From Aviation to Global Management: How B-School Helped This MBA Realise His Potential | TopMBA.com

From Aviation to Global Management: How B-School Helped This MBA Realise His Potential

By Linda M

Updated March 10, 2021 Updated March 10, 2021

Is it possible to go from an aviation degree to a career in business? This MBA did it. Jonathon tells us how going to b-school can help people realise their true potential.

Changing careers isn’t always easy – especially when pivoting into a competitive field like business.

However, having a unique career path with a background in non-conventional industries can be an asset when trying to earn a place at business school and also when searching for jobs in competitive fields such as management, finance and consulting post-graduation.

TopMBA caught up with Jonathon Simister, MBA graduate from London Business School and Global Business Manager at Wipro Limited, to find out how going to b-school helped him realize his true potential and drastically change career plans.

Pivoting into marketing and the MBA

Jonathon began his university education at Swinburne University of Technology, which he graduated from with a Bachelor of Aviation degree and dreams of becoming a pilot.

However, his career took a different direction to the route he first imagined. In fact, in the four years that followed, Jonathon worked across sales and marketing roles for engineering and travel companies, such as Virgin Australia and Liquid Interactive – experiences he says helped him re-evaluate his longer-term career direction.

In 2015, Jonathon had effectively pivoted into marketing. He started working at Expedia Inc., first as a Partner Marketing Manager, then as a Senior SEM Specialist. Despite not finding a job in the aviation industry, he says the combination of his engineering knowledge and experience in marketing helped him succeed in the more commercial aspect of the role and wanted to consider a career in business.

He said: “When I was working at Expedia, I started to think about my medium to long-term career pursuits. I had been working for five years, building up a solid career foundation in sales and marketing, and marketing was a career path that I liked and found energising.

“Of the senior executives that had roles that looked interesting to me, the MBA was a common theme among them, and conversations with this network was the impetus to get serious about applying. I began planning to get an MBA to advance my career in marketing.”

Choosing the right b-school

Jonathon says choosing the right business school was crucial in maximising his chances of successfully entering the business world.

He said: “At the time, Expedia was a large recruiter from LBS, so I was fortunate enough to meet three groups of interns and many of them stayed on full-time after they graduated.

“Getting to know the students and learning about their experiences and their insight into campus life and the community at LBS made it crystal clear it was a school that would be a good fit for me. Staying in London was also appealing and with 20/20 hindsight, it was the perfect decision, and it made me pursue the school with a high degree of certainty.”

Before starting his course, Jonathon also began narrowing down the goals and objectives he wanted to achieve throughout the degree. One of the first steps was creating a “black book” of companies and roles he was interested in pursuing post-graduation, which he used to tailor the courses and extra-curricular activities he took on campus.

Another unusual step Jonathon took to fuel his ambition was solo travelling, which he says further fuelled his ambition to make it in the business world.

He said: “Before I started the MBA, I went travelling solo for six weeks through East Asia. With this time and mental space, I put some serious thought into what I wanted to get out of the programme, both in terms of career outcomes, but also the day-to-day experiences I wanted.

“This meant I had a clear idea of internships to pursue, which classes to take, and which clubs to join. Inevitably your priorities and preferences will change, but the introspection meant I was proactive in my choices and avoided some of the dreaded MBA FOMO.”

In 2018, Jonathon was also awarded one of the Sainsbury Management Fellowships (SMF), which aim to champion engineering thinking in UK business – an achievement he says gave him the extra push to make the most out of the programme.

The importance of networking

Jonathon graduated from the LBS MBA programme in August 2020. While his main goal at the beginning of the degree was to kick-start an executive career in marketing, he says the MBA experience changed his perspective on his own role in business.

He said: “One of the most interesting takeaways for me from the MBA was how my priorities shifted during the course. As I learnt more about the opportunities in the business world, my perspectives changed, and I wanted to find a role that would allow me to have the most impact.”

During the MBA, Jonathon was able to network his way into a summer internship, working between Paris and London on a go-to-market strategy for a blockchain comms system in the pharmaceutical industry. There he realised how his background in engineering, sales and marketing could give him an edge in the tech sector of business.

In the summer of 2020, by connecting with LBS and SMF alumni, Jonathon discovered Wipro – a huge tech firm offering an MBA leadership development program, where he landed a spot right after graduation thanks to his skills and proactiveness in networking.

He said: “This role is perfect for me, as it balances business and engineering experience. I heard about the programme initially from two LBS alumni, both SMF recipients, so I was truly able to contextualise my application and interview responses with the insight they were able to provide me, so the whole [application] process was seamless.

“Having a strong network allowed me to gain an insider’s perspective on the opportunity and a ready-made network once I joined.”

He added: “The MBA has been hugely beneficial in preparing me for this role, through club involvement, on-campus speakers, electives, and network. One of the biggest takeaways I have is the importance of having an intellectually curious mindset to tackle new challenges, even without experience or subject matter expertise. I now have the confidence to expose myself to bigger opportunities and strive to make a larger impact.”

This article was originally published in March 2021 .

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Written by

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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