Winners on the road to MBAs

Russ Thorne discovers what brought two successful scholarship applicants to the Durham Business School

Last week, Durham Business School awarded the first two
of three MBA scholarships that will be offered to students this year. Given to
students on the Global and Executive MBA programmes the full-fee scholarships are
organised in partnership with The Independent
this year will be the seventh time they have been awarded.

“We believe in creating an environment in which academic excellence can be combined with opportunities for personal development,” says Lindsay Duke, postgraduate student recruitment manager at Durham Business School. “This is why we’re pleased to be able to offer scholarships such as this to top-quality candidates who can demonstrate their commitment and potential.”

To be considered for a scholarship, prospective students had to write a 500-word essay outlining not just what an MBA would do for them, but what they would bring to the MBA programme. Judges assessed their CVs alongside their academic ability, and also looked for leadership potential – trickier for the panel of industry experts to measure but vital for success in the workplace.

“An MBA is often a minimum qualification for more senior roles as it helps managers develop their skills and knowledge outside of existing specialisms to work across the organisation,”

says Professor Rob Dixon, dean at Durham Business School.

“The scholarship competition attracts some exceptional applicants and gives people the chance to study an MBA when they may have previously been unable to fund their place.”

Funding was certainly on David Makepeace’s mind when he wrote his essay. “I’m working part-time to give myself ample study time, so self-funding would have been challenging.”

Winner of the Global MBA scholarship, Makepeace has spent his entire career in the humanitarian sector and now works with a non-profit organisation based in Australia; he will study via distance learning. His particular field of interest and expertise is logistics, which he feels is underdeveloped in humanitarian work, wasting money that could be better spent on aid. “I’ve made it a personal mission to try to help address this problem,” he says, “and the Durham MBA will be an important tool in that respect. The learning will itself be invaluable and the MBA will also help leverage greater credibility from corporate networks.”

In the short term, Makepeace hopes the Global MBA will make a difference to his current work; longer term, he has an eye on more senior management positions where he’ll be able to have a greater impact. “The scholarship will help tremendously because it will allow me to dedicate myself even more to my studies,” he says. “It will literally buy me time.”

David Beeton, winner of the Executive MBA scholarship, hopes that his MBA will help him expand his new business as well as aid his personal development. “Starting up my business has given me an opportunity to create my own future,” he says. “I’m determined to equip myself with the necessary tools and see the Durham MBAs providing an important platform to success.”

Previously a senior strategist for an electric vehicle programme, Beeton was made redundant when regional development agencies were abolished.

He used his skills and redundancy payment to establish a successful new business, but he’s far from complacent. “While the future looks extremely positive, previous experience has alerted me to the famine-and-feast cycles often experienced by start-ups and the consequent financial and emotional pressures that this brings,” he says.

He enrolled on the MBA programme to help prepare himself, but also to benefit from the alternative viewpoints an MBA can offer. “The opportunity to remove myself from the business and be afforded intellectual freedom to reflect on where it’s heading will be invaluable,” he says. “I also expect that engaging with likeminded individuals from diverse backgrounds will bring new perspectives to the fore.”

For those interested in following Beeton and Makepeace down the MBA route, the final Independent/ Durham Business School scholarship competition, for the full-time MBA course, will open in April. Visit www.dur.ac.uk/dbs for more details, and for information on other scholarships offered by the school.

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