Jeff MacKenzie

Country of origin: Canada

Senior Consultant, Carpedia International

Before the MBA I had the enjoyable experience of working as General Manager for an organisation that runs tourist attractions in Atlantic Canada. I also have an entrepreneurial side, having started up a not-for-profit organisation that runs a café and music venue in my home town.

In my past roles I had exposure to many aspects of business, but I felt that I did not have a strong enough grasp on any particular field to advance my career as I wanted to. I decided to take part in an MBA programme as I knew I needed to refine my business skills in order to open up more opportunities for myself.

Certain aspects of the Lancaster full-time MBA programme really stuck out for me when looking at universities to apply to. As I had an interest in consulting, the Lancaster programme’s three live consultancy projects offered a great opportunity for me to develop my skills in the area. In addition, the Lancaster programme offered benefits that many MBA programmes lack, such as the International Business in Context module and the Mindful Manager, which includes sessions taught by the CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi, Kevin Roberts. I also knew that at Lancaster I was going to get an international experience with a diverse set of students which was something I really valued.

Thoughts on the programme

As one of the younger students in the class I was both nervous and excited coming into the MBA. However, my worries quickly disappeared within the first week of the programme. One important thing I learned throughout my MBA was that everyone has something to learn from someone else. One of the greatest assets of the programme for me has been the other students in the class. Since the Lancaster MBA has a smaller class size relative to some other programmes, the students on our cohort developed a tight relationship which continues beyond the MBA – a great advantage of the programme.

The Lancaster MBA programme proved to be a remarkable experience. Key highlights for me were the New Venture and Consultancy Challenges, the Strategic Management module, and the International Business in Context module where I travelled to Guangzhou, China. The programme’s focus on action learning, which emphasises practicality, personal development and leadership, is exactly what I was looking for in an MBA programme.

Recommendations for prospective students

Value from the Lancaster MBA can extend far beyond coursework if you want it to. I recommend to any prospective students to get involved and take advantage of the opportunities you will be given during your MBA. Often students are concerned that participating in extracurricular activities can be too time-consuming and reflect negatively on your performance – this is not true! If anything, participating in extracurricular activities helps you expand your knowledge base and teaches you to manage your time wisely. You don’t have that much free time during a full-time MBA but you will learn to use it wisely!

During the Lancaster MBA, I competed in various business competitions, including the Global Innovation Challenge, the M&S Sustainable Retailing Challenge and the P&G Sustainability Challenge. In addition, I was a member of the Lancaster MBA football team and attended an exchange programme at WHU in Germany. These experiences were extremely rewarding for me in addition to the benefits I realised from the MBA coursework.

Finally, keep in mind that, on an MBA programme like Lancaster, your strongest network will be your fellow MBA candidates. Get to know them and share experiences and knowledge. On my MBA trip to China, one of our lecturers told me something that I think is very valuable in a business context: “When two people exchange a product they both start with one thing and end up with another thing. But when people exchange ideas they both end up with two ideas – and both are richer than they were before”.

On the Lancaster MBA, you can be bold and share ideas – and I can guarantee that you will leave the programme much richer than when you came in!

Life since the MBA

After finishing my MBA, I secured a job as a Senior Consultant with Carpedia International – a management consulting firm based in Toronto, Canada. I knew that after I finished my MBA I wanted to move into a consulting role, so picking an MBA programme that best developed my skills in this area was critical for me. One of the main reasons I ended up choosing Lancaster was because of the programme’s various live consultancy projects and its reputation for consultancy training. The transition from the Lancaster MBA to the consulting industry was smoother than I ever thought it would be. I almost feel like I am still at Lancaster working on the corporate consultancy challenge!

The Lancaster MBA also helped prepare me for the tough interview process that consultancy firms are known for. The ongoing support I received from the career development centre combined with training sessions such as mock interviews and assessment centres helped me feel comfortable when I had to face the real thing.

I truly feel that the Lancaster MBA helped me to stand out amongst other candidates. The combination of technical and soft skills that I developed during the programme helped me be more confident in myself and my abilities, which I believe shone through in the interview process. I could not be happier with the position I got after leaving Lancaster and am excited for what the future will bring!