A new year means new resolutions. As we all fasten our seat belts and rush to achieve our newly formulated objectives, Prof. David Costa, Dean, Robert Kennedy College (RKC), advises to the contrary and suggests we take it slow. Dr Costa proposes not to get overwhelmed or distracted with a long list of resolutions but to focus on small and critical objectives to start with.
We have a great support system for our students at Robert Kennedy College. From highly qualified faculty to a world-class professional alumni network, you’ll know you made the right decision to study for your master’s degree with RKC. Join us today.
Continuing with our blog series bringing you answers to some of the questions we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) get frequently from students who are looking to join one of our online programmes. We asked some of our past and current students to share their thoughts and opinions, to give their feedback on how they handled online learning challenges. Hopefully, this will in turn help you make an informed decision.
Let us learn from those who came before and see if what worked for them will also help you become a better student!
Andy is from the United Kingdom and has completed our 100% Online Master of Business Administration that we offer through an exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria, U.K., and this is what he had to say about what worked for him.
Who are you, really?
Which Uni are you studying with?
University of Cumbria
Which programme did you choose and why?
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
The Study Plan
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?
I planned to allocate a certain number of hours per week on fixed evenings and the occasional weekend, but it didn’t work out that way. I’m definitely a “deadlines” person, so the regular modular structure of the course helped keep things ticking along nicely, with draft essays and other assignments keeping me focused on making good progress. It became more of a challenge with the dissertation as there was a) a hiatus after finishing the last essay and then being allowed to start the dissertation, so I completely lost momentum and, b) there were no intermediate milestones/deadlines to keep me ticking along. As a result, I had to be much more disciplined and ended up taking blocks of time off work to complete the dissertation. I clearly needed to get up a head of steam and tackle sections in a block rather than do a little often with stop-start not working for me.
What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)
As above, longer blocks of time suited me best, rather than a particular time of day. That said, because I was also doing a full-time job and other activities, I was mostly restricted to evenings and weekends.
How much time did you devote to each assignment?
Unknown, sorry – I didn’t keep a log.
Travelling and Communication
How did travelling impact your ability to study?
Work travel tends to be occasional long-haul flights for me, which helped as I could download relevant readings and could then take notes, etc. on the flight. Most of my study time, however, was spent at home. Travelling was not applicable in my case.
How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?
The forums were okay, but this is the biggest issue with remote courses in my experience. You simply don’t get the same level of interaction, shared learning, and general camaraderie/shared experience as you do with face-to-face learning. This was particularly noticeable with the excellent week-long sustainability residential in Cumbria, especially when juxtaposed against the comparative isolation (even loneliness) of the dissertation. The benefits of remote learning definitely outweigh the restrictions, however.
A typical day as a master’s student
What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?
Lots of evening reading during the modules, getting the interim assignments complete and then a bigger burst of effort in two or three day block for the final assessment submissions. The dissertation was a whole new ball game with longer blocks of time needed to really focus on getting the job done.
Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies.
I can only suggest people find their own rhythm – if you’re very disciplined, then a little often may work for you, but I’m not like that so had to adapt to fit my own way of working within the wider context of work and MBA deadlines.
I hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and please watch this space for similar posts. You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for details on discounts we might be offering at this time.
Once upon a time (about twelve or thirteen years ago), I decided to try my hand at starting a manufacturing business. Why? I was in my 20’s, with an MBA and a few years of work experience under my belt, and I had a dream – to leave my mark on this world, to become the next Henry Ford or Steve Jobs, and I figured, if things go to hell, I was young enough to risk it and still have time to bounce back!
There is of course a lot more to this story and my thought process that lead to my decision, but this is not the point of this post. The point is, when you do decide to start a business there is this steep learning curve, and as the business is your own, there are a lot of factors that must be considered while making decisions.
Like me, if you came from the corporate world, still early in your career with limited managerial experience, you probably just had to look after a very specific task – sales, marketing, a small part of finance, etc. But when you are the head of your own business (no matter how small), you need to be involved in everything! Business Plan, Finance, Revenue, Marketing, Sales…
When you have so much on your plate there is a risk of your dropping the plate and causing it to break into many tiny pieces (the “plate” here is your business :D).
Understanding how business works, the points to consider before making a decision, and knowing and correctly identifying the different sources of information on which to base your decisions is paramount for the success of your business. This is where strategic management takes on a whole new importance in your thought process. It does not matter how big or small your business/company is, start thinking strategically!!
Three principles underlying strategy: (1) Creating a “unique and valuable” [market] position (2) Making trade-offs by choosing “what not to do”, and (3) Creating “fit” by aligning company activities to one another to support the chosen strategy
Prof. Michael E. Porter, Ph.D., Harvard Business School
The simplest definition of strategic management is “the formulation and implementation of the major goals and initiatives taken by an organisation’s top managers on behalf of owners, based on consideration of resources and an assessment of the internal and external environments in which the organisation operates.” Strategic management provides overall direction to a business and involves specifying the organisation’s objectives, developing policies and plans to achieve those objectives, and then allocating resources to implement the plans (source: Strategic Management for Voluntary Nonprofit Organizations, Roger Courtney).
A system of finding, formulating, and developing a doctrine that will ensure longterm success if followed faithfully.
Dr. Vladimir Kvint, Chair of the Department of Financial Strategy at the Moscow School of Economics of the Lomonosov Moscow State University
So, how do you go about making your life (business really) easier by implementing strategic management?
First, identify your goals – let’s say your goal is to increase annual sales, but what does that actually mean? It is just too vague. Quantify and be specific. As an example, our goal is to sell 100 ballpoint pens and 200 ink pens by the end of the next financial year.
Now, how do you go about achieving this goal?
Start by identifying what goods you are going to be manufacturing (in our example they are pens), then the market to which you will be selling these manufactured goods.
Next, organise the resources you will need to achieve your goals, like putting in place purchasing and supply chain management to ensure a timely supply of raw materials, people and equipment to carry out the manufacturing process, marketing and sales team to bring in clients, and employing or contracting an adequate support staff (if you are unable to do it yourself) to carry out other support functions.
There are also a number of external forces that can have an impact on your business strategy. One of the tools most used in understanding these forces and helping in developing a strategy is Michael E. Porter’s Five Forces Framework which is a business analysis model that helps explain why various industries are able to sustain different levels of profitability. The Five Forces model is widely used to analyse and determine the corporate strategy of a company.
Porter’s five forces are:
Competition in the industry
Potential of new entrants into the industry
Power of suppliers
Power of customers
Threat of substitute products
Understanding the principles behind strategic management might take time, but when it comes right down to it, you will find that it is basically logic. The challenge is in getting the right data from the right sources on which you can base your decisions, and of course the methodology you use to analyse the data to arrive at your decisions. A wrong strategic decision may end up costing you dearly.
You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programmes we offer, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.
Not all of us wanted to work from home. Some of us actually enjoyed getting up in the morning, making breakfast, dropping the kids at school and then driving to work. We enjoyed meeting our co-workers (some of whom might have even been our friends, or better still, our arch nemeses!), socialising over a bad lunch at the cafeteria, meeting friends for drinks (or coffee) after work, and finally, getting back home at the end of the day for a good night’s rest.
On the other hand, some of us have dreamt our entire work life of working from home, waking up late, dropping the kids off at school in our pyjamas, not being stuck in traffic, not having to see the face of that irritating co-worker/boss, and having the time to explore other hobbies and interests.
Whatever your preference, COVID-19 has ensured that we all need to adjust to a new way of working. And for most of us, that way is to work from home.
Even after this pandemic becomes history, the impact of COVID-19 on the way we work and live will continue to remain. How we live today (or at least a version of it), might become the norm. So, understanding the challenges of working from home, and how best to overcome them, is important for us to continue to be as efficient and productive as working from an office.
When the day becomes the night and the sky becomes the sea, When the clock strikes heavy and there’s no time for tea.
Cheshire Cat, Alice Through the Looking Glass
COVID-19 has not only forced some of us to work from home but has also made us an island unto ourselves, forcing us all to stay isolated and locked in our homes. Now, man by nature is a social creature and even those of us who worked from home before the pandemic still had the option of going out and socialising to their hearts’ content.
All of this is no longer possible. Social distancing is what needs to be followed by us to truly beat this pandemic. But the result is that every day starts to feel the same, bleeding into each other, there is very little to break the repetitive cycle. In addition, for those of us who were thrust into working from home, the merging of the workspace with the living space proved to be an additional challenge to overcome.
Going to the office provided us with a structure – get to office on time, morning meetings with the team, understand the goals to achieve on the day, check emails, coffee break, work, lunch, work, may be an evening meeting with the team to recap, and then go home. But with this structure removed, as a result of working from home, one of two things might happen:
lose track of time and goals achieved, overwork yourself and burnout quickly or
lose focus, get stuck doing busy work and don’t get any real work done
The following are 5 simple steps that you can follow that might help you overcome some of these challenges
Dedicated workspace: The first thing you need to do is create a dedicated workspace. Remove all distractions from this area and keep everything you will normally need to do your work close to you. Maybe set it up similar to the workspace at your office. If possible, set up the workspace in a room that no one else uses, a room with a door. Closing a door behind you can make a big difference to creating an effective and dedicated workspace.
Dedicated worktime (schedule): Even those of us that don’t actively keep a schedule or a calendar, inevitably follow a semblance of a schedule when we work from an office. Get to office in the morning, review the tasks that need to be done by the day’s end, monitor the progress of the tasks that need to be completed by the end of the week/month/year, do busy work like checking emails and other non-critical tasks, work on critical tasks, go on breaks (lunch, coffee, etc.), and finally windup for the day. So, a good way to focus is to pretend that you are still working from an office. Create a schedule that is similar to your workday. Start by assigning a time to begin work and a time to end the workday. Determine the tasks that need to be completed by the end of the day/week/month and review where you currently stand and what needs to be done to stay on schedule. Take a break for lunch and coffee, like you would do at office, but do not exceed the break time.
Set boundaries: This step might be a little emotionally difficult. Getting your family, especially kids and pets, to understand that you are working and not having a day off might be a little difficult in the beginning. But once they understand your schedule and that the workspace is for you to work, over time they will give you space to work.
Celebrate the accomplishments: Many of you might not have noticed it, but at the office, when you complete a task and it is submitted to your manager for review, or announced in a team meeting (or for sales people, when you reach your target), there is a weight that is lifted from your shoulders. When you work from home, for the most part, you are on your own. There is no one acknowledging your success or failures on a regular basis (at least not as regular as in your office), and there is no relief to that weight on your shoulders. So, figure out ways of doing this yourself. When you have successfully completed a task, realise that you have, and acknowledge this fact! Stand up and dance like nobody’s watching!
Use the extra time: You are working from home, that means you will have extra time on your hands. On top of that, COVID-19 has enforced self-isolation and social distancing. So, breaking the monotony is important to remaining focused, motivated and sane. Take up something that will challenge you, something that you always wanted to do but never had the time before, something that will push your boundaries. Maybe learn how to cook/bake, workout and get fit (haha), do online programmes and learn new things, may be get that degree you have always wanted.
If you have been thinking about doing a master’s degree, to challenge yourself and keep motivated, while at the same time being better qualified and prepared for the challenges to come, 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 programme that is right for you, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.
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.
Elizabeth (Liza) Rudolfsson (ER): Creative and hard-working business consultant with roots in the construction industry.
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?
ER: Interest in the subject. Hope that I could apply this new knowledge directly with my customers. Watched a test video with George Boak, which convinced me to choose YSJ.
SD: What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them?
ER: People around me were surprised (I’m 63) but supportive. Luckily, I underestimated the time it would take, or I would never have started.
SD: What surprised you the most when you started your studies?
ER: How much time was required! The high level of ambition. The fun of having ‘classmates’ from all over the world.
SD: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education?
ER: Not really.
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?
ER: Leading Innovation and Change because I’m interested in – and work with – leadership, change and innovation.
SD: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme?
ER: A ton of interesting facts, theories and models, but the most important learning was scientific, critical thinking and how to handle sources and references.
SD: How did you balance work and studies?
ER: I cut down on my work.
SD: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones?
ER: I don’t know about other students, but I can’t see any particular challenges.
Life post degree
What changed, if anything?
SD: What’s new in your life since graduating / starting your studies? Any visible impact already?
ER: I sold a strategy project for small businesses right after the Strategy module. This is now a yearly event, thank you MALIC! Before, I had a lot of superficial knowledge and a lot of practical experience. Now I find that I have a steady foundation with deeper knowledge that also ties into my experience and brings it all together. I get a lot of comments from customers about my solid knowledge, and they appreciate how I reference everything so that they know where the information comes from.
SD: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned?
ER: I reference everything! I carefully separate information and opinion. I venture into new areas. I always did, but now with more confidence.
SD: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the work place?
ER: Probably not in itself, maybe combined with other factors.
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?
ER: Take the writing of assignments (and the feedback) seriously, that’s where most of the learning happens. Use your new knowledge right away to make it stick.
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.
Hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and please watch this place for more similar blogs. You can also 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.
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.
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.
History has shown that a crisis pushes us on to new paths.
Everything we have ever known has been flipped on its head! Things we have taken for granted no longer exist – our 9 to 5 jobs, meeting friends at the pub, a romantic dinner date with that special someone, going for a movie with the kid. It all just feels like a dream now!
Even simple things such as shaking hands or walking around without a mask might be a thing of the past. Social distancing and hand sanitization might be the norms of the future.
And that is just when it comes to how COVID-19 has affected us personally! COVID-19 has also made an impact on the way we do business. Words like “globalisation” at present hold very little meaning, especially after billions of people have been under lockdown and self-isolation worldwide. People can no longer travel or enjoy the positive impact of an abundant and global supply chain.
And this will continue to hold true, at least until an effective, globally accessible and economical vaccine is developed. Not all countries will recover from COVID-19 at a similar rate and not all countries will be able to avoid a relapse.
The below graphs give an indication on how varied the impact of COVID-19 has been on different countries.
Retail is one among the hardest hit segments – people just don’t want to risk going out and getting stuck in the middle of a big crowd (and who can blame them, it is simply not worth the risk).
But it is not just retail – it is education, IT, automotive, hospitality, entertainment, travel and tourism, etc., etc. (I can’t go on listing all the different industries, so please assume that I have listed them). And it is not just these industries that are affected, the ripple effect can be felt across all supporting industries and businesses. A number of friends of mine who either work for or own small businesses, have all shut shop (some of them say they haven’t gotten any new orders for the last three months).
And, as things stand today, there is no end in sight!
The airline industry itself is set to lose about 350 billion US dollars this year, which translates to cheap flight tickets being a thing of the past, at least for the immediate future. This will have an impact on the way we plan our travel, whether it is for work or play! And this will in turn have a trickle-down impact on a number of support industries.
Self-isolation and lockdown have already changed how we work and study. Many schools have now started offering their programmes online and companies are basically running on Zoom and Skype, and this could be the modus operandi going forward. Every day this continues, we will get more data on home-schooling and home-working, and will be able to refine, optimise, and develop solutions to maximise productivity. Maybe the “new way” will even be able to outperform the “traditional way” of doing things.
At the very least, we may see an increase in work-from-home and study-from-home going forward. Families will have to learn and adapt to this new reality too.
Even if we develop a vaccine and COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past (fingers crossed), things have changed and will continue to evolve – locally and globally, personally and professionally, and economically. The way we look at things, the way we interact with other people, it is all changing. Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Online Communication will be brought front and centre, and this will have a direct impact on efficiency and resource management, reducing the human contact requirements to the minimum “necessary”.
Sustainability, solidarity, and healthcare will take centre stage in the future.
Did you plan to join a school to further you studies and learn new skills. Have your plans hit a roadblock? Then, it is time to get off the bandwagon and think “online”!
You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisers 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.