“One of the best investments I’ve ever made in my life”

Blue MBA ambassador Saunak Rai – Head of FueLNG – reflects on his experience at CBS. After many years at sea, Saunak endeavored to invest in broadening his knowledge of shipping and logistics and signed up for the Blue MBA using his own money.

“I studied nautical science in Mumbai and graduated with the President’s Gold medal. I then worked for Seaarland Shipping Management and Maersk, sailing on various ships, and while learning at sea is different and extensive (I went to get a Master Mariner’s license), I realised that I needed to learn more if I wanted to achieve all my ambitions.

“I had Copenhagen Business School in the back of my mind because I had previously completed a module at CBS as part of Maersk’s MAESTRO course, which is Maersk’s internal talent development program. The course was set up across different global business schools and it was during the finance module that I came into contact with CBS.

“In fact, Irene Rosberg [Programme Director] ran that finance module and she helped me to realise that there is so much more to shipping. While managing the commercial operations of the Maersk LNG fleet I realized that I needed to expand my business skillset and acquire more tools to reach higher parts of management. So I contacted Irene and was selected for the Blue MBA in 2011. The journey was amazing. And it was one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my life.”

After the programme

“It was midway through the MBA that I got a call about a role that involved heading up commercial operations for Norgas in Singapore and developing their Small-Scale LNG Business. At my interview they were very impressed by my decision to invest in myself (in taking up the Blue MBA) and offered me the Vice President (Operations) position. I can directly attribute that job offer to the Blue MBA, as it demonstrated that I was willing to invest in myself and that I possessed a drive to succeed, whatever the cost. I was later very well supported by Norgas management during the remaining part of my MBA program.”

Travel

“I took the job, and it followed that I had to complete my studies with CBS while travelling from Singapore. It was tough as I had very little time for my family and the last part of the Blue MBA – the integrated strategy project (ISP) – was particularly challenging. I worked really hard, but it was incredibly rewarding. As part of my ISP, I was able to research and propose a new way of working for the business. And it was an amazing success – we later implemented the business as envisioned in my ISP and created a revenue stream worth 0.5m US$.

“It was so fulfilling to know that I’d managed to directly use the MBA to help my company to excel in their business. I’d both advanced my career and my company thanks to the programme.”

Being an ambassador

“After the MBA, I continued to meet with Irene from time to time to discuss how we can help the programme to gain visibility in my part of the world, and in 2020 she asked if I could be their ambassador in Singapore. I’d gained so much from the MBA, and so of course I said absolutely I would be glad to help. The idea was that if there are candidates who want to join or have questions about the process, then I could give them guidance.

“It is really gratifying. For example, last year I recommended the Blue MBA to a friend of mine who wasn’t satisfied with his job. He had concerns about costs, but I encouraged him to explain to his boss how the programme would benefit his company.

“Together we made a presentation about the Blue MBA assignments and evidenced that you can solve real world problems with the knowledge that you acquire on the programme. After receiving this presentation, his company said they would pay for his travel for the MBA program and half the cost of his studies. And later, he was also promoted to General Manager. That was one of my high points as an ambassador. It brought me great satisfaction and truly made me understand that you can make a real difference to people’s lives.

“Ultimately, business leaders want to see that their employees are loyal, dynamic, growth oriented and forward thinking. If they can see an employee endeavouring to develop themselves, then they will surely invest in the growth and personal advancement of that employee. The Blue MBA at CBS is a very industry specific programme, and you can give back to your company after studying.”

Driving industry changes

“The industry is changing rapidly, and I am proud to be part of driving this change, especially when it comes to lowering emissions from ships. My company today is focused on LNG bunkering, which is at the forefront of sustainability, lowering CO2 emissions and eliminating SOx and Particulate Matter emissions from ship’s exhausts – and I can honestly say that the Blue MBA helped me with the latest industry thinking.

“The programme is not like out-of-date book learning, it’s grounded in the here and now. The professors all have the pulse of the industry, as they’re currently working in shipping and logistics, so you get a really good sense of real-world problems and solutions.

“Should you do a Blue MBA? The answer from me is always yes – do it – there is always something to invest in so it’s best to invest in yourself.”