Anna is an executive leadership coach for women. Originally from New Zealand, she holds an MSc in Occupational Psychology and started her career in HR at Shell in both European and Global roles. She graduated from IMD in 2007 and was recipient of the Award for the best all-round female. Following her MBA she joined Mars Chocolate in the UK and worked in a range of senior sales & marketing roles, most recently as their Commercial Strategy Director. She now combines her psychological insight with her commerciality as an executive coach, inspiring women at all career stages to achieve their potential at work. She lives in London with her husband and is a Mum to three very energetic boys.Anna_2007

“I believe women have so many leadership skills to offer. I started my MBA as a strong listener, keen to hear and integrate the views of others and to help others play to their strengths as well as develop. During the MBA I developed further as a leader, where I valued others’ views while also being clear on my perspective and recommendations and developing my influence and impact. I would love to see more women reach senior levels in organisations so that the impact of a more inclusive yet direct style of leadership can be felt.

The first couple of years after graduating were key to getting immediate value from the program and switching function and industry. I’d previously worked in HR in an Oil & Gas company and after graduating I secured a role in Sales & Marketing in FMCG. I then spent a number of years in very varied and commercial roles. The team work and leadership experiences from IMD gave me the confidence to manage sizeable teams.

One of my concerns about doing an MBA was making sure I had enough work and life experience under my belt to truly get value out of it, while leaving at least a couple of years post-MBA before I thought about starting a family. I was 27 when I started IMD, with 4 years of work experience, and then had my first child aged 31, so things went to plan!

I now choose to work for myself as this allows me the flexibility to be there for the family when needed while still doing rewarding work. Both my career and my role as Mum are very important to me. The balance is never perfect – it’s a constant evolution – but I find reminding myself of what is important to me in life usually helps.

I think an MBA gives women more appetite and confidence to take risk. Before my MBA I couldn’t read a balance sheet or a P&L. After my MBA I’ve managed business areas with a P&L of more than £100m; I’ve invested in one start-up, am an associate with another and started my own business a couple of years ago. There’s no guarantee of success in these, but my MBA gave me so many new skills and knowledge across all aspects of business that I now feel confident I can turn my hand to most things, even if I have no prior knowledge!”

Anna Johnstone


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