Christian Howieson Headshot
Christian Howieson MBA

Changing how organisations operate to improve outcomes

Job title
Sia Partners
Graduation year

The course

Why did you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh Business School (UEBS)?

I wanted an adventure after working in public sector consulting in the US for nearly a decade. I wanted to spend time in the UK, study at a historic university and pivot into private sector work in Europe.

What was it about the degree programme that particularly attracted you?

That it was one year, a solid MBA curriculum, and (frankly) that it was Edinburgh, a great city to live in.

Your career

Can you tell us about your career before and after graduating?

I spent about eight years working in public sector (US defence) consultancy, with a focus on strategy and operating model design.

Since graduating, I have worked in private sector consultancy in Europe. I’ve been able to work across a mix of eclectic projects and travelled widely too.

I’ve pivoted from public to private sector consultancy, expanded my skillset, and travelled widely.
Christian Howieson MBA

How did your degree prepare you for your career?

It gave me an opportunity to pivot and build a network in Europe. I gained solid preparation in areas I was not experienced in like finance and operations. Most of all, it gave me a strong opportunity to think about what I really wanted from the second part of my career.

Masters of Change

What notable changes has your degree enabled you to make in your professional or personal life?

It allowed me to move from public sector, US based experience, to European private sector work (our headquarters are in Paris). It was a big hurdle, a big jump to make, even though it’s still consultancy.

Professionally, the degree provided credibility and the opportunity to successfully execute that move.

On a personal front, I actually met my wife on a work trip the year I graduated (they sent us to Venice, believe it or not). We now live in London and have a one-year-old daughter. So my personal life has been transformed entirely. And I'm extremely grateful for that too. Plus, I made several life-long friends on the programme. One of my MBA colleagues is now a godparent to our child.

What are the changes you have been able to make in your chosen field, of which you are most proud?

I'm working to make my company stronger, to grow our position in the UK. I'm working on behalf of my clients to make them better, to make their companies more agile.

I supported some research on gender bias at Sia which was published by the Financial Times. I was proud of that achievement.

How did your studies at the Business School help you to make those changes?

The research aspect of the programme - namely the capstone - was a good learning experience for me. I still use the research methods introduced as a part of that process.

As a result of the education and the work experience I've had since, I now feel more confident overall. I think I show up differently to client meetings. I'm more flexible and able to work on a broader range of projects.

What key things that you learnt at the Business School do you still rely on today?

Key skills I learned or that were strongly reinforced include:

  • Behavioural economics
  • Negotiation
  • Teamwork
  • Personal resilience

Course highlights and advice

What are your best memories on the programme?

My highlights were the production game early in the programme, which tested our skills in strategy and organisation, and the trip to Colombia.

I also wrote my research capstone while helping to move a boat from Edinburgh to the west coast of Scotland, so about 14 days sailing and living on the boat. It was ideal for concentration (no WiFi) and probably the best way to see Scotland!

What one piece of advice would you give to current students and recent graduates?

Enjoy it. It's staggering how quickly the year goes.

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