#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Nigel

As a former Education advisor, if I had to pick one of the most frequently asked questions by prospective students, it would definitely be “How many hours do I need to study?” 

The vast majority (if not all) of our students are working and leading remarkably busy professional lives. Some are motivated and have already decided to undertake a master’s, while others contemplate the unknowns of an online programme. In my experience, two things effect their decision the most.  

First – finances, and second, being able to strike the perfect work, study, and life balance. While I cannot completely help you with the finances (partially yes – check out the discount offers currently being offered on our online MBA, MSc, and LL.M programmes), I thought what I could do to help was to bring some facts to light about the other unknowns – what does a typical day in the life of an online master’s student look like? 

I asked a few of our students from different walks of life, occupations, and personal situations to answer a few questions on their study tactics and strategies, plans and reality, and so on. I thank each one of the respondents for taking the time to share their experiences and give valuable advice to you – possibly future students. In our ‘a typical day in the life of a master’s student’ blog series once a month, we will bring to you one of our real students or alumni sharing the insights.  

Today, we’re looking at Nigel’s typical study days. Nigel, an RKC & University of Cumbria soon-to-be graduate, offered us these answers: 

An Introduction 

Vidhi Kapoor (VK): Which programme did you choose and why? 

Nigel Lee Tranter (NT):  MBA – Leadership and Sustainability, I chose this topic for two reasons  

1. I have a passion and high degree of interest in both topics  

2. I wanted to study through a recognised programme and a recognised college/university, and I wanted something I could easily apply in the workplace 

The Study Plan  

VK : How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week? 

NT: My initial plan was to commit the majority of study hours at a weekend, however, in reality what actual worked was daily early mornings (2 hours per day) with a supplemental number at the weekend which flexed between 4 – 6 hours depending on workload. 

VK: What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?) 

NT: For me definitely early mornings starting at 5 or 5:30 

VK: How much time did you devote for each assignment? 

NT: I assessed the requirements after reviewing each assignment and built in an extra 30% as contingency to allow for extra reading, research and breaks as each assignment progressed, this was based on the evolving nature of discovering something new and interesting during the research phase. I set aside about 20 hours per week for studies.

Travelling and Communication 

VK: Did you travel for work? How did travelling impact your ability to study? 

NT: Only rarely did travel affect my study time due in part to the early morning start time plus mode of travel (usually train or airplane) allowed me to study while travelling also. 

VK: How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences? 

NT: The use of virtual and collaboration technologies eradicated the time differences. During my dissertation my supervisor and I agreed to also supplement using WhatsApp also to support the learning experience. 

A typical day as a master’s student 

VK: What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you? 

 NT: Start at 5 or 5:30am, study for 2 hours. Commence my normal business day around 8 am, finish my business day circa 6 to 7pm then depending on how I felt, perhaps another hour’s study, however this was always optional so as not to feel it was mandatory thus avoiding the learning experience becoming stressful. 

Any advice? 

VK: Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies. 

NT: Find your working space and condition yourself to prepare for learning when you enter this space. Build in contingency for holidays and breaks to avoid building pressure. Find your optimum study period of the day when you are most productive and experiment with this timeframe, learn how to research effectively to get the quality results you want, study productivity techniques that work for you and finally enjoy the experience. 

Alright folks, this was a sneak peek of a typical day in Nigel’s life as a master’s student. I hope you find it insightful and informative and that it gives you an idea of what to expect when you enrol for our master’s programmes. Watch this space as we have many more interesting insights coming up! 

Event Management during COVID-19

Well, I have said it before, and I am saying it again – we live in difficult times. But the more I think about it, maybe “difficult” is not the right term to use. I think the right word to use here is “challenging”, and “challenging” isn’t as bad as “difficult”. And what challenges give us, are opportunities.

This “opportunity” (and I know it might seem crass to term COVID-19 as an opportunity or as something positive, because it is definitely not positive, and I wish it never happened!) might not have been a choice and was forced on the world by COVID-19, but this is not the first time that the world faced a widespread pandemic and it will not be the last. Every time we faced something like this (global pandemic, world wars, etc.) in the past, we have come out of it stronger and better prepared for the future, so we might as well try to make the best of a bad situation now too.

Companies and individuals around the world are seizing on this opportunity that the challenge of COVID-19 has provided. New ways to think and work, new processes and operations, new businesses and technology, new products and services, and finally, new ways of managing events.

One of the sectors that have suffered greatly, at least in the short term, is Event Management. I mean, one of the basic ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing, and that is the antithesis of a successful event.

The following are some of the challenges and/or solutions that event managers have come up with in dealing with COVID-19.

Cancellation: Events are being cancelled, primarily because the fear and risks are real, and it is always better to be safe than sorry! However, the silver lining is events still need to take place, especially in the corporate world. New products and services still need to be announced and launched, Comic Con needs to take place to announce new movies and television shows, and to keep the fans hooked.

A royal wedding event in times before Covid-19

Opportunity: While events like “grand weddings” might be a thing of the past, at least for the immediate future, the opportunity still exists to plan for a classy, intimate, and yet a memorable wedding. After all, the wedding day will always be one of the most important days in a couple’s married life, and couples still need to get married (life doesn’t come to a halt because of COVID-19) and make their day special. A grand wedding reception can always be planned for when things return back to normal, until then, recordings of the wedding can be shared with extended friends and family. Planning for an intimate, yet memorable wedding can challenge the creativity of an event planner, but in this case, it is the challenge to overcome.

Technology: That was on the personal side of things. I believe it is a lot simpler on the corporate side. Technology has made it a lot easier to plan corporate events and products launches. Earlier this month, Samsung had their Galaxy Unpacked August 2020 event, and unlike previous years, their entire audience – from the media, to reviewers, to creators – joined them virtually. Also, most of the product launches looked like they were pre-recorded and professionally edited (I felt it gave it a more completed look overall, polishing out the rough edges that were visible in previous years).

A similar strategy was adopted in this year’s Democratic National Convention, in the United States of America. Apart from the day’s presenters, most of the key speakers, spoke from their home through pre-recorded messages for the nation. Only the candidates, whose acceptance speeches had to be live, addressed a greatly reduced live audience. And even here the event was planned in such a way that it tried to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures – like having the live audience being seated 6 feet apart and wearing a mask.

Democratic National Convention 2020

Events similar to Comic Con have adopted a similar strategy to Samsung, having invited their audience to participate online, hosting pre-recorded interviews of creators, developers, and stars that the audience can view. While at the same time, having interactive sessions through video conferencing/streaming with live chat options with the stars and creators of new shows.

Staffing and Salaries: With the cancellation of events comes loss of business and revenue, and by extension (maybe) downsizing and layoffs. Because, lets face it, if companies don’t earn, they can’t pay. For those that have not been affected by downsizing, the beautiful thing about being an event management professional is the ability to work from anywhere, at least most of the time. All that is needed is your mobile phone and your laptop (and something, or someone, to occupy the kids).

Training and Planning: For the bigger event management firms that have a large clientele, this time is a great opportunity to train their staff and plan for the future. All events take time to plan and having the right vendors in place with an optimised supply chain will go a long way in bring down costs and the turnaround time in executing a successful event. Because once things go back to normal, I have a feeling that there will be a rush of back to back events, to make up for lost opportunities.

RKC's residency event - before and after Covid-19
RKC’s residency event – before and after Covid-19

If you are interested in learning and being better prepared for the opportunities in event management, Robert Kennedy College through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK, offers a 100% Online MSc in International Events Management to better prepare you for the challenges to come.

You can chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.

Women in RKC – Manal Al-Khaled – MA Leading Innovation and Change graduate

This week in our Women Day series, we have another special lady with us with her unique story through her Masters with Robert Kennedy College.  

Manal Al-Khaled is a graduate of the MA in Leading Innovation and Change (MALIC) programme, York St John University, UK. This programme was revamped and is now offered 100% online as MBA programme in Leading Innovation and Change.  

Manal Al-Khaled

Who is …

A short profile: 

Vidhi Kapoor (VK): Who are you, really? 

Manal Al-Khaled (MA): A mother, wife, daughter, a traveller, a reader and above all a woman !  

I grew up in a multicultural and multi-religious family; an Arab father and a Russian mother is a combination that gave me a wider cultural exposure at an early age. Growing up in the Middle East has enriched my knowledge of how great my desire was to not only be successful but “a successful woman”. I didn’t have much choice but to be educated and successful. I studied in Switzerland to obtain a Higher Swiss Diploma and a BA from the United Kingdom.  

With experience in the hospitality field, training and education, and international development in different parts of the world from Cyprus, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Jordan and Bahrain, it wasn’t long before I realized I needed to do further self-development. I decided to do a Masters degree which I successfully completed at York St John University, MA in Leading Innovation and Change.  

I currently live and work in Canada, where I work as a project manager in a non-profit organization in the Toronto area.  

Getting back into education 

Your story of getting back to do a Master’s degree 

VK: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you?

MA: In 2013, my daughters were only 4 and 5 years old when my husband lost his job due to political unrest in the region (Middle East). There was never a right time to do my Master’s degree. There were other financial priorities always and with 2 little kids and a full-time job, time was a luxury, that I didn’t have much of it or under my control. I kept postponing it for all the reasons in the world. Then it hit me, it’s now, no matter what. My father was my supporter all the way who believes education is the best time and money investment. No matter what life brings, with the proper education, not only people but nations rise. That was my turning point, I started my first module in January 2014.  

Today, I truly believe it was the best time investment I have made in a very long time. It was a rocky road indeed with some bumps. But in addition to family support, the instructors within the program were not only great academics but wonderful people that offered support where they could.  

VK: What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them? 

MA: There were many challenges, in my decision, and during the program. It was the time when my husband lost his job, so certainly, financially it was way far down the list as a priority. With two tiny kids, having sleepless nights and being needed as a mom at all times was also a struggle. Being a full-time employee working 9:00 am-5:00 pm added to this struggle. 

I learned to spend quality time with my children, and my evenings that went into reading a book or watching my favourite shows and movies, switched to reading the module related material, participating in class discussions and working on my assignments.  

I thought waking up every day at 6:00 am was early enough, but I have developed a habit of waking up at 4:00 am to catch up on my work and it eventually became the most productive time of my day.  

I believe the less options we have, the more determined we are to succeed. I didn’t allow myself to think of failure, I kept thinking of ways to succeed. We sometimes forget down the road the main reason why we did things. We don’t just join a Master’s degree programme for nothing. There’s always a reason. We just need to remind ourselves why we wanted it.  

VK: What surprised you the most when you started your studies? 

MA: A couple of things truly fascinated me when I first started. First, the high level of program delivery that is actually possible online; the whole concept was very new to me then. Access to libraries, articles, books and journals was amazing. Also, contacting classmates for any module helped share ideas and thoughts. Wonderful platform to have access to.  

The academic profiles of the instructors were jaw-dropping. Successful people with good knowledge of various industries made theory and practical gap way smaller than many might assume.  

 VK: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education? 

Absolutely. No matter where you come from, women are still fighting to get equal rights in hiring, in wages and many others. Women, in many parts of the world, are still struggling in balancing between what they want to achieve and what is expected from them by society. Going back into education is challenging after starting a career path or starting a family and/or having kids. After living in many parts of the world, I came to realize that women are challenged everywhere not only in certain parts of the world. In the most progressed countries, women are still fighting for equality on different levels.  

Put all that together, going back to education is not always an easy path to choose, but in my opinion, it is certainly the right path.   

Manal works as a
project manager in a
non-profit organization in the Toronto area.

Getting the degree 

The work to get the degree – what did you learn, how did you balance, what would you do differently 

VK: Which programme did you do? Why? 

MA: I did MA in Leading Innovation and Change. I could not resist the program’s title and description. Being a woman who thrived to lead, to find new ways and to change, that was a dream come true. We all need change, we all ask for change, and yet, many are scared of change. The program gave me answers professionally and personally.  

VK: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme? 

MA: The more you learn, the more you realize you want to learn more!  

VK: How did you balance work and studies? 

MA: In fact, it was work, studies, and family balance. Only through time management. I wish there was a magical method, but there isn’t. Time management and being efficient in using that time. As silly as it sounds, we get dragged sometimes in doing things for a long time that aren’t necessarily productive. I am old fashioned until today with my tasks, I always have a notebook with my tasks to complete for the day and they need to be ticked by the end of the day.  

VK: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones? 

MA: I believe that studying online has similar challenges for everyone but being a woman sometimes may add to those challenges with extra challenges to face in daily life.  

Life post degree 

What changed, if anything? 

VK: What’s new in your life since graduating / starting your studies? Any visible impact already? 

MA: Absolutely! Having a master’s degree has placed me on a more senior and managerial level in my career path.  

VK: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned? 

MA: This question is being answered during the COVID-19 shutdowns worldwide and organizations shifting to working from home. I had to be part of a major organizational change from delivering service to clients face to face without having the option of working from home, to an organization that shifted all services delivered to clients to online and everyone is working from home. Being part of the management team and leading my team through that change successfully and smoothly was mainly about my knowledge gained in the program on how to lead and implement change in an organization and its impact on both the organization and individuals.  

VK: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the workplace? 

MA: Yes. Professional development is essential in any career growth. Doing it online at your own time and pace allows a wider range of individuals to be part of this development. This will allow more females to enrol in various programs to develop their skills and advance in their careers and they will compete professionally with other colleagues based on their knowledge rather than gender.  

Advice for other women 

Or other students, really. 

VK: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

MA: Use time efficiently, do not get distracted. Focus on what you want and make it happen. Always remember, success feels good and make this your motivation 

VK: Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

MA: A good lumbar support office chair. 

Closing thoughts 

VK: Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree? 

MA: Women in history have succeeded in everything from raising families to leading armies. There’s still a large gender gap in women’s roles in decision making and leadership. Women sometimes need to work harder to reach those positions. Education is a great tool for success. Follow your dreams and make them happen.  

How about that! A good lumbar support office chair – that sure is one original suggestion, Manal! Manal’s advice to buckle up and be prepared for the challenges of the Master’s programme should be taken to heart.  

Do you see yourself going through this wonderful journey? Share your thoughts with us, what motivated you or what stops you from enrolling in your dream Masters programme in the comments below. 

The Internet of Things – Wooohhaat?

The first time I heard the phrase “The Internet of Things (IoT)” (and that was not too long ago), my reaction was – “Wooohhaat the hell is that?! Speak English man!”

Now, my understanding of IoT is still very limited, and when I decided to write a blog on one of the new programmes we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) launched through our exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria (UoC), UK – 100% Online MSc Computer Science and International Business, I was happy to find that one of the modules in the programme was IoT.

Now, what can one actually write about a management programme in Computer Science and International Business? I certainly couldn’t think of anything, apart from information about the programme, which can anyway be found on our website. So, I decided to get a better understanding of IoT and pass it on to all those in the same boat as I, or who may be looking to do this programme with us.  

What is the Internet of Things?

We live in a digital world and have reached a point where most anything in the digital space can basically talk to other “things” digital and share data – we can share data through networking between our communication devices, between multiple and different apps and software. But until quite recently, this sharing was not possible in the physical world.

But now, technology has advanced to the point where we are able to build a network of multiple physical objects, connect it to the internet, to send, receive, and interpret data. And this is the Internet of Things.

I know it sounds complicated, but nowadays, we actually see it in a number of places and don’t actually realise it, taking it for granted. I saw it work at the end of last year and was impressed but did not know what I was looking at. 

My family and I were on holiday in Abu Dhabi and were lucky enough to be staying at W Hotel, Yas Island, and got an upgrade to a suite. The entire room was connected. As an example, every item in the minibar was detected and listed as removed on a screen. Housekeeping restocked as soon as we were out of the room and it was billed automatically.

People who use Google Home, Apple Homekit, Amazon Alexa, or Philips Hue are already familiar with the technology. 

How does IoT actually work?

The working of IoT can basically be broken down into four sections:

  • Hardware – is what helps us connect digital items to physical objects. The hardware is what senses things and converts that to data. 
  • Data – is the information that the hardware collects. It is what will help us make sense of how everything is working, becoming the true universal language, the universal language of “things”.
  • Software – is what interprets all the information and enables the use of information. Software is what takes data from the hardware and extracts value for the end user. 
  • Connectivity – without connectivity there is no IoT. 2g, 4g, 5g, wi-fi, Bluetooth, without connectivity there is no exchange of data and IoT would have only remained a concept that some genius penned down. 

Is IoT practical?

The simple answer is – YES! This is not science fiction; it is already is daily use. It is cheap and easy to build – the hardware can be bought out of the box, the software is readily available (that is, for those of us too lazy or who don’t have the knowledge to make or create it on our own, but are good at marketing and selling). And finally, they are simple and easy to use, especially if you make it compatible with Google, Apple and Amazon. And because of cloud computing and networking, IoT can be done from anywhere, at a low cost, with minimal maintenance. 

In fact, most of us already use IoT today, from turning on our Philips Hue lights to a colour and brightness matching our mood, to automatically switching on or off our air conditioner and heating systems, to security systems that monitor our homes and alert us when there is an unauthorised entry. All this is done live, from the tips of our fingers, with your preferences backed up on the cloud and available across all systems.

The impact of IoT on industry

According to a McKinsey & Company report in 2017, the impact of IoT across industry will be approximately US$11 Trillion annually by the year 2025.

The impact on industry is already telling, especially in terms of cost savings. As an example, vertical farms, where the only human interaction needed is at the time of planting. Watering, trimming, and harvesting are all taken care of by IoT systems.

Another good example of IoT integration to reduce costs and increase profitability is the city of Barcelona, which was one of the first European cities to adapt smart city technologies. Simple implementation of parking sensors informing motorists of where parking spaces are available has increased the revenue generated from parking to over US$50 million per year. By having IoT systems in public lighting has enabled Barcelona city to reduce their energy costs by over US$37 million per year. And finally, their smart gardens have saved them US$58 million a year by just efficient water usage.

And as technology is always changing, the city of Barcelona has also incorporated these changes to have a direct and positive impact on the lives of its residents. The use of smart phones has enabled residents to receive instant alerts and updates from the city about employment, housing, administration, mobility, health services, security and utilities. 

A recent study (2018) of McKinsey: Smart Cities: Digital solutions for a more livable future distinguished 55 applications within the fields shown below. According to this study, these applications are capable to improve quality of live by 10 – 30%.

Now for the cons of IoT

The “force” cannot exist without the “dark side” (Star Wars reference), and now that we have ranted and raved about how wonderful IoT is, here are a couple of its more obvious drawbacks. 

The biggest and most obvious disadvantage of IoT is data security and privacy. As mentioned earlier, creating an IoT device is not too difficult or expensive to make, and in their rush to become the first mover and trendsetter, most manufacturers tend to overlook the security aspect of IoT. Keep in mind, in most cases, you will have to enter your personal information, and in some cases, even your credit card information to effectively use your IoT enable devices. Now, these devices usually work in a network and are on the cloud, so if there isn’t firewalls and security, your privacy and data can be at risk. 

Another unexpected drawback, if you can even consider it that, as it is caused due to the increase in efficiency due to implementation of IoT, is to increase in the short-term unemployment. With the increase in efficiency, the workforce required to do a particular job will be streamlined. While this has the positive impact of reducing costs and the turnaround time to job completion, it also has the unintended consequences of leaving a large percentage of the workforce either unemployed or having to be retrained in a new job skill.

A good example of the massive impact IoT is having on the retail industry is Amazon Go. The evolution of how everything from merchandising and stocking, supply chain management, human resources, and billing, in the retail industry is just amazing to see.


Finally, the importance and potential future impact of IoT cannot be understated, especially in the era of social distancing. The judicious and responsible implementation of IoT will free up humanity to do what we do best – create, innovate, learn, socialise and moving on to the next “big thing”. Which is why IoT, as a study module, is integral to a number of programmes offered by Robert Kennedy College

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programmes offered, application process, and for more information on any discounts we might be running in this rather strange period of our lives.

Breakthrough Technologies through the eyes of Bill Gates

“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other.”  Bill Gates
 

 

We are changing the world with technology, with software being the big change agent. And the man who has been instrumental (the change agent himself) in bringing this technological change is Bill Gates. Bill Gates needs no introduction. I believe his name is synonymous with the innovation and change in the world of technology as the world sees it today. Bill Gates, one of the richest entrepreneurs, innovators, one of the most influential persons in the world and an immense philanthropist, revolutionized the technology industry when he co-founded Microsoft in 1975. And the rest is history. 

Gates say the advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life. I am not going to lay out the advantages or importance of IT in business or as Bill Gates mentions, in our everyday lives. This is more about what is going on in the world of Information Technology and how new breakthrough technologies continue to disrupt the world.  

MIT Technology Review has been presenting ten breakthrough technologies every year. And in this list’s history of 18 years, the 2019 edition was curated by none other than Bill Gates. There could not be a better person than Gates, sharing with the world which new technologies he believes are poised to deeply impact our lives.  

MIT’s 2019 breakthrough technologies fall into 3 categories – climate change mitigation, healthcare and AI. These are some challenges and opportunities for our future society and communities. Based on Bill Gates’ beliefs, these chosen technologies indicate a trend of transition in technologies – from those that mostly made life longer to those that mostly make it better. 

Here goes the list: 

  1. Robot revolution—robot hands that can learn to manipulate unfamiliar objects on their own  
  1. New-wave nuclear power—Development of both new fission and fusion reactor designs making them safer and cheaper  
  1. Customizable cancer vaccines— Companies like BioNTech and a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to target only tumoral cells  
  1. Predicting premature babies—a simple blood test that can predict chances of preterm birth, potentially saving many children’s lives  
  1. Probe-a-pill—a swallowable device that takes image the gut and even performs biopsies.
  1. Plant based burgers—The aim is to drastically cut emissions from the food industry by inventing both plant-based and lab-grown meat alternatives.  
  1. Separating and ‘Repurposing’ Carbon dioxide—Companies like Climeworks based in Zurich, are looking for economical techniques for absorbing CO2 from the air and locking it away. Companies aim to produce methane from carbon emissions and also sell carbon dioxide to the soft-drink industry 
  1. An ECG-enabled smartwatch— Electrocardiogram – popularly known as ECG – will be available as wearable technology. The wearable will be able to detect atrial fibrillation and continuously monitor people’s heart and health conditions, giving early warnings of problems. 
  1. Self-contained toilets—The low-income countries cannot afford the luxury of a sewer system. Gates says, “A self-contained toilet takes the human waste, liquid and solid, and in most cases does some type of separation. The solids you can essentially burn. The liquids you can filter” 
  1. All- capable AI assistants—Expect better conversations with AI Assistants that are capable of much more than just conversations like taking meeting notes and shopping online.  

Bill Gates is not just a believer but an avid investor in the development of these innovative technologies that are bound to change the world. As he says,

“How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” 

I for one believe the world is witnessing how IT has transformed businesses and is an integral part of its success. RKC providing online programmes understand the importance of tech and thus offers Online Masters that provide you with the necessary knowledge and skill to excel in the field of IT. Chat with our advisors on WhatsApp to know more about our 100% Online MBA specializing in Information Technology. Because in the words of Bill Gates,

“Vision without execution is daydreaming”. 

Women in RKC – Ilse Baxter, MA Leading Innovation and Change, York St John University, UK

Continuing with our blog series featuring our female students, we asked our students to share their experiences with us – the challenges of getting back to school, of managing work and study along with family, and the unique challenges they faced being female students.

Ms. Ilse Baxter is a graduate of our MA programme in Leading Innovation and Change (MALIC) through our exclusive partnership with York St John University, UK. This programme has been discontinued and has reincarnated as a 100% online MBA programme in Leading Innovation and Change

Ms. Ilse Baxter

Now, let us see what she has to say!

Who is … 

A short profile

Sahil Devasia (SD): Who are you, really?

Ilse Baxter (IB): I am a forty-something, beach and nature loving South African who divides her time between Sandton, Johannesburg, Cape Town and my happy place – Hermanus. I have always loved music and the arts – and danced professionally for a short period in my early twenties. 

My under-graduate studies were in the sciences – I studied computer science and maths – but balanced this with English literature studies just to keep sane. 🙂 

I have over my career had the privilege of working in SA, the UK and the USA. These days I am a director of a niche management consulting company – heading up the Business Transformation practice. We have for more than 10 years helped clients in the Financial Services and Retail sector grapple with some of the toughest challenges they have had to face. I am absolutely passionate about the topic of Business Transformation! For fun I love travel, reading, yoga, painting, music and I’m a bit of a foody – so love love love all the wonderful restaurants and wineries SA has to offer or just cooking at home with friends and family!

Getting back into education

Your story of getting back to do a Master’s degree

SD: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you?

IB: I don’t consider myself an academic at all – I never have. I am very practically/experientially minded by nature – but I have always been insatiably curious about things around me. In this – I guess I was inspired by my mother. At 88 this year she remains as sharp as ever, curious (and incredibly informed) about the world around her and eternally questioning and seeking to understand more. 

In my forties I started feeling the need to back what I had learnt practically/experientially with a relevant and meaningful post graduate qualification. I didn’t just want to “tick the box” by adding a few letters behind my name – I wanted it to be something that really contributed to my practice and reflected my areas of interest. It took me a couple of years to find something that I felt reflected my interest areas and allowed me to study in a way that made sense it my personal and professional obligations…… enter MALIC.

SD: What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them?

IB: Firstly – TIME!!! How do I balance an incredibly busy life of running a consulting practice, helping clients through some of the toughest challenges they ever have to face (not a part time job), being there for my team, being present and there for my husband and family – and still find some time for myself (especially with all the pressure out there to stay fit, well and to achieve the illusive “balance” we’re all chasing)?! 

Secondly – a PERSONAL CRISES. I had already been accepted into the programme. Literally the week I was due to start – my husband (and business partner – he is the Managing Director of our company) had a major stroke. This was a crisis not just personally – but for our business too. Initially he was paralysed on the right-hand side of his body. Also – the man I married spoke 6 languages. The stroke rendered him mute for about 6 weeks (language centre in the brain was at the locus of the stroke). And then we had to start from scratch – learning how to say vowels etc etc. It has taken years to recover his current facility in terms of both speech and writing. He recovered 100% physically quite quickly. But the language journey is one they told us could take 10 years. Nearly 4 years later now his speech and writing has largely recovered in English and he is starting to grapple with French and Spanish again. 

My instincts at the time was to just cancel commencing with my studies. But – as always – it was my mum and husband that insisted that I continue. So, I asked for a reprieve to start with the next cohort (3 months later) and set out on a 3 year journey of learning. 

To be honest – studying kept me sane. It gave me something outside of my circumstances to focus on. Our business has had to transform to adapt to our new circumstances – and in doing so it has thrived. We have had to adapt to our new circumstances – and although without a shadow of a doubt it has been the toughest thing I have ever faced – we have survived and thrived through it. Studying under these circumstances was – despite seemingly impossible circumstances (many clients and friends thought I was mad to continue) – the best decision I have ever made. 

Thirdly – PEOPLE’s PERSPECTIVES (clients, family, friends) – asking me WHY I FELT I NEEDED TO STUDY FURTHER – you’ve already mastered this topic – what difference will this make to your life? Ultimately the decision to study was a very personal one. My job requires me to pour everything I know into helping my clients – this drains you physically, emotionally and mentally. In truth – I knew I needed something to build up my own internal stores – to inspire, challenge and grow again – so that I could be a better leader, a better advisor and a better practitioner. It has done all that for me and more!

SD: What surprised you the most when you started your studies?

IB: Firstly – That despite a seemingly impossible load – client assignments, running a business, study, family – there IS time if you really want to do something. Something shifts and what seems impossible becomes imminently possible. 

Secondly – How I could draw on my work experience to enrich my studies and how I could draw on my studies to enrich my practice …. not at the end of the process – but from the very first module.

SD: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education?

IB: Time I think is the biggest one. The practice I lead is (not by design) predominantly female in profile. I have over the years observed the challenges (both practically and emotionally) that professional women face in terms of balancing professional demands and aspirations with family responsibilities (and aspirations) and the need to look after themselves (mentally, physically and emotionally). How do you take care of all these aspects of your life without compromising any of them? Is it ok to prioritise something that is seemingly just for your own benefit (aka potentially “selfish”)?

Getting the degree

The work to get the degree – what did you learn, how did you balance, what would you do differently

SD: Which programme did you do? Why?

IB: MALIC. Three reasons really:

  • It most closely matched my areas of interest.
  • It supported my area of practice. 
  • It is set up in a way that allowed me to schedule my study obligations in a way that worked for my personal and professional circumstances.

SD: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme?

IB: Not one – sorry! I loved studying again! In fact, I am considering going further after a “Gap Year” :). I absolutely loved doing research! (I never knew I would) This is opening up new potential opportunities as I move into a next stage of my career. 

Most importantly – I discovered “I CAN”. I can do something for me without negatively impacting everything else that is important to me in my life. “I CAN” continue to grow and learn and evolve – even in my late forties 🙂

SD: How did you balance work and studies?

IB: Very very carefully! 🙂 

Probably the most important advice I was given was in our first module by Dr Radu Negoescu. He encouraged us to do a plan and to contract with friends, family and colleagues. I took this advice to heart and “contracted” a way of work with my husband, friends, family and our team. 

I am a morning person – so my plan involved getting up at 4.30 every morning and studying for 3 hours. Then having breakfast with my husband. before going to clients or attending to our business and team. I spent every evening with my husband or with friends and family. I also agreed terms for weekends. 

By thinking through what it would take and how I could manage the impact on my life consciously – I had a routine that worked for us, my husband, our friends and family knew what they could expect from me (and what not) – so I could avoid feeling guilty for not getting to people/obligations and I had wonderful alone time every morning where I could focus on my studies.

One of the practices that evolved early on in this process was taking a photograph of the sunrise and just allowing myself to appreciate beauty, the privilege of doing what I was doing and the opportunity to enjoy that very special time of the day on my own. Although I am not studying anymore – I still love that time of day!

SD: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones?

IB: I don’t see any difference personally. The trick is finding something that you are interested in (not just something that is going to become a chore), a pattern that works for you and then sticking to it and a programme that is well organised and well enabled technologically!

Life post degree

What changed, if anything?

SD: What’s new in your life since graduating / starting your studies? Any visible impact already?

IB: A LOT has changed! 🙂 

It has helped me focus on our value proposition from a practice perspective – and this focus really resonates with our clients! Our business has grown by more than 30% in the past 2 years as a result. 

It has really changed my confidence in engaging with clients on certain topics. I am in the process of starting to write (journals) – something I have always wanted to do. I have started a complementary business – which tackles some of the findings from my dissertation. Exciting times ahead!

SD: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned?

IB: I think the experience has really strengthened the approaches we take in our business practice. I’ve been able to draw on course content and also dissertation findings to really sharpen our focus. I also think that it has shifted many perspectives for me at a personal level. Not least of all what I can achieve when I set my mind to something! 🙂

SD: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the work place?

IB: This is a tough question for me. Over the span of a 20+ year career I have never felt that I was on the receiving end of any overt discrimination at the workplace. This doesn’t by any means mean that I haven’t been on the receiving end of challenging or seemingly unfair situations. 

I strongly believe – especially in the world we live in today – that we all have increased pressure to stay on top of our game. To continue to evolve, to respond to the world as it changes around us, to continue on a journey of being the best we can be – whatever that is. For me personally focusing on this mission is more important. In this mission – getting a Master’s degree is definitely a key enabler.

Advice for other women

Or other students, really.

SD: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be?

IB: You CAN do this! (That doesn’t mean it’s not going to be super tough along the way & it doesn’t mean that you are not going to have days where you feel like quitting – it just means that if you persevere you will see the rewards!) 

You SHOULD do this! (You deserve to give back to yourself – this investment is one of the best you’ll ever make!)

SD: Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be?

IB: Wow! These questions are something else! A beautiful tea pot and special cup! 🙂 This degree was earned over innumerous cups of tea!

Closing thoughts

SD: Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree?

IB: What may be useful is “support groups” – places where women considering studying, or current students can mix with current and past students – sharing experience, approaches, methods, etc., etc. (maybe these should be separate groups)? The diverse spread of students makes time zone/occupation etc. pairing a real opportunity – regardless of the hours people choose to study.

Now’s a good time to start

If you have been thinking about getting your master’s degree, proving to yourself and others that you CAN do it, now would be a good time to take the plunge. Have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that could help.

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programmes offered, application process, and for more information on any discounts we might be running in this rather strange period of our lives.

RKC Launches 100% Online Master’s Degree Programmes

In today’s world of “social distancing”, online education has taken on an unprecedented importance. To remain professionally relevant, we must constantly find ways of self-improvement and adding more value to the organisation we work for. Online education is one of the easiest ways through which we can achieve these goals, all while maintaining social distancing!

Who are we? 

What we offer

Until now, one of the unique value propositions of RKC’s online programmes has been the one-week mandatory residency programme, which was conducted either in the university campus in the United Kingdom or the college campus in Zürich, Switzerland.  

However, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic and to cater to the changing requirements of our students, RKC and its partners have moved to an online delivery for the residency as well, therefore all our Master’s degree programmes are now 100% online. 

OnlineResidency™ at work

There’s a caveat here – we really do like, and know students benefit greatly from, face to face residencies. It is likely that, as the pandemic ends, some of the programmes may go back to face-to-face residencies for new students. 

What does an “OnlineResidency™” look like? We’ve just finished our very first delivery this last week, and, some small technical challenges aside, given how everyone is online and video conferencing these days, we believe the experience has been successful and useful to our students, who learned about designing and conducting research for the Master level dissertations.

What can you study with us? 

100% Online Programmes offered through our exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria

Online MSc Computer Science and International Business 

Online MSc Data Analytics 

Online MBA Artificial Intelligence 

Online MBA Digital Marketing 

Online MBA Information Technology 

Online Master of Business Administration 

Online MBA Energy and Sustainability 

Online MBA Finance and Sustainability 

Online MBA Media Leadership 

Online MBA Leadership and Sustainability 

Online MBA Public Health Management 

Online MBA International Healthcare Management 

Online MBA International Business 

Online MBA Risk Management 

Online MBA Tourism 

Online MBA Educational Leadership 

Online LL.M – Master of Laws in International Business Law 

100% Online Programmes offered through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford

Online Master of Science in Global Management 

Online Master of Science in Project Management 

Online Master of Science in Financial Services Management 

Online Master of Science in Marketing 

Online Master of Science in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management 

Online Master of Science in Human Resource Management and Development 

Online Master of Science in Information Systems Management 

Online Master of Science in International Banking and Finance 

Online Master of Science in Accounting and Finance 

Online Master of Science in International Business with Law 

Online Master of Science in International Corporate Finance 

Online Master of Science in International Events Management 

Online Master of Science in Digital Business 

Online Master of Science in Fraud and Risk Management 

Online Master of Science in Finance and Investment Management 

Online Master of Science in International Business 

Online LL.M – Master of Laws in International Commercial Law

100% Online Programmes offered through our exclusive partnership with York St John University

Online MBA in Leading Innovation and Change 

Online MBA in Coaching Mentoring and Leadership 

Online MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation 

Online MBA in Innovation Leadership and Consulting 

Online MBA in Leadership and Management 

Online MBA in Management Consulting

Which programme is right for you? Not a question I am able to answer via a blog post, I’m afraid, but if you want to find out, you can get in touch with our team of admission advisers who can have a look at your profile and give you some advice.  Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with our Education Advisor today! Or, if you have already made up your mind, click here to apply.

Women in RKC – Iulia Maria Garbacea, M.Sc. Marketing, University of Salford, UK

These are difficult and scary times, and at least for me, it just highlights how much I depend on the strength of the women in my life to see me through. I pray and hope that all our readers are being safe, taking precautions, practicing social distancing and doing their little bit to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Be safe! 

As we continue with these Women’s Day series of blog posts, we asked some of our students to share their experiences with us – the challenges of getting back to school, of managing work and study along with family, and the unique challenges they faced being female students. 

Ms. Iulia Maria Garbacea

Ms. Iulia Maria Garbacea is one of our student ambassadors and is a graduate of our M.Sc. programme in Marketing through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK. Let us see what she has to say:

Who is … 

A short profile 

Sahil Devasia (SD): Who are you, really? 

Iulia Maria Garbacea (IMG): I am a 28 year old Romanian woman, living in Bucharest. I am a bit younger than the average graduate (or at least was when I graduated) but would not change it for the world. Professionally, I am working on the implementation of a new ERP project for a big telecom company. 

Getting back into education 

Your story of getting back to do a Master’s degree 

SD: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you? 

IMG: Well, I wanted to see how other education systems worked. I did my Bachelor’s in Romania, but for my master’s wanted something different. 

SD: What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them? 

IMG: It was intimidating having to balance a full-time job with studies, so it took me some time to decide to go for it. And I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. I had to do a lot of work on myself – to avoid procrastination, to not be late with submitting my papers, to study on weekends, to take days off so that I could finish my papers. 

SD: What surprised you the most when you started your studies? 

IMG: That I can learn much more by researching articles/topics for my papers than I ever did by memorizing information. 

SD: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education? 

IMG: It depends a lot I think on the period of life in which you decide to go back to school. In my case it was easier, since I did not have anybody else to care for (children) and I could use the free time to focus on my studies. But I think that even if it might be more challenging for women later in life, they are setting an example for their children – studying at any age is possible. I think it is important to invest in our children, by investing in ourselves. 

Getting the degree 

The work to get the degree – what did you learn, how did you balance, what would you do differently 

SD: Which programme did you do? Why? 

IMG: I studied Marketing because I believe this field has a lot of potential. I believe a good marketer is like a psychologist. 

SD: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme? 

IMG: In my case, the most important lesson was not an academic one, it was one of personal development. I proved to myself that I am smart and determined enough to study in a language different from my own. I also had the luck to meet and make friends with people from around the world at our residency in Zurich. It was so much fun! 🙂 

SD: How did you balance work and studies? 

IMG: This was the most challenging part, especially when writing the dissertation. I worked on my assignments in my spare time, and also sometimes at work. I listened to a looooot of focus music to help keep my mind from wandering. 

SD: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones? 

IMG: Personally, I did not feel like I had it harder than my male colleagues. It was a very gender-neutral environment. We were all students in front of the professors. 

Life post degree 

What changed, if anything? 

SD: What’s new in your life since graduating / starting your studies? Any visible impact already? 

IMG: I switched from a more commercial role, into a more IT-focused position. 

SD: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned? 

IMG: Yes, I am able to organize my projects better, to keep up with my commitments, and to be on time with delivery. 

SD: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the work place? 

IMG: I feel that any type of studies can help reduce gender discrimination in the workplace. As far as I am concerned, the online programmes are a way of keeping up with the modern world. We can do almost anything online nowadays, why not study? As people start working, it is very difficult for them to attend night-schools, or weekend schools if they want to study in parallel. But studying online means that you can listen to courses while commuting, or while taking a break from work. 

Advice for other women 

Or other students, really. 

SD: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

IMG: It takes a lot of commitment and a lot of hard work, but at the end, the knowledge you gain is something that no one can ever take away from you. Also, those annoying focus music tracks from YouTube – they are a life changer. I still use them today when I need to work on important things. 

SD: Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

IMG: The ‘How to write you dissertation’ handbook – absolutely necessary! 

Closing thoughts 

SD: Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree? 

IMG: Just that investing in a woman is an investment in a generation of people. 

Our own little contribution: March Women’s bursaries of up to 2’500 CHF! 

We, at RKC, are proud to play a part in the ongoing efforts in reducing the gender disparity in education. We have already announced a special bursary on the tuition fees for all female applicants during the month of March in celebration of the International Women’s Day, only a few days to go, don’t lose out! #EachforEqual!

If you have been thinking about getting your master’s degree, proving to yourself and others that you CAN do it, now would be a good time to take the plunge. Have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that could help.

Residency week at RKC: Listen to what our students have to say about it. Make an informed decision!

From the very start of my time with RKC, one of the questions I get asked the most is: What differentiates RKC’s online programmes from those offered by other universities?

I used to answer that RKC has been around in online education for more than 20 years, has developed the experience and technology to deliver a top-quality online education experience and has exclusive partnerships with three very recognisable and government accredited British universities, all of which are very valid and important points. 

However, in my opinion and, more importantly, in the opinion of a vast majority of our students, the biggest differentiator is the one-week residency programme we conduct either at the college campus in Zürich, Switzerland or at the university campus in the United Kingdom. 

This is a mandatory part of most of the programmes we offer (we have just launched a range of fully online ones too though) and you will have to attended one such week if you intend to graduate with the master’s degree. Now, I know that traveling for the residency is not easy: you will have to take time off, there is the added cost of stay, flight tickets, visa, local travel and food, etc. But the response to this part of the programme has been overwhelmingly positive from our students. 

Most of our students haven’t been in a classroom environment in a very long time and this one week is exciting. You get to go back in time and relive your school/ college experience, but in a whole new light, with the added benefit of experience and the confidence of an accomplished professional life.

You enjoy interacting face to face with the professors and fellow students, clarifying doubts and having fun doing it. Most times the focus of the residency is on preparing you to start your dissertation – research methods, discussion of actual ideas with colleagues and professors. You also get to network with your fellow students, not only forming lifelong friendships beyond this one week but also potential future business partnerships. 

Here is a short video of our students talking about their residency experience, you can judge for yourself the value and takeaways our students derive from the residency programme.     

So, which programme is right for you? Not a question I am able to answer via a blog post, I’m afraid, but if you want to find out, you can get in touch with our team of admission advisers who can have a look at your profile and give you some advice.  

Explore the number of specialised master’s degree programmes offered by Robert Kennedy College through exclusive partnerships with top British universities. Or, if you have already made up your mind, click here to apply.

MBA or MSc: Is there a difference? Should you care?

It’s been a while since I finished my MBA, but I very clearly remember my thought process and the confusion I felt before deciding to start it.

I kept asking myself all sort of questions.

These are just some of the many questions that flashed through my mind at that time. But once the dust settled and I picked the path I wished to travel, a new question popped up.

Should I do an MBA or an M.Sc. (in management/business)?

Back then I already had friends who were doing or had completed MBA and M.Sc. programmes in management from universities around the world. As I myself was looking only at full time on-campus programmes, I asked them about their courses to get a better understanding on which programme to enrol for. These differences carry to the online versions too.

There are some basic differences between an MBA and an M.Sc programme.

  • Student demography: MBA programmes are usually targeted at individuals who have a minimum of 5 years work experience and as a consequence are usually somewhat older, people who are perhaps already in middle management positions. Whereas the M.Sc degree programmes are targeted at younger graduates, individuals with little to no work experience, usually coming in straight from their bachelor studies.
A graphic of median age distributions over MBA and MSc programmes since 2010
Figure 1. Median age for female (orange) and male (blue) students across the MBA and MSc programmes in RKC since 2010 – a clear and significant difference (statistically significant that is, rather than “important”).
  • Teaching methods: From the student demography we can deduce how the education will be structured in class. M.Sc. programmes are usually more theoretical and classroom centric, whereas MBA programmes are based on experiential learning, calling on the work experience of the students to analyse case studies, projects and submit dissertations, working in groups with other students, learning from their experience coupled with the theoretical aspects of learning.
  • Focused study: MBA programmes are usually focused on general management and not in a specialised field of study, in fact most of the modules taught in an MBA programme would be on general management. M.Sc. programmes on the other hand are usually more focused in a particular field of study (for example, Information Systems Management, Global Management, Accounting and Finance, etc.). 
  • Duration: MBA programmes are usually 18 to 24 months long, with a project and dissertation. M.Sc. programmes can usually be completed in 12 months, although they too will typically require a dissertation.
  • Cost: In most universities MBA programmes are priced much higher than M.Sc. programmes (although you will find exceptions too).

So, which one is good for me?

In recent times more and more universities have started creating courses where the differences have been reduced, creating courses that are unique and catering to the student’s requirements. This is especially true for online master’s degree programmes where technology has had a big impact on communication and giving students from all over the world and from different professional backgrounds access to information like never before.

So, which one is right for you? Not a question I am able to answer via a blog post, I’m afraid, but if you want to find out, you can get in touch with our team of admission advisers who can have a look at your profile and give you some advice.

Explore the number of specialised master’s degree programmes offered by Robert Kennedy College through exclusive partnerships with top British universities. Or, if you have already made up your mind, click here to apply