I was delighted when the Strathclyde Business School accepted my application to study the part-time Strathclyde MBA. For the past 20 years I’ve worked as a manager, both in the public and private sectors, and for the last 10 of those years as a front-line manager for the University of Strathclyde. I’ve gained a lot of experience over the years, but, in spite of this, I find that when faced with the never-ending challenges of unstable internal and external environments, experience alone is not enough. I regularly see myself on a steep learning curve that requires sensitive navigation. For that reason, I wanted to take my experience and apply it to a structure that would enable me to improve my ability to become a more innovative manager. I believed the Strathclyde MBA would be the perfect platform to help me achieve that goal.
I started the Strathclyde MBA in September last year (2013). At the time, I was under no illusion that going back to studying after many years was going to be easy and I knew it would involve a lot of hard work and effort. I was right; although the level of commitment to the MBA along with the non-stop demands of a full-time job completely threw me at first. I had to quickly learn to discipline and manage my time (and self) in order to balance the heavy workload demands, from both sides. The first semester on the MBA was especially challenging and it took me a long while to get myself into a workable routine.
In general, the high level of quality administration and teaching on the MBA is exceptional. The core text books are provided up-front. The lecturers teaching the modules, in most cases, are the authors and co-authors of the core text books, so the teaching and research expertise is first-hand and first-class. Also, the on-line VLE system (Myplace) is an excellent communication tool, which provides all the relevant materials, resources, and more.
The pace of learning on the MBA is defiantly fast, but the results of that learning are noticeable. In just a short time my mind-set has changed. I now tend to think more rationally and take a wider view of any given situation; especially whenever a difficult decision is imminent. I regularly consider the theories behind the practice and use ‘lean thinking’ and management tools in order to help improve and manage operations. These new approaches have definitely helped me to influence and engage others.
A major part of the MBA programme is based on group work. For me, the group experience was terrific. It gave me the opportunity to build up good relations with people from across various sectors; as well as across the globe. For example, within my allotted group there was a shipping manager, a bank manager, a wine connoisseur, a railway engineer and a university manager (me). The skills and knowledge within just one group were vast and, with some brilliant “blue sky thinking” sessions, the overall exchanges were extremely positive.
I still have a long way to go before I complete the Strathclyde MBA (2 years). However, in just under one year, my leadership and management abilities have amplified and my confidence in taking forward new ways of working is growing. I have no doubt that undertaking the Strathclyde MBA will continue to bring short and long term advantages for both me and my employers.