Mark Woodgate

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Lead Infrastructure Partner, Barclays Bank

When I began the Lancaster Executive MBA (EMBA) I was responsible for running the IT Service Management function for Liberata Outsourcing PLC. In a career move during the EMBA programme I joined Wm Morrisons Supermarkets Plc as an IT Customer Engagement Manager where I was responsible for developing and managing the formal operational relationships between senior Business and IT stakeholders. 

I chose the Lancaster EMBA because of the excellent reputation that the qualification from this institution has both nationally and internationally. The other key factor in my decision was the way in which the modularised programme was scheduled across a two-year period – it meant I knew that every three months I would need to block a specific week out in the diary in order to attend the lecture elements of each module, with the only other commitment (in respect of the working week) being two one-day tutorial group meetings in between each module’s ‘classroom’ week.

My intentions in undertaking an MBA were twofold: firstly to develop my strategic knowledge in order to enhance my ability to operate at strategic levels within organisations, and secondly to broaden my approach with respect to solving complex business problems. I knew that the experience of working with so many great people from so many varied career backgrounds would mean that the group discussions concerning business challenges were always insightful and very rich in content concerning different approaches that could be considered when tackling a specific issue.

Work-life balance

Like all my peers on the course, I found juggling the work, life and study commitments one of the hardest elements of undertaking the MBA, but the modular format made juggling the weekly working commitments that bit more manageable – although there was no escaping the amount of time and effort that was still required for each element of the MBA!  The moral support provided to each class member by one another, in addition to the excellent guidance and assistance from the Lancaster teaching staff, was invaluable across the two years. For me personally, it proved to be a key factor in successfully accomplishing the MBA qualification.

Despite the hard work involved, I did find the entire EMBA experience very enjoyable – and looking back it is something that I am very pleased I decided to undertake. The experience of going through the same life/work/study challenges as my fellow EMBA students helped to forge a number of very good, and long lasting, friendships. It’s definitely an experience I would recommend (and I do regularly!) to people – although I always caution them to consider carefully the commitment a course of this kind requires.

From a career perspective, I have found with my previous and current employers that my having gone successfully through the EMBA experience is something that they value highly. It was one of the contributing factors to securing my current position within Barclays. The Lancaster EMBA has helped me significantly with respect to the strategic insight that I can now bring to the table – and this in turn has benefited my employers when it comes to shaping and influencing key business decisions.

My career since EMBA

After four successful and enjoyable years at Morrisons I was recruited in to an IT Business Partner role for the Co-operative Banking Group whom I joined at the beginning of 2011. My responsibilities included developing and managing formal strategic relationships between senior business and IT stakeholders as well as ensuring that partnerships with strategic third-party IT suppliers were identified and developed in a way to best support the needs of the organisation. 

In the summer of 2012 I was headhunted for my current position as Lead Infrastructure Partner for the Global Digital portfolio at Barclays where I am responsible for leading a team in the fulfillment of all tactical and strategic infrastructure elements where Barclays fast-paced global internet and mobile requirements are concerned.