The world is broken down into threes. We organize size by small, medium, and large. When you’re hungry, you’re choosing between breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And who hasn’t made a decision using rock, paper, scissors? Three is fundamental. There is morning, noon, and night — and past, present, and future. Even atoms are broken down into three parts: electrons, neutrons, and protons.
Trios are considered complete and perfect, not too little and never too much.
The University of Manchester’s Alliance Manchester Business School also follows the rule of three. In fact, you could call it the cornerstone of its MBA curriculum. Over the 18 month program — which can be completed in as little as 12 months — MBAs spend over 900 hours working on three consultancy projects. That’s the equivalent of nearly six months gaining hands-on, high-level work experience at prominent organizations.
It is what is popularly known as the Manchester Method.
BUILDING SKILLS, EXPERIENCE…AND A CV
At its core, the Manchester Method is a project-infused, team-driven, learn-by-doing approach. Here, students team up with real organizations on assignments with real expectations, deadlines, and stakes. In the process, MBAs gain a context beyond theory by applying their lessons to real life. More than that, the Manchester Method harnesses the backgrounds and strengths of their MBAs, providing a platform for them to hone their interpersonal, analytical, and decision-making skills.
Oluwafikayomi Agbola worked as a management consultant in Ghana before joining the Alliance Manchester (AMBS) full-time MBA program. For her, this hands-on approach, where students work heavily with “real life clients with real business issues” was a major improvement over the simulations and cases that monopolize other graduate business programs. Thus far, the Manchester Method has exceeded her expectations.
“Despite having worked in client-facing roles, I felt like I was getting too comfortable, and I love a good challenge,” she admits. “Happy to say that I was right! The projects so far have been challenging, yet exciting. I can see myself growing tremendously as a consultant, project manager, team member/lead, and relationship manager. I have come to see that learning these skills in a corporate world and in an educational institution differs. The latter, contrary to what you may expect, is onerous and probably more effective.”
FAR MORE THAN THEORY
Agbola’s classmate, Omar Kazem, was also drawn to the Class of 2022 due to Alliance Manchester’s action-oriented philosophy. The Egyptian project manager has been equally impressed with the school’s consultancy projects.
“I sought to have practical experience in the real world, not just an academic theoretical one,” he tells P&Q. “AMBS provides this experience through its Manchester Method that focuses on learning by doing. During the programme, I got the chance to work on two different consultancy projects so far with real customers in various industries. During my first project, I worked in the education sector, followed up with another project in the public transportation sector. The programme also offers the opportunity to do internships or electives in different regions such as the Middle East, Asia, or South America, which was also appealing to me.”
The projects are broken into three segments: Not-For-Profit, Commercial Business, and International Business. In Not-For-Profit, MBAs spend 12 weeks supporting local clients ranging from After Adoption to the Prison Advance and Care Trust. Over another 10 weeks, students complete a Commercial Business Consultancy, working in industries like technology, aerospace, professional services, and retail. The International Business Consultancy Projects lasts another three months, as students partner with clients like AstraZeneca, Siemens, and Roche. The best part of these projects, says Abdelhameed El-Wakeel, is that he didn’t have to wait to get started.
“I had the opportunity to start from the first day of the MBA journey to be on client-faced consultancies, addressing complex business issues, and making sure to deliver impactful business results,” he writes. “This was a perfect and exhilarating experience that is not provided by many business schools – especially with it being done with diverse, multicultural groups whose various backgrounds make it a 360 degree learning experience.”
STARTING A PRACTICE…IN A FORTUNE 100 COMPANY
That diverse population at Alliance Manchester includes Aashi Khemka. As an associate in Goldman Sach’s Finance division, she earned the company’s Outstanding Employee Award for three consecutive years — an honor that is only bestowed on 5% of the firm’s 41,000 employees. In contrast, Omar Kazem is an electrical engineer by trade who has been working in the self-driving automobile field. At 27, he was sent to India to build his company’s new center and team…from scratch. At the same time, James Hall left college without a degree to start his own company. Betting on himself turned out to be a shrewd move. Hall’s company, Goblin Gaming, has ranked among the 500 fastest-growing businesses according to Retail Growth Report.
Speaking of blazing their own paths, Ishita Prabhu started her own division as a senior associate at Ernst & Young. An oil and acrylic canvas painter outside work, she noticed that many of EY’s largest clients invested in art. In response, she suggested that EY enter the art valuation business…and offered herself up as an in-house expert.
“I worked on this art assignment reporting directly to our partner and finally evolved thought leadership on this subject,” she explains. “Following this exercise, EY has since then positioned itself to offer professional services for valuation of art.”
FROM ENTRY LEVEL TO CEO
That’s the tip of the iceberg with the Class of 2022. Just two years out of undergrad, Eugene Annan was busy opening a multi-million dollar facility for General Mills. Last year, Dalton Imwalle helped orchestrate the shipment of 130,000 masks from China to support New York’s Mount Sinai Health System in the wake of COVID. By the same token, Isabelle Schenk built her reputation in the hospitality industry. Not only has she turned around a four-star resort in the Swiss Elps, but she most recently oversaw guest relations for the Manchester International Festival — which draws nearly 260,000 attendees bi-annually.
And how is this for a rags-to-riches story?
“I remember leaving my first 9-5 job after university with the hope of learning more about the fashion industry so that I could start my own company,” writes Oluwafikayomi Agbola. “I got employed at a fashion house as a supervisor and soon became the acting CEO in less than two months. The key stakeholders of the business entrusted the Nigerian office to me while they embarked on an expansion plan abroad. I was able to move the business from a break-even to a profit-making position. I introduced new initiatives and was promoted twice in one year. This experience was ground-breaking for me because I thought I was going into that industry with only my zeal and little industry knowledge.”
Page 2: Interview with Xavier Duran.
Page 3: Profiles of 10 Alliance Manchester MBA Students.