2022 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Max Silin, Cambridge Judge

Max Silin

Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS)

Age: 37

“Active. Creative. Tenacious. Versatile. Innovative. Entrepreneurial. Tech-savvy. Supportive. Emotionally and culturally intelligent.”

Hometown: Toronto, Canada / Almaty, Kazakhstan

Family Members: Daria (wife) and Alexandra (daughter, 3-year-old)

Fun fact about yourself: I practiced Aikido, a Japanese martial art, for 8 years.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BComm & BCompSc, first class (St. Petersburg University of Economics); Advanced Diploma, Digital Geography and Geographic Information Systems (Ryerson University)

Where are you currently working? I work as a Senior Tech Sales Manager for Google based in London (UK). My team and I are responsible for managing C-level relationships on a strategic Ad Tech partner portfolio across Europe, Middle East, and Africa. I also lead business development efforts within our product area, focusing on the emerging markets.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Outside of my core role at Google, I also coach startups at Accelerate 2030 (UN Development Program / Impact Hub) and Google for Startups Accelerator (Africa).

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During the Executive MBA program, together with my “partner in crime” Shelly Bibby, I served as one of the two student representatives for our cohort. Working closely with Shelly, I appreciated her international experience, cultural intelligence and compassionate yet pragmatic leadership style. For me it was a great learning experience that allowed me to increase my self-awareness and further appreciate diversity of thoughts and personalities within the class. Assuming leadership role on many occasions while representing interests/ needs of a group of ~120 talented, experienced, and ambitious individuals (often contradicting to one another) in the middle of the global pandemic was challenging at times and certainly added an extra load of work on top of an already extremely intensive academic curriculum.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud of having helped companies in 4 different countries across 3 continents to grow their business. In doing so, I changed industries twice, having shifted gears from technical consulting to business management.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Urgh, this is a tough one, as there were many brilliant faculty members. There was one course that I enjoyed above all: Innovation Management, taught by professors Kishore Sengupta and Stelios Kavadias. Professor Kavadias kindly agreed to supervise my dissertation project. He initially helped me to identify the area of study for my thesis and then guided me through the entire research process. I really appreciated his ability to give me fullest undivided attention despite having had a lot on his plate with all the teaching and extracurricular responsibilities as the Dean for Faculty at CJBS. Thanks to Professor Kavadias’ approach I really enjoyed the academic research experience and may potentially consider his suggestion of doing a PhD in innovation management / entrepreneurship field in the future.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Besides the fact that it was conveniently structured, there were three factors that made me choose the Executive MBA program at CJBS. First, diversity of thoughts and backgrounds was important to me. With 34 different sectors and 32 countries represented in our class of EMBA 2020, CJBS has beaten that expectation by far. Secondly, I was looking for a school that was well-positioned to help me bridge my technical background and business experience. With CJBS situated at the heart of the tech startup cluster (the Silicon Fen), I couldn’t dream of a better place to achieve that. Well thought-through academic curriculum combined with extracurricular activities (e.g., Venture Creation weekends) provided me with an environment where I was able to put my technical skill and business acumen to action. Finally, with CJBS consistently ranking in the top-25 executive education programs worldwide, I felt that it provided me with arguably the best cost/ benefit ratio.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Executive MBA program allowed me to test my own limits in terms of physical and psychological resilience as well as watch my peers performing under pressure in different contexts. Strong core values and high emotional intelligence (composed of empathy, motivation, self-awareness, self-regulation, and social skills) allowed people to create a sustainable positive impact and earn trust and respect amongst peers.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? I started on the program as a father of a 1-year-old, and I am graduating soon after my daughter’s 3-year birthday – I think it says it all. As a working parent, I faced all the same challenges as others did during the global pandemic: feeling of burnout, lack of work-life balance, and stress from being distracted. Yet, I’ve managed to handle the heavy workload at Google and earned a promotion while having all the academic load and the class representative responsibilities on top of it. That said, I don’t want to take the full credit for my sustainable performance as I wasn’t alone on that journey. None of that would be possible without my wife, Daria, who has been there for me at every step of the way, having assumed responsibility for the day-to-day well-being of our family while taking personal sacrifices to empower me to succeed. I value that a lot!

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Going into an Executive MBA, I expected to only meet people pursuing corporate careers. Instead, at CJBS, I’ve met serial entrepreneurs, accomplished scientists, world-class sportsmen, talented musicians, brilliant doctors, courageous military professionals. And even amongst those who did come into the Executive MBA in pursuit of a career growth, some decided to venture on their own and started their own businesses during the program.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had put a focused effort to participate in some Varsity sports during the program. Even though I have run a Cambridge Half Marathon while studying, it didn’t qualify me for ‘Cambridge Blues’. There were quite a few classmates who managed to do that despite working full time and going through the same intense program. I don’t know where they found energy and time for that, but I look up to them for their achievements and respect their efforts.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are quite a few members of the cohort that I admire, either for them sharing their knowledge and experience with the rest of us, or for keeping morale up within the class by organizing social events and bringing us all together – working tirelessly behind the scenes to make things happen. With some, we were on the same wavelength and became close friends. There was one person who has had a positive impact on both my personal experience in the program as well as our class as a whole – Shraddha Warman. We first met at a networking event a couple of months before the program started. From day one, Shraddha has played an active role within the cohort. She co-led the Lean In forum designed to bring women within our class together to exchange their experiences, boost leadership, and empower for continued success within the program and beyond. With her empathy second to none, Shraddha has become a sounding board for many people in the class (including myself). Also, I look up to her networking skills which she has been leveraging for the benefit of the rest of the class by connecting people within CJBS as well as broader OxBridge community. Above all, I commend Shraddha for her leadership skills and, in particular, her ability to lead without formal authority by gently bringing people on the same page, gaining their commitment to the cause, and striding together with them towards the common goal as one team. I look up to Shraddha as a high-potential business leader and see her as a soul mate. I thank her for having been there for me and others throughout the program.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? First, the Executive MBA, in some way, was a part-time program as every student enrolled was working full-time. I enjoy the work that I do and admire the company that I work for. Going into the program I had exciting challenges at hand and a strong performance trajectory towards my next promotion. Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense for me to quit my job to do a full-time MBA. Moreover, it was important for me to be able to apply the knowledge that I gained from the program in a real-world setting straight away. Combining work and study provided ample opportunities to do just that.

Second, I don’t believe in online education as an alternative to proper in-class experience when it comes to formal degrees. Yes, one can learn some skills here and there via online webinars/ workshops. But formal education is much more than that. It’s the people you meet and develop relationships with. It’s the experiences and challenges you go through together. It’s the energy and knowledge that you exchange with faculty and students in the class. I see how technological advances make the formal education more accessible through emerging online formats – that is important. Who knows, maybe one day AR/VR technology will become so advanced and so affordable, that there will be virtually no difference between online and offline interaction. In the meantime, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Upon MBA completion, I was going to visit my grandfather who lived abroad. Unfortunately, he passed away a few weeks before my graduation. As I was sharing my post-MBA plans with my grandfather the last time we spoke, he simply said: “Whatever you do after your MBA, make sure that it brings good to people – do something good with it.” I will try my best to live up to my grandfather’s expectations. In doing so, I aspire to grow into a Head of Growth / Chief Product Officer role for a global company that develops and markets innovative products that make people lives better in one way or another.

What made Max such an invaluable addition to the class of 2022?

“Max’s enthusiasm, energy and sense of service made him an invaluable member of the cohort. He has always contributed positively to classroom discussions as well as matters outside of the academic curriculum – this was evident throughout the 20-months of the EMBA in his active role as a Class Rep. I have enjoyed my interactions with Max and admired how he handled some difficult situations. Max is a bright star and we wish him all the very best in his post-EMBA career.”

Othman Cole
Senior Faculty in Management Practice (Finance)
Deputy Director of the Executive MBA programme


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