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Photograph of MBA alumnus Steven Marshall

The Durham MBA has a global profile and attracts candidates from around the world. It has been consistently ranked in the Financial Times Top 100 Global MBAs. As a result, the MBA has an enviable reputation and as you’d expect, some notable alumni. We recently had the chance to catch up with Steven Marshall and asked him why he chose Durham for his MBA and the impact his studies have had on him. 

Durham MBA alumnus, Steven Marshall


Can you tell us a little about your background Steven? 

Born and bred in Adelaide, South Australia, I studied business at the South Australian Institute of Technology (now the University of South Australia) before completing an MBA at Durham University. 


What made you decide on Durham for your MBA? 

The decision to attend Durham University was an easy one – the international reputation of the Business School, the fact it attracted students from around the world and the sheer beauty of the city were just some of the attractions of studying in Durham. The lifelong friendships and valuable contacts I made amongst my fellow students further enhanced the experience of studying at England’s third oldest university. 


How have you benefited from your studies? 

The MBA provided me with a practical tool kit that has proved its worth in business and politics. It shaped my transition to Managing Director of my family’s furniture manufacturing business, provided a stepping stone to my role as General Manager of Michell, Australia’s oldest and most successful exporter of wool fibre, and informed investments I made in Australian businesses large and small. 

Perhaps surprising, it also underpinned my political career that saw me elected to the seat of Norwood (now Dunstan) in the South Australian Parliament in 2010, rise to Leader of the Opposition in 2013 and become Premier of South Australia in 2018. My studies at Durham University helped develop the intellectual rigour critical to successfully managing a $25 billion State budget and a $265 billion economy. 

My time as Premier included dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtues of empirical decision making, detailed planning and considered leadership proved particularly valuable in what was essentially unchartered waters. It’s notable that South Australia’s containment of the virus was by international standards highly successful, characterised by a low death rate and limited lockdowns. 


Any other thoughts about the University, the Business School, or the City? 

I recently had the pleasure of returning to Durham, attending evensong in the magnificent Cathedral and strolling the historic streets. I was delighted to learn that Durham University Business School is opening a new building by the river in the city centre - I’m sure it will be a sound investment for the University and its future students. 


More information 

  • Visit the programme page to find out more about the Durham MBA 
  • See our up-coming events for opportunities to speak to staff about the MBA programmes 
  • Find out more about the Alumni Association.