Empathetic and flexible.
Resourceful and decisive.
Consistent and diplomatic.
Clear and inspirational.
Those are several qualities associated with the best leaders. For many, leadership comes down to communication: personifying the values and conveying the vision that bands an organization together. To do that, most leaders have first taken a journey inward. In a word, they are self-aware. They have mined their history, understood their motives, and mastered their emotions. They know who they are — and it informs what they prioritize and how they act.
The Warwick Business School understands this. That’s why their LeadershipPlus module is the centerpiece of the full-time MBA program. And it was the marquee attraction for the Class of 2022. The module, says Lorraine Maodi, runs the first six months of the program, broken out into five two-day sessions. For Maodi, a ballet dancer who became an attorney, LeadershipPlus has enabled her to better understand her leadership style and its impact on those around her. A big part of that, observes Leila de Saude, involves self-reflection.
FACING YOUR PAST TO SECURE YOUR FUTURE
“In practice, I have learnt that a leader’s ability to diffuse potentially catastrophic situations is largely dependent on their interpersonal skills and internal leadership profile. It has been extremely valuable (and challenging!) to reflect on my own leadership style and think carefully and critically about how I will adapt and build on that going forward. That way, I can ensure that I am the kind of leader I want to see in the workplace.”
Role playing is a particularly valuable tool in LeadershipPlus. In one class, for example, MBAs practice holding difficult conversations with professional actors who can improvise off variables as different tone and body language.
“This session threw light on aspects of our emotional intelligence, helping us understand that with our choice of words and approach a situation’s outcome can ‘change’,” explains Nupur Gadkari, an award-winning executive who previously headed marketing and strategy for All Sports For India. “It was extremely insightful for all of us and certainly helped me reflect on how different conversation styles impact relationships both in a professional and personal environment.”
The ‘difficult conversations’ sessions were equally valuable to Juan Carlos Concha, who was able to relive some of the toughest moments of this life alongside his actor partner. “We were divided into small groups to keep the intimacy of them, and the result is as powerful as you can imagine. Gender, age, income — you name it; a huge number of issues came to light. It really made us think about how to approach our future interactions and that the old and bad ways of running businesses are not gone.”
NEW CLASS, SAME VIRTUES
“Old” and “bad” are two terms that would never be associated with the Class of 2022. “Versatile” and “accomplished” might be better substitutes, as would “energetic” according to Concha. “It is hard to keep up with people around here. My classmates are very keen on giving their best on everything they do when it comes to schoolwork. We recently had a Strategic Thinking Challenge where the energy levels were amazing; we were each assigned a random corporation from a random country and had to analyse its business and come up with strategic actions. The result was a great display of cross-industry knowledge.”
And global experience too! After all, says Monica Vargas Rojas, the class features 116 students from 38 countries (with 8 years of professional experience, on average). That makes the class a “melting pot” in the words of Safiya Sule. “Though we are from different backgrounds, cultures and age groups, we are united in the midst of our differences and collectively celebrate our diversity. Simple example – I have an Indian friend who is trying her hands on a Nigerian dish she has never made or eaten to surprise me.”
That diversity extends into their professional backgrounds. Take Manan Dahiya. Before Warwick, he served as a strategy advice and analyst for the Indian National Congress — a role that tested his ability to build consensus and coalitions. “Politics in India is a tricky game, and the outcome depends on thousands of factors,” he writes. “My biggest achievement was when I worked on strategy, voter profiling, candidate selection and on-ground logistics during the Haryana state elections. I employed a bottom-up approach to build the campaign strategy where we built area-specific campaigns and developed a personal connection with the voters. This approach proved to be miraculous for the party, with an improvement of nearly 100% with respect to seats won in the election.”
A GLOBAL COHORT
Monica Vargas Rojas crossed the Atlantic to join the Class of 2022. She served as a vice president at Banco Sabadell, overseeing credit risk management in the Peru and Chile regions. In fact, she built the Peruvian operation from scratch. “I leveraged contacts from my professional network who had passed through similar experiences. I also led work meetings to receive feedback from multinational Sabadell departments, which would work with my area. Furthermore, I hired personnel and validated guidebooks and policies with stakeholders. I succeeded in complying with all local regulations, ensuring the department’s continuing operation. Consequently, I lead a formal Risk Department, a global team, which evaluates around 50 proposals annually worth USD 1.2 Billion.”
At Warwick, Vargas Rojas adds, she is pursuing entrepreneurship — and for good reason. “My long-term goal is to run my own Fintech company,” she explains. “Having worked in banking during the last 11 years, I have come to realise that many Latin Americans lack knowledge of personal finance. I would like to contribute with my company to reduce this knowledge gap.”
Six years ago, Rumennigge Alexandre Cardoso served as the deputy managing director and COO for a 2,000 employee firm. By the same token, Fernando Yllanes Almanza served as the director of legal counsel for a 100 year-old law firm. Ramsha Ali’s advertising career has taken her from Pakistan to Singapore to Australia to the United Kingdom. Along the way, she has managed clients like Procter & Gamble and Hilton Worldwide and overseen regional operations. At Mars, Juan Carlos Concha was able to hold onto lucrative brand assets after regulations placed their rights in peril.
“I had to take over the corporate affairs of the national company because the person in charge was on maternity leave. While working from a marketing/sales perspective, I was able, by working closely with other business units, to implement a series of swift actions that led us to comply while reducing the product image changes to a minimum and keeping our market share in a fiercely competitive environment.”
SOME INTRIGUING BACKGROUNDS
That’s not to say the class was all business before Warwick. Look no further than Melisa Abimbola, a BMG songwriter. “I have written music with artists from very diverse musical genres, from Akon to Roger Sanchez, with the coolest session with rock music superstar Melissa Etheridge.”
Outside of class, Fernando Yllanes Almanza dabbles in acting and musical theater — and even proposed to his wife on stage. A decade ago, Shriya Savlani was a national roller skating champion and India’s “fastest female” on skates. And how is this for an intriguing early career choice?
“I went to circus school as a teenager,” writes Juan Carlos Concha. “I learned how to juggle, diabolo, ride a monocycle, and trapeze. My reflexes aren’t what they were, so no demonstrations here.”
That would’ve been memorable, for sure. For Leila de Saude, a South African attorney, that still wouldn’t have compared to celebrating Diwali with her classmates at Warwick. “Diwali was about a month into starting our MBA and many of our classmates were away from their families for the first time on this auspicious day. Realising this, a project group was quickly formed, and they arranged a venue, food, and decorations. We dressed up (many of our classmates providing gorgeous traditional outfits to the masses) and gathered in the evening after the class to sing, dance, and of course, eat!
Fernando Yllanes Almanza points to a different tradition at Warwick. “My experience at the university has exceeded all my expectations so far and every week I create new experiences with my classmates and friends. However, karaoke night at the Dirty Duck Pub is without a doubt one of the most entertaining experiences so far.”
A CLASS PROFILE
By the numbers, the Class of 2022 brought a 650 average GMAT to Covington, with scores ranging from 510-790. Women comprise 37% of the class, with international students accounting for 84% of the class. In term of industry background, the largest class segment hails from Financial Services (23.5%). Technology (14.8%), Consulting (11.3%), and Manufacturing (10.4%) also cracked double digits. The class also includes students with backgrounds in Healthcare, Energy, Retail, Logistics, Consumer Goods, Real Estate, Law, and the Public Sector.
It’s not just the backgrounds of Warwick MBA students that’s wide-ranging. The business school itself offers scale, boasting 53,000 alumni in 167 countries. A year-long program that enables MBAs to return to work sooner and avoid crushing debt, the program shines in sustainability. More than that, Warwick historically ranks among the best career centers according to student and alumni surveys conducted by The Economist. In a similar Financial Times survey released in January, Warwick among the Top 10 programs worldwide for MBA satisfaction. Of course, that doesn’t count the school’s dual campus model, where MBAs can study in Coventry or London’s Shard. In the process, they can enjoy the slow rhythms of the Midlands’ crown jewel — or embrace all the possibilities of the world’s financial capitol.
What can Warwick MBAs expect in the coming years? How has sustainability emerged as a centerpiece in the programming? And what are the most popular electives among MBA students? These are a few of the questions that P&Q posed for Karen Barker, Director of Recruitment and Marketing at the school. Here are her thoughts on the state of the MBA program.
P&Q: What are the two most exciting developments at your program and how will they enrich the MBA experience for current and future MBAs?
KB: “We are always developing and improving our Full-time MBA programme, but the two that will probably excite students the most is the introduction of a compulsory overseas module and the option to do a group consultation instead of a final dissertation.
The purpose and uniqueness of our Full-time MBA is its applied nature and focus on putting theory into practice. In this regard, from next year, students will have the option to do a strategic consulting project.
This will be a real consulting project from an employer and will see students working in a group instead of on their own.
The new overseas module will allow students to study a module in cities like Milan, Lisbon, Helsinki, and Barcelona, as well as the US. Through our membership with more than 60 business schools in the Partnership in International Management (PIM), we have developed a selection of bespoke overseas modules as one of four electives. To emphasise the importance of a broad global learning experience, students will be required to take one of their four elective modules abroad with subjects ranging from sustainability to digital innovation.”
Next Page: Profiles of 12 members of the Class of 2022.