Barry O’Donoghue

MBA 2023, UK

Barry O'Donoghue

Having been in the Automotive industry for approaching two decades, I have been the Head of Business for Barretts Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) for four years. I lead a team of circa 130 members of staff to deliver outstanding levels of customer service, while maximising our return on investment for Barretts Group. My focus is on optimising our resource and I constantly review the efficiencies of our processes across all departments. I am passionate about developing staff and driving innovation and improvement.

I have full operational, strategic, and financial responsibility for the business. This includes budgeting and performance management and building strong relationships with our franchise partners at JLR.

As part of Barretts’ Senior Leadership Team, I also contribute towards the wider group’s future strategies and planning, with a particular contribution towards recruitment, development and retention of our 600 colleagues.

Top achievements

  1. Completing JLR’s Aspiring Head of Business Programme and subsequently building and leading my own management team.
  2. Successfully navigating the closure and reopening of the business during the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in significant positive changes and improvements.
  3. Fostering internal promotions within the leadership team, highlighting a commitment to training, development, and mentorship.

What attracted you to the MBA programme at Kent Business School and why?

I was born in Canterbury, studied in Canterbury, work in Canterbury, and live under two miles from KBS. So, it was an easy choice. Plus, it offered the opportunity to study on the Senior Leadership Apprenticeship and link my learning to my current role and business, and the chance to work with a diverse group from various industries and backgrounds.

What are your motivations for undertaking an MBA

Throughout my professional journey, I have consistently prioritised training and development initiatives for both myself and my team. Successfully implementing graduate and apprenticeship programmes, as well as leadership development and aspiring manager initiatives, has been a hallmark of my approach.

In each role I have held, I actively engaged in training programmes for positions above mine, enhancing my performance, collaboration across departments, and readiness for potential opportunities. While nearing completion of industry-specific training in my current role as Head of Business, I recognise the importance of expanding my knowledge on business cultures, analytics, and cross-industry practices. I believe the Kent MBA will be the perfect next step.

What are your future aspirations?

I want to continue to progress in my career. Future aspirations would be to hold a group role in the Barretts’ business and have a further impact on our strategic planning, our people management, and give some informed support to developing our businesses sustainability and corporate responsibility.

What is your best advice for those wanting to progress in business?

Take and give feedback professionally, not personally, and always ask questions. You don’t need to be the expert of everything, but you need to have the confidence to find them and ask them!

“Control the controllables.” [I don’t waste time or energy on situations I cannot affect.]