Full-time MBA, 2009
Country of origin: UK
Employer: Yusen Logistics (Americas) Inc
Nick and his wife Soojin Pak did the Lancaster MBA together, coming to the UK from Shanghai, where Nick was working for the Japanese global logistics and shipping company NYK.
Before joining the Lancaster MBA I was a deputy general manager within NYK’s Logistics and NYK Line in Shanghai. I was responsible for managing international and domestic logistics operations but also for sales and business development. We had large global contracts with companies such as Ikea and Nike so my role as a global account manager also entailed managing such relationships.
I had been doing an MBA with the Open University when our son was born, and had already acquired a management diploma, which gave me a good insight into the MBA. But it is quite difficult balancing distance learning study with work, especially when you are an ex-pat. As both Soojin and I had a desire to do an MBA, we felt the timing was perfect for coming to the UK. I was given a year’s sabbatical from work, so we felt it was ‘now or never’.
Trawling through the rankings of the various universities, I was initially quite surprised at Lancaster’s high ranking, but its good research rating and its well renowned business school made it very attractive. Then its location and especially the fact that it was a campus university, with family accommodation and a creche available – all those factors really pushed it up to the top of the list in the UK. It was ideal for our particular situation.
The Lancaster MBA gives you the tools and discipline to analyse the context that you are in, and I have found that really useful. The courses we took on organisational behaviour and marketing and operations have been especially helpful to me in my current position.
My first role after the MBA was as Director of Art Transport for Christie's UK – part of the world’s largest art business and auction house. I had a team of about 20 people, in three different locations, including two London salesrooms.
The auction business is very much service to its core: our clients were some of the richest people in the world, and hence highly demanding. Naturally, as an auction business we did not own the property but have to ensure that it is transported safely, compliantly and economically at all stages – whether it is being brought in for sale, going out for valuation or restoration, moving between global sales locations, touring, being sent on to the buyer after a sale or returned to a seller. That involved dealing with a lot of air freight, tax and customs compliance issues, much of which is pretty unique to the art world and hence relatively new to me.
As I was looking after a profit centre, it was like running a mini business. I was not only running the operation but I was also responsible for its commercial health. Having the applied marketing and strategy knowledge from the MBA has really helped me to understand what it is I was trying to sell, who my real clients were, and what the values were. Operations management knowledge is also fundamental to the business.
More importantly I have found that organisational behaviour – looking at aspects of culture, structure and motivation – is extremely valuable when you move into a new organisation. You can quickly analyse it, and work out who’s who, how the organisation works, and what the culture of the organisation is like. At Christie's the culture was very much one of consensus and pragmatic management, which feels very attuned to the approach of the Lancaster MBA. I have since made another career move to Yusen Logistics and am now located in California.
Read more about Nick and Soojin's experiences of studying together for an MBA and living on campus with their young son.