Stephen Rae, Independent News & Media Plc, Ibrahim Canliel, Air AstanaAndrew McKenzie, The VineYard at Stockcross, and Casey Bowden, Harvey Water Softeners have all attended the Cranfield Directors Programme. 

Stephen Rae CDP case study

Strategic thinking, leadership, vision. We talk about these factors in our businesses - all of the time. After all, if were are to operate thriving businesses in the most competitive marketplaces we require each one of these qualities.

I found the Cranfield Directors Programme hugely beneficial in refining how I think about and implement business and indeed personal goals. The academic and practical elements of the course cover every aspect of leadership. 

The collegial dynamic also built strong relationships among classmates in a variety of different sectors. Although we came from a whole spectrum of organisations and far flung parts of the globe we found that we shared the same challenges. Emphasis is equally divided between class and implementation activities. 

Here at Independent News & Media I launched new digital products soon after completing the programme with more on the way in a strong pipeline. The skills and motivation that are honed at Cranfield will define how you lead and shape sustainable businesses.

Stephen Rae, Group Editor-in-Chief, Independent News & Media plc

Ibrahim Canliel CDP case study

I didn’t realise how much I needed the strategic tools to better focus on key vulnerabilities, to narrow down onto our real strategic assets and to identify what we needed to do. 

Working with colleagues who have also attended the programme has really helped us develop a common language and understanding to create and lead our strategy.

Ibrahim Canliel, VP Marketing and Sales, Air Astana 

Andrew McKenzie from The VineYard at Stockcross

My biggest gain from the course was a clarity of motive that I didn’t have before. I came away with a clear strategy knowing that I wanted to expand the business quite dramatically and possibly in new directions and with new structures. I gained the confidence to convince our stakeholders that acquisition was the way forward and the analytical skills to make a robust business case. And I had another more unexpected gain: the course really opened my eyes to some of the more novel ways of raising finance.

Working as I do in a private company can be quite isolating. So I gained a great deal from sharing issues and concerns with other managers and discovering how very similar these concerns are across a very wide range of industries. Also feedback from my course colleagues has prompted me to make some changes to the way I engage with my senior team. I feel I’m much more able to take their ideas on board now while stepping away from some of the day to day running of the organisation. 

I gained a great deal from sharing issues and concerns with other managers 

I haven’t achieved my aim yet of growing the number of businesses in our group. In fact, the skills I picked up at Cranfield have helped me turn down some opportunities that I may previously have gone with. Now I have a more analytical approach and a more inclusive style so I have used the other members of my team more in appraising opportunities. But we have clarified why we want to expand and sharply defined what we want to develop so it’s only a matter of time before we make the right investment. 

Andrew McKenzie, Managing Director, The VineYard at Stockcross

Casey Bowden from Harvey Water Softeners

Attending Cranfield’s Business Growth Programme (BGP) in 2008 when our business, Harvey Water Softeners, was fairly stagnant, with a turnover over £6 million, opened my eyes to leadership. Rather than just managing people and telling them what to do, my job was to go one stage further and set out the vision for where the company should be going, and to get the right people working for us and excited about that vision. As a result, becoming less of an instructive micro-manager, I found I could get good people to achieve so much more and help them grow, taking ownership for their own areas of expertise through better coaching and delegation. This was a big eye opener and enabled me to focus on the growth of the business. 

By 2014 when I returned to participate in the Cranfield Director’s Programme, company turnover had tripled to £19m. The CDP showed me how to think about leadership, long-term planning and competitive advantage in a really structured way and helped me formalise the right strategy for the business going forward. As a business there will be lots of decisions we’ve got to make over the next five years, from maintaining our strong internal culture as we carry on growing, to substantial short-term investments in R&D that could put us far ahead of the competition for years to come. The course helped me realise that only detailed, strategic planning will make all of these big decisions bear fruit. On a personal level, I took as much insight from other participants on the course as I did from the lectures - meeting peers as well as business leaders and hearing how their organisations operate. Their honesty about their successes and failures were rich lessons for me as I look to carry on leading our business growth. 

Casey Bowden, Managing Director, Harvey Water Softeners 
Stephen Rae CDP case study