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Name: Jan McGhie
Occupation: Widening Access Adviser at the University of Strathclyde
Background: BA (Hons) Marketing and Business Law, M.Ed. Education Studies, both from the University of Strathclyde
My background is quite different to my colleagues on my course, as I have worked at the University for over 10 years now, straight after I graduated from my undergraduate degree, so I don’t have experience of a number of different jobs across different sectors. I’m a member of the Widening Access Team at the University and our goal is to ensure that under-represented groups do not experience barriers in accessing higher education, such as individuals from areas of social and economic disadvantage or care experienced young people. I primarily work with schools pupils in primary school, right through to the Senior Phase at secondary school and I coordinate outreach activities both here on the University campus and in schools all over the West of Scotland.
I decided that the Flexible MBA was more suitable for me as I can plan attendance at the intensive weekends around my workload and other commitments. From the application process and right through to getting started on the programme, the staff in the Business School have been extremely supportive, particularly Karen McMillan, who has been very helpful with all of my queries!
I finally started the MBA in October 2015, only a few months after completing my M.Ed. dissertation and after 3 years of part-time study. When I started to tell friends that I had been accepted on to the MBA, a few were confused with my rush to return to study so soon, but I explained that it had always been an ambition of mine to study for an MBA and the opportunity to do so at Strathclyde was such a privilege. I’m very fortunate that my family and friends are incredibly supportive of my decision to pursue my MBA and in addition to networking, the knowledge and experience I have gained in the last six months alone has confirmed for me that I have made the right decision.
I have completed one module fully so far, in Operations Management, and I’m now looking to my assignment for Managing People in Organisations. In addition to this, my group are writing up our work for Exploring the International Business Environment, focusing on applying the scenario method to our chosen country. I doubt you could have told me this time last year that I would be researching geo-political tensions and the impact of population growth in Azerbaijan!
All three classes have been so different in terms of structure and delivery and the discussions are always lively in my particular cohort, which makes them so enjoyable. The course really pushes your thinking beyond your prior knowledge and the application of the theory to the real world makes it far more realistic (I can’t look at self-service checkouts in the same way again…)
My work involves meeting a lot of young people who are put off the idea of higher education for a variety of reasons, but sometimes it is because they don’t have a support network behind them and people to ask what they think might be those ‘silly questions.’ Part of my job, and by working with our student mentors, is to show them not only the opportunities that higher education can bring, but also the support that is available, so if they do decide to go to University, they can picture themselves there in the future, feeling comfortable and confident in the path they have chosen. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have the inevitable first day nerves in the Operations class but I was made to feel so welcome and included by the MBA staff and fellow students, that any worries were quickly allayed. This has continued throughout each module and has increased my own confidence in my ability as a result. I know there are still busier times ahead in progressing through further modules, assignments and exams, but I am confident that the formal and informal support networks of the course will make it a little easier.