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My journey to San Francisco

I am originally from Lancaster and moved to Manchester for university, I ended up staying for 8 years, studying for my MBA and working between Manchester and London. On completion of the Global MBA programme, I moved to San Francisco and have now been in the US for 5 years. I have over 10 years’ experience building clean tech businesses, in this time I have been a founder, strategy consultant and investor

My career journey

Currently, I am part of the executive team at UBCO, with responsibility for enterprise sales and sustainability. We are an early stage electric vehicle (EV) company, focused on building the toughest EVs on the planet, in the light-weight, utility category. Our vehicles are accessible, easy to ride and highly practical in a range of applications both on and off road. More specifically I work with enterprise customers to provide them with zero emission solutions, that replace fossil fuel vehicles and leveraging all the step change and revolutionary advantages of electric vehicles.

I’ve spent my career in clean tech and sustainability in a variety of roles, from founder to consultant.  UBCO represented an opportunity to join the executive team of a high growth electric vehicle manufacturer, at the Series A stage. EV is a large part of the low carbon transition, and moving from a landscape view in consultancy to a startup solving discreet challenges through innovation excited me. The key issues affecting my organization and the wider OEM (original equipment manufacturers) landscape, is supply chain risk. A global shortage of parts in the automotive, and particularly e-bike/bicycle market, impacts product lead times, so there’s a push within our business and across the sector, to invest in supply chain resiliency.

My MBA experience 

I always knew I wanted to study an MBA after starting a business and finding I had knowledge gaps that I wanted to fill, however studying for an MBA was always more aspirational than part of considered career path. I’m glad it’s something I fully committed to and invested time in, as the MBA has helped my career in a number of ways. The MBA gave me the time and head space to step back and truly analyse what I wanted from my career. It afforded me a new lens through which, to view my options, whilst surrounded by likeminded and ambitious people. Choosing Manchester to study was an easy decision. I studied at Manchester for my Bachelor’s degree, so I was familiar with the school and reputation. I was also sponsored by my employer at the time, who were based in South Manchester. This added incentive essentially made the difference for me at a time in my career where I felt I was beginning to stagnate.

Studying for an MBA you learn so many new skills. I believe that critical thinking and working as part of a team of highly capable people builds a perspective and confidence around delegation, that’s critical as you take on more senior leadership roles, particularly in fast growing companies. My favourite part of the programme would be the international aspect. During the MBA I had the ability to travel and hear different perspectives from a vast range of people. The real life business examples and guest speakers are the most valuable parts, the more of that the better. I also relished the nights out after long group project sessions, with people I now consider good friends.

My advice to anyone considering an MBA would be to understand how you intend to leverage the learning and consider what type of person you are. If you want to start a business and have the inclination to do so, then go for it – maybe an MBA isn’t something you need at this stage. If you’re confident an MBA would move you up the corporate ladder through a promotion, or help you make a lateral move to a new department, then it can be useful and I would recommend considering studying one. However, if you want to formalise the understanding you have from a few years in industry, then I feel this is the most effective way to leverage an MBA. It sharpens and hones skills you’ve naturally excelled in and gives you foundational understanding of places you have gaps. That said, I’d always encourage people to double down on your strengths vs. trying to plug your gaps. You can always hire and delegate for your gaps!

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