Melbourne Business School News Two of our MBAs among this year's AFR BOSS Young Executives winners

Two of our MBAs among this year's AFR BOSS Young Executives winners

David Brennan and Mark Sacco became AFR BOSS Young Executives this year for their achievements and competencies in business, leadership and more.

Melbourne Business School graduates and AFR BOSS Young Executives David Brennan and Mark Sacco

Mark, the Chief Operating Officer at commercial lighting company Light Project, is now a nationally recognised leader, who says investing in his Executive MBA paid off.

"EMBA has been a huge part of my career in terms of consolidating my knowledge," he says.

"It's given me the confidence in the skills I have and in being able to go through the challenge of the Young Executives award.”

Mark says he decided to enter himself into the AFR BOSS competition to test his mettle.

"When I looked into the award, I found it was very credible. The past winners were all impressive people, and the judges were high calibre business professionals that have achieved a lot," he says.

The judges were impressed by Mark's passion, inclusivity, storytelling ability and the care and respect he showed others. But their endorsement of his entrepreneurial proficiency took him by surprise.

Melbourne Business School graduates and AFR BOSS Young Executive Mark Sacco

"Up until doing the MBA, I didn't have a risk-taking bone in my body," Mark says.

"If you look at my career, I was always someone's right-hand man, second to the guy who took the risks and was innovative.

"To be seen as very entrepreneurial in the way I lead people, the way I think and the way they tested me was a bit of a surprise to me. That was a big one."

Mark made it into the competition's top round, a day in the life of a CEO, where he was judged on 14 competencies of a senior executive.

"From 8 o'clock until 5.30 on this one day, I was basically the CEO of a $28 billion business, running three divisions, performance managing staff, solving problems, in crisis mode for customer issues, preparing a strategy and recording a vision speech," he says.

"It was crazy, and I was stoked to find out that I was proficient or higher in 13 of the 14 CEO competencies. It's given me a huge confidence boost and it's recognition for the last 15 years of all my efforts."

Mark is the second MBA alumni to be among the six AFR BOSS Young Executives for 2020, joining Senior Executive MBA graduate David Brennan, a strategic director at investment managers U Ethical.

"The competition was suggested to me as a good way to profile a number of the organisations I’m involved in, to demonstrate that anyone can make a contribution to the community they’re passionate about," David says.

Melbourne Business School graduates and AFR BOSS Young Executive David Brennan

To enter the competition, leadership consulting firm DDI asked both alumni for detailed information on their professional backgrounds and significant achievements.

All this data was used in the competition's CEO round.

"The CEO simulation day was designed to test your ability to think on your feet with fast moving emails flying in, a variety of meetings around a number of topics, both with challenges and opportunities," David says.

"It tested your ability to be agile as well as show your leadership style. Two key areas they identified as my strengths was my ability to capitalise on market opportunities and be a strong corporate advocate and driver of innovation.

David also cites his MBA experience as a key stepping stone to being able to receive an award like this.

"All these things were touched on throughout SEMBA and most importantly were things I was helped with by my amazing and very experienced cohort," he says.

"It's helped me contribute to my sector, and, beyond all this, it will help me to continue to advocate and aid in providing equal access to safe and quality healthcare for the community."

The 2020 AFR BOSS Young Executives were judged by:

  • Bonnie Boezeman AO, Managing Director of Business Benefits International
  • Nerida Caesar, Non-Executive Director at Westpac Banking Corporation and Intellihub
  • Michael Rebelo, CEO of Publicis Groupe Australia & NZ

To see the full list of winners, visit the AFR BOSS Young Executives 2020 list.

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