Why I Decided To Do An MBA At Cass Business School

Arif Harbott
Arif Harbott

I started my MBA recently at Cass Business School and already I have met some really great people and I really feel I have made the right decision choosing Cass.

This post is quick summary of why I chose to do an MBA and why I chose Cass.

Why do an MBA?

I have wanted to do an MBA for a long time, it has been on list of goals for a few years so this year I decided to go for it.

Everyone’s reasons for doing an MBA are different but here are my reasons:

  • Develop a breadth of knowledge – to plug some gaps in my knowledge such as marketing, HR, statistics etc
  • To build my network – having access to and networking with the alumni
  • The fun of learning – I love learning and challenging my brain
  • Opportunities – getting access to companies and insights from business leaders
  • Build my professional value – having a qualification such as an MBA increases your value in the job market

Why did I choose Cass?

My criteria for a business school was:

  • Must be in London (or very close to it)
  • Must have a very good brand (top 10 university)
  • Evening based learning (not day release)
  • Strong Alumni
  • Value for money

There are not that many business schools in London so at first I narrowed the search down to:

  • Imperial business school
  • London Business School
  • Cass (City University)

I discounted London Business School as the fees are much higher than the rest due to it’s premium reputation. In the end I applied to Cass and Imperial. The decider for me when choosing Cass was the quality of the research, the size and quality of the alumni and a gut feel that I got from visiting both universities. The other really important factor was that a lot of the lecturers have been in industry and are not all purely academic.

Two weeks into my induction at Cass and I am totally certain that I made the right decision, the quality of my classmates is superb and the quality of the lecturers has been first rate.

Why I Decided To Do An MBA At Cass Business School

25 thoughts on “Why I Decided To Do An MBA At Cass Business School

  1. Hi,
    I have an offer from Cass but I am not sure if this is the best business school. So I am looking to apply to some more schools. My concern with Cass is that is has a reputation of being a finance oriented school and I am not sure if its as international recognised as Cambridge, Oxford or LBS

    I will really help your comment on the above.

    1. I am obviously biased as I am at Cass already! You are right that Cass is not as recognised as Cambridge, Oxford or LBS. BUT I live in London so Cambridge and Oxford are too far for me to travel. LBS is obviously the best business school however for me it was more expensive and the culture did not fit with me. Cass does have a reputation for finance however the core modules and electives do not reflect that. Personally I am not interested in finance my passion is technology and strategy and so far Cass have been very strong on these.

      If you have the money and the culture fits with you then LBS is the best choice but if you want a more friendly, inclusive culture then Cass is a strong contender.

  2. Hi,

    You mention your passion is technology and strategy, which I share with the addition of social entrepreneurship. I cannot decide between Cass and Oxford, and perhaps you could help me with one specific point. In Oxford, I know I will have the chance to network across programs, and thus meet people from the sciences and other groups who are also in the top of their educational fields. How do you feel about the networking opportunities at Cass, outside of other MBA candidates and similar business orientated people?



    1. The opportunities to network at Cass are quite good, because the MBA and Msc students are in close proximity. There are regular networking events as well (probably one per month) where lots of different disciplines get together. However there is no formal process for networking and it is usually down to a core group of students to organise events. Hopefully that helps, but please feel free let me know if you have any other questions.

  3. Cass is very well known for finance, but is it connected to help you to get a job in the very difficult london financial sector. Are there many ex cass in good positions? I haven t seen so much on a linkedin quick search (in comparison with stronger schools?)
    and how does it fit for entrepreuneurship? are there entrepreunerus in your class? or are there current students planning to start their company just after the MBA?
    tks for your blog!

    1. Hi Nic. Thanks for your comment. Personally I don’t think any MBA school will help you get a job, they may give you some skills to improve your chances but I have not heard of anyone getting a job directly from their school. I think you need to pick your MBA school based on three things; quality of lecturers, quality of students, quality of the brand. Unless you want a very specific job then just having an MBA from a top 10 school should be more than sufficient when you are interviewing for a job.

      With regards to entrepreneurship there are several people in my class who have their own company (myself included). I also know of at least three people who have been inspired to start their own company after the MBA. There are some good electives on new venture creation and business start-ups as well as an entrepreneurship society and incubator within Cass.

      I hope this helps and if you have any other questions, please let me know.

  4. A.o.A Arif,

    Appreciate if you can provide an overview on EMBA from CASS – Dubai.

    Secondly, is it possible to be contact via e mail?

    Thanks & regards,

    1. Hi Mudassir. Actually I don’t know that much about the Dubai EMBA, I do know that a few of the London lecturers have classes in Dubai and I am planning to do an elective in Dubai later in the year. After my Dubai elective I can give you a better idea. I will email you separately with my my contact information.

  5. Hey guys, thanks for your helpful comments. I have been offered also a position for the EMBA at CASS and Imperial.
    Arif, agree with most of your comments. I have also a couple of comments to make:
    CASS offered me a position and you immediately get the impression from the offer email, that CASS all is interested in getting my money, Offer email was one line with congratulations and two paragraphs talking for payment plans and how to make the deposit as soon as possible to secure my place.
    Imperial on the other hand offered me the position, and immediately directed me to their career dev. advisor (regardless if i accept it or not), links to their on line modules and no mentioning about fees at all.
    This tells me something…
    I know that CASS is more recognized in the City and thats the only reason i consider CASS seriously but i think in terms of overall course organizement, facilities, quality of services, Imperial seems better investment.
    Having said this i am not sure whether these should be driving factors to decide for an EMBA…
    What is your view please? Thanks, B

    1. Hi Bruce. I don’t really know that much about Imperial other than the application process that I went through. I think I will defer to my earlier comment; if you had an MBA from Cass or from Imperial it really will make little difference to your employer, the fact that you have an MBA from a top 10 school is enough. That being said of course I will say that Cass is better than Imperial ;o). You get out of an MBA what you put into it, Cass (like all other universities) has a top notch career advisory service and as part of the MBA it is compulsory to attend a large choice of professional development courses such as: advanced presentation, interview skills, negotiation, networking, personal impact etc.

  6. Hi

    I have an offer from Cass. made my decision to apply there because they are strong in Finance and well ranked.

    I initially wanted to stay in UK to work, post MBA. But with the new rules surrounding visas, this may not come to fruition. I’m a bit concerned about Cass business school reputation to South-East Asia if I am indeed forced to return. The more I ask around about Cass, the more blank looks I seem to get. (I come from Singapore)

    Did you have many classmates from SE Asia? If so, from you interactions with them, are you able to make any comment on my dilemma?


    1. Damian, I do have some classmates from SE Asia and I know that Cass has started a new partnership in Singapore: http://www.cass.city.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2011/june/cass-enters-new-partnership-with-singapore-management-university. A couple of my friends recently did an elective in Singapore and said it was superb. I understand that Cass is increasing looking to develop more global partnerships like the relationships it has in Dubai. I imagine they are looking to develop a global MBA programme and finding the right partner universities is the first step.

      My own personal opinion as I have stated previously is that an MBA from any “good” university is enough to get you past the CV screens when you apply for jobs. On paper the MBA is will only help you; increase your chance of getting an interview or increase your chance of promotion. Once you have a job it is all about what you have personally learned from the MBA not the badge of the school you went to (except in a few exceptions).

      Obviously you need to be mindful of the university brand but don’t forget you are going to spend an intense amount of time on the MBA and you need to pick a university with a good cultural fit to your own, otherwise it will be a very painful experience.

  7. Hi Arif,

    I enjoyed reading your posts. Just a quick question: the EMBA tuition fee is £42K at Cass – how much do you think I would need to cover other expenses ( internarional consultancy, books, etc)? I will probably accept an offer from Cass and start in September. Thanks

    1. Hi Justo. Books are included for the core modules and the library is excellent so I spent very little on books. If you budget an additional £3-4k you should be more than fine. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  8. Thank you Arif.

    Is it £3-4k for the two year programme?

    My background:

    Spanish, 35 years old
    BA (hons) Business Studies with Finance 2.1(graduated in 2002)

    Work experience:

    EBRD – London- Analyst (2000-2004)
    Investment Fund -London- FX trader / Client Relations (2004-March 2012)

    I am considering new opportunities in other industries. Please let me know if you have met many people with similar background at Cass. Also, what’s your impression of the careers services at Cass. Thank you for your assistance.

  9. Hi Arif,

    I have been in touch with Cass enquiring about their eMBA (weekend course). My only question is that I have noticed a lot of people who study for an MBA have a large amount of work experience. I have around 4.5 years work experience primarily from a technology consulting background. I am looking to build my skills to the next level and I am hungry to learn and move forward in my career and I think this would be the best move forward for me. Would this MBA add value do you think for someone with my background? I too am interested in the Strategy, Technology and Consulting environment. Many thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Mustafa, honestly only you can answer that. For me personally I think that doing an MBA in my early 30s was the right thing to do, earlier on in my career I was still learning a lot without the structured MBA learning. An MBA will always add value to your career however with such a huge time and financial investment you want to maximise your returns.

  10. Dear Arif,
    Thanks for your sharing. I have a Cass MBA offer but am worried that if my 3yr work ex (in the army, bank, and accouting firm) cannot help me participate well in class discussion. My senior graduated from Cass MSc QF said it’s hard for me to build up the network since I am less experienced… what if that makes me fail to graduate?! I believe an MBA will progress my career faster but after all profession matters right? Or maybe I should pursue a finance-related MSc?

    1. Solarian, if you have that much doubt then perhaps an MBA is not the right thing for you. First of all try and work out why you want to do an MBA, for me it was not about career progression it was more about curiosity and an appetite for structured learning. If you want to do an MBA to help your career then look at some of the leaders in your company to see what their career path and academic history has been to see if you can spot any patterns. An MBA is a lot of money, time and commitment so in my opinion it pays to think long and hard before you sign on the dotted line.

  11. Hello Arif,
    First of all thanks for posting this useful information.
    1) I’m 10 years exp in IT as a programmer and data analyst. In addition to my apatite and curiosity (as you mentioned earlier), MBA is also important for my career development as return on investment. Do you know any examples from Cass EMBA, who has actually changed career paths or functional areas after EMBA? As far as I heard, EMBA is just to advance in their own career paths.

    2) About the fees (when self funding), I have some questions to clarify, could you share your email with me please.

    1. Hi Shaik. An MBA is what you make it, so anything is possible. I completely changed careers after my Exec MBA and moved into banking. In fact in my cohort I would say at least 7 people changed careers totally either during the MBA or shortly afterwards. Like any education and training, an MBA is a tool that you either use well or not use well.

  12. Hello Arif,
    Firstly, thanks so much for replying to various queries so perfectly.
    I have an exp of around 10 years in IT field into technology and project management. I am interested in doing a full time MBA from a college in London. So of course my selections were imperial and cass. I got an offer from both of them. But I am in a dilemma whether I should do an MBA full time at this stage of the career. I want to enter into product management role so I am not sure if an MBA would be useful at this point in career.

    1. As I have mentioned previously if you do an MBA just to change career then I am not sure that is the best approach, it is an expensive endeavour and I am sure there are easier ways to change career. If you want to change direction in your career the best thing to do would be to target companies that you would like to work for and speak to their HR team to see what they look for. They might value an MBA but they might value professional certifications more.

  13. Hi Arif,
    I have got an offer for an executive MBA from CASS Business school. I am having more than 13 years of exp in IT consulting in the UK.
    My question is
    a) I am also in the process of applying for LBS and would opt for LBS if I get the opportunity. Between LBS and CASS, how much is the difference in brand value and ROI?
    b) From Cass, Can I transition myself to a higher management role involving strategy in my own sector only rather than moving into finance sector.

  14. @Indranil

    I’m at the same position currently. I have been searching quiet extensively to be able to make a good final decision between CASS and LBS, I applied to LBS EMBA program in Dubai and I do have a conditional acceptance and I’m applying to CASS EMBA, I like both offered programs specifically because it has the international modules which I’m targeting to widen my exposure, however the bigger reputation in LBS makes it the #1 BS in Dubai, Cass has not made the same reputation yet, however the bigger premium to pay for LBS is significant and is making me doubt my appetite to make such financial commitment. Have you come to a decision with your choice of BS? If so what was the main factor behind it?

    @Arif, thanks for the insight about CASS it certainly helps, I do have similar query on the position of CASS in Dubai, as the program is different than the one offered in London I believe mainly in length and probably in the network and speakers available to students. I would like to hear from anyone else who been in the Dubai EMBA on the strength and organisation of the program. You also mention Cass is in the top 10, I believe you are referring to top 10 in UK as internationally it’s positioned around the 40th, whereas LBS is #1 in UK and 3rd internationally. You also mentioned the culture is different in Cass, how did you come to such observation? Lastly, what is the reputation of the international modules in China and US are they widely offered or are there big limitations as it’s listed as subject to availability of the courses.


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