Joanne Denney-Finch - Charity CEO and retailing consultant

Joanne is Chief Executive of IGD, a research and training charity that helps the food and grocery industry deliver the needs of the public. She works with chief executives, chairmen and presidents of some of the world’s largest food and consumer goods companies and has been awarded an OBE for services to the food and grocery industry. She completed an MBA in Retailing, with distinction, at Stirling in 1991.

IGD now has more than 1,000 corporate members, spanning more than 40 countries. The organisation's commercial arm is known for its extensive research and insight into global retailing, while the not-for-profit team works with senior industry personnel, working at the forefront of developments in innovation, secure and sustainable supply chains, health, nutrition and diet. 

I studied for my MBA at Stirling while working full-time at Marks & Spencer, having completed my first degree 10 years before, in Modern Languages from Manchester University. By the time I applied to do my MBA, I had already held a number of roles in retailing, from trading through to supply chain, to change management and commercial projects at M&S. 

This was a new MBA course, specifically designed to cater for those who already had significant experience in business and commerce. I met people working in a range of disciplines from across the retail spectrum, giving us all a unique opportunity to share our experiences and learn from each other, which was particularly rewarding.

The MBA was a three-year course, undertaken through a combination of long-distance learning and residential periods at Stirling. We were an extremely sociable group and on one particularly memorable Robbie Burns Night we drank and danced until the ‘wee hours’ – which is as far as the anecdote needs to go, dear reader!

One thing I particularly remember is how excellent the tutors were. Teaching a group of experienced business people must have been much more challenging than working with students fresh from school, but they seemed to relish the opportunity and had a lot of truly valuable knowledge to share with us.

Passing the MBA with distinction was an incredibly proud moment for me. It proved to be the turning point in my career, enabling me to apply my new learnings to the wider business world, especially through my role at IGD, which I started shortly afterwards.

Joanne Denney-Finch OBE
MBA Retailing, 1991