Stuart Murray (South Africa) – University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business
Why was this the right time for you to embark on an MBA?
I chose to do an MBA because I was looking for a career switch and I wanted to move into a different field. I had gotten into a very niche field (economics) and I needed a broader range of skills, so I believed that an MBA could assist me in developing new competencies.
How has the program changed you as a person?
The biggest difference my friends and family have seen has really been about introspection and learning about yourself. For me, at least, I didn’t do an MBA to learn more about myself. I did an MBA to progress in my career and become a manager or consultant, or to change my field. But really, this leadership course has been about understanding who you are and learning what drives you – but also just being more honest with yourself. I think that’s had a big impact on my relationships with my family and friends. It has been a lot more authentic with all of them.
What did UCT GSB MBA teach you?
There might be right ways and wrong ways to do things in life, but one of the most important things you can be is authentic in how you go about it. For me, that’s been one of the best lessons I’ve learned: being more honest and transparent in my actions.
What are your post-MBA plans?
After joining the MBA I had a very vague sense of where I wanted to go, but throughout this MBA journey that sense has changed quite dramatically as I’ve started to learn about myself, what it really is that motivates me, and where I want to go in my life. So while the future’s always uncertain, there’s an element of me that wants to get involved in public sector consulting to help and develop the world around me.
Does the UCT GSB prepare students for a career outside of Africa?
The knowledge I’ve gained at UCT GSB has certainly prepared me for a life in work that values critical thinking. Whether it’s here in Africa or overseas, I don’t think that makes too much of a difference. I think the skills that I’ve learned here have certainly equipped me to add value to the organizations that I join.
Does the UCT GSB help students to make a career switch?
I think it helps in a couple of ways. When you are senior enough to have experience, to change into a different field is often quite difficult. I feel like an MBA is a good transition step to develop skills you might not have been exposed to in your previous employment.
The other good part about it is that instead of going out and looking for a job, with an MBA often the jobs will come looking for you. It’s a great way to switch fields, particularly if you know where you want to go. The UCT GSB has a great careers office that can leverage connections to get you that initial interview.