Did you know? An MBA can be personalised to the needs of your business

01 May 2018 -

Andrew and Rory DuffMore and more entrepreneurial business leaders, such as Anglia Ruskin University alumnus Andrew Duff, are drawn to MBAs that they can adapt to their company’s specific needs


In the 1890s, Andrew Duff’s great-grandfather travelled regularly to Chicago to buy cattle and ship them back live to Glasgow. This was in the days before refrigeration, when the only meat available during the winter months was salted. Records tell us that Peter Duff crossed the Atlantic 17 times in one year, travelling alongside his cattle to make sure they were properly looked after.

Three generations later, and after completing an MBA at Anglia Ruskin University’s (ARU’s) Lord Ashcroft International Business School in Cambridge, great-grandson Andrew has returned the family firm, Macduff, to the business of exporting – this time to Belgium.

Headquartered in Wishaw, near Glasgow, Macduff supplies top-notch beef and lamb, sourced from quality-assured farms, to some of the best butchers and caterers in the UK, and now continental Europe.

“The MBA gave me a great foundation to enter the family firm, as I could link so many of the modules to the business,” says Duff, who is now director of the meat wholesale business. After studying history at Leeds, he worked in recruitment in London for three years before deciding to embark on an MBA in 2014. One of the attractions of the programme at ARU’s business school was its strong focus on practical assessments.

“All the projects and assessments could be based on my family business,” explains Duff. “That meant I was able to interview staff members, speak to farmers and customers, and include all that in my work.”

Dr Elisa Alt, course leader of the MBA, says this focus on practical assessments with a strong theoretical underpinning “gives students the opportunity to work on assignments that are directly relevant to their industry and the company they work in”. The MBA can be taken full-time over 12 or 15 months.

The MBA seeks to equip students with the specific professional abilities that were highlighted in CMI’s recent 21st Century Leaders report: taking responsibility, people-management skills, honesty and ethics, problem-solving and critical analysis, and collaboration and team-working. It achieves this through active and team-based learning, with live case studies and research projects.

The MBA also has a strong entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial emphasis. Many students, like Duff, go back to run a family business, start their own firm or make a change in their career. “They come to us to explore, gain a 360-degree view of business, and develop the confidence and skills to take their careers to the next level,” says Alt.

The MBA at ARU is dual-accredited by CMI and mapped against its Level 7 Award in Strategic Management and Leadership. “The CMI accreditation is a sign of quality and means students gain another important qualification, as well as membership of CMI and access to its resources, mentorship and events,” says Alt.

Duff’s mission is to make Macduff the “Rolls-Royce of Scottish beef”, using the connectivity of the internet and social media. Thanks to what he learnt on the marketing and strategy modules of the MBA, Macduff now has a social media presence, a new website and a refreshed brand, Macduff 1890, to emphasise the firm’s heritage.

“There’s growing demand in the UK for a well-sourced, quality, top-end product, which people are willing to pay a bit extra for,” says Duff. Results bear him out: his firm’s turnover has increased and its customer base has expanded in the past two years.

To find out more about the MBA at the Lord Ashcroft International Business School and the modes of study, visit www.anglia.ac.uk/lord-ashcroft-international-business-school and start following the business school on Twitter: @ARU_BusinessSch

This article was produced in association with the Lord Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University

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