Life after an MBA: How Aston Business School Helped Me Realise My Dream
After more than 20 year in the corporate field, Simon Hague was ready to stir the waters. And an MBA at Aston Business School did just that, in more ways than one.
Simon Hague decided to join Aston MBA after reaching a peak in his career in telecoms. Aston was a perfect fit for him due to the extensive support offered to its students as well as its convenient location; and the MBA program proved to be an intellectual challenge that opened new horizons for him to explore.
Ultimately the Aston MBA enabled Simon to realise his passion for working with people and to start two new ventures that deal with enabling others to realise their full potential. For him finding the balance between financial output and job satisfaction is key, and helping others is what motivates him. That is why he also runs a scout group in his spare time and goes on weekend-long excursions in the countryside, escaping from the busy life in the city.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at that stage in your career?
Having worked in the corporate field for close to 23 years, I needed to do something a little different. The role that I was fulfilling at Vodafone was reaching its natural high after concluding a lengthy contract negotiation with my client, and I needed a new challenge. The MBA, when suggested, just fitted that role. It was an intellectual challenge, something way outside my comfort zone and a break from the real ‘work’ world.
What separated Aston Business School from other business schools?
Difficult question as I believe that all Universities offer programmes that attract different people. For me, the decision pivoted on 2 elements
- Having not studied for a long time, I needed to be assured that the support was there should I have needed it. I felt that the approach and the support was an ideal match for me at Aston.
- The locality of business school was important. I needed to ensure that I could get to the programme easily on public transport quickly.
What are the main takeaways you got from the school's program?
The program gave me time to think. This is a luxury that one does not naturally get within the busy working life. It gave me an opportunity to re-assess my priorities and my drivers. It allowed me to answer the question, “What is it that I can do that would really mean something?”
This, as well as meeting some amazing people on my course, highlighted the importance of understanding different people in different ways. This flexibility of being able to work with different cultures was such a gift.
Would you recommend Aston to prospective MBA students, and why?
I would recommend Aston but the question is deeper than that for me.
As explained before, the fit for me was important. Aston fitted me. I would encourage prospective MBA students to ensure that their requirements (both tangible and intangible) can be met by any University that they are considering. If not, strike the University from the list. If so, then shortlist and visit.
Has your MBA degree at Aston contributed to your career path and progress?
Yes but not for the qualification. I think you need to be 100% sure of the reason why you are doing an MBA. Ask yourself a question – “Are you doing the MBA for the qualification or for the experience?” For me, it was for the experience.
This gave me permission, and motivated me to engage in all elements of the program and made the experience even richer. This richness gave me permission to think differently, to play with ideas and to motivate myself to do different stuff when I left.
You currently hold management positions at two different companies, whose main common link is HR. What is it that attracted you towards that field?
My discovery phase at Aston came from understanding that I wanted to enable others to do even more amazing things with what they do. I work with people, and understanding this, as simple as it sounds, liberated me to go and do something with people.
Certainly, Wheresmylunch, is a business providing strategic and personal stretch for my clients. Think Share Create is about enabling people to collaborate more effectively, and to help this effectiveness turn to something be it a business, social community or generally a change in the way they do things.
The common theme is about enabling others through whatever methods are appropriate.
How do you manage your day-to-day obligations and is there something that helps you blow-off some steam and get through the day?
That is a tricky question. I am not sure whether I manage this effectively but I do try and use all available technology (such as CRM software) to automate as much as I can. I have found though that making lists doesn’t work for me. The lists tend to become so dynamic that managing lists tends to become a chore itself.
I think though that I am extremely lucky. I work with and have conversations with amazing people. Perhaps it is that I can help people uncover their real passions, so I see that twinkle in their eye – I don’t know. But seeing this drive in others and seeing others achieve is a luxurious position to be in. For me, and a growing number of people that I engage with, financial output is less important than getting something to work – obviously the balance though is important.
Interlinking different business ideas with different people and collaborating is just fantastic fun. Even this morning, I got a note from a colleague entrepreneur stating that some of the work that a group I now run has really helped him to get an idea off the ground.
Oh – and I also help run a scout group and am shortly setting one up in a new area that hasn’t seen a group for 15 years to help bring amazing activities to more people that have not experienced what Scouting can do for them. Just this weekend, I was taking part in a walk over the six highest peaks in Shropshire with 200 scouts, many of which carried all their kit, provisions and equipment to self-sustain for the 3 days! This is the buzz, this is the energy that I draw from.