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Strathclyde Business SchoolStudent case studies

Gaelle Ciriego

I have always worked in HR throughout my career. I was Director of HR for an IT Consultancy at the beginning of my MBA and am now director of my own company, Ipso Facto.

Very often HR has a dreadful reputation within business. Only a few organisations see HR as an enabler, simply because HR practitioners may not always speak in business terms and rarely demonstrate the return of investment of HR. I believed that, by doing an MBA, I could better understand the overall running of an organisation, thus giving myself a competitive advantage by differentiating myself from my peers. Completing an MBA would also give me a common language when talking with senior managers and entrepreneurs.

I chose Strathclyde Business School as it has an outstanding worldwide reputation and it also offered the MBA via part time study in the evening, which suited me, as I could study while carrying on my role as HR Director. The classroom environment kept me motivated and I was also able to learn from people from other industries.

There was fantastic support throughout my MBA from the business school in general. The lecturers were supportive and very accomplished in allowing for the students to exchange and debate ideas. The size of the class was also perfect - there were typically about 30 students which I found ideal.

Overall, my MBA was a great experience. I will remember the three years as a very special time in my life. I met some wonderful people that I still keep in touch with but - most importantly of all - it gave me the basis to start my own business.

I used the environment of the business school to develop the concept of my business - my project was on how to measure the return on investment (ROI) of HR and this was chosen to help me develop my business concept. It also meant I could use my project as a prospectus when approaching new clients, which gave me a running start once I completed my MBA as I launched my business straight after graduating. Ipso Facto was incorporated in October 2009 and supports fast growth SMEs with their HR strategies and organisational development.

My project explored a domain that was important to me - why HR was rarely accountable for demonstrating a return on investment. I knew that, if I could develop this concept further and if a measurable model for HR ROI could be created, then it would give me a key to open the doors to my own HR consultancy. And it worked! When I explain to clients my vision of HR, coupled with the subject of my project and my MBA from Strathclyde, I get instant credibility that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

Having done the MBA, I have a better understanding of the running of a business, which I can apply in my own business: creating a marketing strategy, business plan, balance sheet and profit and loss. I’ve been able to establish a common vocabulary with the business community.

The part-time MBA is tough as you are balancing work, study and home life. It is a three year commitment, with lectures twice a week, weekend group work and a lot of reading and writing on the remaining days. My advice to someone considering it is to understand what you are committing to and to be sure that you are willing to make that commitment.

When considering an MBA, think about what you would like to achieve from it - you are given the opportunity to experience business in a safe environment; ensure that you maximise this opportunity by giving yourself some goals and key learning points that you would like to take from it. If applied as part of a career plan, the MBA can be a stepping stone to a new opportunity - it certainly was for me.

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Strathclyde Business School
University of Strathclyde
199 Cathedral Street
G4 0QU

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