5 Minutes with MBA Graduate Chris Cowley

5 Minutes with MBA Graduate Chris Cowley

As a busy, frequently travelling managing director, Chris didn’t have the time to attend classes for his MBA. He shares why the flexibility of AIB’s distance learning study mode was important for him and how the MBA has improved his leadership skills.

What motivated you to study an MBA?

My new role really was my motivation for the MBA. I moved to Australia as Managing Director of Varian Medical Systems Australasia, and I quickly realised that I didn’t necessarily have the full skill set to be able to complete the tasks that were involved, so I really needed to get myself upskilled.


Can you tell us a bit about your company and current role?

Varian is a global company that specialises in making linear accelerators for radiotherapy treatment and a lot of very complicated software that makes sure that cancer treatment is delivered as accurately as it possibly can be. In Australia we supply that equipment, so we’re a distributor, effectively. There is also a large after sales network of service and education, and that’s a team of about 75 people.



How did the MBA upskill you for your current role as managing director?

I’m now able to look at the business holistically and strategically. While I was probably quite a natural leader, I’m now more of a complete managing director and can look at the entire business and understand what that means. I think the company and I were quite reactive before, but now I could safely sit here and tell you exactly what we’re going to be doing for the next three years because we’ve got a very clear strategic plan.

I’ve been able to apply something at work from every one of the units studied. Leadership was particularly insightful for me and my management team, and how we interact with each other and lead the business, rather than manage it. I think that’s been a fundamental shift in our thinking. Also, we’re very clinically focused, but the MBA has helped me realise that we need to have that same focus on the financial side of the business if we’re really going to run it as efficiently as we can.



Why did you choose the AIB MBA, and was it the right choice for you?

AIB was the right choice for my MBA for a couple of reasons. I’m based in Sydney and I looked at the usual Sydney options – AGSM and MGSM. Both required quite a lot of classroom work or weekend work, and I travel a lot, probably 50% of my time. So the two things that really appealed to me from AIB were the flexibility, I could work and fit the MBA into my schedule, and the fact that it was a fully correspondence course. In fact, it was probably the only programme that could have worked for me.

Do you aspire to be a leader in your organisation? Build your knowledge, confidence and credibility with the MBA for modern business leaders. Request the MBA information pack here

This article has been constructed by Megan Baker from an AIB interview. The very best has been done to accurately reflect the thoughts and opinions of the participant. 


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