Graduates of Global Distinction Part 18: Justin Galliford (MBA, 2014), Group Director of Operations, Norse Group, Norwich

Graduates of Global Distinction are aspirational role models for Norwich Business School. Director of Employability Dr Graham Manville defines them as role models that can lead in any context (public, private and third sectors); any level (whether a specialist or a senior manager) or in any location (regional, national and global). Our latest role model is Justin Galliford, who has earned three degrees at UEA with his latest being from Norwich Business School completing our flagship MBA Programme.

Justin had fantastic opportunities from his time at UEA and has chosen to carve out a successful career within a Norwich based Third Sector firm Norse Group. Norse is a £325M turnover third sector organisation known as a LATCO (Local Authority Trading Company). Justin and his company have a strong desire to give back to UEA and his organisation is helping our current FT MBA students on our Management Consultancy Projects module. We caught up with Justin during Employability Week and he tells his story in his own words.

Hi Justin, could you explain how your career has developed since graduating?

Since graduating my career has continued to develop with Norse Group. I have moved from a management to senior management positions. In 2016 I was promoted to Operations Director, followed by Commercial Director in 2017, and Group Director of Operations – Strategy and Development in 2018.  These promotions have seen me move to increasingly strategic roles. In my current role I am responsible for ensuring sustainable business growth, and ensuring our support services (such as ICT, Legal, Health and Safety etc.) continue to support the group’s operations.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your current role or your greatest career achievement so far?

The most rewarding aspect of my current role is leading talented, driven, Norse Group employees, who care about what they do, and work hard to ensure we deliver high quality, value for money business solutions for our customers. The majority of our customer base is public sector, so our work helps public money go further!

You’ve obviously been very successful in finding employment, what steps did you take to finding these opportunities?

I studied my MBA via the Exec route, so already had an employer. However, I know that several of our cohort have found work through our alumni network.

What are the key skills you learnt as part of your course? Were there any modules you took that were particularly useful?

The key skills I learnt as part of the course were:

Time Management; prioritising work around tight deadlines and planning ahead.

The ability to absorb information and condense it in to a simple summary. Writing and communicating concisely was paramount during my studies.

I found the accounting and corporate finance modules very useful. They gave me a good overview of accounting and finance, and provided a great framework to further my learning and interest in these areas. Finance is the universal language of business. These modules gave me confidence to write budgets, and consider investment proposals.

How have these skills, or your course, made a difference in your career development?

Time management is a skill which continually develops, but the Exec MBA really helped me plan my working life better. Today, time management is more important than ever. I continue to plan ahead each week, evaluating how to best apportion my time in a busy role. This skill has undoubtedly  helped me progress my career – good time management allows you to achieve more, and think clearly.

The ability to condense information in to a simple summary allows me to retain a good understanding of multiple projects at any one time. It also allows me to clearly communicate ideas, plans and reports to different business audiences.

Overall, the Exec MBA gave me an excellent overview of how business operates, and helped me discover parts of management which really interested me. It also gave me the confidence to ask questions of subject matter experts when making strategic decisions. 

Obviously you took a lot away from your formal studies at UEA, but did you develop further skills in other ways during your time at UEA?

I did my Exec MBA whilst working full-time, so had no real chance to join any clubs etc. However, a key part of the Exec programme involved 2 group consultancy projects. These projects really helped me understand how to get people from different backgrounds, with different skill sets, working together effectively. In particular, how to consider issues and challenges from other people’s perspectives to understand their views better.

What was it about UEA that made it stand out from other institutions?

I chose UEA for a number of reasons:

  1. Previous studies; I had studied at UEA previously, and had really enjoyed it (BSc (Hons) in Environmental Sciences: 1997-2000, and MSc in Environmental Impact Assessment, Auditing and Management Systems: 2001-2002).
  2. I was keen to study as part of a physical cohort, with regular lectures, rather than distance / online learning. The Exec MBA gave me this opportunity.
  3. The Exec MBA was AMBA (Association of MBAs) accredited – and as such was recognised at an international level.

It’s been great to hear how well you’re getting on in your career so far Justin. To finish, what top tips and advice do you have for current students or recent graduates?

I would encourage current students to carefully consider and control their social media presence. Think about how a future employer will consider what they can find out about you on line. Develop a “Linked In” profile, use it to network and build a profile related to your studies / professional interests. I would encourage recent graduates to be persistent in their search for work, and remember that soft skills are important in addition to your degree. Dress very smartly, always be on time, and be clear you have a desire to work hard and succeed. These points may sound obvious, but they will make a huge difference in the early stages of your career.

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