2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Sarah Cadlock, Purdue University (Krannert)

Sarah A. G. Cadlock

Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management

“Expert world traveler, enthusiastic knowledge seeker, and semi-professional gin taster!”

Age: 35

Hometown: Croydon, London – United Kingdom

Family Members: I am very lucky to have a very supportive family, with parents who have always encouraged me to ask questions, challenge myself and pursue topics I find interesting.

My older brother, Neill, is a pioneer in IT security and infrastructure design for one of the world’s largest construction companies.

Fun fact about yourself: Over the years I have learned to play many different instruments; Violin, Cello, Trumpet, Piano, Harp, Accordion, Steel drums, Bodhrán (Irish drum) and Saxophone – I have just ordered a Ukulele this week, so let’s see how that goes!

In my youth, I swam for my county with my preferred distance/ stroke being the 400m butterfly.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Brighton University (UK), The History of Design, Culture & Society

Where are you currently working? National Health Service (NHS), specifically; Croydon Health Services NHS Trust as the Learning & Development Business Partner

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: In my spare time, I am a Milliner (hat maker) and I really enjoy the process of creating something unique and beautiful for special occasions or everyday wear. A few years ago, in my spare time, I attended Kensington & Chelsea College School of Fashion to learn new techniques from world-renowned designers and Milliners.

I am also a Business Development Director and Marketing Executive for a startup, small-batch preserve, and chutney company which is growing annually. One of the great perks about this, is the free samples of preserves I receive!

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proud of getting through the accounting and finance classes. These particular courses were extremely uncomfortable for me, given that I had no formal training in these disciplines prior to now and they were quite intimidating. I really applied myself and focused on studying. I also requested assistance from my fellow classmates, peers, and professors when I needed additional guidance.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I was part of the European Healthcare Exchange Programme. As part of this incredible experience, I went to live and work in Seinäjoki, Finland for a month. There, I was able to learn and share about healthcare and professional education within the healthcare sector through my working experience.

The culmination of this programme was to deliver a presentation at an international conference in Dublin. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of living in a different country and learning some of the Finnish language and culture whilst I was there. The staff where I was based were enthusiastic about learning how healthcare and education works in the UK, and I was equally enthusiastic about getting firsthand experience of how it works in Finland. The added bonus was being able to bring this knowledge back to share with my colleagues in the UK.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? To pick just one would be impossible as we had several excellent professors whom are all experts in their fields, are enthusiastic about their topic, and genuinely wanted to help us to succeed.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Confession; I didn’t know anything about Purdue when I enquired about the course! I originally enquired through the partner school TIAS (based in the Netherlands) and then realized that it was linked with Purdue, so I had to do some quick research. Once I had learned about the school, the alumni and current professors I was sold. The global experience that the Purdue Global Executive MBA programme offers is unparalleled.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? What I most enjoyed academically about the business school was the challenge. I did not do a business undergraduate degree, and I work in a non-profit making organization, so I have never formally learned a lot of what is typically covered in a business-focused undergraduate programme. I definitely knew nothing about accounting and little about finance. I actually enjoyed the steep learning curve each module bought academically. It was also gratifying to see that what business practices I was already doing were correct in certain instances, and then also putting into practice what I learned for each module felt like a real achievement.

What I enjoyed about the programme overall was meeting such a diverse group of people and making lifelong friends.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? My MBA helped me to realize that my undergraduate degree was absolutely relevant to good business even though it was in the arts field. Understanding culture and society is an integral part of being able to develop a business and lead the team you work with. The strength of an organization lays within the diversity of its people. Only through understanding culture and society can you can harness people’s potential and enable them to move the organization forward. This understanding also enables good networking and the ability to understand differences in developing business relationships and practices internationally.

The organization I work for is diverse within its staff groups and the population it serves, it is therefore important to remember that this diversity may bring its challenges in the work I deliver and the wider team I work with, but the opportunities are greater and more exciting.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? As this MBA has students from across the world enrolled in it, arranging a time that is convenient for a web call every week is challenging. For one of my groups we had students on the East Coast, West Coast, UK, Germany and Saud Arabia so figuring out a day and time which was convenient took a little while to figure out.

At one point during the programme, I had just flown back from three weeks abroad and was doing many requirements at the same time:

  • My final exams for my modules
  • Submitting my final paper for my coaching qualification
  • Delivering training at work as well as working full time
  • Organizing a big celebration party for a friend
  • I had the builders in my home remodeling

I have learnt that the more I must do, the better I am with finalizing things, being decisive and moving on to the next task. There is a lot you must juggle, but you need to utilise your time fully and make the most of the opportunities in hand – so watching boxsets on Netflix probably isn’t the best use of time when you have deadlines looming. But once you have met those deadlines and you have free time, you can relax and enjoy it as you know you have achieved what you set out to accomplish.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Get your leave from work sorted out ahead of time, and fly business class whenever possible because you don’t want to be like me and fly from the UK to Brazil in economy! It’s exhausting and you will not be in top form upon arrival.

But in all seriousness, I think that if you haven’t already, you need to go out and work for at least five years prior to entering any MBA programme. This gives an opportunity to gain real-life experience and a better place in context the academics you are being taught. One of the reasons our group learnt so much was that there was a room full of people with experience and knowledge in different industries which we shared with each other.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That it’s too difficult or that you don’t have the time; organize your schedule, gain your employer’s support, and fully apply yourself.  You CAN get through it.

What was your biggest regret in business school? None – I have no regrets and wouldn’t have done anything differently. I feel that regrets are a waste of valuable time when you could be enjoying yourself; you need to accept the choices you have made, learn from them and move on.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I can’t answer that question – my classmates would kill me! Everyone on that course is admirable in different ways and the class as a whole was enriched by having all of us be a part of it.

Everyone had their individual stories and challenges – that’s what makes them admirable as individuals and a group. We were all there to help each other succeed.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…they accepted me. I had applied to other programmes in Europe (not just business programmes), and I was accepted to them all in the same week. This programme was great academically and the schedule of the programme looked good, but the draw was the travel and international professors that would be part of our journey – that is what sold it to me in the end.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I currently work for the National Health Service and I am so proud, especially during the current challenges with Covid-19, to work for such an organization. I truly believe that healthcare is a basic human right, and one’s financial status should not determine what medical treatment a person does/ does not receive or how they are treated.

As I feel so strongly about this, I envisage that any future healthcare organization I work for, or organization that supports healthcare provision, would be an organization that also believes that healthcare should be available to all and not just to those that can afford it.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a confident person with a definite sense of self who isn’t afraid to challenge the status-quo, as well as being a slightly eccentric Brit who is always ready for happy hour.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I don’t have a bucket list; why make a list of things to do later when you could do them now? Seize the opportunities as they come along; don’t put them off for another time because that time may never arrive.

What made Sarah such an invaluable addition to the class of 2020?

Sarah was clearly the Poet among a cohort dominated by Quants. In a class full of engineers and STEM-oriented peers she was the person trained in the Arts, working in healthcare, in a non-profit organization, in a country with socialized medicine. And she brought all of these perspectives into the conversations in class and outside. Sarah was the one who loved playing a variety of musical instruments and thought a course in hat making would be an interesting way to spend her spare time. Sarah brought more diversity to the program than anyone has in many years. She also expressed a confidence and assurance about her values and views that made an impression on her colleagues and faculty. One of the questions we ask in our selection interview is what should your classmates expect to learn from you if you joined the program. Clearly, she scored well on this criterion.

Sarah will acknowledge that she worked very hard to master all the quantitative courses in the program and showed a determination and commitment that was impressive. She studied twice as hard as her peers, gained confidence in the curriculum, and became comfortable with the quantitative-oriented courses. In the process, Sarah became a leader in the group – a quiet, constant force of kindness and composure as a modern leader. She epitomizes what it means to embrace the EMBA experience – to be prepared, to be engaged, to be open-minded to new concepts, and to be ready to share her own advice and experiences. Of particular interest to the cohort was her view on Brexit, as that was one of the biggest global topics during her time in the Global EMBA program. She would share her views, often couched in the subtle humor she was known for.

Since her graduation, she has been faced with a much greater challenge of helping the National Health Service in the UK deal with the current COVID-19 crisis. While many in Sarah’s cohort, the captains of industry, are working from home during lockdown in many countries, their colleague Sarah is on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic risking her life and using her healthcare and management skills to save the lives of others. I am confident that she feels that her experience in the IMM program has helped her.”

Dr. David Schoorman
Associate Dean for Executive Education and Global Initiatives
Krannert School of Management, Purdue University

DON’T MISS: THE FULL LIST OF THE TOP 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST EXECUTIVE MBAS OF 2020

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