What the MBA means to me

Jane was part of the recent panel discussion “Breaking into the Boardroom”, left to right Deborah Wilson, Andrew Rodgers, and Jane Crombie.

When Jane first applied for the program there were some concerns – Jane was already highly accomplished in her role and had a very strong track record of success.  While we felt that she would offer a huge contribution to the cohort we were unsure because of her extensive experience, what value she personally get from the program?  Suffice to say that Jane is now one of the QUT MBA program’s strongest advocates and talks positively about the significant impact the program has had in terms of her professional development.

An active and contributing member of the cohort Jane has represented the MBA program internationally as part of our Business Competition team in Thailand and has shared her experiences and insights in local industry forums in relation to board membership and the value of an MBA degree at MBA Live!

Jane joined us as an outstanding candidate and will shortly leave us as an outstanding graduate and we have absolutely no doubt that she will be an outstanding alumnus who continues to represent the qualities and character of a QUT MBA.

This is Jane’s story…

I’ll graduate from the MBA at the same time my youngest child finishes Law. So there have been many questions from friends and family around why I’d take on a demanding Masters degree at this life stage.

Motivations
My professional job is in financial services, analysing investment opportunities and constructing portfolios for superannuation and Not-for-Profit clients.

Digital disruption of business models is dramatically changing the global investment landscape. The MBA has given me the ability to ask complex questions to understand, for example, Amazon’s threat to the retail industry, or the potential scalability of Afterpay, or the impact of autonomous vehicles and drone delivery. This has made me a far better investor.

My primary motivation for doing the course, however, was to develop my director career by adding skills that would deliver a competitive advantage around the board table.

The MBA gives you a powerful toolkit. I can honestly say I’ve channeled elements of every subject into both work and board contexts. Obvious skills in finance, leadership, strategy, and corporate governance have been directly applied across all my roles. Practical competencies like working in diverse groups (an unexpected highlight), design thinking, crisis management, and negotiation have also been exceptionally valuable. I’ve particularly enjoyed QUT’s genuine focus on case studies and assessment tasks from the ‘real world’.

Highlights
One of the most memorable experiences was the 2018 Sasin Bangkok Business Challenge, a global start-up competition. QUT sponsored our team to compete as a follow-on opportunity from the subject Entrepreneurship. We were coached by a senior lecturer during the development of our business plan, then during the competition itself, which involved multiple pitches to venture capitalist judging panels. This felt like Shark Tank on steroids. It was a steep learning curve and crash course in adaptability under pressure. A tough but incredibly valuable experience on many levels.

Not long after returning, I was asked to join an external advisory committee for PwC, which was outside my professional comfort zone. As soon as the Chairman said that we would be overseeing what was effectively a start-up within the firm, I knew I’d be able to contribute. The skills from Bangkok were highly transferable, particularly in regard to IP protection, scalability, data monetisation, and competitor analysis.

Time management
You become highly efficient in allocating your time and energy and learn to ration your social life when assessments are due. Fifteen spare minutes becomes an opportunity to do a pre-class reading. The hour before work is time to edit an assignment. I’ve spent many happy weekends and nights in the syndicate rooms on levels 4 and 5 of B Block doing group assessments. 

Jane Crombie at a recent QUT Graduate School of Business networking event.

Challenges
There were plenty of doubters – all those people who questioned why I would take on an MBA at my career stage. I was confident it would add value to my board career, and in this regard, it has exceeded expectations. I’ve added my most rewarding new governance roles over the last two years as a direct result of the course. It’s been intellectually stimulating and brilliant for expanding networks. But most of all, the personal development and self-belief I’ve taken from the MBA have changed me profoundly as an individual and a professional.

For me, the QUT MBA has been a very strong return on investment. I believe those who say they have withdrawals when the ride is over. It’s definitely been one of my best ever life choices.

Jane Crombie

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