Phil Klaus

Country of origin: Germany

Professor of Customer Experience and Marketing Strategy, ESCE International Business School, Paris

Phil came to Lancaster after a background in management consulting and professional mountain biking. He went on to study for a PhD at Cranfield School of Management, and has now built a career for himself in academia.

A version of the interview below first appeared in the Independent (January 2006).

My professional background is truly broad and international with extensive experience in strategic marketing, CRM, project management, asset management and management consulting. I moved to the in US at the beginning of the 90s and ended up in the mountain biking industry, where I have worked for the past nine years, mostly in business development, marketing and PR. I was given an opportunity to make my hobby my profession. I did some semi-professional biking while I was in California, downhill and slalom racing. These days I get chased off campus by security guards when I jump the stairs!

My advice to anyone thinking about doing an MBA is look first at the rankings and value for money, then talk to the alumni and the people representing the colleges at fairs. When I rang Lancaster I had an immediate response: they had the personal touch. Knowing the importance of face-to-face contact I was impressed by the professionalism displayed by Lancaster in comparison with their competitors.

Doing an MBA is like biking. You have to be determined; you have to know your goals, your focus. You're always pushing your own limits. Lancaster is all about critical thinking. It's learning by doing, a lot of bright minds bouncing off each other.
For me, mountain biking is almost spiritual. I'm co-founder of a company doing extreme mountain bike tours in Canada and an international advocate for our sport of mountain biking.

When I applied to study for an MBA I was managing the marketing department and my company told me they would have me back when I finish my MBA. But, if all goes well, I would love to stay in academia and do a PhD – focusing on the importance of strategic marketing and challenging the way we think about marketing today. Some people might say that, at 40, it is a bit late to do an MBA but I wanted to wait until I felt I had plenty to contribute.

I decided not to study in the United States because European schools offer one-year courses and display a more action oriented hands on style. Lancaster University's focus on critical and 'outside the box' thinking really attracted me. The commitment of the administration and staff is exceptional. I love the people here in the North-west of England and I'm glad that I chose Lancaster rather than London or Stanford.