen in higher education. It is hard to comprehend how much one’s business knowledge can be broadened in just a single year. Even more importantly, I have a much greater appreciation of the huge knowledge base that is out there in the management field and how to tap into it. Overall, the ‘Cranfield experience’ was incredibly enriching, not just academically and professionally, but also emotionally and culturally. It has helped me to become not just a better manager, but a better leader and person.

After being so intimidated by the quality of the other students, I was pleased to finish at the top of the class and break the Kiwi dominance of the Henry Ford II Scholar Prize. Until then, every New Zealand scholarship winner had won the award before I was able to bring a halt to this streak. I hope that this imbalance continues to be corrected over the coming years.

Since my time at Cranfield, I have returned to BHP Billiton in a more senior role. Already I can see how the Cranfield MBA has changed my perspective on my area of the business and allowed me to pinpoint problems more effectively and, most importantly, to develop solutions and improvements.

Cranfield School of Management is a special place. I feel privileged that for a moment I was able to be a part of its rich tapestry and hope that in some small way I’ve played a role in helping it to become an even more respected institution. For this I am forever indebted to the Cranfield Australian Alumni, particularly the CAASF Board members. Thank you all very much and long may you continue to provide this fantastic development opportunity to other young Australians.

Sincere thanks, Todd Myers (MBA 2011)