Case study

MBA graduate — Byron McCaughey

After eight years in marketing, Byron wanted to start his own fintech business Staak – and studying an MBA at Imperial College London was the perfect launch pad

Why did you study for an MBA?

The MBA was my catalyst for change. I’d had an enjoyable eight-year career working in marketing and communications with some of the world’s biggest brands, such as eBay and Allianz, but I had an entrepreneurial itch that my various moonlighting projects up to that point simply weren’t scratching. In my mind, there was no better solution than to use the Imperial MBA as a launch pad – in terms of skills, network and inspiration – to pursue more entrepreneurial endeavours.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

I loved that, for the first time, I had the time and headspace to throw a variety of ideas (some questionable, such as assigning a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag to every recyclable item in London) against the wall to see what stuck.

When something excites you and looks doable, like the proptech idea I’m currently working on to tackle ‘generation rent’, you’re surrounded by a community of talented individuals that can help. In my case, having the support of both classmates and university faculty for tasks such as financial modelling was incredibly helpful.

What was the most challenging aspect of the course?

Time. Imperial’s full-time MBA is only a year long, so you constantly have to make tough decisions about how to allocate your time. My priorities weren’t solely academic – I was also interested in getting involved with the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Imperial. I did so by establishing a start-up and MBA mentor programme called MBA Connect.

I was keen to build good working and personal relationships with my peers, which required taking the time to go for beers with new friends or saying yes to games of squash or golf. There’s always a trade-off when time is limited.

How has the MBA benefitted your career?

I decided that I didn’t want to continue my career working as an employee, and I wouldn’t have been able to simply quit my job and launch my own business without the MBA. I could have stayed in employment, which isn’t the worst thing, but I would have regretted never taking a chance with entrepreneurship.

What advice would you give to someone considering an MBA?

My advice is to not let your conscious or unconscious biases override the talent, knowledge and personality of the various people in your cohort. To do so would hugely diminish your MBA experience as you’d miss out on discovering new perspectives, ways of thinking that challenged your own, potential business partners and most importantly, forming new friendships.

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