Paul Cherpeau

The Liverpool MBA, 2010

Prior to my MBA study I had been working at the Chamber for about 18 months as an Executive Assistant to the then-Chief Executive. I had joined the Chamber after graduating from the University, travelling and using the university’s then-entitled ‘Graduate into Employment Unit’ programme.

Why did you choose to study an MBA?

I had just been promoted to a role in our business engagement team and whilst I had a decent understanding of business and the economy, I wanted to supplement it with some high levels of academic knowledge and insight to advance my ability to be a manager and a leader in the organisation.

Why did you decide to study the Liverpool MBA?

The Liverpool MBA was entitled the ‘Management MBA’ when I started the programme and that’s what my award states but it did become known as the Liverpool MBA as I completed the programme. The programme provided what I wanted and needed at the time, the explicit management insight balancing practical with academic, to enable me to be a better employee. The programme was customisable and had a distinctive character for the University of Liverpool and was also complimentary – just – with the needs of a part time student.

How did the Liverpool MBA help you to achieve your career goals?

I started in 2008 and, as I’ve said, was relatively new to the world of work and, at the stage I was at, I felt I needed the additional training and experience. There’s no doubt the qualification enabled me to progress in my business, enhanced my own confidence and self-esteem and provided genuine life lessons which have helped me get where I am now.

What skills and knowledge do you feel you developed?

Combining the practical with the theoretical was essential. Working on group projects, considering leadership styles and presentations, emotional intelligence and the insights into leadership, marketing and finances – the fundamentals to doing a good job.

Did you make use of the careers support available?

To some extent, but because I was a part time student I was less engaged because I already had a job and was not seeking an academic career, but to supplement my knowledge to benefit the Chamber. When I did engage I worked with Fiona who was great to work with.

What aspects of the programme did you most enjoy?

Not a standard answer but the lectures – strangely.  It was also great meeting new people and I have good friends who were on the part time programme who are now a bit older and greyer than they were (as I am). It was a shared experience despite much of the work being quite lonely at times and it was a buzz to successfully finish the programme and get the Student of the Year award.

Where are you working now, what is your job title and what does your role entail?

I am currently Chief Executive of the Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce and my role is incredibly varied. This past week I’ve welcomed a Pakistani Cutlery Association delegation, undertaken mock interviews for students, hosted a lunch event for 40 businesses at an NHS Trust, contributed to a local authority sub-committee about tackling inequality in Liverpool workforce, attended the Grand National meeting with 350 Chamber customers – amongst other things. 

I think my role is fundamentally to provide direction and oversight of the Chamber of Commerce and ensure we are achieving our objectives, which as a trade association for businesses, is to help enable Liverpool to be the best place to start, locate or operate a business in the UK. My principal objective is to ensure we are financially sustainable, have a good commercial proposition for businesses to access the knowledge, advocacy and networks they need to succeed, and are making a civic contribution to our region. It manifests itself in a multitude of ways as I hope my statement about this past week demonstrates!    

Have you had to overcome any challenges in your current role?

I took the role of CEO at a very difficult time for the Chamber in September of last year. We had reduced our workforce considerably and were in a difficult financial position. As a business focussed organisation and as a new CEO this was a tough and challenging environment to assume such responsibility – I am a relatively young CEO and to some extent I am still learning every day. Issues of staff retention, morale, self-belief have all been challenging but the satisfaction is intensified when you have such obstacles or challenges to overcome.

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