Student Testimonial by Grant van Ulbrich, Royal Caribbean

14 July 2021

Grant van Ulbrich - Royal Caribbean

Why an Executive Masters?

"All of these other areas and facets of business have been professionalised through academics or structure or certificate driven programs.

What about sales?"

We caught up with recently graduated Alumni, Grant van Ulbrich, Global Sales Transformation Director at Royal Caribbean Group about his experience of the Executive Masters journey.

Transcript to the video can be found below.

Why an Executive Masters? : What made you embark on this journey?

I didn't know about Consalia before I went into this journey. I thought I knew sales, I've written sales academy training programs, back in the old consultative sales processes etc. I thought I knew sales really well.

My then supervisor had said, “I'm going to get you an executive coach that I've worked with for many years.”

And when we first met, he thought, “Oh my gosh. You are wrong” and I was wrong. That's the hard realisation.

He said “there's a new Master's programme by Consalia. I'm not sure that you want to go back to school at 47, but I think you should do it.”

We had a good conversation with my boss and he said, “this will provide direction. This will provide educational foundation. This will provide scientific and psychological foundation to the approaches of sales. Not just consultative sales as you see in so many training seminars and sessions. This gets down to the art and the science of selling.”

And so we agreed and I started on that journey.

If you're running a global entity, you have accounting, you have the guiding principles. You have procurement principles, you have human resource guides and facilitations, you have operations and IT. All of these other areas and facets of business have been professionalised through academics or structure or certificate driven programs. What about sales?

That's how I got into the sales Master’s programme with Consalia and Middlesex. Truly, immediately from day one with Dr Phil and the other cohort leaders, I realised, “Ooh, there's so much more.”

And we all did - my cohort from SKF and other companies who were in my cohort together with me. We’re all seasoned executives in sales and we realised there's a lot we don't know.

Grant's experience : What was your favourite part of the programme?

It was a two-year programme, a two-year journey and I have to say it was probably one of the most rewarding parts of my life. Until then I never really enjoyed reading, just too busy unless it was a travel magazine or a ship magazine or air aviation or something to do with my industry. It just really didn't grasp with me - until the Masters. Maybe it was the part of the time of my life, to get involved with it. I wasn't ready to embrace on that journey. The master's programme opened up just the art of reading. Escaping into books that relate and associate with your job and with your profession and your career progression. So there's several aspects of the Master's programme that really loved.

I loved the sales mindsets. I truly did, and I love the history of selling.

I really enjoyed the coaching side of it, learning what coaching truly was - sales coaching. As typical leaders, we think that we understand how to coach our people and guide them. They're just words, is what I really found that we would throw around, but it didn't really get into the practice of it and actually doing it.

So the coaching modules and the sections on learning how to do it and actually practicing it, living it, living your truth, and then doing it within my own organization, developing my practice of coaching. That was truly inspirational for me and something that we continue to practice and as Consalia now has the coaching accreditation, I fully intend to get more members of our sales force and sales leaders accredited as well too.

Completing the journey : How did you feel after finishing the programme?

I was elated, to be honest with you.

I would be remiss if I didn't say I wasn't a little bit shocked as well. My overall grade was a distinction, so I was kind of surprised.

It's truly transformed me and I think I've found a passion that I knew was inside me, but I didn't know how to encapsulate it to give it structure and framework of where it could go and this journey has just helped me to get it up to all of our peers and all of my coworkers and even our customers around the world.

The nice thing is, is that my leadership is still championing me to continue on with it today. We continue to build into our spark sales academy, but the grades and the programmes and receiving what I did achieve through the research was humbling.

I never went through college or university. I went to the military instead and served my country for just over four years and I thought, “Okay, well that was my basis of education.”

So I felt a great amount of pride to say that I can do this Master’s programme and actually graduate with top honours. It was surprising for me - even more so that the Master's programme started me on “what's next?” and how do I continue to champion this for my people?

And that was the Doctoral programme that I'm now in. So I am a doctoral candidate in the Doctoral and Professional studies with public works with Middlesex university and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't a Master's programme, Dr Phil, Consalia - everybody at Consalia championing me saying, “keep going, you can do this.”