James Kingsland (MBA 1996)

Alex Chapman View Alex Chapman's profile on LinkedInMBA, 1996

Human Resources Director, Océ-Australia

What was I doing when I decided to do the MBA
From an early age I had committed myself to a career in the British Royal Navy.  After 7 years of an exciting and varied career I was a Lieutenant serving in nuclear submarines, responsible for warfare and navigation.  Unfortunately I was diagnosed with an illness which, although successfully cleared, prematurely ended my Navy career and led to a medical discharge.  Having not thought before about other careers, I quickly came to the conclusion that my first priority was to bridge the gap between my military service and business.  An MBA seemed to be the best way of achieving this.

Why I chose Cranfield
I sought advice from a number of senior business people who had completed MBA’s and came to the conclusion that Cranfield, Warwick and London Business School were the top UK options.  Ultimately I chose Cranfield for two main reasons – a one year intensive course and the focus on team learning. (A secondary benefit was that my parents lived in Bedford, about 15kms from Cranfield, which meant I could pop home regularly to have my laundry done!)

What I got out of it
Firstly the MBA from Cranfield achieved my aim of bridging the gap between the armed forces and business.   I learned the building blocks of the corporate world – finance, marketing, strategy, business law etc.  As I moved into my business roles, I found that the MBA had given me the confidence to operate at a strategic level and the business language to engage with all the different areas of a business.

More importantly it ignited in me a passion for strategy, cultural change, organisational development and leadership which has been the foundation of my Human Resources career ever since.  I gained a huge amount of value from working in very diverse Learning Teams – I can easily say that I learned as much from my fellow students in these teams as I learned from the formal curriculum.

I have seen a number of my work colleagues over the years complete MBA’s from a variety of different programmes and, whilst they gained an educational qualification, I always felt that they missed out on a huge amount of ‘learning’ compared with the MBA from Cranfield.  In my HR role I am often asked for advice by staff as to what is the best MBA course – my advice is always that the ultimate MBA program for developing one’s career is an accelerated, full time, residential programme based around teams.  There is no better place in the world to get this than Cranfield.