How studying an Executive MBA in the UK helped me become a better business leader |

How studying an Executive MBA in the UK helped me become a better business leader

By Aisha K

Updated Updated

Sponsored by Warwick Business School

For many experienced professionals, studying an Executive MBA allows them to hone their business acumen and problem-solving skills without hitting pause on their careers. 

Maja Marszalek graduated from Warwick Business School (WBS) with an EMBA in 2020, and now works as a managing director at ACA Group, a leading governance, risk, and compliance advisor in financial services. 

We caught up with Maja to learn more about her experience and what she enjoyed most during her studies.

From bachelor’s to EMBA

Maja studied her bachelor’s in international politics in the UK, after which she started her career in the financial services. 

“I was mostly working in regulated industries such as capital markets and eventually moved on to conference events. I then moved to areas such as digital transformation consulting” Maja said. 

In terms of seniority, Maja progressed to manager level, where she was responsible for a handful of direct reports but wanted to take on commercial responsibilities on a wider scale. 

So, why was studying an EMBA important to Maja? “I was keen to gain exposure to a big, global network which I know comes with an EMBA. I wanted to meet different kinds of people and learn about how they approach business cases from their own experience.

“My bachelor’s degree was quite stressful as I was new to the UK at the time and was trying to navigate studying here. The EMBA was a great opportunity to recreate the student experience whilst being more settled in my career.”

Maja chose to apply to WBS as the flexibility to study at both the London and Coventry campus appealed to her – participants study their required modules at one campus and then get the chance to take electives at either campus. “The application process at Warwick felt a lot more human in the sense that there’s less emphasis on test scores and more focus on the interview and your long-term goals.”

The importance of an international network

Maja studied across both campuses, which she said expanded her network as she was able to work with students who were studying on the full-time MBA programme. 

“I made really good friendships with people I maybe wouldn’t have gotten a chance to meet. For example, I’m considering opening an office in Dubai. One of my good friends from the course lives there so instead of having to go through recruitment, I can pick up the phone, ask her for her opinion and have an immediate answer.

“It’s useful because you know that you trust that person and it makes a big difference when making business decisions.”

According to Maja, one of the biggest benefits of studying at WBS was the opportunity to study abroad. “I went to Finland for a design thinking module which was highly interactive. We visited a chocolate factory where we analysed the marketing and packaging aspects, as well consideringhow to implement design thinking in reality.

“Some of my classmates did their international module in China and told me they learnt a lot about their growing economy and cultural differences in business interactions” she said.

Becoming a thoughtful leader 

As WBS offers different specialisms according to your area of interest, Maja targeted one which she felt would provide the skills required to help her pursue her goal of becoming managing director.

“The specialism provided a good foundation for thinking about what it means to be a leader. We were debating questions such as can you be taught to be a good leader or are you born one? We also looked at case studies and discussed some of the moral dilemmas that comes with being someone in a position of power.”

Preparation for the challenges and dynamics of the business world

Maja found the business knowledge gained through her course particularly helpful when she moved to a startup company during her degree. 

“Every module on the programme feels as though you’re being thrown into a different scenarioin the real world. For example, you’re put into different groups for each project whether it’s accounting, marketing, or statistics about oil prices, and you have to figure out a solution and make it work. 

“It’s been great preparation because working in a startup requires taking on multiple roles. So, when you’re used to going into group projects, sometimes without a lot of familiarity of the topic, and you’re forced to find a solution, you eventually become very resilient and efficient intackling difficult problems.”

Maja also notes that the elective modules were innovative in terms of the learning experience. “Our teachers would go above and beyond to find interesting ways of processing information.

“We had one module on governance where we recreated a board experience, and we each had a set role, either for or against the argument presented. It’s extremely useful because you start to understand how your team members approach arguments and their thinking behind it.”

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.