About me

Michael CliffordMy name is Michael and I am member of the 2014 Executive MBA class at Cambridge Judge Business School and I am going to be blogging about my experiences on the EMBA programme over the next 20 or so months. I’ll try to make it more interesting than that sentence suggested.

When I travel up to Cambridge each month, it’s hard not to walk into the School with a massive smile on my face, catching up with my amazing classmates and diving into another cycle of information overload. After many years thinking about an MBA, to find myself studying at one of the top universities in the world is quite a humbling experience.

If someone had told me that I would be studying at Cambridge when I was a few years younger, I would have laughed at them – but here I am, so maybe I should give you some idea of where I come from and what I’ve been doing until now.

After completing my final exams at school in Sydney I spent three years completing my bachelor of commerce degree (like most Aussies after school, my friends decided a year travelling the world was a better idea). I remember thinking at the end of my bachelor’s degree that my friends had perhaps had a better time than I had, so I travelled to Austria to train to become a ski instructor and after passing the instructor exams, spent a season teaching in Austria.

At the end of the European season I headed home to work in the ski fields in Australia and then on to Park City, Utah where I studied and trained to become a Level 2 PSIA Ski Instructor, with the odd downhill ski race thrown in as well (reminds me of the joke: How do you know when someone is a ski instructor? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you).

After returning home from Utah, and thawing some frost bitten toes, the off-season was a blur of part- time bar jobs that I wasn’t enjoying very much. I decided to go back to university to study law, and in the blink of any eye, the degree was completed and I found myself practising law in Sydney. I replaced skiing with rock climbing, and, when I wasn’t at work, I was climbing or using my annual leave to go mountaineering or ice climbing in New Zealand.

With impeccable timing, in September 2007, just at the US housing market turned nasty, my wife and I made use of my British passport and relocated to London to begin working in a large international law firm. In September 2010 I was offered the opportunity to move in-house with SABMiller plc, one of the largest brewers in the world and one that I couldn’t pass up. I had been considering moving in-house for some time, and once I had made the switch, I haven’t looked back. The work has been incredibly varied, intense and complex, more often than not in challenging jurisdictions across the globe.

I am also lucky enough to work with some of the smartest people I have ever met, and for a company who is very supportive of me with regard to the EMBA. Hopefully this gives you some idea of my background. Over the next few months, I’ll give you my thoughts on the programme and reflect on whether I’m managing to juggle family life, work and academic life with any success – fingers crossed.


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