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Interview with our Global Executive MBA student rep

The first Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) cohort began their journey at Alliance Manchester Business School in January 2022. We asked Chris Greenwood, who is also the student representative for the cohort to answer some questions about Manchester, workshops, life before the MBA and his motivations for starting his MBA journey.

What is your background?

I am currently the Regional Director of Business Development for the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). I am responsible for the Middle East and Africa, and I am based in Dubai in the UAE. ABS is a not-for-profit Classification Society and establishes and enforces standards for safety and environmental protection for the marine and offshore industry.  

I joined ABS in London in 2008 as part of their Graduate Training scheme. After initial training in Houston, I was posted to South Korea where I spent 6 years working in 3 of the largest shipyards in the world. Subsequent to this, I was transferred to Japan for 3-years, after which I returned to the UK as Principal Surveyor in Charge of ABS’ Aberdeen Operations office. After a short spell in Houston running a technology project, I was posted to my current role in Dubai.

I have a bachelor’s in marine technology from the University of Plymouth and a master’s in project & programme management specialising in Oil & Gas from the University of Liverpool. 

How long have you been working at ABS and in this position? 

I have spent just over 13 years with my current employer and have been in my current position in Dubai for almost 2 years.

Why did you decide to study the GEMBA rather than Global Part-time? 

I was particularly drawn to The Reflective Executive and Digital Economy modules of the GEMBA programme. I felt the learning outcomes suited my objectives slightly better than the Global part-time MBA.

Having completed the entry assessments and subsequent interviews and talking through the course content with the AMBS staff, I was sure GEMBA was right for me. The first week in Manchester when I met my cohort definitely confirmed that – we are all very alike, at similar stages of our career, and have similar objectives. Plus, fundamentally, if I am going to do an MBA, I want to be doing the most prestigious and challenging course I can. 

Why did you choose Manchester? 

I chose Manchester for a number of reasons. At face value, the Manchester ‘brand’ meant a lot, knowing the reputation of the University and the incredible names that have passed through the institution. As I am based in Dubai, a local campus was a critical requirement in my decision-making process. I did my master’s 100% online whilst working in Japan and found it very challenging and isolating, so the mix of in-person workshops really appealed to me.  

Again, the course content; including a reflective focus and a forward-looking view of a digital economy really struck a chord with me. I felt Manchester was excellent value for money compared to some of the alternatives.   

Why have you waited till this point in your career to pursue an MBA? 

I considered doing an MBA when I elected to do my master’s, but I was in a very technical and tactical role at the time rather than strategic one. As such, I felt an MBA wouldn’t benefit me at that point in my career. Fast forward 7 years and I am now at the stage of my career where I have the right experience to reflect on. I am influencing strategy and policy, so I felt the timing was right.

What are you most looking forward to about the programme? 

Primarily, learning more, expanding my horizons and becoming more effective in my role, especially as it relates to leadership. I am interested in learning about socially and environmentally responsible leadership and leveraging the new knowledge gained to be better informed as I continue through my career.  

I am really looking forward to further developing the friendships that have already formed with my cohort in workshop week 1, as well as the associated international travel for the remaining workshops.  

What are you hoping to gain from studying GEMBA? 

Aside from the obvious degree, I am hoping to leave the programme more well-rounded, more knowledgeable, a better learner, more critically minded, and with a modern, socially and environmentally conscious outlook on leadership. In addition, a whole bunch of new friends and a bigger professional network.  

How was your experience of the first week of workshops in Manchester? 

The first week was excellent but challenging. The facilities are fantastic, the hotel was excellent, and the course structure and support staff really helped the cohort gel with each other very quickly. The lecturers were fantastic and aided the group to have structured discussions. Naturally, the workshops were pretty intense but certainly manageable. It was great to make some new friends and acquaintances, too.  

During the first week of workshops I was also elected to be the student representative for the cohort. I was humbled but excited to accept. In practice, this means being the 'voice' of the cohort and attending meeting with the AMBS leadership team to ensure this feedback is communicated and actioned, to both improve the AMBS student experience but also the University itself.

What did you think of Manchester as a city?

Despite having travelled extensively globally, it was my first time to visit Manchester and I was really impressed. The city centre was fantastic - a great selection of bars, restaurants, museums and shops, with great transport links. The ​architecture was also really impressive; both the old and the new. The AMBS facilities are incredible and the hotel, just 50m from the School, was great. I am looking forward to visiting again for future workshops.'

Find our more about our Global Executive MBA >>