Rachel Roberts

Country of origin: United Kingdom

Founder/Owner, Rachelwears.com

Looking back, I decided to do an MBA because my career had hit a crossroads. Following redundancy from the finance sector during the recession I moved into consulting, as a partner in a boutique firm. Whilst I enjoyed consultancy, I found that with two very small children it was a constant struggle, due to the long hours and travel.  My work-life balance was way out of line, and something had to give!

I had been thinking of an MBA for several years and suddenly the time seemed right. I agreed with my consulting partners that I would pick up an office-based role for two years to allow me manage work, home and study. I had to take a pay cut but I felt satisfied that I was making a long-term investment in my career .

There were other executive MBAs available, but once I visited the Lancaster University Management School I knew that was where I wanted to study. There is a real family feel to LUMS – in fact, for two years it was like my second home. The staff and students are all really committed to doing their best and that makes for a great learning experience.

From a personal point of view, EMBA creates a safe environment where you can undertake self-reflection and push yourself out of your comfort zone as an individual and as a leader. You build really strong bonds with your cohort members, and those friendships and networks are there for life. The combination of practical learning with extensive exposure to current management research means you come out of the course feeling on top of your game and ready for anything. 

After graduating I was determined to crack the work-life balance conundrum. After a lot of thought I decided the only way to get the right level of challenge, flexibility and control in my career was to start up a business for myself. After all, I had twenty years’ work experience and an MBA in my pocket, so I was theoretically qualified for the job! Having felt disenchanted with the fashion industry in terms of quality and ethics for some time I began researching the feasibility of a British-made fashion label aimed at ‘grown up’ women with busy lives. Rachelwears.com would provide luxury versatile garments, ethically made in the UK, sold online and supported by exceptional customer service. 

In just six months we (that’s the royal we – but I do have a team of fantastic suppliers and freelance support workers) have launched our first collection which will be showcased at Manchester Fashion Week on 20 April.  The rachelwears.com website has just gone live and we already have a steady stream of orders coming in  along with some great customer feedback. There is no way I would have done this without the MBA programme. It  gave me the confidence to pursue a dream and find a job I absolutely love.