'Having just lived through a banking takeover at a US bank, I decided that I wanted to start afresh at a new company and to do an MBA. At the time I was working in risk management.
As time goes on, typically people become more specialised in their chosen line of work. It's a natural career path to aim to become better and better at what you do. I was in my late 30s, with three children, and I wanted to broaden my focus.
I also wanted to signal that I was serious about my career. It all happened quite fast once I had made the decision.
It was a case of getting into the best school possible which, for me, was the London Business School. I did the GMAT, submitted my application while I was still at the US bank, and then went straight into my job with Barclays Global Investors (BGI).
BGI was very good about hiring me on flexible working time, and has been very interested in the MBA and the ideas that I bring back from the course. The two years run from January 2000 to December 2001, and there are a variety of electable options for the coursework in the second year.
Every other Friday and Saturday the course runs all day, and we also have block weeks four times a year. Last year we went to Poland for a week and worked in various companies, producing consultancy-type reports.
I was at a water company that was concerned about bringing its standards up to meet European Union requirements. It was fascinating, and it has implemented some of our ideas, which is encouraging. I find the diversity and international background of individuals on the course very energising.
We have entrepreneurs, a doctor, consultants and charity managers as well as some bankers. We are going to India for a week at the end of August. The work is very intensive, but that's part of its appeal.
I think an MBA course begins to pay back almost immediately in increased confidence. There are those things that you have learned to do through experience, or through intuition - and then you realise with the coursework that there is a good solid reason for doing them. Socially, and in terms of networking, there is a huge payback, and you have a springboard for anything new and creative that comes along. I am finding that several people on the course are completely rethinking their career choices.
I initially came to investment banking by chance, following an opportunity to work in New York after gaining a first-class degree in engineering at Leeds University and qualifying as an accountant. I have thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the financial industry ever since. It has been quite a change from my previous jobs, working for an oil company and a pet-food manufacturer!'