Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy at the London Business School – An interview with Mathew Iype: Part 1
Mathew Iype has followed in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest business leaders in becoming a graduate of the Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy from London Business School. A former business manager and product leader at Apple, Mathew decided to relocate to London from Montreal to join the 2020 program which was due to start in January. He did so with the help of a Lendwise loan and like most of the world at that time, was oblivious to the impending global pandemic.
In the first of this two-part interview, we hear from Mathew about what motivated him to uproot his family and move to the UK to become a Sloan Fellow, and how Covid-19 impacted life at London Business School.
Q: Why did you decide to apply to the Sloan Masters Program at London Business School?
I was working at Apple and had been there for about eight years, firstly as a B2B business manager and then as an iPhone product leader. It was a very profound period of my career and I had been involved in launching over 40 or 50 products. But when you’ve been in the same environment for some time you do need to find opportunities to pause and reflect. My mentor at the time called into question whether or not I was pushing the boundaries of my career and that was really the start of the process, which culminated in me applying to the program.
Q: Was the decision to leave your job at Apple and relocate to London a difficult one to make?
Applying for the program was a brave thing to do because I had a brilliant career with a lot of benefits, and I was giving it all up to invest in my education. But I recognised that I was very comfortable in the position I was in at Apple and this notion that I was, to some extent, coasting didn’t sit well with me.
The Sloan Masters Program was such a draw because of the calibre of people who have been through it. If you Google their names, you see so many great leaders who are the benchmark in their respective fields, such as Allan Mulally, who was the president and CEO of Ford Motor Co., Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations, Carly Fiorina, a CEO of Hewlett Packard, the list goes on and on. The interview process was also a great experience and it showed me how much I still had to learn about business strategy.
I had to uproot my family to embark on this 12-month journey and my wife gave up her career so that I could take this leap of faith, so it was a big sacrifice.
Q: Did you view it purely as a leap of faith or was it part of a bigger, career development plan?
I was confident that the experience I had would stand me in good stead wherever I went, but I wanted to see whether I had enough to succeed as a global business leader. I wanted to expand my horizons and avoid boxing myself into one particular role, company or career. The option to transition into Europe, Singapore or India and I saw London Business School as a great stepping-stone towards achieving that.
Having said that, it was somewhat of a gamble, challenging myself by thinking I could be doing more than I am doing today. What would happen if I invested in myself through this really great institution? Ultimately, it’s going to broaden your thinking and introduce you to some amazing people who are from completely opposite environments to the one you’ve been in. That’s how I structured my thoughts, so I guess it still represents a leap of faith.
Q: How did the Sloan Masters program compare to your expectations and how did the pandemic impact your experience?
Before the Sloan Masters program began, my wife became pregnant with our second child so there was a lot of uncertainty and pressure about moving to a new country. The pandemic then struck so all of a sudden there was a lot to manage. I worried about what would happen to the program. I thought I’ve spent all this money to do this, how is it going to pan out?
But London Business School went above and beyond to ensure we didn’t miss out. They booked online masterclasses with professors we wouldn’t have otherwise got to meet, and they found smart ways to connect us with thought leaders either remotely or in small groups in class. Sir Andrew Likierman, the previous Dean of London Business School, gave us an advance sight of a new publication from Harvard Business School, presenting it to us in one of the lecture halls.
I don’t think our overall experience was diminished but it did mean we missed out on the chance to travel to a city to learn about a specific challenge it is facing or a transformation it is undergoing, which is normally a real highlight of the program. However, looking back, I think the pandemic brought all of us on the course closer together as we created really tight-knit bonds through study groups and other shared experiences.
Q: Where did you hear about Lendwise and how did they help you?
I first heard about Lendwise via the London Business School website. My original plan was to use a bank loan to fund the course as I didn’t want any from investments or savings because I thought what if something happens, like a global pandemic? I had a lot going on, I had to sell my home in Canada, finalise my taxes, close several accounts, prepare for the program and organise funding. These tasks were all a bit of a headache but the experience with Lendwise from start to finish was, what we call in the business world, frictionless. All the communication was soft touch, really supportive, and extremely clear and they were very patient with me as I got to grips with setting up a UK bank account and organising my finances.
Lendwise enabled me to retain all my life savings, and my financial security and gave me a runway to focus on my education without the need to think about repayments until I had completed the course. Lendwise is a great business and what has also really stood out to me is that they are purpose-driven, they care deeply about solving a problem by enabling people to pursue all their academic aspirations and ambitions. I am very grateful for their support and I would recommend it to anyone.
To read the rest of Mathew Interview’s interview and find out what direction he took after graduating, and what his future career ambitions are, please click below.