2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Christie Marr, Cambridge Judge

Christie Marr

Cambridge Judge Business School

“I’m passionate about math as the power of education, widening access, and using technology to achieve this.”

Hometown: Cambridge, UK

Family Members:  I’m a single mum and have a 12-year old daughter. She read many of my assignments. Who knows, maybe she’ll do an MBA herself one day!

Fun fact about yourself: I did the Mountain Leader Training Board qualification when I was a teacher and led lots of school outward bound trips.  Our most adventurous trip was taking a dozen or so kids up Snowdon via the awesome Crib Goch Ridge.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

B.A. (Hons), Mathematics, University of Oxford.

M.A. (Hons), Mathematics, University of Oxford.

Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), Mathematics, King’s College, London.

M.Sc. in Computation (Theoretical Computer Science), University of Oxford.

D.Phil. in Computation (Theoretical Computer Science), University of Oxford.

M.B.A., University of Cambridge.

Where are you currently working?

I’m Deputy Director at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences which is a world-leading mathematics visitor research institute and also a department of the University of Cambridge.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I was awarded the Sigma Prize for an “Outstanding national contribution to mathematics support over an extended period” following my founding the Mathematics Support Centre at the University of St Andrews as well as the Scottish Mathematics and Statistics Support Network.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proud of having dusted off my coding skills to build a prototype web-based mathematics home tutor app.  It uses an algorithm-based approach to mimic the dialogue between tutor and tutee.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My personal circumstances have had a major impact on my career options over the past 15 years (including multiple transatlantic relocations). I am proud of how, at each stage, I was able to effectively apply pre-existing skills to new and very varied roles.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA programme? Obviously, the Judge Business School was a natural choice for me since I live only a couple of miles away!  But I also chose Cambridge because I really liked the sound of the different modules they offer. It has an excellent reputation and would provide me with great networking opportunities.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? In truth, one of the biggest lessons I learned from doing the EMBA was to have more confidence in myself.  It turned out that people I admire and respect recognised qualities and skills within me. This has strengthened my sense of self-worth both in the office and outside.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? As a single parent with a demanding job, juggling commitments is routine for me. Still, adding the Executive MBA and home schooling due to the COVID-19 pandemic to the mix (not to mention getting a puppy just before the first lockdown) has taken this to new heights.  I’m proud that I kept on top of my work throughout and didn’t miss a single EMBA deadline.

I’m looking forward to seeing what my next challenges will be.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? My advice to a student contemplating doing an Executive MBA programme is simply to go for it: it’s very easy to persuade yourself that now isn’t quite the right time.  But if you waited for the right time you might never do it, so go for it and enjoy the ride!

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Some people think that university life is all play and no work. I’ve done enough degrees previously to know that the EMBA workload was going to be huge. But doing it on top of the day job took this to a whole new level!

What was your biggest regret in business school? My greatest sadness is the fact that COVID-19 meant that a significant proportion of our course was remote. The Judge did an amazing job at delivering classes online and making them as interactive as possible. But it was hard to re-create the College dinners and other networking events. Having said that, we shared a unique experience and I hope that there will be plenty of opportunities for College dinners together over the next few years.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I am incredibly fortunate to have been part of an amazing and very diverse cohort and know that I’ve made many friends for life.  But if I must choose just one person whom I admire the most, then it has to be Dr Bola Grace.

Bola has so many skills and personal qualities and made great contributions to class discussions, but I particularly value her creating a “Let’s talk about it” WhatsApp Group for the cohort. Issues discussed were wide-ranging and often challenging with emotions running high at times. However, the richness gained from these discussions, and the exposure to such diverse opinions, was something I valued greatly.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I chose the Executive MBA because I knew that I would learn so much from the breadth and depths of workplace experience that the rest of the cohort would bring with them.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? This is an interesting question. I have thought a great deal about my personal drivers during the EMBA. I realised that it’s very important to me that I’m doing a job that’s both interesting and challenging, that I have the skills to do well, and that it is something I believe in and makes the world a better place in some way.

My non-linear career path to date has taught me to be open and think outside the box when it comes to new roles.  I don’t know precisely what my next challenge will be, but so long as it falls within those core values I know that I’ll be happy.

What made Christie such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“Christie brought a great deal of passion, drive and ambition to her Cambridge Executive MBA cohort. She is a keen learner with a strong sense of curiosity in the classroom. Over the programme’s 20 months, Christie’s individual and team assignments, and academic contributions, have been consistently strong. She has achieved brilliant feats on the programme and we wish her all the best for the future.”

Dr Khal Soufani
Faculty (Professor level) in Management Practice
Director of the Executive MBA Programme
Director of the Circular Economy Centre


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