I believe your studies can open your mind to other possibilities in life.
Globetrotter Caroline is currently working as a Senior Project Management Specialist for RTI International in the United States, having previously been with Ernst & Young for 11 years in both the UK and the US. Born in the UK, she grew up in Peru before moving back to the UK, and has worked on three continents and lived in seven countries (Belgium, Spain, Mexico and India as well as Peru, the UK and the US) and counting.
“It was the natural choice to do my MBA with the OU Business School as I had already done my undergraduate degree and a postgraduate certification in management (PGCM) with The Open University and I liked the method and mindset. I wanted to see how far I could go in my career and an MBA appeared to be the right choice at that time, although it was really hard having to work and study at the same time.
“I believe your studies can open your mind to other possibilities in life, to plan and achieve what you want (within reason), and to find the courage to switch jobs if needed to find work that gives you some satisfaction and, if possible, pays well. Mine gave me the necessary insight to understand how to move between industries and cultures and I was able to apply some of what I learned while at Ernst & Young and then in the US. The MBA itself did not help secure a promotion – hard work and experience did that, as well as combining it with some of what I learned from having ‘earned’ an education as I worked and studied at the same time.
“I think any prospective students need to have a very clear set of goals in place before going for an MBA, or indeed any degree, such as, where are you going to work; how are you going to get there; what role do you want; and will the courses help you achieve this? Make sure you’re not shy to ask to be paid well for your work, be prepared to work long hours and make a lot of personal sacrifices if you are career driven. If you are family oriented, then ask yourself if this course will help you attain the necessary marketable skills for you to switch industries and remain with your family without having to go from job to job without direction.
“Part of my MBA studies were sponsored by my employer but I paid for the majority of my undergraduate and graduate degrees with my own money. This meant I made some hard choices in my 20s and 30s and I had little or no personal life. It was all work and studying and now, on reflection, I should have lived a little more. Maybe my dreams will come true later in my 50s and I will finally find it all. I do not regret the choices I made though to get where I am now. The OU was the best decision I made when it came to continuing with lifelong learning.
“I found the Foundations of Senior Management and Strategy to be the two most useful modules for my MBA, while there was also a requirement to attend residential schools for some of the courses and the most productive one was definitely at La Hulpe at the IBM training centre in Belgium. It was worth every moment as I met people from all over Europe and loved the content of the materials.
“I hope to eventually become a CFO or COO and stay at this level for the rest of my career, then a board member of a mid-size company in the US or the UK, or one of its subsidiaries in Peru or Latin America; I’m open to other places in the world providing they pay well! I would also like to teach / train the next generation, on a part-time basis.”