Hannah Liddell, Cambridge Judge MBA Class of 2020
Hometown: Wellington, New Zealand
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Civil Engineering from University of Canterbury
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3.5 years, Civil Engineer
Why business school? Why now?
During my career as an engineer, I became more and more passionate about sustainability and began working with our teams to improve the way we approach designs. There are plenty of engineering solutions to most problems, but we found we were often too late in the client’s delivery stream to really influence the outcome of the project. I want to work more in these early stages, partnering with organizations to help them to identify the business value of being more sustainable, in order to make change at scale. Doing my MBA at this career pivot point makes sense.
Why Cambridge Judge? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I was lucky enough to be able to sift between offers from several top-notch schools. Ultimately, I chose Cambridge because it seemed like the most unique experience. At Cambridge, not only will I be in a world-class MBA programme, but I will also be a part of the university with its beautiful buildings, ancient traditions and thought leadership across a wide range of disciplines. It seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2020?
I’m really passionate about making business better. If we can find ways to help businesses make a better impact on our society and our environment, in a way that is beneficial to the bottom line, we can make big changes. Working on passion-projects gives me the energy I need to affect change.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I took three months off before the MBA in order to travel East Africa and get some fresh inspiration! I’m writing these responses from a little beachside café in Paje, Zanzibar.
Post-MBA career interests?
I’m deliberately trying to keep my mind open to opportunities that might arise, but right now I see myself heading into the business-strategy-meets-sustainability space.
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Apply for Round 1 if possible. It gave me the time needed to apply to scholarships and give myself a bit of breathing space when things were finally locked in.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
Have good WIFI connections before Skype interviews! This was hard for me to get right because of the time differences. I would also make the most of the opportunities offered to speak to current students. I was a bit late to the party doing this but found it really valuable when I did.
–Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
For me it was the financial stresses trying to balance school offers and scholarship offers. I’m earlier on in my career than most MBA candidates so I needed some scholarships in order to be able to justify the cost. I struggled knowing how to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to one school by their deadline when I was still waiting to hear from other schools and scholarships. I did the best I could and most programmes let me extend the confirmation deadline until I had the extra information, but it was pretty stressful!
What is your initial impression of Cambridge Judge’s students/culture/community?
We start the programme in a month, but we have already started linking up online. Everyone seems really enthusiastic and positive, and come from a real variety of backgrounds. I can’t wait to meet everyone. I think it was the diversity of the class, and the opportunity to get involved in the wider university community that drew me to Cambridge Judge.
One thing you have learned about Cambridge Judge that has surprised you?
Initially I was surprised to learn that the programme was only 1 year–the shortest I’ve come across. This was actually quite appealing as it’s easier to take 1 year out of work than it is 2 years.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Sometimes I find myself psyching myself out–everyone will be smarter than me / more advanced in their careers than me / I’ll find the academic vs. social balance hard to achieve, etc. Then I remember everyone will be having similar thoughts and the beauty of this course is that we are all different and will have different strengths.
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Getting involved in the things that make Cambridge unique–candlelit Formal Hall dinners in gowns, May Balls, the boat race, the architecture all around the city. I can’t wait for my parents and grandparents to visit and to be able to show them around!