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Volunteering and the MBA: two pathways converging

By Marc Jordan - Posted on 16 September 2021

As lockdown descended on the UK last March, MBA student Marc Jordan felt compelled to help and volunteered in the care sector. Here, he talks about his motivations and completing his MBA studies at the same time. 

When I was a young boy, every other Saturday my mother would take me to “help” in a care home for individuals with severe learning disabilities. Here I would spend hours playing board games, completing puzzles, and watching TV with these gentlemen, oblivious to the real work going on in the background. The selfless nature of those members of staff who volunteered to support these gentlemen has always stayed with me, as have the memories of trying to help my mother and make her proud. 

In 2019 I was once again surrounded by the most incredible volunteers, this time in a palliative care hospice. After 18 months of bravely battling oesophageal cancer, my mother lost her battle and left behind a heartbroken family. The kindness and generosity my family received from these volunteers will always stay with me and inspired me to one day try and give something back. 

On the 23rd of March 2020 as the UK government placed the nation into lockdown it became increasingly apparent that the care sector was under severe pressure. While millions around the country were paid to stay at home and stay safe, I felt the need to try and help those with no choice but to go out to work and who others depended on. At the same time as I applied to work in the care sector I decided to pivot my future career and apply for the MBA. I’m glad to say that throughout the MBA I have been able to maintain my affiliation with the care sector. Due to the demands of the full-time course, I have only been able to commit a few hours each week but having this additional responsibility enabled me to try and help, whilst taking my mind off finance, strategy, or another pressing assignment. 

The care work couldn’t have been more different to working alongside the operating board in my previous position. My previous role consisted of leading the retail division for a British retailer with stores across the globe. Despite the challenges facing the high street I loved the role, and in particular the opportunity to transform poor performing areas of the business and help support the most inspirational future leaders. When Covid arrived it quickly became apparent that retail across the UK would never be the same again and that it was time to consider adjusting my career into one with a more strategic outlook. This is where Strathclyde entered my thinking. Not only does Strathclyde have a formidable reputation as an exceptional business school but it has also crafted the MBA programme around the strategic skills I desperately wanted to develop. 

The full-time MBA has been both demanding and rewarding in equal measures and I would recommend the programme to anyone looking to pivot their career or compartmentalise their business knowledge. Each module explores a different aspect of running a business and encourages students to share their extensive experience to encourage group learning as well as the core course content. Despite the well-documented challenges of working entirely over Zoom, I have had the privilege of studying alongside some exceptionally talented individuals. As part of a small cohort, I have been able to watch these individuals, who I am fortunate enough to now call my friends, develop as leaders and people over the year. 

Since completing the MBA I have taken on a fixed-term contract as a business transformation consultant with a manufacturing company in Birmingham. Working for a dynamic company has already brought into practice a lot of the skills developed on the MBA journey. I have also accepted a permanent role and will be moving to London for this in the new year. 

Over the last 18 months, I feel I have developed exponentially as a person. The work in the care sector allowed me to see first-hand the emotional strain placed upon those desperately trying to keep our loved ones safe, whilst also taking me well and truly outside my comfort zone. At the same time, the MBA provided the safe space required to grow as a leader and realign my future path. For me, the MBA is an unscripted journey of development, and to those just setting off… Enjoy it! 

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