Lawrence began his studies in 2014 when he was working in full-time employment, to improve his career prospects. Despite facing a family tragedy part-way through his studies, he was named BA (Hons) Business Studies Student of the Year in the 2019-20 Student and Alumni Awards, and has since begun a new role for a major global retailer.
“When I decided to return to study, I was to be a mature student. I was already in full-time employment but I desperately wanted to gain my degree. However, at the same time, I couldn’t imagine leaving work.
“I’d never considered distance learning before. But after researching the options offered by the OU, I was convinced it would be the right choice for me. And I was right, it was perfect for my needs. I could study at my own pace and in the comfort of my own home.
“The tutors were all fantastic and supportive at every step. They were always there to help if I needed it. At the same time, the distance aspect of the learning puts you in a position to really figure out some of the concepts yourself. While this could at times be challenging, each time that ‘lightbulb’ moment did occur it was all the more rewarding. It really helped solidify the understanding in my mind.
“The flexibility of the OU was helpful to me. As I was entering into the final level of study, my mother became very ill and tragically passed away. This hit me incredibly hard, especially as one of the main reasons I wanted to gain my degree was to make her proud of me. I had to take a break from my learning, and also defer some of my exams, as I wasn’t in the correct mental state to continue. As the grief became easier to cope with, I decided I would use her memory and the desire to make her proud as motivation to finish my studies, and achieve the best result I possibly could. To this day, it's still tough that she never got to see my achievement but I like to think that somehow she is looking down at me with pride.
“My OU qualification has had – and continues to have – a huge impact on my career prospects. The ability to demonstrate credibility to your knowledge, in the form of a recognised qualification, not only signals to employers that you are worth considering for a role but it also gives you the confidence to apply for that role in the first place.
“I currently work as a supply chain analyst for a major UK retailer. I joined the business shortly after finishing my degree, and I believe my employer and colleagues would agree that my OU studies have been highly influential in my integration and understanding of the role.
“My studies have already propelled my professional life to the next level and emboldened me to continue being ambitious in the future.
“My learning around supply chains, inventory, and the global nature of business, has had a direct impact on the understanding of my specific job role. At a more subtle level, learning how different business functions operate and interact with one another has really helped me gain a holistic viewpoint. I find this incredibly valuable in my daily work life. Understanding how and why other functions operate makes inter-functional collaboration much easier.
“In the 2019-20 Student and Alumni Awards, I was named BA (Hons) Business Studies Student of the Year. Receiving this award has become one of the highlights of my life so far and shows that hard work really does pay off. While gaining a First-Class Honours itself was a most welcome outcome, being recognised in this manner really takes it to the next level.
“My personal life has also been boosted as my qualification has given me more self-confidence within my peer group. I've recently embarked on a journey to teach myself Arabic, a language I've had a desire to learn for many years now. I would also love to study for a Masters degree at some point in the future.
“For anyone considering taking up OU study, I would first encourage them to make sure they fully understand the demands and requirements of distance learning. Self-motivation is critical. But I would also draw their attention to the wealth of support and guidance the OU can offer to help with this. If they believe they are ready for the journey, I would advise them to go for it!”