William Grant & Sons approached Strathclyde Business School in 2011 to create a bespoke MBA programme to suit their needs and create global leaders of the future. Named the MBA25 for the number of participants allowed on each year, the company has benefited greatly from the exclusive programme.
Over the past few years, the majority of participants have been employees identified by William Grant for the programme. However, the company also opened up a number of spaces to selected individuals from businesses they identified as having a similar ethos to theirs as well as to like-minded start-ups and third sector organisations.
The programme is now being opened up further. While William Grant is still funding its employees onto the executive education programme, they’ve decided to open the programme up to general interest for the next cohort which will start in March 2018.
Colin Duthie is Programme Chairman for the MBA25 and believes this is a great opportunity for companies to get on board this exclusive MBA programme, network with like-minded businesses and get taught by experts in their field in subjects such as strategy, marketing, entrepreneurship and financial management.
“We recognise that MBA25 delegates will already have achieved significant positions within business and they will have corresponding expectations about this learning opportunity. We carefully select people onto this programme and we try to balance out the sectors represented on it – we talent pick from the talent pools of the best companies for MBA25.”
Colin says the MBA25 is an MBA with a ‘club feel’ to it. “The number of 25 is hugely beneficial. The contact time with faculty is increased as a result of limiting numbers on to this programme. There’s been interaction between cohorts in the form of informal mentoring; and each individual in the cohort benefits from having a designated development coach – these are very senior people in the UK and overseas - and a designated programme director to advise and help throughout the three year programme.
“The case studies we use in the different modules are all tailored to suit the people on the cohort which has obvious benefits and maximises the learning experience and we also use participants’ business issues as case studies – the advantage there is that the participant gets excellent consultancy from over 20 key business people, and we’re using real, live case studies.
“Networking is a really important part of this programme. Each year, people say this has been a key benefit to them, meeting business people in other sectors, sharing business problems and solutions, and we’re delighted to be able to open this experience up to the business world more generally.”
Colin says the cohorts embarking on the programme are ‘very driven’. “These are people in senior positions; they’re all driven and I’ve found the bonding on the MBA25 to be incredible. There’s a lot of healthy peer pressure – there’s mutual support there for everyone to get the most out of it and it’s a very collaborative MBA.”
Companies interested should have entrepreneurial flair, be a family or owner-managed business, committed to the development of people as a key element of their business strategy and have drive and global ambition.
The programme is structured for senior business people with teaching on three days every two months from March to September. Past graduates say the programme has really opened their eyes to the way they work and changed the way they approached it.
Kieran Phelan is Global Health and Safety Director, William Grant & Sons. He especially valued the interaction between cohort members: “The greatest value for me is the opportunity to interact with people and organisations from many different business sectors. My fellow students from all over the world willingly share their unique perspectives on work, life and culture which enables me to actively challenge my own ways of thinking. The international, multi-sectoral make-up of the cohort has undoubtedly helped me to understand, embed and practice the formal teaching of the MBA in a very effective way.”
The last word on MBA25 goes to Colin: “I’ve got a long career in human resources behind me and am currently an organisational consultant with my own practice as well as being a visiting professor of Talent Development at Strathclyde Business School. I have also experience in various MBA programmes – Wharton, IMD, INSEAD – so I feel I have the authority to say that Strathclyde’s MBA 25 programme is second to none.”