Wednesday, August 18, 2010

School stories > Business Student Q+A

Where are you from?
I was born in Kenya, and I'm of Indian origin. I'm a British Citizen - I came here when I was four (I’m 47 now).

Why did you decide to do an MBA?
I wanted to understand why business decisions are made the way they are. I believed managers must have known something more than I did as I could not always understand their decisions. Hence I wanted to discover for myself.

Why did you pick Open University?
I looked at LBS as an alternative but they wanted every other Friday off work as well as a few others – too time consuming. OUBS material stood out head and shoulders above the rest according to the internet and past students. OU also has more experience in distance learning.

Do you think online learning is for everyone? Do you find it hard to learn without a professor?
Not while peer groups exist. I find it easier to fit learning in when I can. The course uses many different techniques, from researching material to following step by step processes – different students at different levels made the learning more interesting as we helped one another – I think much more is gained this way then being taught in a class in a routine manner. Assignments were all related to real-life work situations so they were very engaging.

What other universities did you consider?
London Business School and Brunel.

What is it like juggling a full-time career as well as studying an MBA?
VERY DIFFICULT – especially if you want good results. I could have scraped a pass with minimal effort to make life easier but the more engaged I was, the more I gained. The pressure of juggling teaches you to be better prepared and to handle the stress of deadlines, and ‘side swipes’ as unexpected situations arise.

Have you been able to actively use what you're learning in your MBA and apply it to your Sharepoint Service Manager position at GlaxoSmithKline?
In explaining situations, proposing changes, yes. But I still need to use the models unattributed as there are academic models that are best left in class and not the real world!

How do you make time for your personal life?
In between assignments. And I force myself to take the odd weekend off study and off work – family time!

Are you afraid of missing out on networking opportunities that would be available if you did an MBA in the traditional classroom setting?
No. I believe the residential sessions and tutorials provide networking opportunities, along with the alumni evenings. Besides, with social media, the net is very large if I want more social connections!

What do you want to do after your MBA?
I want to expand on changes in the behaviour of employees and in management brought about by social networking and the digital age. I think there are opportunities to fill gaps in research here.. so I’d like to do a PhD.

What is the best thing you've found about online learning?
Flexibility. Stop and start when you want. It’s easier to integrate school with work as I’m not tied to a single task.

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