The Cambridge Judge Business School is really two worlds. Start with the campus, which evokes the Magic Kingdom sprung to life. Picture spired cathedrals with stained glass and Gothic arches as the backdrop to broad lawns, ornate gardens and winding paths. It is a place where you can start the day by rowing down the River Cam — and conclude it with formal dinner, replete with formal gowns and Latin graces. In essence, Cambridge is a refuge, a time for repose and romance; finding an identity and forging a path; connecting with history so you can guard tradition.
The richness of the Cambridge experience doesn’t come from cycling along the same haunts as Milton, Keynes, Newton, Darwin, and Hawking. Instead, it stems from becoming aware of possibilities and finding that same creative spirit that fueled these figures. In business, you’ll find this force expressed through nearby Silicon Fen.
DEAD POETS SOCIETY MEETS THE SOCIAL NETWORK
A computer tech and biosciences oasis, Silicon Fen encompasses over 1,500 firms that boast over 57,000 workers and generate nearly $14 billion in revenue —many in partnership with the university. The European hub for tech and entrepreneurship, the “Cambridge Cluster” features plucky startups holding court with established names like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Samsung and AstraZeneca. Such startups have also become investment targets, the best known being Qualcomm’s acquisition of CSR, the inventor of Bluetooth, for $2.5 billion dollars in 2014-2015.
In other words, Cambridge is Dead Poets Society meets The Social Network. Here, Cambridge MBAs enjoy the best of all worlds: a world-class education based in a growing tech hub with plentiful opportunities for employment and collaboration — all within a 40 minute train ride of London. That’s just the start, says Bethany Thomaier, a Colorado native and marketing strategist, who clicks off the program’s other key benefits.
“I originally applied for the Cambridge MBA because of the global perspective and the one-year, more cost-effective program length,” she explains. “I eventually chose it because of their interview weekend – fantastic people, beautiful campus, and targeted career advice from the first session. Beyond that, Cambridge’s College system allows you to live and learn with non-MBAs. The business world isn’t a vacuum, and I wanted my business education to embrace cross-industry perspectives.”
MOST OF CLASS COMES FROM OUTSIDE UK
While most associate the larger Cambridge as a paean to Western culture, the school ranks among the most diverse student bodies, with 93% of its 160 incoming MBA students hailing from 42 countries outside the United Kingdom. This variety isn’t limited to student origins, however. While the class includes plenty of consultants and financiers who matriculated at the JP Morgans and IBMs of the world, it also includes an array of non-traditional backgrounds.
Canada’s Karl Schwonik, for one, is the former president and artistic director for the Wetaskiwin Jazz Society who describes himself as “an international performing artist, educator, cultural policy researcher, composer, arts administrator and arts advocate.” He’ll be joined by Kristina Chiappetta, a “digital marketing specialist by day, cinephile and creative writer by night.” Who wouldn’t want to pal around with Matt Rosseau, who quips, “I never want to look back and think, “I could’ve eaten that.”
That creative bent extends to Leela Prasad Pamidimukkala, a native of Kenya and Michigan who studied at the University of Northampton. “I absolutely love cooking and baking! To be able to craft and create something exciting, and to watch your friends and family enjoy every bite of it…pure satisfaction!” That’s a trait she shares with Switzerland’s Andres Prieto, who launched his own gin company (any bets on which flat will be the real hub of Judge’s campus life?).
“We always have a diverse class of students, with a wide-range of backgrounds, and this year is no exception,” explains Carla Keen, marketing and communications coordinator of the Cambridge MBA. “This reflects the culture of Cambridge Judge Business School, and the wider university, where students leverage the college experience to meet people from different backgrounds and subject areas, which in turn, enriches students’ business education and produces leaders with a breadth of understanding.”
CLASS FEATURES A KENYAN ENTREPRENEUR AND A PBS DOCUMENTARY PRODUCER
The class features its fair share of proven leaders. At Frontier Strategy Group, Thomaier founded a “start-up within a start-up” that catered to Fortune 500 clients. Under her leadership, it doubled in revenue for three years straight, with employees increasing ten-fold. Chiappetta spearheaded a global rebranding project that transitioned 700 media clients to a new service model. Similarly, Rosseau managed 15 IBM team members in closing and implementing a $13 million dollar wireless internet deal in one of America’s largest school districts.
However, results weren’t always measured on the financial statement. Prasad Pamidimukkala personified that when he established a sandal workshop for artisans in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, which helped some members climb out of poverty. His impact hit home when one of her artisans asked to take a day off so he could accompany his daughter to school. “He had always wanted to send her to school, she explains, “but did not have the funds to do so. To have set up a workshop and create a brand was one thing, but to have truly made a difference in someone’s life…that was my greatest accomplishment!”
Their accomplishments aren’t necessarily confined to the business arena. Schwonik, for example, has played at Carnegie Hall and the John F. Kennedy Centre, along with several major jazz festivals. In contrast, Nat Rosa produced a documentary on disabled veterans, Debt of Honor, which was featured on PBS. “Having the opportunity to work on a film that paid homage those wounded in service, bringing to life both their victories and struggles, was an incredibly rich and moving experience.”