Ashridge combines the best of a development business school with an innovative organisation consultancy. Business leaders from all over the world come to Ashridge to renew and refresh their thinking. Its atmosphere is one where tradition meets innovation - in one of the most beautiful locations in England.
Ashridge faculty, of which a quarter are from outside the UK, work with thousands of executives across the globe every year. They comprise both business professionals and consultants, who bring in-depth industry experience and latest management practice to the design and teaching of our executive education.
Ashridge Open Programmes are short courses (two days to sixteen days) for executives at all levels covering areas such as strategy, leadership development, general management, sales, marketing and sustainability.
Customised education accounts for over 50 per cent of Ashridge business. These programmes comprise tailor-made development solutions for organisations in areas such as leadership, strategy, change and organisational development. In this field, we are consistently ranked within the top ten schools in Europe. In the 2013 Financial Times executive education rankings looking at tailored programmes, Ashridge is number 1 in Europe and number 2 in the world for international participants.
Ashridge has developed a strong capability in online learning. There are a number of tools and products that we offer to enhance the learning experience including: Virtual Ashridge, psychometric instruments, virtual learning environments (e-sharing) and virtual classrooms.
Ashridge's organisation development consultancy specialises in strategy, leadership and change, working with clients from many different sectors and industries. Its consulting style is collaborative and highly participative.
The Ashridge pool of over 60 executive coaches provides coaching to individuals and teams at the top of organisations around the world. Ashridge also develops and accredits coaches, and the Ashridge Centre for Coaching co-ordinates research into coaching to ensure that our coaching is the best available and fully compliant with the highest European standards.
Ashridge undertakes applied research, through a number of specialist research centres. These include leadership, business and sustainability, strategic management, coaching, executive development and action research.
The business school also houses an award-winning conference centre with 15 conference rooms, over 50 syndicate rooms and 190 en-suite bedrooms. BDRC Continental VenueVerdict names Ashridge as No.1 Conference Centre and No.1 Venue for 2011.
I credit the growth of my own business to the Ashridge MBA
Why did you decide to do an MBA?
I had ten years of business experience including five years of entrepreneurial experience when I joined the MBA. I have worked with highly technical roles in organisations such as Oracle Corporation and SAP Labs. I hold a Masters in Computer Application and I thought that having a business degree would complement my skills and give me a new perspective. When I exited my last business, I thought of going for a formal business education, and decided to study for an MBA.
Key factors behind my decision about Ashridge, include its global reputation, a small but very experienced class, and a very focused and cooperative Qualifications Team behind the MBA.
Any reservations before starting?
Yes, I was unsure about going back to school after many years and a bit nervous about the return on investment.
What did you think about Ashridge?
There was the right mix of professional and experienced faculty and class members. The learning environment was very innovation oriented. It is also in a great location, with great food and surroundings. I also valued the ability to develop a great worldwide network.
How would you describe the Ashridge approach?
Overall there was a very innovative approach of the right blend of practical and theoretical learning.
What were the highlights? There were many, but I would mention two here:
- Entrepreneurial Elective – A very big value addition to what I am doing right now. It has given me a whole new perspective and approach to evaluate a new business and to make it big.
- International consulting – A live case study in Argentina, where we worked for the growth strategy of a company called Alamaula.com which was acquired by eBay last year. There was good exposure and implementation of key learnings from the MBA.
How has your career evolved as a result or how has the Ashridge MBA changed your career?
My current business was started during my MBA. I am the founder of a company called Odimax. Two of my class mates, Sandy and Punam have also joined me in this venture. Odimax is a social media intelligence system which enables businesses to keep a close track on their brand presence on social media and help them to position themselves better. Odimax provides a differentiated offering in terms of advanced analytics and key features such as crisis management in social media.
This business is an extension of my final MBA project where I did a lot of research and viability checking for the future business, and then I started Odimax immediately after submitting my final project report in December.
Has your organisation benefited?
Due to increased credibility with my MBA and by implementing the learning in Odimax, we were chosen as one of the ten most promising startups in Europe by start-up accelerator programme Ignite100. Following this we were able to secure our first round of funding. And the story of growth is still going on. I credit this progress to the MBA because I met my colleagues in the MBA class and we are now implementing what we learnt in just one year. From managing a team to customer expectations to investor relations, we are practising our learning at each stage of the business.
How did you benefit?
The Ashridge MBA has given me the ability to understand the business in a very different and innovative way. On a personal front I think I have a more refined personality. Overall the MBA was a big decision and has added big value in my life.
Ashridge Business School
Why did you decide to do an Ashridge EMBA?
When I started the EMBA I was in a senior role at Vue Entertainment. I was reaching a glass ceiling and felt there were some gaps in my knowledge that needed filling in order to get to the next stage of my career. I chose Ashridge because of its personality. At other schools I looked at, it felt as if you were just a number, but at Ashridge they care about you as a person right from the outset. It’s an amazing place; calm and inspirational. They think of every detail such as having umbrellas by the doors.
How did you balance the workload?
I was five months pregnant with my first child when I started and then had twins halfway through the EMBA. It was quite a balancing act particularly as one of the twins was in Great Ormond Street for a while. I’m extremely organised and plan everything to a tee. I also allow for possible curved balls. I had to decide exactly what I wanted to get from the EMBA and put in as much work as was required to meet those goals. I dedicated 30 hours per week and got out a huge amount. I could have got more from it but I achieved my goals and 30 hours per week was as much as I could spare.
How is the EMBA structured?
It’s modular, which means that you do one week of study every two months and then immediately put the knowledge into practice at work. Between modules you have time to reflect on further areas for improvement which I found useful. There is a good balance of technical and theoretical insights and the faculty are good at drawing out examples from the group which really brings the content alive and helps ensure it is fully in tune with reality. Two of the case studies we looked at were GE and Barilla which were particularly relevant to me at the time.
What about the group?
We were a good mix of male and female and most were very experienced. You could tell that some would go very far. We learnt a great deal from each other and were in constant contact between modules. It felt good to be with people who were in the same situation as me and the support we gave each other was invaluable.
What did you learn?
At work I found almost immediately that I was adding more value to conversations, which felt fantastic. I was able to challenge different departments more professionally which gave me more confidence and improved my performance. At the time I didn’t see the value of the softer skills learnt but in hindsight they have proved essential in helping me to grow as a person.
How did your company benefit?
Thanks to the EMBA the deals I brokered were stronger. I also gave more to the business not only through the assignments but also because I was in the mind-set of developing and growing. My final project focused on strategy mapping, some of which is now being used to give Vue a clear strategic direction for the first time.
And how have you benefited?
Having completed my EMBA I landed a job with BAA in Stansted, without the qualification I really believe I would not have got the job - it put me above everyone else in the CV stakes.
I now have more direction. I’m more focused and ambitious. I know what I want and how I’m going to get there. Also I can juggle a lot more balls than I could before. If you can work full time, do an EMBA and have three children in two years, then you can pretty much do anything!
To what degree would you say an Ashridge EMBA represents a good ROI?
From an organisational perspective I would say it is high. I left Vue due to the glass ceiling however, they got value from day one of my study and continue to reap the rewards from things I put in place. From a personal perspective my ROI is huge and goes far beyond the financial gain of a higher salary and career progression.
Ashridge Business School
Why did you decide to do an EMBA?
I was Head of Department at Onetel, , and prior to that had been working in Toronto. I’d been working for around 8 years - my background is in marketing but I had started doing more general management and was keen to formalise my knowledge. I was 32 and on a good trajectory career wise. It was clear that an EMBA would accelerate the velocity.
Why did you choose Ashridge?
My boss had done his MBA at Ashridge and recommended it to me. I had seen what the MBA had achieved for him, so I didn’t look anywhere else.
Did you have any concerns before you started?
I had two children (and number three was born halfway through the EMBA). With such a young family I was slightly nervous about how I would fit in the extra reading and monthly assignments every four weeks. You do need to have a very supportive family and it’s important to talk it through with your family and colleagues. Careful planning is also essential.
What did you learn?
It has helped me think about the implications of activity across the organisation and has made me a more rounded business person. I understand more about finance, strategy and operations which means I can have credible conversations with people in different fields and recognise the challenges they face. The EMBA puts you under a lot of pressure, so I learnt to prioritise and plan effectively. It has made me a more mature individual.
How has it benefited your career?
Four months into the EMBA, we sold Onetel to The Carphone Warehouse. I was already talking to Sky, and the fact that I was doing the EMBA was of interest to Sky and I landed the job.
I have been rapidly promoted and am now Managing Director of Sky Ireland and am involved in sales, marketing, content choices, operations, supply chain, legal and regulatory decisions. It’s a significant progression from where I was before and is largely due to the fact that I was fast-tracked thanks to the EMBA and the broad business skills it gave me. My salary has increased 2.5 times since I started the EMBA, so the personal ROI is tremendous.
Has Sky benefited?
The EMBA assignments required me to explore my new company in greater depth. For example my final project was about different cultures at Sky. Researching this brought to light the fact that we were all working to the same goals, but that our KPIs were not aligned. This encouraged targeted conversations with key people, including the CEO.
My role is integral to Sky’s performance and ultimately Sky benefits because I’m a better leader. I frequently apply models and case histories to help explore ways of being more efficient.
What did you particularly like about the Ashridge EMBA?
It’s so practical, up-to-date and in tune with today’s business challenges. The assignments focus on your company, and the faculty have been there and done it – the brand marketing expert at Ashridge worked at P&G, for example.
There was an extraordinary breadth of experience in the group, and such a range of nationalities. Everyone had at least five to ten years experience which meant we could focus less on theory and more on the practical elements. Many of my fellow classmates have remained good friends.
I loved the residential aspect as it meant you could block off the time and immerse yourself in the experience. Ashridge is an environment based around learning with plenty of space to walk, clear your head and reflect – it was the catalyst for me to have a good think about my career and what I wanted to achieve.
The EMBA was tough, but I passed, and have reaped the rewards career-wise!
Ashridge Business School
Why did you decide to do an MBA?
I had risen to a fairly senior level in a public sector agency in the USA by helping lead the organisation through significant change. However my goal was to work in a strategic consulting role with a world-renowned brand. And while I knew my strengths and abilities, I was aware I had knowledge gaps. An MBA was the obvious next step.
And why Ashridge?
Ashridge ranks very highly, which was important to me. I needed to be sure that people had heard of my business school and that my MBA would actually be capable of opening doors.
When I emailed Ashridge I got responses straight away. They took a personal approach from the outset and that continued throughout my time there. They treat you like a client, as well as a student and recognise that you’re on a mission and that it is their job to help you achieve it.
What did you learn?
It gave me fundamental tools for moving a company from its current situation to future success, essential for my subsequent consultancy role and future ambitions. Ashridge was immensely helpful in helping me establish and cultivate my style of leadership to be as impactful as it could be – pushing it to the next level and beyond.
The Ashridge MBA is orientated towards application and the materials are very topical. The faculty are outstanding. They are recognised leaders, consultants and authorities in their subject who have developed themselves to a point where they are committed to sharing their knowledge and working with you to dig down to the micro level.
One of my goals was to be globally mobile and employable in different parts of the world. I knew that this would require being able to work effectively with a wide variety of people. The Ashridge MBA had a very diverse group which included a good mix of nationalities and career backgrounds, people ranging from MDs of global conglomerates to doctors and engineers. Each person brought a unique set of insights, which was a huge benefit.
As part of the MBA you did a consultancy placement with a global company. How did that go?
Yes, it was at a global software company - Ashridge arranged the placement. In addition to being well compensated it was fascinating to work in a new industry sector and was helpful for my subsequent job with Deloitte. My remit was to address the challenge of growing the European business in line with capability. I used the tools and applications I had learnt on the MBA to help the client identify promising areas of the market they had never considered. This led to a revision of their overall market approach. I found it very rewarding.
How has the Ashridge MBA impacted on your career?
The decision was life-changing. The Ashridge MBA is atransformational experience that equips you to lead organisations.
My network has expanded rapidly and thanks to that I was able to talk to the right people, which ended up with a job in Deloitte’s strategy practice in London. So I achieved my goal – international work experience with a top consultancy thanks to the MBA.