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Celebrating our graduating students: Bronwyn Nichol

By Rachel Harper

Bronwyn graduated last week as a member of our EMBA Global Asia 2017 class. Whilst on the course, she gave birth to twin girls. We asked her about her LBS highlights and balancing her studies and parenthood.

Congratulations on your graduation last week – what drew you to LBS and the EMBA Global course?

Thank you, I was very proud to be at congregation with so many remarkable people.

I had intended to do an MBA for several years and LBS was my first choice based on the school's excellent reputation of academics and network. At the time I applied I was on a successful career track and wanted to enhance my career while maintaining my network in my company, so an executive Programme fitted best. 

I became interested in the Global EMBA Programme specifically when a colleague did the Americas and Europe (A&E) Programme some years earlier and I attended one of the social events. The calibre of the people I met was of such a high level I knew that evening this is the cohort I want to be part of! 

Just as I was about to start my husband was transferred to Hong Kong but the Global Asia EMBA Programme had already launched and I was able to finally start my EMBA journey in 2015.

What have been the highlights of your time at LBS?

Firstly, the quality of the teaching and the professors themselves.  We were always in good hands with our LBS professors and the classes flowed, learning didn't seem a chore,  and I felt there was rich learning in each class sitting. 

Then secondly the campus itself has a great vibe, and I really looked forward to my class weeks on campus in London. Thirdly the range of electives offered by LBS were noteworthy, and definitely gave a fuller EMBA experience. 

Further congratulations on the arrival of your twins. When were they born?

Thank you! They were born July 2015, eight weeks early. So yes, I was six months pregnant when I started the Programme in May 2015. I was so determined to do my studies after some years of postponement for various reasons, that even twins didn't deter my motivation. I did not want the story I told my daughters one day to be that Mommy gave up on her dreams because of them, I wanted my story to be that it was because of them that Mommy was so motivated to set a good example of what can be achieved with the right support and personal resilience. 

What sort of impact did they make on your studies?

Personally, I always had energy and motivation for my studies. Somehow the energy needed to care for babies was different to school work, and I managed my goal of two hours of studies a day. I often say to people that my EMBA school work kept me balanced and grounded, and saved my sanity. 

The class weeks each month were brilliant, there was a hotel already booked by the School, everything was arranged beautifully, we just had to show up. I called those weeks my 'spa retreat' weeks and since I get a lot of energy from being around high calibre people, I left charged up ready to go for the next three weeks. I have no idea how I personally would have made it through the past two years otherwise. 

Also let me not forgot to mention this was all possible because of three key people: I have a very supportive husband who encouraged me all the way; I live in Hong Kong so was able to hire a live in nanny; and my mom was able to fly over to help for some of the weeks. 

The other part of the answer to your question is the impact to my classmates. 

Before our class even met in person I initiated a call with my temporary study group to work on a presentation we needed to deliver in our first week. The group had no idea I was pregnant until we meet in person, and I think that set the tone for the rest of the programme - we all carried on with our study work, there was some conversation about how things were going at home, but mostly it was business as usual which is how I liked it. As said before, it was these class weeks that keep me balanced and able to combine my career, studies and fully embrace motherhood. 

What are your future plans?

In January I joined a Norwegian startup as Director of Strategy, working virtually from Hong Kong. I'm loving the change from working for a large multinational company to a place where I can directly see the results of my contribution. From the EMBA I have greater confidence to try new things related to business development that I never would have imagined doing before my studies and I am taking more risks. As a bonus, topics like cash flow statements and marketing plans are easily discussed since the CEO is the aforementioned colleague who did the Global A&E Programme.

Do you have any advice for parents that have young children and are considering studying at LBS?

Definitely don't let children be an obstacle. But be realistic about the support you will need and have available. Plan ahead of time to get your support structure in place. 

Personally I have found it harder to split my time as the children have grown older since they seek more attention, so the earlier the better!  

Thanks Bronwyn - and best wishes to you and your family for the future.