Fredrik Sandvall

Country of origin: Sweden

Director, Sandvall Invest

I did the  as a final step in a career change, after a demanding army career which took me all over the world.

The action and consulting focus of the Lancaster MBA were both among the main deciding factors when I was selecting a school. Another was the programme’s consecutive progression in the FT rankings, which means that it attracts very high-quality peers who you can learn from and network with.

The programme was intense as expected, and the international experience was impressive. With some 25 nationalities represented in the classroom, the true essence of business today – global – was always present. 

The best part was the consulting opportunities with real-life challenges from clients. Our New Venture Challenge was for a local restaurant, which not only moved into profitability after our intervention but also had a visit from the Guide Michelin!

I especially enjoyed the Consultancy Challenge where we provided a strategic advice to a specialist lighting company (see video for more details on what the project entailed).

For my summer project I decided to do my own research project, investigating the importance of the relationship between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in creating a profitable business.

Focus on becoming 'mindful'

One positive surprise to me was the focus on reflection. This was a non-stop process throughout the programme, with the Mindful Manager module designed as a direct response to Henry Mintzberg's critique of today's MBAs. As part of the module, we had to keep a reflective log, and while it can be hard to find the time to do the reflection needed, putting my thoughts down on paper made it easier to see what I was getting from the process, and from other parts of the MBA.

Being on the MBA – just like being a manager in business – forced you to prioritise between commitments and tasks. You really had to project-manage yourself and handle relationships astutely to deliver in time. Quite a challenge sometimes, with family commitments, but having my family living with me on campus helped to keep everything in focus. The excellent pre-school centre on campus not only allowed me to concentrate on my MBA but freed up my wife, too, to initiate her own PhD studies – with the result that she's now studying at the Courtauld Institute in London.

I had not even finished the MBA before new opportunities appeared (following active networking and career management). The Lancaster MBA has helped me to extend my global network and has aided my career progression: I have been a partner in two global consulting firms, held senior diplomatic and military positions, and established two of my own companies.

My time at Lancaster University Management School has given me great friends and I wish them all the best for their future careers and lives.