Charting New Horizons: A Diplomat’s Journey through the EMBA programme at LBS

From the enriching networking opportunities within the cohort to the anticipation of tapping into the vast alumni network, every moment at LBS holds promise and possibility. Here, Scott Riswold (EMBALJ2025) shares insights into his journey so far, the challenges of balancing studies with existing commitments, and the transformative impact of embracing new perspectives on business and leadership.

What motivated you to pursue an EMBA at London Business School, and how has the experience matched your expectations this far?

I am at LBS to re-energise, refresh, and retool to prepare for the next career. I’m eligible to retire next year after a 20-year career as a diplomat. I can’t think of a better place to be at this moment in my life than LBS. Although only two months into the programme, the experience has been exceptional. Specifically, the networking within my cohort and across the LBS ecosystem. I can only imagine how valuable the alumni network is, this aspect of the journey is only beginning.

How do you balance your studies with other commitments?

Balancing the EMBA with work and family/kids does have its challenges. I try to stay at least two weeks ahead of the work and invest at least two hours every evening doing something related to the course. Both my family and work are very supportive and will give me time in space to ensure this time at LBS is an investment that pays off exponentially. In a perfect world, I would attend several more events every week purely for networking.

What has been the most surprising aspect of the EMBA programme for you?

Just how fast the time flies by. I fear this may all be over in the blink of an eye and I will regret not doing more, especially for connecting and networking.

In what ways has the programme challenged your assumptions or perspectives about business and leadership?

I am a bit unique in that I have been in the public sector for nearly 20 years. We are given significant responsibility in junior grades and have exceptional leadership training at all stages of our careers. However, the transition back to the private sector is not without challenges. I quickly realize I need to reframe my decision-making to suit the business world. I also speak with in many cases a completely different vocabulary. In particular, I appreciate the focus on how business can do good in the world. “Profits should be the outcome, not the objective.”

How do you find the cohort experience? What are the benefits of learning alongside your peers, and how do you support each other?

I’m continually impressed by the diversity and talent within my cohort. I learn something new about my fellow students every time we meet. Honestly, I wish we had more time together to include with the September cohort and those on the global programme, Dubai, and Sloan. I look forward to more opportunities to share experiences and knowledge with these cohorts and meaningfully connect with as many as possible. Each of us has a unique story and a special recipe for success to share. We also need to open up and ask for help in areas we are not particularly strong. “Vulnerability is a sign of strength not weakness.”

Have you had any opportunities for networking or career advancement through the programme so far? If so, can you share a specific example?

Networking is my favourite part of the experience. I have created several opportunities so far to engage with a diversity of individuals associated with LBS. At this point in the programme, I am focused on telling my story and how my skills translate to the private sector. This is not easy although so far I’ve had some very meaningful conversations to help me with this transition. More recently I’ve had some very impactful conversations with coaches I found on the Career Centre website. The key is to proactively reach out and simply ask for help.

How do you plan to apply what you’ve learned in the EMBA programme to your current role or future career aspirations?

I am already implementing some of my learning with my team at work. I always employ an adaptive mindset and I’m willing to experiment. Some of what we have learned so far from Professor Kathleen O’Conner in the Developing Effective Managers course is easily applicable to my job. I have heard from many that the EMBA experience was “transformational”. I truly believe this and expect the same. The LBS brand itself is so valuable and enables connections with ease. I will certainly leverage these connections to complete my own career transformation. The EMBA will sufficiently prepare me for the complicated “triple jump” i.e. changing jobs, sectors, and countries. “Embrace the unfamiliar even in the familiar”.

Looking ahead, what are you most excited about as you continue your journey in the programme?

Networking, networking, networking. Especially across cohorts to include the MBA’s and all their energy and entrepreneurial spirit. “Be interested not interesting”.

To find more about the student experience in the EMBA programme, click here.

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