Finance careers are a lot like trekking

Distinct experience demonstrates a broad skillset, says Matt Symonds

There all almost as many different motives for taking an MBA as there are MBA students themselves. Some look for the hike in salary that the three letters after your name so often bring; others are attracted by the idea of obtaining an address book that will open doors around the world; and some gain sheer pleasure from learning new knowledge.

For a significant proportion, however, an MBA is seen as a stepping stone, a chance to establish a new career or a new business, even a new life. But how realistic is this, given that most employers still recruit as much on the basis of experience as they do on future potential, and that so many successful start-ups are direct products of their founders' past? Are Transformers still more likely to be found in toy shops and on cinema screens than on a business school campus?

Leading wilderness treks and dog-sledding expeditions is a road less travelled for many aspiring executives, but for Will Arbuckle, it was just another day at the office in his role at global expedition company Outward Bound. "I was responsible for groups of 10 to 15 people. Sometimes we were on rough terrain or out of reach and away from civilisation for days on end."

So after three years as a guide, why give up the view from a mountain top for a view from the office? "It was an amazing lifestyle but I didn't want to be the 35-year-old that lived out of a tent. I knew I wanted some sort of entrepreneurial role that matched the creative setting of Outward Bound – working with small groups in remote areas with limited resources, but still making things happen."

While his entrepreneurial skills would resonate with certain recruiters, Arbuckle felt he still needed the credibility and core business skills of an internationally respected MBA. To maintain the global scope of his career, he secured a place at top European business school, HEC Paris. "For me, the 16-month course length of the programme was ideal, because it gave time to reflect, digest all the learning and figure out my path."

Though some of the core courses in finance and economics proved initially challenging, Arbuckle found himself increasingly comfortable with issues discussed in the financial press. "It was like learning a new language, where one day you realise that you can actually speak Spanish or French quite well. At HEC I suddenly realised I could read finance."

He also acknowledges the many overlapping skills between succeeding in the corporate sector and succeeding in the wilderness. "In both you're taking risks and leading people in volatile environments while adapting your leadership style."

Since completing his MBA, Arbuckle has relocated to San Francisco to work for a tech start-up that was recently acquired by Google, using his business skills every day. "The MBA curriculum had a direct effect on the job I have now. I work in an enterprise sales team, regularly meeting with global clients to get them to invest in our technology. I'm able to speak with fluency and knowledge, and give the MBA from HEC full credit for that."

The ability to analyse data and measure results is another MBA skill that can transform a career, and is encouraging a growing number of MBA graduates towards a career in e-commerce. Although Vivek Agarwal had worked for Citibank on mergers and acquisitions in the oil and gas industry, he used his time during the MBA at IESE Business School in Barcelona to write a business plan for an online start-up to introduce Indian fashion to the UK.

Business school convinced him to focus his company, Strand of Silk, on the high end of the designer market. "My years in banking combined with the MBA gave me the discipline to evaluate companies, identify where cash flow was coming from and write the business plan," he says.

The MBA also gave him credibility when it came to convincing Indian designers to work with him. "It was clear this wasn't just a hobby – I had a serious business background to give the venture a real chance of success."

Agarwal's interaction with classmates from more than 50 countries also gave him an insight into how people make buying decisions based on culture and background. "The multicultural learning environment was invaluable, and brought clarity to our marketing approach. The use of the case-study method at business school means you are constantly sharing perspectives – understanding different behaviours is key."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

KS2 supply teacher

£80 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting fo...

KS1 Supply Teacher

£80 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting fo...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job ? This is a new post...

ICT Teacher for Maternity cover

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job * This is a new post...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London