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Manpreet Kaur was awarded MBA (Distinction) in 2013 and was also awarded Student of the Year from our Malaysia Centre. She is currently working as a Senior Business Development and Commercial Analyst for Talisman Energy. Here, she tells us about her experience of undertaking the part-time MBA in KL.

“I’m glad that I did the Strathclyde MBA Programme as it helped me switch from a technical to commercial role within the oil and gas industry. Having this qualification is all that I imagined in terms of career progression towards a business centric role. I think the combination of my prior technical experience and the MBA provided an added advantage in landing a strategic role with an operating company.

The reason why I wanted to do an MBA is because the oil and gas industry is booming, there are a lot of opportunities to grow and progress, and having an additional qualification certainly helps. On a personal note, I was seeking to balance my engineering experience with some business acumen, so the MBA was a natural platform to achieve that. The course sharpened my business skills through taught academic subjects, assignments, group work and networking amongst talented people from various industries.

I wanted to pursue the course with a reputable university. While there are many local institutions that offer MBAs, I was looking for some international exposure as my first degree had been with a local university. There are a limited number of international universities offering MBAs in KL, and I found Strathclyde Business School to stand out amongst the rest with its triple accreditation and focus on corporate strategy. When I enrolled, the school was within the UK top 10 the 3rd best in the world for corporate strategy.

In fact, I had started an MBA course with another university soon after graduating with my first degree. I lasted only 2 months! At that point of time, I was a fresh graduate and had just started working as a process engineer in an oil and gas consultancy. I found the entire transition to working life and juggling a completely new field of study too overwhelming. I didn’t want to do an MBA just for the sake of a paper qualification; I wanted to be able to relate what I had learnt to the real world, and more importantly, for the journey to be a self-enriching experience. I think there’s a certain level of experience and maturity required for a post-grad course to be truly relevant and valuable. I decided to discontinue the course, focus on my career and come back to it when I was ready. 10 years later, the time was right and I enrolled with Strathclyde Business School and the rest is history.

The part-time mode offered by Strathclyde in Malaysia thru CDC Management Development (M) Sdn Bhd, suits working professionals. Of course, that also means that most weekends and evenings during the entire two-year duration are spent within the university premises! Juggling work, study and life can be challenging. It’s all about setting priorities, adapting and making some temporary sacrifices, as the saying goes – no pain, no gain.

I enjoyed the strategy modules the most, where theory was complemented with examples, case studies and adaptation to real organisations. By working through real business challenges in groups, you not only learn from each other’s experience, but also engage in healthy debates when differences in views arise.

Of course, the most memorable time was attending summer school in Glasgow with a group of coursemates from KL. It was a wonderful experience – to set foot in University of Strathclyde, relive student life, meet students from other countries and enjoy the sights and scenes of Scotland.

Manpreet (2nd left) and fellow Malaysian students outside the Business School

Manpreet (2nd left) and fellow Malaysian students taking a break from Summer School classes

From a technical role in an oil and gas service company pre-MBA, I ventured into a business and commercial role in an oil and gas operator post the MBA. It feels good to be able to relate to both the technical and business communities at work and understand the business implications of technically driven decisions and vice versa.

My advice is that once you have made the decision to pursue a postgrad course, you must stay focused towards achieving the goals you have set out for yourself.  It may not be a smooth and easy journey, but when you look back at the end of it, you will realise that it was all worth it. Family support and encouragement is crucial, they will inherently need to make some adjustments along the way and understand your time commitments. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!  Your coursemates are probably the people you’d be spending most time with outside work and home, so take time to understand each other’s personalities and find the best way to collaborate.  It’s all a team effort, and I’m glad to have been able to make some good friends along the way.”