Programme: MBA Part-time (Class of 2000)
Position: Managing Director Sales, Services and Partnerships, Direct Line Group
When I think of Aston I think challenge, I think springboard, I think advancement.
As an MD at Direct Line Group, responsible for our overall distribution and customer strategy, I lead over 5,000 people to deliver my vision. My background is in strategy, finance and product management. Prior to doing my MBA my career was going OK but I didn't feel it was progressing as fast as it could. The MBA opened my eyes to how exciting other areas of the business could be and convinced me I wanted to major on leadership roles (my dissertation looked at how leadership style can influence performance). A few years later I got my opportunity.
Three years after I completed my MBA I was asked to run all products for the Royal Bank of Scotland brand (mortgages, loans, savings, current accounts and small business products). This meant responsibility for over £1bn of income and 3 million customers with over 100 people in my team. My MBA really helped here as I focused on what mattered most to the customer and used a lot of customer proposition work that I had learnt. Combining my experience gained through my career to date with some of the theory I had learnt helped me grow income whilst at the same time improving the customer proposition and overall customer satisfaction. It was the first time since doing my MBA that I felt I was really utilising the theory and skills I had gathered over the three years of study.
Later, I was asked to take on responsibility for all of the Royal Bank of Scotland retail telephony centres alongside having product and distribution responsibility for mortgages (all prior to the economic crisis I hasten to add!). With over 1,500 people working for me this gave me a new leadership challenge. I felt more confident taking this challenge because I had the foundation of my MBA behind me. This was the role that really gave me insight into what is happening in the business on a day to day basis. It also led to the CEO of Direct Line Group to ask me to take on my current role of MD Sales, Service and Partnerships. Working with fantastic brands such as Direct Line and Churchill but also being responsible for partner brands such as Sainsbury’s and Nationwide Building Society.
Doing my MBA on a part time basis with young children was extremely hard but one of the most rewarding times I have ever experienced. I really feel that I would not currently be a member of the Executive Committee of Direct Line Group had I not done my MBA.