Mr Thomas Jenkins, 2020 Wesfarmers John Monash Scholar
Global MBA, IE University, Madrid
Last month, Thomas Jenkins, 2020 Wesfarmers John Monash Scholar, graduated with a MBA from IE Business School as a top three student, on the Dean’s List, and in the Beta Gamma Sigma Honours Society. Thomas’ MBA specialised in both corporate entrepreneurship and operations with an emphasis on renewable energy and battery projects in the Australian context. As IE Business School’s first John Monash Scholar, Thomas hopes that the General Sir John Monash Foundation can send many more scholars to IE in the future, especially those who hope to make an entrepreneurial impact in Australia. Tom shared with us exactly why IE University was a life changing experience.
What was it about IE University’s Global MBA program that attracted you to study there above any other university or MBA program available?
The key thing that attracted me to study the Global MBA at IE was the flexibility that the MBA offered. I chose to change my study direction from a Doctorate in battery technology when the COVID-19 pandemic became worse in the UK and I could not venture there, so I began searching for MBAs that would offer me the flexibility to study anywhere in a hybrid format whilst building my knowledge of building businesses. IE’s MBA was consistently ranked the best or second best in the world for hybrid learning and I applied, got in, then commenced from Perth (WA) with the aim to travel overseas and get the international experience.
Has the Global MBA at IE provided you with anything particularly unique in terms of the academic experience, in comparison to what you have been used to in Australia?
This learning experience has connected me with professionals who reside all around the world. I am studying with cofounders of businesses, executives, top-flight engineers, and everything in between. Our classes often focus on our experiences and shared learnings where we apply content to our professional lives. As such, I have learned about many different industries in the process. I have acquired a more global view of the world which is proving priceless.
Previously, you worked as an electrical engineer and helped BHP reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, what has it been like to alter your direction and what do you imagine your career being in the future?
When I started at University in Perth approximately 10 years ago, I wanted to be an environmental engineer because I had always been conscious of our impact on the world. However, along the journey I realised I could make more change as an electrical engineer who could innovate solutions to root causes of problems, so I switched. I was fortunate enough to work with BHP in a significant greenhouse gas reduction project, but I had long wanted to improve battery technology because it was clear to me that our limited ability to store energy when there is reduced access to renewable sources (when the sun doesn’t shine, or wind doesn’t blow etc.) seemed to be a bottleneck in our transition to renewable energy. I’m now learning how to apply my knowledge to business so that I may help this transition. I hope to have a long and varied career, but I would love to help produce smart Australian batteries using Australian minerals and components to help supply the world. Then perhaps I can move to something grander.
Can you explain why enhancing battery longevity is such a passion of yours and how your MBA will help you achieve your goals?
Enhancing battery technology is close to my heart, literally… My interest in batteries kickstarted when I awoke in hospital in 2018 after an out of hospital cardiac arrest. After my induced coma, I was informed I had a Subcutaneous-Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator (S-ICD) that could monitor my heart and kick-in if I need it. But there was a catch, the battery would only last 8-10 years (if I’m lucky). As a result, I planned to commence further study with this new goal to improve batteries hopefully leading to improvements in defibrillator batteries as well as larger scale grid storage batteries too. I could have ventured down the doctorate path with a specific idea (which was the first route I took), or I could choose a suitable MBA where I could learn the vital knowledge and skills to lead others towards this aim too. The pandemic forced the MBA decision and IE is proving a fantastic option based on who I am meeting and what I am learning.
Would you encourage other potential John Monash Scholars to study at IE University, why?
IE has been a great experience. For those looking for an MBA with a focus on innovation or entrepreneurship with a global outlook, I recommend IE. I love the global community and the ability to network with people from around the world in many different industries with many different perspectives. Also, as a John Monash Scholar, a recipient is likely to receive a further significant scholarship from IE to support the study. Further, IE is very prestigious in Europe and Madrid has a fantastic culture with many sites to see. It has been a wonderful time in my life despite the world still struggling with COVID-19. Finally, IE is also very adept at online learning and during the pandemic I have been able to study uninterrupted with their fantastic continuity of their online learning portal.
Please share a summary of your experience at IE in relation to the student community, facilities on the campus and what it is like being a student in Spain.
The student community has been very nice. I expected it to be more cutthroat, but it really is a collaborative community. Moreover, facilities are incredible with IE opening their IE Tower (their very own skyscraper!) which certainly is state-of-the-art. Also, being a student is fun in Spain with fellow students wanting to network, share meals, walk etc. in the beautiful city when there isn’t class. I also got the chance to visit Barcelona during the Summer break which was wonderful.
The Global MBA at IE allows me to specialize. I had specialized in Operations and Corporate Entrepreneurship. I intend on conducting a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in the future with IE (which is another four years of Doctorate study) as the experience has been so great that I want more!
To learn more about Tom’s unique journey you can listen to his podcast or read his full biography on our website.