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John Gibson

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Retiree John had spent his career working in marine insurance in London and in a number of overseas countries. After completing an OU BA (Hons) in Philosophy and Psychological Studies in 2012, he decided to embark on an MSc in Finance in 2014 to fulfil a long-term, personal ambition. At the age of 72, he wrote his dissertation, and was awarded the MSc in Finance Dissertation of the Year in the 2019-20 Student and Alumni Awards.

“I have had a strong interest in studying for a postgraduate degree in finance for some years due to my close links with the finance sector in London. So when the OUBS launched the MSc in Finance in 2014, this was a great opportunity for me to pursue my long-term ambition. I had already retired when I undertook my postgraduate degree. Prior to retirement, I worked as a Regional Marine Insurance Underwriter in the Lloyds insurance market and in South Africa, Nigeria, Singapore and the Middle East.

“I had already gained an OU degree some years before. In 2012, I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Philosophy and Psychological Studies and found the study experience highly rewarding and extremely enjoyable. The tutors’ lectures were really interesting and comprehensive and the textbooks were well written and clearly understandable. 

“During my MSc in Finance, I found that the tutors were highly qualified and experienced to teach this degree. I found the lectures and guidance I received extremely important in supporting me to achieve the results I did. The online content and textbooks were comprehensive and easy to follow. The regular tests and assignments kept me on track during the study periods. I really enjoyed the experience of the dissertation and found it a major learning experience and highly enlightening. My tutor offered excellent advice and guidance when I embarked on the dissertation, and in its completion.

“I found that both my OU degrees were life-changing experiences. My studies with The Open University have taught me to challenge particular arguments, to think in a logical and rational way, to investigate certain view points and not to accept social constructs without further research. The OU has also taught me to make more balanced decisions, based on evidence I have researched. My personal life has changed in a dramatic way as I think and argue in a more positivist way.

“I have found study a very enjoyable experience at the OU. As an example, I historically found statistics a very dry subject, until I studied the module Research Methods for Finance. This module really made the topic very interesting and exciting for me, transforming the way I felt about statistics, which was a minor miracle!

“While I am retired, I regularly use what I learnt to support my family and friends in their financial concerns. This has been invaluable to them.

“I would recommend the OU Business School to anyone because of the high level of tuition and online material on offer. The degrees are recognised worldwide and competitively priced. Flexibility of learning is a major plus for those students who have a full-time job, as is the easy access to study material via desktop computer, iPad or smartphone.

“Plus, OU study works for all kinds of people. When I did my dissertation, most of the participants I interviewed expected to meet someone who was in their early 30s. I was 72 at the time of the dissertation! I was really touched by the amazing support the participants gave me and the encouragement I received to succeed. This was a real driving force in helping me complete the dissertation.

“It was a challenge, though. In fact, the dissertation was the most challenging module for me. I needed to find 12-15 participants who I could interview on a face-to-face basis. I was able to obtain the support of the market association, The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), which introduced me to most of the participants. This made my task so much easier.

“When I discovered that I had been awarded MSc in Finance Dissertation of the Year in the 2019-20 Student and Alumni Awards, I was completely overwhelmed and felt really honoured to be considered for this prestigious award. At the same time I felt a real sense of achievement and recognition.

“I would like to take another degree, possibly in Neuroscience, which is an area of study I am very interested in. I am currently retired but would also consider taking on some consultancy work in future, possibly in helping small organisations that may be struggling with financial issues.”