Tony Carrigan

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Nuclear Decommissioning Project Manager, Babcock International Group plc

Tony undertook the Lancaster Executive MBA whilst working on a decommissioning project for the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in Cumbria.

When I did my Executive MBA I was working on a nuclear decommissioning project for UKAEA on the Windscale licensed site in West Cumbria. In consideration of my employer’s imminent move from public to private sector, and to further my career development, I wanted to learn more about the many facets of business, whilst broadening my managerial and leadership skills in the process.

Lancaster University Management School is a familiar environment to me, as I graduated in 2005 with an MSc in Project Management, so the School’s Executive MBA (EMBA) programme was a natural choice to help me achieve these aims.

My EMBA experience was both challenging and rewarding. I studied a variety of interrelated business topics that were relevant to my development needs and that resonated with me because of the particular issues I faced within my workplace at that time. The taught modules gave me a broad understanding of each subject, raised my interest in studying them further, and prompted me to think about how I could apply my new-found knowledge directly to the issues I was experiencing at work.

Interaction between lecturers, guests and fellow students (in the EMBA class and on the full-time MBA programme) provided a rich learning environment where we could share our personal thoughts, professional knowledge and our lived experiences on a range of business matters and learn from one another.

The time spent with fellow students was particularly enjoyable. Classroom discussions had a richness that was brought about by the cultural mix and range of career experiences. The friendship, support and encouragement of fellow students proved to be a great source of motivation for me throughout.

Group activities – such as our experiences with Outward Bound and the Consultancy Challenge – were great fun, thought-provoking and rewarding, primarily because they highlighted the many behavioural challenges we face when attempting to work as an efficient and effective team.

Balancing commitments

Despite my previous Masters degree experience, I still underestimated how challenging it could be to strike a balance between home, study and work commitments. However, the ‘action learning’ format of the EMBA programme effectively brought together professional demands and academic exercises. Combining these two elements of work helped me to make efficient use of my time and stay focused on what was important to me, the University and my employer. Temporarily sacrificing a few of those things that weren’t important also helped me to continue to spend quality time with my family.

After enrolling on the EMBA programme, I was promoted to Senior Project Manager, Windscale Piles Decommissioning. My many responsibilities included the development and implementation of Windscale Site Strategy, the delivery of a multi-million pound programme of work, and leading a skilled team comprising of 65 employees and numerous specialist contractors.

The Lancaster EMBA prepared me well. Whether I face issues relating to organisational behaviour, operations, finance, strategy or sales marketing, I continually find myself reflecting on and drawing from the lessons I have learned from my engagement on the programme to help me achieve success in this new and challenging role.

My EMBA experience has also given me the interest and confidence to continue to learn – either from literature, from daily experiences, or from the insights of others – as I inevitably confront new and exciting challenges moving forward.