2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Johnny Scarlett, London Business School

Johnny Scarlett

London Business School

Age: 36

“A diplomat and former army officer, a husband and a father to three wonderful children.”

Hometown: London, UK

Family Members: Wife (Jennifer) & 3 children (2 boys & a girl)

Fun fact about yourself: I have been to one of the world’s largest penguin colonies, St Andrew’s Bay, South Georgia. I was with three other people and over 100,000 penguins!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Leeds, BA, Film

Where are you currently working? British diplomat

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I am one of two career reps for my class and have really enjoyed sharing my experiences and drawing on the people skills I developed in my military and diplomatic career to help people in their aspirations. I have to give credit to my colleague who has done a sterling effort in leading on this in recent months as I have needed to focus on my newly expanded family, but being a career rep is something that I have really enjoyed doing and would highly recommend.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In October 2022, ten months into the program, we welcomed our third child, a beautiful baby daughter, into the world.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I spent six years as an army officer and a further eight years as a diplomat. During those two careers, I learnt the importance of managing failure. At one difficult moment in the first years of my career, a mentor told me, “People won’t judge you for failing, they will judge you for how you react to it.”

In 2012, I deployed as a Platoon Commander to Afghanistan. Four months later, I was wounded in action and returned home. Tragically, three members of the team lost their lives. I have thought about it every day for the last 11 years and I will never come to terms with it. I am, however, immensely proud of the way the team reacted in the moment and thereafter. In those four months, I learnt more about leadership than I have in any other part of my life. The solidarity, strength and resilience of that team is my greatest achievement.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favourite class was led by two professors: Elias Papaioannou, Professor of Economics; Academic Director, Wheeler Institute for Business and Development, and Paolo Surico, Professor of Economics. The subject was the World Economy and the content was deeply fascinating and intellectually stimulating. I really appreciated the level of detail, energy and humor the two professors brought to the classroom.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? London Business School has a fantastic reputation, great professors, and is located at the heart of an iconic city. However, it was the diversity of the student base that most appealed to me. LBS is truly international, and this brings a depth of experience, knowledge, and culture into the classroom.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? When trying to solve a problem, it is important not to think of the solution in terms of the right or wrong answer. Life is a series of trade-offs, and it is more important to understand what you are trying to achieve and why. Using this as a guiding principle, will help keep us on the path to success.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? An EMBA takes serious commitment, balancing academic requirements with a full-time job and personal responsibilities. In the autumn of 2022, I was in the middle of a busy assignment schedule, working as a diplomat during a global crisis, going through recruitment interviews, and preparing my family for an international relocation. I wouldn’t have been able to manage it without the incredible support of my wife, who was heavily pregnant at the time.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? My advice would be to take care of your personal life alongside school and work commitments. The executive MBA is a busy, rewarding, and fun program and it requires a lot of energy and sacrifice. It is important to ensure you have gas in the tank to make the most of it.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I try not to carry regrets with me through life and I am really pleased with my experience of business school. However, if circumstances had been different, I would have taken a greater part in some of the societies, clubs and activities on offer.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a difficult question, because I have great admiration for so many of my fellow students. I have learnt a great deal from the entire cohort. If picking one person, it would be Gurpreet Virk. She has brought a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to our class. She is hard-working and very good at identifying the crux of any issue. The thing I most admire is her collaborative nature and approach to teamwork. She has fantastic people skills and knows how to get the most out of others and deliver results collectively. She has a really exciting career ahead of her.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I chose the executive MBA for the people. I wanted to be surrounded by great classmates in a top-class environment. The executive MBA brings in amazing experience from across the world and I knew I would gain so much from that.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term goal is to a have a meaningful, positive impact on society. I want to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds find opportunities and reach their potential.

What made Johnny such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Johnny is an outstanding EMBA student who successfully balances the demands of the program with his growing family and work commitments. He has throughout been incredibly generous in giving his time to help other students with careers advice and support and gives his all to the program irrelevant of what is going on in his personal and professional life. He is considered by the EMBA community to be a class act.”

Hannah Daniels
Program Director


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