After 15 years abroad having worked for large corporate organisations such as The Body Shop UK, Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Carter Holt Harvey, Progressive Enterprises and Sugar Australia, Vanessa returned to New Zealand, keen to continue to develop her CEO-level capabilities and re-establish her New Zealand networks.
Her MBA project, designing a business strategy for a newly established investment fund, led to a permanent offer of employment as a Partner with PowerHouse Ventures. She then went on to start her own strategy consultancy, Accelerate Business, in Christchurch.
Not only was the UC MBA programme instrumental in helping Vanessa realise her core passion, even now she regularly recalls and applies models, theories and discussions from her MBA classes with her clients.
‘It is about providing a “fit for purpose” solution,’ she says. ‘You need to be able to clearly explain your recommendations as well as provide examples of global strategies and business models that have successfully worked. I often use my lecture folders and texts as a reference library.’
‘Often business strategies do not work in isolation, they require change from all parts of the business. Therefore it is the breadth of learning that you get on the MBA which is important. From the mental grind of mathematical modelling in Quantitative Methods to self-discovery in Group Dynamics; from the animated debates in Corporate Governance to applying positive Appreciative Inquiry techniques in Change Management. It is all relevant.’
Vanessa’s fondest memory of her time at UC is of the people she got to work alongside. ‘It sounds clichéd, but we had a room full of global industry experts, from wind farmers in Romania to Airbus A380 engineers. I learned as much from the passionate student discussions as from the academic assignments and coursework.’
With a client portfolio of both FMCG as well as technology businesses, Vanessa says she is really enjoying being surrounded by intelligent idea generators who want to make their mark on the world, as well as larger organisations who are looking at their next innovation frontier.
‘There is immense satisfaction in being able to consolidate my global industry experiences, and my MBA knowledge and skills to assist in the growth of some ingenious Kiwi companies.’