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Back of the net with a master’s in football

At first glance the idea of a football MBA looks rather like a marketing wheeze to jazz up a business course with a bit of sporting glamour. But the business of sport, particularly football, is so different from the mainstream corporate world that people working in it need a specific set of skills and knowledge. It requires its own programme, said Geoff Pearson, director of studies at the Football Industries MBA offered by Liverpool University.

“There are three main differences between running a football club and other businesses,” he said. “First, there is the financial risk. If you are a championship club, for example, financial planning for the year ahead is difficult. You could be promoted and suddenly have £60m extra land in your lap, or you could get relegated and lose millions.

“So we teach people different ways of doing medium-term planning.” Often that means urging executives to be more conservative in their predictions, Pearson said.

Read more in The Sunday Times

My MBA: Kathy Schneider, senior vice-president of marketing, Criteo

KATHY SCHNEIDER graduated from Georgetown University in Washington with a degree in international politics before joining Kraft in Mexico City. She spent three years at the food giant working as a brand manager before returning to America and earning an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She joined the computer company Dell in 1999 and, in 2004, relocated to the UK to run its software and peripherals marketing organisation for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. She held a number of marketing leadership roles before joining Paris-headquartered Criteo, the digital advertising company, last year.

When and why did you decide to do an MBA?

I loved my job at Kraft but I didn’t want to find myself in the same place doing the same thing 10 years later. I wanted to open up opportunities to get ahead outside the food sector and move into a leadership role, but I knew I would need a solid understanding of finance, statistics and business management. So in 1997 I enrolled on a full-time MBA at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Read more in The Sunday Times

Keep calm and carry on speaking

Some years ago Nigel Cooper arrived at the office of an important potential client, plugged in his memory stick, and hit play. “When the presentation was launched, there was just a series of empty white boxes where the words should have been,” he said. “I was totally bewildered. It had never happened before.”

There was an “eerie silence” as Cooper, a sales director at the time, frantically rebooted and tried his back-up. When that did not fix the problem — he later discovered that his slides used a font his clients did not have on their system — he gave the presentation off the cuff and won the deal. “I just stood there and talked. I’m not sure if they were impressed that I knew it all by heart, or if they were just very sympathetic.”

Speakers have to know their material to recover from this sort of technical problem, said Janet Howd, a voice coach. “I’ve seen many people flounder because it is clear that their secretary or someone else has written a very nice speech but the person does not know it. However clever someone is, if they don’t know the material, they can’t deal with something going wrong.”

Read more in The Sunday Times