Mark Young

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General Manager Finance and Corporate Resources

General Manager, Finance and Corporate Resources

Toyota

Motivation for MBA

After over a decade with Toyota and having worked his way up through the ranks of the company, Mark felt it was time for an external perspective so he decided to apply for a Massey Executive MBA.

“I got to the point in myself where I felt like I needed to do something,” says Mark. Throughout his working life, he had been learning the “Toyota way” of doing things and wanted to see how that compared with best practice. It was also important for Mark to go and learn new information and add value by bringing fresh ideas back to the team.

Experience of programme

Although Toyota was extremely generous with time off for exams and study leave, Mark still juggled a full weeks’ work around assignments and study. Between work, study and the demands of two small children, life was pretty hectic for the 25 months of the programme. Mark coped by developing a support network, which comprised of his immediate supervisor at work, Massey staff and his family. He was careful to keep everyone informed and involved every step of the way. As the second year involves travelling to different locations around New Zealand, Mark made arrangements to take his young family with him whenever possible.

“I needed their support. It really helped me having my family with me. I got through this by involving other people to support me.”

Putting so much energy into the programme meant that something else had to give, for Mark that meant socialising and sometimes even sleep.

“Basically I didn’t do much else for the two years but it was so completely worth it. The MBA teaches you how to manage your time and that every minute counts, I have a very different approach to allocating my time now.”

“There is never a good time to do your MBA, if you are waiting for the right time it will never happen. There are always barriers, if you want to do it, just go ahead and do it.”

The first year is very functional and the second is far more strategic.

“In the first year they give you the pieces of the puzzle and in the second you put them all together.”

As part of the tour Mark travelled to a ‘Creative Factory’ in Rotterdam, an automotive University in Stuttgart and ‘Food Valley’ in The Netherlands, which is a profitable business built around a University.

“It was an incredible experience all round, just to see what is happening overseas and to think how we could apply some of those concepts to New Zealand.”

Benefits

Although he doesn’t consider himself naturally bright, Mark was determined to get the most out of the course and worked as hard as could on every paper and assignment.  The final result of a distinction with ten A+ grades, is evidence of all his hard work. Not all his fellow classmates had the same approach to the work and this sometimes caused friction in the group assignments.

“I learned how to collaborate successfully with other people. Initially I was frustrated by the group work but by the end I chose it over working alone. Over the period of the 25 months I identified things in my own behaviour that needed to change, things that help me to get the best out of other people. In that respect it has been invaluable.”

“Confidence levels just increased exponentially as time went on, people who struggled to say their name at the start were giving ten minute speeches off the cuff by the end. It was really amazing to see that.”

While there is nothing stopping anyone buying a text book to learn business theory, Mark believes that it is the environment of the course that makes it special. “Working closely with a group of people in the same situation is so energising, you are under constant pressure and often thrown in at the deep end, we all had to help each other.”

Mark believes that the programme has changed the way he thinks and how he reacts.

“When you come out of an MBA you can think on your feet.”

The business models and theories Mark learned about on the course inspired him to make changes within Toyota.

“I had the confidence to apply these models to the way Toyota approached projects. The results were dramatic and we do things quite differently now. It was great to see some tangible benefits to the company as a direct result of doing my MBA."

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