Tom Hyner

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

I still find the skills I picked up during my MBA are useful day-to-day.

Why did you choose to study at Kent Business School? 

I was fortunate to receive support for my MBA from my employer at the time who recognised the value that an MBA qualification brings. This gave me several options but Kent stood out for three main reasons. First, the research and student outcomes of the School; second, its accreditation and recognition from MBA bodies; and third, accessibility and the course and location’s ability to fit around my work pattern.

Please share some of your favourite memories, achievements, and experiences? 

My fondest memories are of the people I met and the opportunities the course offered for group working – even when this involved staying late working on excel models. I was part of an executive MBA cohort and the project assignments gave me the opportunity not only to embed my learning from the lectures and study, but also to share work experiences and insights with different members of my class. I developed some strong friendships on the course as a result and have stayed in touch with quite a few people.

What have you been up to since graduating?

Since graduating I’ve moved between the public and private sector, but always continued to work in commercial management. These moves were enabled by the range of skills and knowledge I acquired during my MBA. In 2016, I joined the newly formed Department for International Trade, which was establishing a new commercial function. I’ve been here ever since building and then leading the commercial team.

What does your role involve? What do you enjoy and what are the most challenging aspects?

I’m a senior civil servant within the Government Commercial Function – a specialised team of commercial professionals within the Cabinet Office who are deployed into government departments to lead their commercial activity. In my current role I lead the commercial team, which delivers procurement, grant making, contract management and government-to-government commercial support in the Department for International Trade. I’m really proud of what my team has achieved since 2016 while also creating a high performing, diverse and inclusive place to work.

For me the biggest challenge of the role, as well as the biggest benefit, is the enormous variety of projects I’m involved in. In addition to leading the commercial team, I am involved in the delivery of strategic projects that are directly helping to grow UK trade, investment and business, delivering real world impacts. It’s really motivating to see how your work impacts people’s lives!

How do you apply the knowledge and skills you gained during your studies in your job, and what career advice would you give students and fellow alumni? 

When I worked in management consultancy we talked a lot about the ‘T’ shape consultant – meaning someone with a broad knowledge base who can engage meaningfully on a range of topics but supported by an in-depth specialism. Having an MBA gives you this ‘T’ shape by providing a strong understanding of business strategy outside of your normal specialism. Although I graduated a few years ago I am still finding the skills I picked up during my MBA are useful day-to-day, such as on strategic human resource management, financial accounting and business modelling which are outside my ‘core’ supply and sourcing expertise.

What are your future plans / aspirations? 

I’ve always had a preference for working on public sector issues (even when in the private sector) as I’m drawn to the tangible impacts of the work, the sense of public service and the enormous challenge and diversity of the projects you can be involved in. I hope this will continue to feature in my future career but I definitely see my long-term future as continuing to be a part of the commercial profession and working on sourcing and contract management issues.

What advice would you give to current students doing your course? 

I am periodically asked what advice I’d give to colleagues considering taking a part-time MBA and the answer is always the same – get organised. It is enormously challenging to do justice to the demands of the course alongside a full-time job so focusing on how you’re using your time is essential if you want to do well at either. I’d definitely recommend that you separate your work and study time, try and avoid last minute all-nighters and enjoy the ride.