Cori Schwabe Headshot
Cori Schwabe MBA

Changing business strategy within client services

Job title
Business Development Director
Graduation year

The course

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

I wanted to expand my horizons geographically and learn more about business from a UK perspective.

I also simply loved the city of Edinburgh and wanted to live there for a time.

Your career

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

Fresh out of my first degree at university, I moved to New York and started working at L'Oreal. I started my career in the digital and social media teams, at a time when Instagram first started. It was glitzy, glamorous, and fun, but it was also hard.

Over the course of a couple years, I worked on four consumer brands before moving to Mustela to head up their digital marketing efforts in the US.

After over five years on the client side, I wanted to return to what got me interested in marketing in the first place: the energy that comes from advertising agencies. I started at Publicis, within their client services team, and worked on Citigroup's email and website campaigns.

After that, I started to tire of life in New York and I wanted to start my next chapter somewhere else and chose to move to Edinburgh for my MBA. I was keen to get an enhanced education across a range of subjects that I would use no matter what job I had.

During the MBA programme, it became very evident that marketing was exactly where I wanted to be (with maybe a touch more interest in operations and negotiations).

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh MBA programme, I landed a client services role at the agency Leith, working specifically on health clients. During my time there, I forged a new role within the health team focusing on business development. This role takes my prior career and MBA experience, and funnels it to new, every-changing business problems.

My MBA gave me the business strategy and insight to launch successful cross-team initiatives.
Cori Schwabe MBA

How did your degree prepare you for your career?

My degree helped me to see work situations vastly differently than I did previously.

The MBA programme showed me how teams should be formed, how to successfully work together and how to constructively disagree but still come to a solution.

The programme also allowed me to understand and practice how to influence people differently and how using empathy and understanding was a demonstration of strength.

Masters of Change

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

In my professional life, it's given me a greater understanding of business decisions and the impacts they have across organisations. From things like how to introduce a new technology appropriately and efficiently, to how to influence a client. It's given me a greater depth and understanding while working with teams and line-managing as well as more knowledge of effective negotiations.

Personally, it's given me the opportunity to settle down in Scotland. I met my soon-to-be husband on the programme and it has given me a career that is truly balanced.

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

When I first joined Leith, I developed a new influencer marketing service offering. We were able to sell it across various clients and increase revenue.

I also launched the Leith Awards, an internal awards programme that celebrates all of the hard work ‘Leithers’ do every day. The internal teams compete against each other and a panel of clients and industry insiders judge their projects. It's set to become an annual tradition.

When I started at Leith, the health team's business strategy focused on one strand of business. Over the past three years, I've helped to build out our business strategy to focus on three strands of business, bringing in over fifteen new clients.

Recently, I've launched the Upriser programme in Edinburgh and Manchester. Upriser is an initiative started by Saatchi and Saatchi that aims to draw back the curtain on the creative industry to young people across England giving them greater transparency of career opportunities. As Leith is Scotland-based, I was able to launch the first Scottish Upriser initiative.

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

It gave me the confidence and strategy to put together a plan that always connects initiatives back to the success of the business. Knowing how to influence people effectively, something I learned at the Business School, has been key for the success of these initiatives.

Every initiative has been put together with a team around me. My studies at the Business School taught me how to work in a team successfully with empathy and effectiveness.

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

Everything we learned in professional development I use daily. This includes knowing how and where to set your anchor point; the phases of team development and the different roles needed for healthy teams; and how to influence people.

Course highlights and advice

What are your best memories on the programme?

We took a two-day trip to Dunblane for team building. During the first exercise, I thought I absolutely knew the answer and guided our team towards my vision. When the answers were revealed, I could not have been more wrong. I knew then that I needed to actively change my style.

By the end of the second day, I was able to lead the team differently than I ever had and I saw the success immediately through the activities we did.

The international trip to Colombia was amazing. We were able to visit a coffee and milk manufacturer and see how they built their logistics. We were able to see how the bus and tram transportation systematically changed the opportunities people now had.

My life partner and future husband was in the same MBA programme, and meeting him has forever changed my life.

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

Stay curious. Whether that’s in your studies, at work or at home. Be open, ask questions, don't be afraid to say 'yes'. You never know what will come.

Join the Masters of Change

MBA Programme Link

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