A-Yachting We Will Go: Chatting with Gary Ward

I thought it appropriate for this chat to modify the English 16th century nursey song, A-Hunting We Will Go, to introduce one of current EMBA participants who soon embarks on his Master Thesis research. Despite his earlier tenure as a postman with Her Majesty’s Royal Mail, Gary Ward has had a very exciting, diverse, and international career. From Charity Ambassador, Keynote Speaker, to his recent ventures as a consultant and executive in the Superyacht industry.

As with the other chats in this series, it is a pleasure to meet with our participants and alumni as individuals and to capture their thoughts and aspirations.

Now onto Gary, and thanks for this opportunity…

Why did you join the programme?

I had been thinking about embarking on an MBA for a number of years, in total probably about 15 years. However, I never really could dedicate the time to do it, because I knew it was a big commitment. But the opportunity presented itself when I moved to Czech and decided that it was now the best time to start. So, I suppose really it was by chance more than anything because I was then based in the Czech Republic. VŠE was the university that came out as a fantastic option as I really wanted to be present in as many classes as possible and enjoy the networking and social element also.

After 20 years of working in a business environment. I’ve experienced an awful lot and I’ve learnt huge amounts about myself and my strengths. The MBA for me is where I’m able to fill some of the gaps.

How’s it been so far?

I’ll be honest, it’s been probably more challenging than I thought it would be. I remember my first module which shocked me to my bare skeleton because it was strategic management through finance.  And although I’m an eager strategist, I’m not generally a person that gets excited by numbers, unless it’s sales and profit. I was met with several slides with long formulae that looked Greek to me.  So, it did kind of worry me that first, the weekend starting the MBA. But since then, it’s been much better. That said, I’m a firm believer that everybody has their own strengths. And I know what mine are, and finance is not part of it.

Thoughts on the overall experience?

Richard, our cohort is quite a unique group, to be honest. I was quite fortunate to find myself in that group. Everybody’s excellent in their way, but we get on fantastically well and we’re trying to help each other to get through.

As I said earlier, to know your strengths and know your weaknesses and to be able to develop your leadership skills is what the MBA is really all about.

I think that’s the other thing as well, that certain people have had a lot of experience in presenting or being involved in that certain kinds of activities at their workplace. Then there are the analytically strong individuals who are good at market research or building a business case, and some are stronger in presenting that findings back to the Board of Directors or the management team to get investment or get the go-ahead to move forward with their strategy. So, it’s important to support each other.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To my surprise they haven’t changed that much, although with this new dynamic (job interviews). I have started to play around with the idea of setting up my own company. I’ve got a couple of consultancy projects that are going to start very soon. I don’t need to make any rash decisions about the opportunity in Majorca or the opportunity in Prague. But in general aspirations, if I’m working for an organisation, I want to be working at the highest level possible. Which is one of the reasons why this particular opportunity in Majorca is very interesting because there is an opportunity to be CEO within the next, say, 5 to 7 years.  And it’s the type of organisation I can learn a lot from as well. They are a smaller organisation so some of the other businesses I have worked for in the past were corporations. So, you’re in the you’re in the lion’s den. You know you have to learn quickly. Aspirations-wise, you know, for me, it’s a case of putting into good use the MBA and the experiences I’ve had.

And playing at the best level possible. I’m a football fan, and the peak time for a footballer is between the ages of 27 and 32 and I feel like I’m hitting that peak season in business. I need to make the most of it and score some major goals whilst I can. I think the younger generation almost demands growth opportunities nowadays as well. No longer can you as an employer simply instruct or tell them what to do without opportunities for growth. They’ll just go and work for somebody else.

Upcoming Master Thesis…

For me it’s a case of actually spending the time now trying to get my head around what does a does this type of academic work need to look like? I love writing. but I’m a very creative writer, so I need to become more structured in my approach to it.

Do you have anything that you’d like to add?

The improvements (in the programme) have been significant if I’m honest, and of course, there’s always room for improvement. There have been major improvements with communication, structure, and processes. I think there’s clear proof with some of the accreditations that VŠE have achieved, so the proof is in the pudding as we say.