Nationality: New Zealander
Programme: Full-time MBA, 2013
Pre-MBA: State Sales Manager, Smith and Nephew, Sydney, Australia
Post-MBA: Senior Director, Smith and Nephew, Sydney, Australia
Current industry: Pharma / Healthcare
Transitions made: Function
Why did you choose to do an MBA?
An MBA was appealing opportunity to learn significant amounts beyond core knowledge, spend a year in a financial hub, work hard, meet new and interesting people outside of previous social networks, and get a fresh look at career opportunities.
Why did you choose Cass Business School?
Cass, as with many other MBA programmes, has become adept at packing a lot of knowledge into a small space. Cass was specifically attractive due to its strengths in corporate strategy, finance, and international business, and being based in the heart of London made it an obvious choice for diversity of classmates – all of which have stood me in good stead for roles post-MBA including being based in Dubai responsible for Emerging Markets, and Singapore, responsible for Asia Pacific region.
What were your ambitions before you took the MBA course?
From a professional perspective my career goal was to be a leader within the science and healthcare sectors. To do so it was evident that I needed to complement my scientific and medical background with core business knowledge to better leverage interactions and potential synergies between business, scientific and medical communities, whose relationships can often have conflicting drivers in a complex and diverse global healthcare system.
What are they now?
Fundamentally my ambitions have not changed. However, in the 5 years post MBA I have taken a more active interest in understanding the ethical business frameworks in healthcare and have worked towards positively and constructively influencing it.
What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal is to inspire others around me to achieve their best, while leaving a positive impression on the global healthcare system for the good of patients.
From my home country of New Zealand core values of pride, respect, and staying grounded are equally important while striving to achieve ones ambitions.
What was the best thing you learnt at Cass?
With so many learnings it difficult to choose one! Some of the best elements of the experience included honing skills in how to assess complex business situations, analyse and manage uncertainty, work in cross-cultural and cross-functional teams, and think more strategically.
These skills were especially useful in managing risk and market entry in a number of markets where I worked within the Middle East and Asia.
Would you recommend it to others?
Absolutely! On top of making friends that will likely last a lifetime, the fundamental knowledge has further stimulated an intrinsic desire for continuous learning, allowing me to be more geographically and professionally agile in a fast paced, networked, and globalising world.
How was your experience on the Cass Expeditionary Society?
The trek delivered a rich and rewarding experience on many levels – having a love for the outdoors myself it was a great way to connect with the forests of northern Vietnam, while meeting a enthusiastic and thoroughly interesting group of current Cass students and alumni.
Our guides, Dr Rodrigo Jordan and Gabriel Becker, both have a passion for the mountains. Their calm and controlled manner made the group feel at ease and safe under their direction. Having the opportunity to interact with seasoned mountaineers and leadership experts was invaluable and allowed us to observe how they operated and managed the team environment, quickly building trust and a respect for their knowledge and expertise. Having good kit and being prepared for the weather and sleeping conditions was certainly an area many of us took away from the experience…
Through a combination of pre-activity engagement exercises, and after action reviews, key learnings were consciously embedded via the experiential leadership model. Group reflection such as “What are we trying to achieve?’, ‘What are the team’s strengths?”, “What could we improve as a team?” “Would you be part of this team again?” solidified group learning while focussing us on a shared vision and goal – to reach the summit of Mt Fansipan!
What did you learn about yourself?
Being a leader can mean taking a role at the front, or the back, depending on the needs of the team, context of the situation, or requisites of the project at hand. Being aware of and practising ‘follower’ competencies and taking a supporting role are as important as leadership skills – both of which I enjoy.
Learning and personal growth occurs in the space between ‘comfort’ and ‘panic’ where in a stressed state the body and mind is challenged to stretch – much like varied and overload training regimes in sport that aim to push the body beyond its current limits. Being environmentally aware and supporting members of the team who were out of their comfort zone was an area I tried to strengthen during the trek.
What kind of a leader are you?
My current role responsible for the Orthopaedics Business Unit in Australia and New Zealand includes leading a team of 80+ sales and marketing staff for a FTSE100 MedTech company, in addition to routine business accountabilities the role routinely includes management of high risk and high pressure environments related to orthopaedic surgery.
Both by design and default this has led to my dominant style being to lead by example, with a tendency to be a pacesetter – the aim is for desired behaviours and work ethic to be emulated.
Having a strong sense of personal and professional values has been important to support fair and consistent decisions and appraisal of team members. I also place strong emphasis on clarity of roles, and ensure high levels of communication to drive efficiency across teams.
Finally, I place strong emphasis on forming strong and positive social interactions that build trust and enhance engagement and commitment to a common goal - and importantly making time to enjoy sharing successes while having fun!
What do you think your greatest skills are, as a leader?
Having 15 years’ experience in the MedTech industry has resulted in a strong understanding of job requirements and demands, allowing me to be professionally agile and gain respect and rapport with multi-disciplinary teams.
Within my role having the ability to decode and analyse the organisational climate and strategic vision has allowed communication of long term direction and importance of each team member’s role in the context of the company and market.
And your weaknesses?
Through the continuous leadership journey I am consciously working on a number of development areas – these include experimenting with types of leadership style, and having more empathy to others.
Coaching and fostering a participative environment are areas that are critical, and can at times be challenging with business priorities – However, for the long term health of the team this is a critical element that needs continuous focus.