Former car designer and engineer Samir Abid completed an MBA at Warwick Business School in 2009. In 2011, he started his own sports technology company, Pace Insights, which helps sports professionals improve athlete and team performance through better use of data.
“I’ve always wanted to start my own business. I could have done it without an MBA, but I wouldn’t have. I thought long and hard before applying – I’m quite geeky and technical. After a promotion in my previous role, I felt out of my depth managing 15 people, so I looked for a qualification that would help with management. The economic crisis of 2007-2008 gave me the final push to get it done rather than talk about it.
Interestingly, I benefited in ways that were different from what I expected when I applied. I’d moved to Warwickshire to work in automotive and motorsports and lived just 20 minutes away from the business school. On day one, there were 100 people sitting in the room and just five of us were from the UK. That was fascinating. There have been two or three marriages among our year group. We were in our late 20s but we went straight back into a university mindset – working hard and having fun.
I can’t say I study my files every day, but so much has stayed with me. Coming from a techy world, I didn’t have such a broad perspective on business. Organisational behaviour was an eye-opener. I read case studies about what some managers do and thought: ‘That’s stupid.’ Then I took a step back and thought: ‘Oh, that’s exactly what I did when I was a manager.’
All the entrepreneurial modules were really useful, although I’d have liked more practical support. They helped me know how to analyse a business opportunity and how to pitch Dragons’ Den-style in front of investors. I came out the other end confident I could speak the right language in a way that gets things done.
Without an MBA I wouldn’t have had the confidence to set up a business and I might have forever remained a contractor, or a poor manager. It was a learning and a maturing experience.
In the last few years we’ve supported nearly 40 elite sporting customers, all household names – including British Athletics and Team Sky. Through initiatives such as yourdatadriven.com, we’re helping teams do more with their data.”