Developing Tomorrow's


An interview with Sean Rickard

Director of MBA Recruitment and Admissions at Cranfield School of Management

About Cranfield

The Cranfield MBA is characterised by diverse, experienced and mature students, average age 32 years; an intensive, stimulating learning environment; and a friendly, approachable faculty.

What are the Characteristics of the Cranfield MBA Program?

The Cranfield MBA Program is an intensive, one-year course founded on team-based learning.   The program is aimed at individuals seeking to move into senior management positions and it is built on three pillars: an in-depth knowledge of business functions; the ability to think strategically; and effective leadership skills.   Participants typically have nine years’ business experience – average age is 32 years – and reflect a wide diversity of cultures, employments and experiences.   Over the past forty years we have developed a friendly, stimulating learning environment and a School in which it is fun to learn.

What are the Characteristics you are looking for in Applicants?

Our prime concern is to recruit students who can show evidence of success in their chosen career and who have the intellect to benefit from intensive study.  A secondary concern is to achieve a diverse and experienced cohort. We draw students from all parts of the world, from all types of commercial and not–for–profit activities and from a wide variety of backgrounds. Typically they have a good academic qualification, a record of success in at least one business function and are prepared to work hard both individually and as a team member. 

What makes your MBA unique amongst business schools?

Firstly, the emphasis on leadership and personal development. Throughout the program students, through a combination of lectures, projects, team exercises and assessments, develop their people skills.   In particular they learn how to lead and motivate others, while being aware of how they relate to people and are perceived by them.   In this respect, the Cranfield emphasis on learning teams plays a crucial role in helping students to develop the ability to work under pressure with peers who have different ways of working, different values and priorities.   Secondly, our students tend to be older, and therefore more mature and experienced than is typical for business schools.   We capitalise on this by limiting classes to fifty students.   This allows us to use a learning style that encourages participants to engage in classroom discussion with the effect that it is enriched by their experiences and knowledge.  

What can you tell us about your School’s success in finding its graduates employment?

Cranfield School of Management has a very good track record in finding its graduates jobs in the areas they choose and at salaries that are very competitive – demonstrated by our Financial Times ranking as 10th in the world for career progression.   The support of our career service is evidenced in the fact that two thirds of our students make a sector or functional change, one third make both, and almost half move country.   Most importantly, three months after the course, 97% of our graduates are in employment.

How global is the MBA and what is your School doing to reinforce this position?

Each year we attract students from more than 40 nations.   In order to be able to offer a place to highly qualified students from the world’s poorest countries – and maintain diversity – we offer a series of scholarships and bursaries.   Cranfield’s global reach is reinforced by lecturers and learning opportunities that are global in their outlook and content.   All modules include a global dimension and there is a themed elective focused exclusively on globalisation and society.   All students undertake our International Business Experience, spending a week in another country visiting major organisations and a major business school.   Students also take part in international events, for example, for the second year running a team from Cranfield reached the final of the AT Kearney Global Prize in Chicago.

About Sean Rickard

Sean is Senior Lecturer in Business
Economics at Cranfield. Prior to joining the
School in 1994,he was Chief Economist
with the National Farmers´ Union,
Europe´s largest trade association.

What advice would you give potential candidates?

Studying for an MBA is a considerable commitment – particularly if you are planning to study full time.   It is wise to start your search for a School that best meets your aims at an early stage – allow a year or more to come to a decision.   You should make every effort to visit the schools you are considering in order to better appreciate and understand the things you cannot get from a brochure or rankings.   Only by visiting will you be able to experience the learning environment, the diversity of the students and the School’s atmosphere.   Always take the opportunity to talk to alumni of the school - they are in the best position to advise you on the quality of the classroom experience, the approachability of faculty, the individual support in securing post graduation employment and the network and effectiveness of alumni contacts.

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