My last formal qualifications was A-levels. Do I feel embarrased by that? No not really as I've done some amazing things in my life that I know if I had gone to university that I wouldn't have had the chance to do. Also I went into the theatre industry in a time and to some degree (no pun intended)) it's the same now where a degree doesn't get you anywhere. Theatre Lighting (which I used to do) is all about who you know and what you know. Yes I could have had BA after my name but... would it have actually got me anywhere? Probably not. But why now in my late 30's did I return to study?
Firstly my life has changed now. Back 20 years ago I was the one putting the lights up for the shows. I was travelling the world. I was working with cool people doing cool shows and projects. This was my life as I could see it for the next 20-30 years. I didn't need anything more. However life chops and changes you about. In my late 20's the business which was just a trading name for myself changed its purpose.
I bought in a couple of partners in to the company to help it expand. It did and it grew bigger and bigger. We weren't massive, but turning over nearly 7 figures. 5 full time staff, 20 or so casual/part time staff it meant that I moved away from the "tools" side of the business to running the business. I had done A-level business studies but this was nothing compared to that!
As the business continued to grow I started to learn more and more about the business side of doing business. Everyday was a "school day". I set up another business to run along side my main business which sadly failed. When the time is right I will do a post about that - but now isn't that time. Anyway it led to me having to leave my own company, and walk away from something that I had set up and run for nearly 10 years.
I didn't know what I was going to do. There were some offers of things. Some in the industry and some not. Finally though I settled on the journey that had led me to where I am now.
I'm now working for a big corporate company (but still in the entertainment industry) but with my knowledge gained from running my own business, and then working in a couple of other businesses as I built myself and my confidence back up I felt a gap.
Was it a thing to try and keep up with my colleagues, or just my new environment being more professional than before? I don't know but I felt that I was in a place where I wanted to study again.
What did I return to study?
The choice of what I was going to return to study was tough. Should I go for a full on open university degree? If so what? Of should it be a short course something? If it was something what would that be? There was a whole host of things that I looked at or thought about. My main concern was over time. I've got a busy job, a job with a lot of travel (although I write this at the time of Covid 19 bound to only travelling to the office and back) and the thought of going from nothing to taking on a full degree was too much.
Obviously also the course needed to be part time (wasn't giving up work for this) and also something that could be done distant learning.
After much looking around I settled on the MBA Essentials Course which was run by the London School of Economics through the Get Smarter platform. I felt that I wanted to get my teeth into "business" study and actually if I could I would love to do a full on MBA sometime. When - who knows?! but I thought this might be a good starting place.
There were also lots of different options on the Get Smarter Platforms to pick from and the choice was quite hard. I also went with LSE because they are one of the best Universities in the UK.
How did I find the return to study?
Getting the course paperwork through and the understanding of what lay ahead looked massive! Up to 10 hours study a week on top of a job doing 50+ hours? How was I going to achieve that? But this is where my 2020 Motivation and Goals post can also come into play. Once you find the time you look back at it and not understand where time goes!
Yes there was a trip to Italy where I needed to finish some coursework. There was also a week I spent in Las Vegas with work on a trade show - but again jet lag helped me here. When you wake at all times of the day and night it's amazing what you can get done. It was also lucky that it was one of the easier weeks as it was accounting. I had done all the books for a while for my old company so understood quite a bit of that one!
Was it easy? No but actually I found the topic's that we were covering interesting. The course was well laid out and structured into smaller modules by LSE and this made the studying a lot easier than I first thought. Yes I lost a lot of my Sunday's to the studying - but it was something that I wanted to do and I was motivated to put as much work as I could into it. It was only 10 weeks - I could manage that!
The Course Outline
The outline of the course is below (with an indication of a break down of a module on the right). This is of course headline topics - but for me I found all the sections interesting. Having a more logical brain I think that Section 1 and 2 was probably more of interest to me!
- Orientation Module
- 1: Leading with influence
I: The Strategic Environment
- 2: Economics for managers
- 3: Competitive strategy
- 4: Corporate strategy
II: The Financial Toolkit
- 5: Financial accounting
- 6: Management accounting
- 7: Analysing financial statements
III: The Human Element
- 8: In the mind of the manager
- 9: Nudging behaviour
- 10: Organisational culture as a leadership tool
After the 10 weeks I had learnt a huge amount and really developed a load of different skills. The course covered a lot although was the constraint of 10 hours a week it didn't give the chance to get into huge detail. At the end of the course I came out with a total mark of 88%. I don't think that I had ever come out with such a high grade before! I was not only super proud of what I had achieved, with the addition that it was a return to study after nearly 20 years it was quite amazing!
I can highly recommend the course for those who might be thinking about a MBA but would like to try things before you go the full hog. Would I recommend going back to studying after such a gap? Yes! Totally! However with a full time job you need to have your eyes open with the pressure that it is. At the end of the 10 weeks I was very glad that I had a break away from it all.
I'm still interested in doing a full course MBA but life I think will get in the way. Would I do another short course though? Quite possibly!
Find more about the course that I did here: