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20 Years Later: How An Online MBA Is Still Helping This Entrepreneur Succeed

Nigel Shanahan started his software company after completing the Online MBA at Warwick in 2000. He sold his business for over $50 million this year, and now he's starting a new philanthropic venture


By  Abigail Lister

Mon Nov 26 2018

A lot of things didn’t exist 20 years ago—Facebook, iPhones, Tesla, and even BusinessBecause.

But one thing that did exist was Warwick Business School’s Distance learning MBA, which, this year, the Financial Times ranked the best online MBA in the world in their 2018 Online MBA ranking.

Nigel Shanahan was working at IBM when he started the Distance learning MBA at Warwick Business School in 1997. Since then, he has launched his own digital software company, Rant & Rave, which he sold this year to a US software company for over $50 million.

“I decided to do an MBA to give me a broader career choice really, and the opportunity to change career if that were available,” Nigel explains.

Back then, Warwick already had a good reputation among Distance learning MBA providers, and it was its good reputation that attracted Nigel to the School in the first place. It was on the MBA that he discovered a passion for entrepreneurship that spurred the creation of his first business.

“The entrepreneurship module was one of my elective modules, and through the process, there were gatherings every 10 weeks or so with presentations from entrepreneurs,” he recalls. “That was when I decided, ‘that really excites me’.”

As Nigel says, online MBAs have “come on leaps and bounds” since he graduated, but he says the skills he learnt on the MBA are still helping him now.

“I gained the ability to go through balance sheets and understand how finance hangs together; an appreciation for organizational behaviour and how decisions get made,” Nigel explains. “It’s really an appreciation for all elements of business, and I think that stands anyone in good stead.”

The Distance learning MBA at Warwick Business School is provided through a bespoke online learning environment, allowing students from anywhere in the world to participate in lectures and access assignments.

Students on the program also attend two ‘Warwick Weeks’, given either at Warwick’s main campus or at their unique London base on the 13th and 17th floors of The Shard skyscraper.

Nigel affirms that it’s the ability to interact with MBA colleagues that makes an online MBA really stand out.

“If I did it again I think I’d spend more time keeping in touch with the people,” Nigel says. “In these days, it’s multimedia and you can bring the program to life in a completely different way to the way I experienced it.”

Since selling his company, Nigel has wasted no time putting his entrepreneurial skills to use again, this time, in a philanthropic venture. His company, Make Good Grow, is a venture which aims to connect volunteers with nonprofit companies that fit their skillsets.

“Make Good Grow is about people’s skills and time being used for good causes, it’s like volunteering with passion inside of it,” he explains. “We only started the company four weeks ago, but I’m quite excited about it!”

Nigel is also certain that his Distance learning MBA from Warwick Business School will continue to assist him in this new venture.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a situation where I’m out of my depth in a conversation about anything, and I think that’s down to the MBA,” he says.  

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