Succession planning is really important, and so I chose it for my final Mrs Moneypenny column in the Financial Times this week. In it, I mention Joseph Bower, author of The CEO Within, and a long-time faculty member at Harvard Business School. He believes companies that take succession planning seriously invest heavily in recruiting, mentoring and training. In his view, this includes offering outside management education and giving future leaders exposure to managing operations, planning, and budgeting. All of which, of course, we offer at EBS!
This was also the article in which I announced to FT readers that I was joining EBS as Executive Dean. Some people have expressed surprise that at my age (I am 54) I wanted to take on a huge new job, instead of just selling my business for lots of money and retiring gracefully. My answer? 54 is very young, and anyway we are all going to live to be 100, so it’s a bit early to retire. To reinforce my point, the FT shortlist for the business book of the year was published this week and it includes the excellent new book by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, who are both professors at the London Business School. The 100 year Life - Living and Working in an Age of Longevity has a website with a very useful free diagnostic that allows you to see if you are doing the right things to make your career last a long time.
I said last week that I was going to profile an EBS alumni or student each week, and this week I wanted to tell you all about Heather Ashley. I chose her because she is called Heather, and like me did her MBA while raising a family. Heather’s journey as an EBS student and as a mother took her around the world. She has returned to Scotland with new skills, a new outlook and an exciting future.
“When I left the UK in 2007, I was 17 weeks pregnant with our first child. We headed first to Canada, then to Saudi Arabia, and as our young family grew I took a career break from my senior management role to care for our two sons. When my youngest was ready to start school, I decided this was my chance to challenge myself and set new goals. I’d always wanted to study for an MBA but I wasn’t willing to compromise on family time, so the flexibility of EBS made it the perfect choice. Juggling family life and an MBA wasn’t easy, but three years flew by faster than I could have imagined. I was ecstatic to graduate with distinction.
As our sons approached 7 and 9, it was time to leave Saudi so we could be closer to our families and get the boys settled in school. My husband accepted a new job in Glasgow and now we live on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. I’m preparing to launch my own business in the health and wellness industry, which has always been my passion. I believe that the strategies and tools I gained through studying with EBS have given me the best possible platform to launch and maintain a successful business.”
Stories like Heather’s inspire me every day, and with 18,000 graduates around the world, there’s plenty of days to go!