When Craig O’Boyle embarked on his EMBA-Global journey, he already had his career path clearly planned out. “I knew where I was heading. I was focused on that all-important path to the C-suite, and on developing my ability to help shape a business. But I was concerned about future-proofing myself, ensuring that I would be a commercially-literate, data-driven CMO – and one that was able to make the move to COO. In a competitive market, EMBA was my way of differentiating myself.”
Looking to combine the best of European and US expertise, Craig says: “I wasn’t willing to negotiate on the programme I wanted, so I only applied to one. For me, the EMBA-Global at London Business School and Columbia was a match made in heaven.” He found the global cohort offered by two top business schools particularly inspiring. “I’ve never been so humbled as the first day of class, listening to the backgrounds of my 68 classmates. There were industry leaders who ran their own multimillion dollar companies and family offices, leading financial executives, entrepreneurs, private equity professionals – every type of successful business leader you can imagine.”
Craig split his study between London and New York, but says that studying in London – his home for many years – took his relationship with the city to a whole new level. “The quality of the faculty, campus and guest speakers meant that our learning curriculum was incredibly varied. Equally importantly, we always had plenty of evening and weekend plans to get to know each other socially as a class. This helped create some of the life-long friendships that I now enjoy.”
These relationships are clearly important to Craig, both at a personal and a professional level. “I met people who now inspire me every day. They’re part of my global network, people who I can count on to be there with me on my career journey. I count some of my best friends amongst the EMBA class group – we are separated by continents and oceans, yet we speak every day.” And the benefits don’t stop there. “I regularly reach out to, and bounce ideas off alumni from both Columbia and LBS. I’ve also retained a great relationship with many of the professors.” Craig cites Richard Jolly, Lynda Gratton and Costas Markides as three of his favourite LBS faculty. “Executive leadership, organisational behaviour, strategic agility – these were great skills brought to life by professors who put practical industry knowledge at the forefront of their teaching.”
Craig says that EMBA-Global helped him decide to transition from a global marketing role at the world’s biggest interactive entertainment company, to lead international client strategy for the Entertainment & Media sector at Google. “The programme armed me with the skills and confidence to make the move and gave me a great grounding in broader areas of finance, economics and business – skills that you need as a leader at a multibillion dollar global business.
“Everyone leaves EMBA-Global knowing more about the world, better able to hear other people’s viewpoints, and with a new mindset. I learnt to question a lot – about the industry I’m in, and how I might succeed in the future – and listen to the answers.” And to make the most of EMBA-Global, some of the best clichés hold true. “Be willing to go with the flow, and invest time in building a network outside of the classroom,” says Craig. “You get out what you put in. It isn’t a programme for the faint hearted and your two years will go by in a blur. But the investment is worth it x10 – what you ultimately get back will pay you dividends for the rest of your life.”