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.

5 reasons why a career in Healthcare is not as bad as it seems today

I promise this is not another COVID-19 update, myths and truths or uncovering the facts where and how this deadly disease started, blog. There is more than enough information out there – and I’m talking about reliable sources only – enough to overwhelm most of us. 

These are challenging times for us as individuals and for society at large – humanity some might say. The global pandemic has changed the way nations operate and has impacted the global economy. The greatest and gravest impact of the pandemic, however, is on the healthcare systems around the world. With about 3.8million COVID-19 cases in 210 countries and territories (as of May 9th, 2020), the healthcare systems worldwide are immensely stressed. (https://covid19.who.int)

Healthcare systems are hit hard both directly and indirectly (too many patients at the same time, too many doctors becoming patients, lacking resources, inability to attend to other conditions, etc.) 

The World Health Organisation said so much: 

Countries will need to make difficult decisions to balance the demands of responding directly to COVID-19, while simultaneously engaging in strategic planning and coordinated action to maintain essential health service delivery, mitigating the risk of system collapse

WHO, March 2020

So, if this is not an update, nor a myth-busting blog, what is it? 

I would like to focus on the positives of this situation from an educational point of view, thinking especially of those who envisaged a career in the healthcare sector, people who are looking to switch careers, or someone already in the healthcare sector looking to verticalize their career path. Now is the time to “quarantine” and study!  

Choosing a career for yourself might be one of the biggest decisions you take in your life. Some of us are fortunate to follow our passions and interests and make a successful career out of it. Sometimes after pursuing a career for a whole number of years, we realise that it is not something we want to do for the rest of our lives. We’ve got to rationalize our interest and weigh the pros and cons a career offers. If you have been thinking what’s in it for you, here is what a career in the healthcare industry has to offer: 

Humanitarian side

While every profession tends to serve society in some way (well at least that is what I like to believe), in my opinion, healthcare is the noblest. The potential of changing and saving lives puts you on a higher pedestal as a professional compared to any other. If you have an innate desire of helping others and uplifting humankind, healthcare is the right place for you.

Tremendous Growth Opportunities

Surveys and labor statistics reveal that healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries with an estimated addition of 1.9 million new jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in healthcare occupations was projected to grow 14 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. 

Healthcare occupations are projected to add more jobs than any of the other occupational groups. This projected growth is mainly due to an aging population, leading to greater demand for healthcare services.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Challenging situations like the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 have created a need for strong healthcare leadership. The present outbreak is far from over, and the healthcare sector is operating at maximum capacity. There is an urgent need to adequately plan and utilise limited resources. At the same time, it has become all the more imperative for the healthcare systems worldwide to be prepared for any future events, as the COVID-19 pandemic is definitely not the last one.  

The sector offers a number of growth opportunities that are wide ranging, beyond the conventional patient care field of being a practitioner, nurse or therapist. There are opportune avenues for both horizontal and vertical growth in the sector. As the healthcare paradigm continues to evolve, there is a greater demand for innovation in healthcare technology, guided by the vision and sharp business acumen of a strong healthcare professional. 

Dynamic

Most days, a healthcare professional will bring new challenges and should bring with them joys and job satisfaction. Demand is changing and so are the roles in this industry which adds to its dynamicity.

 Flexibility

Healthcare offers flexibility in three ways. First the flexibility on choice of profession. You have a plethora of options to choose from: patient care services, government relations, human resources, planning and development to name just a few healthcare management positions you can get yourself into. 

Then you can choose the environment you want to work in. The healthcare management professionals are not limited to jobs in just hospitals. There are great career opportunities in consulting, state and federal agencies, insurance, laboratories and universities.

Thirdly, this industry is not bound by borders. The experience in the field is highly regarded across nations making you a valuable asset wherever you go (with few exceptions where licensing might be necessary).

Competitive Salary

Last but definitely not least, healthcare sector jobs are well paid and rewarding in the monetary sense as well. On an average, the median salaries of healthcare professionals are higher than the annual wages of all other occupations. (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm)

A master’s degree could provide you ‘the edge’ to make a move into or to grow within the healthcare industry. The enhanced knowledge and multifaceted skillsets will allow you to make progress by leaps and bounds in the field.  

Because let’s be honest – who hasn’t had a bad “boss”? Highly competent people with tremendous skills in their profession, parachuted in leadership positions without preparation. That “joy and job satisfaction” we were mentioning earlier are highly impacted by leaders who are not fully prepared to lead other people too. 

Our Online MBA Healthcare programmes will help you understand international perspectives and also how to analyze the constraints and trade-offs in developing and implementing national health strategies, health care financing, economic evaluation, the role of effective change management and technological development. 

Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the healthcare management programmes offered and the application process. Remember to ask about our “quarantine” discounts and check your eligibility. 

On behalf of the entire RKC team, a special thanks to all healthcare professionals across the world for working tirelessly to keep our communities safe. Our gratitude to all of you responsible citizens for staying home and helping stop the spread. #thankyouheathcareworkers

Meg Plooy, RKC&YSJ graduate

Women in RKC – Meg Plooy, MA Leading Innovation & Change, York St John University, UK

In our effort to spread some positivity amidst the global pandemic, we turn to another success story of a proud RKC graduate – Meg Plooy. Meg graduated from the Online MA Leading Innovation & Change (the programme is now offered at York Business School as a 100% Online MBA Leading Innovation and Change). Let’s hear Meg’s inspirational story.

Who is..

A short profile

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

Meg Plooy (MP): Relentlessly helpful mother, wife, and friend. Innovative business solutions aficionado, Starbucks addict, camping nerd, and (foster) mother of Pitbulls.

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?

MP: I was inspired to enroll for an online degree for a few different reasons. Firstly, to be an inspiration for my young children and show them that truly anything is possible if you work hard. Secondly, to advance my professional opportunities. Taking inspiration from my two sons, who work tremendously hard in everything they do and my sister, who enrolled in her graduate studies just a few weeks earlier.

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

MP: There were two significant barriers impacting my decision to apply and enroll. The primary barrier was time: finding adequate time while raising children and working full time. The other significant barrier was cost: as a mature student, enrolling in an international institution there were very few grants or bursaries I qualified for, meaning all the funding was out of pocket.

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

MP: I was most surprised by how determined I was to succeed.

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

MP: Absolutely. I feel there are still substantial gaps in gender parity. Although I have a supportive marital partner, I still feel that a larger portion of the parenting and household responsibilities fall on the female if both parents are working. I also feel that there is a larger need for females to have higher education for a lesser role in order to be seen competitively in the workforce and to reduce wage gaps.

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?

MP: Master of Arts, Leading Innovation and Change. I had been researching online Master’s degree programs for quite a while and immediately was drawn to this program because it outlined everything I identified in myself both personally and professionally.

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

MP: That I am capable of accomplishing anything I am determined to complete.

VK: How did you balance work and studies?

MP: A good routine and sticking to a schedule. The best time for me to complete my studies was after the kids were in bed, which gave me anywhere from 2 to 2.5 hours each night. I used Monday through Thursday as “school nights” which ensured I was still getting downtime over the weekends. This helped me to stay focused and manage time effectively.

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

MP: I feel all mature students, especially ones with family responsibilities, would face the same challenges.

Life post-degree

What changed, if anything?

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

MP: I feel that since graduating, I have more credibility within the organization I work for.

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

MP: Completing my Master’s degree has helped me develop strong skills in critical analysis, which helps me assess a situation more critically, also identifying themes and patterns in certain situations. It has certainly helped me strengthen my professional writing and report-delivery skills.

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

MP: I do not believe getting a Master’s degree will reduce gender discrimination in the workplace. I currently work in a male-dominated industry and was recently appointed to our central business unit’s Women’s Council as our organization is looking to achieve gender equity in the workplace. In the council, we discuss many elements that contribute to gender discrimination in the workplace. I believe the best way to mitigate gender discrimination in the workplace is through leadership and inclusive corporate culture.

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?

MP: It will all be worth it in the end, you CAN do this!

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

MP: A financial grant or bursary that could have helped with tuition payments.

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?

MP: I believe addressing the financial barrier would assist in women accessing higher education. I also feel that developing a platform for online support would be beneficial that may include blog posts, online resources, and motivational content.

If you are truly inspired by Meg’s story today and are ready to take the plunge, do not think twice. It’s the right time to do something positive for your career (no matter the global crisis) and get a Master’s degree you had always dreamt of achieving! Have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that interests you.

And, since as Meg says, every little bit could help, RKC are proud to be able to offer, in particular during this really strange period of our lives, financial support to those who are held back by finances. Please do talk to our team of Education Advisors on WhatsApp for the details on the bursary (there’s a bit of variance depending on the programme).

Women in RKC – Deidree R. Diño, M.Sc. Global Management, University of Salford, UK

Continuing with our Women’s Day series of blog posts featuring our students and asking them to share their experiences – the challenges of getting back to school, of managing work and study along with family, and the unique challenges they faced being female students.

This week we feature Ms. Deidree R. Diño, one of our student ambassadors who is a graduate of our M.Sc. programme in Global Management through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK. Let us see what she has to say.

Ms. Deidree R. Diño

Who is …

A short profile

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

Deidree R. Diño (DRD): I think of myself as a lifelong learner who is constantly searching for the next meaningful change, especially when it comes to my work.

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?

DRD: I knew that at some point I would want to move on and not remain stagnant. I realize that to be competitive, I had to have a higher level of education and a stronger theoretical background to complement my work experience in different industries. I know of people who were able to study and work full-time and despite the challenges, they never regretted it.

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

DRD: Finances and time were both serious constraints. While I don’t have children, I support my mother and pay for the house in which she lives in S.E. Asia. I also have to pay my own bills here in Europe. I was already a department head and leadership team member, which meant I was working at least 50 hours a week. I had to study part-time so completing my master’s degree took longer, but I did not want to work or study half-heartedly. It was important to do both to the best of my abilities.

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

DRD: I already knew how challenging it would be but I was pleasantly surprised at the frameworks and theories I learned. I also appreciated the strict requirements on researching for and writing papers. The dissertation was difficult to write but it was good to have gone through that process.

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

DRD: It’s particularly difficult for women who want to have children, study, and work, especially if they want to do well. It’s impossible to do all three without the support of their spouses or immediate family members. The reality of a running biological clock puts more pressure on women to set aside their career and educational goals in order to have and raise children.

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?

DRD: I completed the MSc in Global Management program. My career choices and work experiences have led me to believe that understanding management frameworks and effective practices in different contexts, in international organizations, and across industries will be a significant advantage if I change careers.

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

DRD: Effectively managing people and resources is key to organizational success.

SD: How did you balance work and studies?

DRD: I could not work part-time so I had to study part-time and use my vacation days to revise and complete papers and assignments. I decided not to go on real holidays and travel as much as I used to.

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

DRD: Even while studying online is more flexible than going to classes, for women with management jobs and family obligations, it can still be very difficult and even frustrating.

Life post degree

What changed, if anything?

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

DRD: I applied several concepts I learned to my own work and even shared the knowledge with peers. I also decided to change employers – not at all for money but to learn something new and find out if I can handle different challenges.

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

DRD: I think what I learned mostly validated the knowledge and skills I acquired through my work experience. Having said that, I think I’m a more effective leader and my ability to foresee possible problems and complications has improved.

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

DRD: Indirectly, yes, the flexibility and accessibility afforded by online programs, especially Master’s degrees, ensures that women can earn higher qualifications that will help make them more competitive when it comes to job advancement and career opportunities.

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?

DRD: Getting an advanced degree is anything but easy – in fact it’s excruciatingly hard – but it is worth it. Investing in education and continuing to learn is a hundred times better than staying where / how you are and regretting it.

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

DRD: A copy of my Master’s transcript and diploma.

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?

DRD: You’re never too old to learn; if you have the opportunity, take it.

Our own little contribution: As we continue to celebrate Women in Education, we are pleased to continue to offer bursaries of up to 4’000 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 #EachforEqual!

During these difficult times, as we practice social distancing to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are pleased to extend the bursary to all our applicants. We hope this will help keep you occupied, help you learn something new and when this crisis is over and you get back to work, help improve your career prospects.

Have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that interests you or chat with one of our Education Advisors on WhatsApp for more guidance!

Looking to make the jump into HR? We have some tips for you!

Full disclosure: I have never worked in the Human Resource department of an organisation and almost all my knowledge of the challenges faced by an HR professional is second hand. In fact, until recently, I did not even think they faced any challenges. Yeah, yeah, I know, every job has its challenges and HR is no different, but to my mind the average HR person’s life looked so comfortable and stress free. No targets, no work pressure, no deadlines – just show up, smile, have a good time taking with your co-workers, plan team outings and play team building exercises.   

Naivety thy name be Sahil.

Those of you who read my blog on 6 Reasons to Do a Master’s Degree Programme know about my friend Jojo. Well, Jojo was an HR manager with more than 15 years’ experience as an HR professional, it was speaking with him that first gave me an insight to the challenges faced by the modern HR professional.

Challenges facing the modern HR professional

These can be broadly classified into three main categories:

  1. Environmental or external: These are challenges that are caused by changes that have been brought about by external factors that will not have anything to do directly with you or your organisation. These factors are usually generic in nature and will have an effect on multiple industries or the corporate workforce as a whole. Some of the environmental challenges are:
    • Government legislation: Governments nowadays the world over change like the seasons and each government comes with their own mandates and ideas on how businesses should be run and the country’s workforce should be managed. 
    • Global economy: Companies today operate on a truly global scale (even small companies), and this has resulted in local units and companies incorporating global best practices into their work culture. But what is best practice in some countries might not be what is best or even what works in your country. So, while companies like to standardise practices, a one size fits all policy might not work everywhere. 
    • Workforce diversity: Diversity in the workforce has had a massive and positive impact on the way business is done globally, from infusing new and fresh ideas, getting the best talent, accelerating the implementation and adaptation of technologies, opening new markets, reducing costs and increasing profits. Diversity must be encouraged; it will take your company from strength to strength. However, there can also be a number of issues that spring up on you if you are not alert and miss the warning signs, such as discrimination against certain communities or ethnicity, and divides or groupism in your workforce based on community, religion, sex or ethnicity.
    • Technology: Changes in technology have the potential for massive and sudden impacts on the nature of the workforce. Can your workforce keep up with the changes in technology? What do you have to do to get them up to speed? Will you have to downsize or hire new talent, or could technology end up substituting most of your workforce?  
  2. Organisational or internal: As the name suggests, these are challenges put on you by your organisation itself. By the work culture, management, internal policy changes or the annual performance of your organisation.
    • Cost cutting: The two departments that normally must be prepared for a company’s cost cutting measures are the marketing department and the HR department. While the marketing team might lose part of its marketing or advertising budget, the HR department will have to be prepared for anything from downsizing and layoffs to restructuring and reallocation of resources. 
    • Recruitment: Finding the right person for a job is vital to the long-term success of the organisation. Recruitment and selection are probably two of the most important functions of an HR professional. Attracting talent and ensuring you have where to choose from (in order to achieve diversity for example) almost marries HR with marketing – HR have a niche responsibility for the organisation’s brand with respect to prospective employees. And then there is the age old argument of quality versus quantity.  
  3. Individual challenges: These are challenges that an HR professional will have to overcome on an individual basis. These challenges will usually have a relation with both the organisational challenges and the environmental challenges. 
    • Building a team: For an organisation to be effective it should have an effective team of professionals working towards the success of the organisation. Finding or training people to best complement your organisation’s strengths, developing a team spirit, motivating them and providing job security will put you on the path towards building a strong team. 
    • Attrition management: Once a strong team has been built, keeping the team members motivated and secure will cultivate loyalty to the organisation. Losing a highly trained and skilled employee will not only have an immediate impact on the productivity of your team but could also be giving your competition a valuable asset who is also in the know of your organisation’s workings. Providing a good work-life balance will go a long way towards reducing the rate of attrition. 
    • Monitoring productive and counterproductive behaviours: Keep an eye out for productive employees and they should be rewarded and acknowledged for their efforts. At the same time, you should keep an eye out for counterproductive employees, they can have a negative impact on the morale and the overall productivity of the workforce. Counterproductive behaviour can also lead to a divide in your workforce caused by conflicts due to groupism and political divides. 

Where next?

These are just some of the many challenges faced by an HR professional today. You are perhaps one yourself – an “accidental HR person” as someone once described themselves, perhaps? Sound off in the comments if there are any particular challenges you are facing that we have missed out on and that you feel are important to talk about. Or perhaps you are simply an employee who feels the HR department in your organisation is facing a different kind of challenge and they are not raising up to it – let us know too! 

And of course, for those of you looking to formalise your HR knowledge, or looking for a jumpstart into an HR career, Robert Kennedy College offers an online M.Sc. programme in Human Resource Management and Development through an exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK. Click here to apply for the programme.

All you need to know about University of Cumbria’s Residency

It is 2020! First and foremost, on behalf of our entire team at Robert Kennedy College, I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year. We wish you good health and a positive mindset, and success will follow!

All of our University of Cumbria’s online MBA programmes have six-course modules – four core modules, one elective and one residential. The mandatory one-week residential module is held in the UK at either the Ambleside, Lancaster or Carlisle campus. The module title is “Tackling Global-Local Challenges in Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability“. There are several dates during the year which you can choose from to attend the residency that fits your busy schedule. 

Time flies and it is almost time for the first Residency in January 2020 for our University of Cumbria’s Master of Business Administration programme students. For those who are not our students yet and wondering what is a Residency, keep on reading to find out all about it. And those who are registered for this upcoming residency, pull up a diary and make notes of what to expect and how to prepare well for the residency, because here are some real insights, tips and advice from our current students about their own experience attending the residency last year. 

The topic: Tackling Global-Local Challenges in Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability

All our MBA programmes focus on real-life problems and issues that enable you to think critically about your company and your own career. Corporate social responsibility (CSR), according to Visser, involves what is called the four ‘DNA responsibility bases’ of good governance, value creation, environmental integrity and societal contribution. There is a demand for the more global marketplace and more ethical managerial conduct to deal with the global-local challenges, and responsible leadership is an answer to such demand.

Our students are leaders or aspiring leaders in the business world who face this challenge in their companies every day. This residential module allows the students to gain insight into how the dimensions of corporate governance, sustainable development and ethics are affecting and shaping today’s organizational policies and practices. Students are guided and invigorated to unique ideas and solutions to issues faced by their current organization or local community. This is an enriching one-week that promotes experiential learning through contemporary case studies and teamwork.

Where and When to plan for residency?

We surveyed about 120 of our current MBA students with some of the frequently asked questions about the residency. We got 50 answers back (a response rate you should be very happy with for your dissertations, even though you would, of course, aim for higher numbers!). Here’s what they have to say about their experience at the residency, sharing some immensely useful tips learned the hard experiential way.

There was 50:50 split on the choice of location of residency between the Ambleside and Lancaster campus.

A vast majority of students (80%) had completed at least four modules before attending the residency and a little less than half of all respondents (46%) thought the right time to attend the residency was when they were about half-way through the course. So the takeaway here is to try and take the residency somewhere after the third or fourth module.

On the other hand, 24% of students would have rather attended the residency as soon as possible after completing the first module.

Attending the residency right after the first module allows one to have human interaction in the otherwise online programme, establish relationships that develop and last throughout the programme and beyond, and allow you to better relate to your peers and colleagues

Paul H.

Some students found that it can help with the rest of the modules too. Peter said that he found taking the residency early on gave additional value in the structuring of academic writing and formulation of assignments as well as how to use OneSearch.

For those who voted for attending residency either halfway through or as late as possible attributed it to the fact that having finished other modules equipped them with a better foundation and management tools to interact and respond in the group.

Thus depending on whether you are more a human interaction person or self-starter, you can choose the right time to attend your residency. 

MALIC Residency Nov 2012
Team Discussion during Residency

What else do you learn at the residency?

Many of our students ask “why is the residency important in an online programme?” and what does one actually gain from it.

It was a great experiential learning experience with an interdisciplinary and diverse group from around the world.

Luis C.

Many students gained an interest and understanding of the future focus of sustainability and climate change, the value of cross-sector collaboration, how to tackle ethical dilemmas and apply ethical theories in real-life.

Others learned about the concepts of Triple bottom line, SDGs 2015 and ERS, and yet others learned how to structure their dissertation. Maurice B., who came to the residency with over 35 years of experience of working, studying and interacting with multi-cultural groups, was nevertheless impressed by the high degree of professionalism, dedication and above all the feelings of warmth, the receptiveness of the residency.

Congratulations to all on a splendid display of academics, stewardship of facilitation, operational and executive excellence – the absolute best I have ever seen!

Maurice B.

A staggering 80% of the students surveyed agreed that the learning at residency was completely relevant and 92% said there was a definitive value-add in attending the residency.

The majority of the students found meeting the peers and professors a valuable experience and felt better prepared for the rest of the programme. So though the residency week can be pretty intensive and action-packed (as 44% of students agree), 62% of students admit it is a lot of fun as well!

It is the best experience of the MBA program, combining both theoretical and practical aspects of sustainability in business with a multicultural team. The group exercises are just great and the tour in nature is very inspiring. I’m convinced you will enjoy it!

Serge
A reflection session in progress

Where to stay during the residency?

I must say it was a unanimous response from most of the students on the survey, that one must stay close to the university during the residency week. Make your travel plans in advance and book accommodation early to avoid any disappointments. Talk to our StudentCare team and they can provide a list of accommodation near campus for your stay during residency.

Book accommodations directly through university suggested facilities and arrive a day early to acclimate. Don’t forget to make daily summarizations  of activities and sessions.

Rosamunde C.

Many students also put a word of caution about the wet weather conditions in Cumbria, UK and recommend coming prepared for cold and rainy weather. 

To summarize the residency, I would like to quote John’s advice in his own words:

1. Plan for your UK visa in advance – it takes up to 3 months depending on the holiday season and country you are located in. ([editor’s note] and this was before Brexit!)

2. Book the hotel in advance – depending on the season, it is difficult to find accommodation especially in and around the University of Cumbria specially during the March season. 

3. Weather – when you want to play golf, it rains in the UK. Therefore, prepare yourself with winter-wear, umbrella (if possible), windcheater or raincoat and boots as there are outdoor activities and trekking involved. 

4. Time management – spend about an hour to revise the day’s work so you are prepared for the next day’s activity. When in groups, participate and lead the team as some peers may be in a holiday mood. Get them to work with you and research for the final day activity – prepare and participate. 

5. Cumbria – is the place of William Wordsworth – daffodils are everywhere, enjoy them and unwind in the midst of nature. This is the place to be if you are interested in Sustainability and Environment.

John M.

I hope reading through the blog you gained valuable insight into our residency module and how to best prepare yourself for it. And we could not agree more with this quote from Fatos:

It will be an experience you will have once in a lifetime. I assure you will not regret any day being in Ambleside!

Fatos A.

Finally, a big thanks to all our students who helped us provide you with these tips and tricks about the residency – they generously offered their time and advice – a sharing spirit we witness every day in our OnlineCampus.

See you in Cumbria!

Sustainable Leadership

” Good Leadership is a lifelong leadership process. The best leaders know the difference between a dream and                            a purpose  and they learn to follow their purpose” – Mama Jan Smith

Leadership is defined as the ‘action of leading a group of people or an organisation’.

In today’s complex business world where businesses are multifaceted and multicultural; leadership definition has taken a whole new level. Leaders are not only expected to ‘lead’ a group of people but also effectively manage and influence the group towards goals and values which are sustainable and contain a vision for the future.

YSJ - RKC - MALIC Signing

Earn your Leadership Everyday” – Michael Jordan

Leadership is not confined to the top levels, to people with a ‘C’ in their business designations. To be successful, organisations need leadership ‘at all levels’ of operation. Leaders at all levels critically convert ideas to reality through far-sightedness and actively engaging in their environment.

Leadership ‘remains the No. 1 talent issue facing organizations around the world.’  Finding good leaders has, of course, always been a crucial issue for all sorts of organizations. This is why the armed forces, for instance, put so much effort into training their officers and why business schools and other providers of executive development have thrived. But the ’21st century leadership is different’.  Companies face new leadership challenges, including developing Millenials and multiple generations of leaders, meeting the demand for leaders with global fluency and flexibility, building the ability to innovate and inspire others to perform, and acquiring new levels of understanding of rapidly changing technologies and new disciplines and fields. No wonder organizations are coming up short.

At University of Cumbria, we offer MBA in Leadership and Sustainability and MBA Media Leadership programmes that cater to the increasing demand of distinctive managers with the aim of developing a unique leadership-oriented career opportunity.

Click here to know more about our programmes.

Advantage in having Student Diversity

The world has become a smaller place, a global village and organisations have truly become multinational. Today’s managers must not only know how to manage business at a global level but also understand the nuances of doing business at local level.

Diversity in your college in terms of race, gender, religion and other factors has a positive impact on all students. Diversity enriches your experience by exposing you to a non-homogenous composition of students as an introduction to the cultures of the world and so to a richer learning experience.

This exposure will also create a diverse learning experience providing:

Greater Self-Awareness – Joining a college that has a diverse student base exposes students to a wide spectrum of cultural and life experiences, shattering preconceptions and prejudice and enhancing the overall learning experience.

Knowledge and Critical Thinking – The course curriculum is not the only source of knowledge in college. The opportunity to interact with diverse peers, leads to greater active thinking, intellectual engagement and motivation.

Global Perspective – In today’s global business environment with clients, suppliers and employees from all over the world and different backgrounds, an exposure to a diverse college environment lays the foundation for a global perspective and builds the social abilities needed to interact productively with individuals of various nationalities and backgrounds. The experience will enhance your career prospects because you are prepared to face opportunities you may not otherwise consider.

Social Development – Interacting with students and faculty from different national and social backgrounds will not only create a global network but will be enriched with diversity. This diverse exposure will also create a diverse learning experience providing the socialisation skills and knowledge which would otherwise have been out of your comfort zone.

Collaboration – A study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that ideas generated by diverse teams were of better quality in terms of feasibility and effectiveness with input from individuals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives that otherwise would not have been raised.

Robert Kennedy College with almost 14000 students from almost every county in the world offers one of the most diverse online Master’s degree programmes both in Law and in Business through exclusive partnerships with British universities. For more information download programme catalogue.