Programme: MBA Part-time (Class of 2000)
Position: Finance Director Gatwick, British Airways
I qualified as an accountant in 1996 whilst working for a small independent firm in West London. In retrospect, I feel that working for a smaller firm gave me exposure to a wide range of business issues and a breadth of experience among a varied client base.
However, the life of working in Practise was not for me and I took a commercial role as an FD with an entrepreneurial SME. This was a very hands on role in the hotel industry, where we were developing new hotels and concepts in the market. It was during this time that I felt that I wanted a broader understanding of business issues and undertook the MBA via distance learning at Aston, graduating in 2000.
With the MBA under my belt and experience in SME's, I moved into larger organisations including FirstGroup plc and Go-Ahead plc. Both companies are public transport providers in the UK and these larger organisations provided an opportunity to be involved in large scale capital expenditure projects, transition to different ways of working e.g. shared service centre and the implementation of new accounting software. Working at this level stakeholder engagement took up more time, representing the organisations in joint ventures, regional trade forums and as a pension trustee.
A particular highlight during this time was my involvement in acquisitions of smaller companies and their integration into the group. I always found these interesting projects as I understood the cultural differences and enjoyed the transitioning of people and processes. It's always encouraging when you see the people a few years later and see that everything is still working!
This year I started a new role with British Airways as Finance Director for the Gatwick operation. This is an exciting new challenge in a time of rising oil prices, economic gloom and competitive challenge. Nobody said it would be easy, but with a focus an achieving a competitive cost base and maximising network performance I will be drawing on all my previous studies to achieve this.
I have always believed in the need to take responsibility for our own personal development. The Aston MBA built on my finance qualification (ACCA) by broadening my business training, I have subsequently completed courses with IoD and am currently training as an internal coach at BA.