I’m Kieron. I’ve just started on the Executive MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School, and this blog is going to be about my experience of the EMBA.
To begin with, I’ll tell you a bit about myself and how I came to join the class of 2014:
When I was younger, I always thought I would study at Cambridge. This is not the way I expected it to happen.
I was always a bookish child, and visited Cambridge from time to time with my family as I grew up around an hour’s drive away. The sense of history and atmosphere of learning were always enticing.
My education at a grammar school in Lincolnshire was excellent, but my application while there was by no means perfect. I was lucky to be able to do okay in coursework and exams without working too hard. However, this meant that I didn’t push myself to excel.
As such, the opportunity to study an undergraduate degree at Cambridge floated on by. Instead, I went to the University of Kent at Canterbury to study Law and Philosophy. Not a bad consolation prize by any means.
So I got on with life, qualifying as a lawyer after my degree, while living in Oxford then Stratford upon Avon, and my youthful dreams of Cambridge faded into the background. However, there was always a lingering feeling of maybe somehow coming back around to it later in life. Maybe when I retired and had time to do some kind of postgraduate degree.
My career as a lawyer lasted only a few short years – a combination of desire for interesting, fulfilling work and a commercial property crash saw to that – and I made a tricky transition into the music industry, which had always been a far-away citadel; an impenetrable Oz. In many ways this was similar to my view of London, too, where I moved in order to get involved in the music industry. However, once I edged my way into both industry and city I found that people are just people – there is no special access code you have to have; no secret handshake. I am beginning to feel this about the University of Cambridge too.
I have ended up in London as General Manager at a brilliant, progressively-run company that provides an essential but niche service for independent record labels and distributors. We deliver digital music content on their behalf to music services such as iTunes, Spotify, YouTube etc etc. We are an extremely small company, and I have been at home here for three-and-a-half years.
Earlier this year, my boss (co-founder of the company and board director) suggested I consider studying an Executive MBA. My first response was unenthusiastic in the extreme, thinking that EMBAs and MBAs in general were jargon-filled self-reinforcing systems of obfuscation, and that business is in fact very simple. He asked me to consider it further and look around to see if there were any EMBAs that did appeal. I soon found the Cambridge EMBA at Cambridge Judge Business School. I was sold on the approach, the focus on diversity of backgrounds and experience, and maybe most importantly on the Cambridge ‘thing’ (a combination of academic rigour, reputation, and a kind of romantic idea of the place).
A successful application process later, and I am juggling the reading for the course with my full time job and family life (I have a very supportive wife and a 15-month-old daughter). I am only just beginning to feel like I am a part of Cambridge, rather than a visitor or interloper, but I think this connection will deepen over time.
Time is, however, moving very fast, with all of the calls on my attention at the moment. It is jarring to realise that the EMBA class of 2014 are already almost 10% of the way through our course! I wish things could slow down a little so I can take it all in a bit more, but that’s more wishful thinking I guess…