“I was 54 years old, the business operations manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for a specialist department in one of the world’s largest IT corporations. My boss was based in California (so I got to plan my own time): why would I want to go back to university at my age? Well, like a lot of people, I like a challenge and I was always a bit disappointed that I’d never done a degree after leaving technical college. So, I started to look around and realised that my experience and background would get me straight onto an MBA course without ever having done a bachelor’s degree. So far, so good.
Having been out of full-time education for 34 years, the academic discipline took a bit of getting used to, but we had some great lecturers and I began to realise that, despite my experience, there was a lot of really useful stuff out there that was interesting, stimulating and which I could use in both my existing business ops role and in setting up my new business. (I was about to take an early retirement package).
The topics covered a wide range and we got to work in teams early on. (And what a diverse and experienced group we had and that also helped keep us all going). We all had full-time ‘day-jobs’ and pretty much the same issues over time, but the group worked well and we helped each other along. The opportunity to work on projects in groups was very useful and we got to do some things (like review the sales and marketing options for new development at a Cathedral), which I would never have done in my day job.
Between each academic year, we had the opportunity to do some additional study, and I received a University Certificate in Management Coaching which has been both enlightening and helped with one of my new jobs in mentoring and teaching new entrants to the professional body to which I belong. (The Business Continuity Institute).
Just before starting my final year, I was diagnosed with cancer and needed to spend quite a lot of time in hospital or recovering. I needed to take quite a lot of time off, but UCLan provided support and advice and kept me in touch. We all handle things differently, but being able to focus on completing my MBA definitely helped me. I got it a year later than planned, but hey I was still here to do it, so I am not complaining.
The final year gave me a chance to do research for the final dissertation and with the support of my tutors and UCLan, I completed research on formal business continuity standards which I was able to get published in a professional journal - something I would never have imagined doing before coming to UCLan.
So there you go. We just don’t always know what we have inside us until someone helps us to achieve our potential. To me, the UCLan MBA has been an experience I would not have missed and my only regret is that I didn’t do it 20 years earlier. The staff at UCLan are great and the facilities, especially the library, (both physical and online), have been outstanding. What are you waiting for?”
Read Stephen's article about his final year research/dissertation, published in The Business Continuity Institute ‘Continuity’ magazine - 'Maintaining the Standards' (Page 26)