MBA Alumni: Joe Cook

1. What were your reasons for choosing the Executive MBA and why now at this stage of your career?

As a senior director at Cargill Plc, I am privileged to serve on the business leadership teams of our food and agriculture divisions. Senior leadership positions require comprehensive knowledge that extends beyond any given specialism. I enrolled in the Executive MBA at UEA to acquire new skills and expertise – specifically in finance, operations, and strategy – and to become a better leader and teammate.

The Executive MBA is vital for long-term career growth. It provides the skills, knowledge and confidence to explore new opportunities and develop into the leaders we want to be.


2. How has the Executive MBA so far improved your leadership skills and what positive impact is it having on your organisation?

Every module of the Executive MBA is a value-add – both for my employee and me. The course assignments present an opportunity to research and apply learnings to the company in real-time, whether improving operations processes, assessing the effectiveness of a diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, or forecasting a project’s financial return. I also draw on a newfound breadth of knowledge, which helps me to spot-coach my team and contribute to business-wide decisions.


3. Have any modules in particular impacted your role and driven significant change as to how your organisation (and/or sector) does things?

The operations management and finance and accounting modules profoundly impacted how we operate our global department.

  • Operations management: We used several academic models to assess the performance of our global team. We identified several pain points impeding the department’s efficiency and effectiveness and developed recommendations for change, including resource management and investments.

  • Finance (Capital Investments): We applied capital investment models to assess our project portfolio. Previously, some function-led projects lacked rigour, which led to poor decision-making. Finance approved a $1.5 million capital spending because we demonstrated a favourable return on investment.