I cannot stress enough (pun intended) that stress is part of everyone’s life, in one way or another: it is the proportion that differs.
I recently moved from one province to another. Trust me, it was more stressful than moving countries as I did almost four years back. I stopped to think, why? I was venturing out onto an unknown territory in both cases, I knew one or a few friends and family there, and it was a new challenge in my life. Then what was different, I wondered. Upon analysing the situation, I came to an interesting conclusion. There were a few things that were different in the first case: 1. I was more willing/open to change 2. I was mentally better prepared 3. I was young(er). (But does that matter? Check out our blog: Age is just a number) 4. I had greater acceptability for risks 5. The fear of the outcome was significantly less/or none at all.
By definition, stress is a feeling of physical, psychological, or emotional tension. It can originate from stress-causing factors or stressors; that makes you feel nervous, angry, or frustrated. The feeling of stress that continues even after the stressor (the event or the thought) is gone becomes anxiety. The body, as a result, requires immediate attention. And like I said before, it’s one’s response to stress, and it is stress management that makes a big difference to their well-being.
Types of stress
There are two types of stress:
Acute stress: acute stress refers to situational events relating to the present or near future. These can be small everyday situations like meeting a deadline, getting late to work or missing an appointment. Better time management can help you become more resilient towards acute stress.
Chronic stress: when you are exposed to high-pressure situations for prolonged intervals, it leads to chronic stress. This may lead to other symptoms of stress such as depression and anxiety.
The stressors can be of three types:
Routine stress such as work-related stress, studies, financial stress, etc.
Unexpected stress like change in location, job
Traumatic stress that results from an accident, social, economic, or environmental disaster, etc.
And I think that some stresses just fall under all the above three categories. For instance, Covid-19 that started as traumatic stress, has seeped into our lives as routine stress.
We live in a very dynamic, ever-changing, highly competitive world with an information overload through various media including social-media. In the concrete jungle we live and work in, living in stress has become a new normal, and it’s down to ‘survival of the fittest. Because more than what stress you have, how you manage it is more important. Here are five ways how one can manage stress.
5 strategies to cope with stress
I believe the key to a successful and efficient life is better time management. Most of our stresses that lead to more tensions can be warded off simply by managing your time more effectively. This is true in any part of our lives. If you are following our #DILO series – A day in the life of an RKC Student, you have noticed that all the RKC students and alumni trust that better time management is essential for work-life balance and successful completion of the master’s programme. Also, check out our blog on time management.
Yoga & Exercise
Set a routine that allows some exercise, a physical activity, going outdoors, or follow a sport. There are several forms of yoga such as hot yoga, power yoga, Iyengar yoga, Bikram yoga, and many more. Exercise and/or yoga relieve your mind and body from mental and muscular stress. It balances hormones and reduces stress.
As I mentioned before, stress is caused by an event or thought – the stressor. It is, therefore, necessary to quiet your mind and free it from unnecessary thoughts. Meditation has proven to be an effective tool in managing stress and leading a stress-free life.
Eating healthy should be a lifestyle you choose to live. In today’s world, everyone is rushed and mindlessly following the rat race from morning till night, meeting deadlines, jobs, handling personal responsibilities, relationships. There is no time to eat, let alone eat a healthy meal. Just a quick grab fast food has become a lifestyle for many. Eating a healthy balanced diet helps to develop a strong immune system that helps in dealing with stress. Prepare a meal plan for the week and buy the ingredients. While healthy eating planning can be daunting, it can be easily managed by prepping for a week or few days in advance. Prepare home cooked meals with fresh vegetables and fruits and avoid the processed foods. You may also want to cut down on sugar and artificially flavoured drinks and watch out fo the portion sizes.
Talk and share
If you feel stress symptoms, don’t be wary about sharing your feelings with friends, family, or colleagues. Often we realise that we are not the only ones dealing with stress, Vent off some steam now and then and that helps too.
While it may seem like stress management can be stressful, the above five ways prove to be simple yet effective means to cope with stress. It is essential to take care of your well-being.
Stressed about which masters programme you should pursue, how online education works, or what the application process is? Don’t worry, we got you. Talk to our advisors today on WhatsApp to get answers to these questions.
I could not agree more with the world-renowned Hungarian-born Romanian American gymnastics coach, who transformed gymnastics coaching in the US and was responsible for bringing home numerous international laurels. His words are not only applicable in sports but are equally fitting in the business world as well.
Businesses do not operate in isolation. Gone are the days of monopoly where companies could dominate a market or industry. Today, in the fast-moving-digital-world, every business, big or small, faces stiff competition to hold a fair share of the market.
When formulating a business plan, it is essential to analyse the company’s competitive environment. The competitive environment is the intricate external system in which the business operates and comprises of several factors or elements that affect and shape the industry. These elements include, and are not limited to:
1. Competitors – Direct and Indirect
2. Government regulations and laws
5. Technological trends
6. Demographic Composition
7. Network of Distribution
8. Corporate culture
Industrialists, innovators, and entrepreneurs need to think critically about these factors that affect the company’s profitability and success. (Also, check out our blog on 7 ways to improve critical thinking). It is imperative to understand the competition landscape and scope. This is necessary to prepare the kind of resources, investment, and technology required to build a sustainable and profitable business. In the good ol’ days, companies could thrive with little or no competition. In comparison, companies now must adopt new and innovative means to compete with other firms in the business environment and to have a competitive advantage over them. Strategic forecasting, planning, and implementation can lead to success in competition. Various strategies can help businesses build undefeatable and sustainable products and services.
Here are 4 strategies that can help build competitive advantages for your business:
1. Cost Leadership
Businesses run for profit. By definition, profit is a financial gain realised due to the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent on buying, operating, or producing a product or a service. It is one of the oldest tricks in the (business) book to be a cost-leader. When a business decides to pursue the cost-leadership strategy, it vows to provide the goods or services at a competitively lower price than any of its rivals can ever offer.
Such firms operate on the lowest cost structure, have reasonable control over the entire supply chain, suppliers, and raw materials, and have tight controls on the whole value chain activities. Walmart, IKEA, McDonald’s, Primark, and RyanAir are a few examples of firms that attribute their business success to a cost-leadership strategy.
“You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it differently”.
Offering a low-cost product is not always an option in a competitive environment. Different consumers have different demands. Companies, by providing high-end quality products, also influence many customers’ buying decisions, who would otherwise choose the cheaper alternative. Even though companies always intend to keep their costs low, they are willing to spend on research and development costs, marketing, customer service, or innovation to develop a niche product or service, for which consumers are willing to pay a premium price. Apple, Starbucks, Tesla, Tiffany & Co., Emirates, and Hermes are examples of companies whose thoughtful approach to differentiation and compelling storytelling strategy makes millions of consumers spend premium prices for their products and services.
This strategy is quite different from the above two strategies. Business here focuses its primary strategy, i.e., operating at a lower cost or adding value but on a limited market, much narrower in scope than the broader cost leader or differentiator. The company intends to make concentrated efforts based on either a particular buyer group, geographic uniqueness, a unique product line, or a special attribute appealing to a niche customer class to cater to the specific demand of a limited number of customers. Gucci, Rolls Royce, Diet Coke, NetJets, and DC Design are a few examples of companies that have successfully adopted the focus strategy.
4. Strategic group
“Anytime you find someone more successful than you, especially when you’re both in the same business, you know they are doing something that you aren’t”.
Groups of businesses of comparable size and range that operate in the same industry and follow the same strategies to build competitive advantages are termed strategic groups. The competition is so closely knit in such environments that even a small movement by the competitor affects the others’ market position. It helps build a strategic group map to identify businesses’ closest competitors and evaluate how your company is positioned in the industry. Common examples of strategic groups are the restaurants, retailers, cosmetic brands, and the aviation industry.
These are four strategies, more commonly known as Michael Porter’s ‘generic’ business-level strategies as these can be applied to any business, by any firm in any industry.
Which strategy do you think is the most powerful in building a competitive business advantage in your own context? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Pursuing the master’s degree is a big decision in many people’s lives. Choosing which programme will be most beneficial for one’s career development can be nerve wrecking too. Because there are choices – too many choices! For example, one might decide to go for an MBA programme, however, there is a choice to pursue an Executive MBA (EMBA) too! As an aspiring student, which one should you choose? Let us explore the differences, pros and cons of both so that you can make an informed decision.
1. Admission criteria
One of the foremost differences between an MBA and the EMBA programme is the admission criteria. For most of the MBA programmes minimum experience required varies between 1-3 years. Sometimes, even fresh under-graduates can also apply for MBA programmes given a good academic record.
On the other hand, an EMBA typically requires candidates to have on average 3 to 6 years’ work experience with at least 2 to 5 years of managerial work experience. Our current MBA students and alumni for example, possess on average 5 to 10 years of work experience, holding leadership and management titles in companies such as risk and quality managers, heads of sales, senior corporate trainers, marketing directors, lawyers, consultants, politicians and diplomats, company presidents and CMOs.
2. Pace of study
The MBA programmes are typically pursued on full-time or on-campus basis, and have very demanding schedules. They have more traditional and rigid course structures. An EMBA on the other hand, offers a more flexible study schedule, and are typically delivered in blocks (weekends, once a month, etc.) or online. The majority of the EMBA students are working professionals with busy work schedules. Thus, to optimize their time, EMBAs offer lecture sessions at rarer, but more intense intervals than their MBA counterparts. When done online, these really put flexibility at the forefront.
3. Intensity of the programme
While both programmes focus on the same core modules, the degree of intensiveness in both varies. For the EMBAs, I will use an analogy of a multi-vitamin supplement – a power packed mix of various vitamins all together in one. Similary, EMBAs are intensive, and one should be ready to absorb a lot of knowledge in a short period of time.
A regular MBA programme however, spreads the modules over a period of time. The course material is widely distributed and thus is comparatively less intensive than EMBAs.
4. Curriculum and focus
In an MBA programme, since it accepts candidates with fewer years of experience, the focus is on teaching and developing management knowledge from the basics. It has a broader choice available in terms of the electives that a student can choose from. An EMBA programme, however, has a higher bar set in terms of experience from its candidates. While some of the core modules are same as an MBA programme, an EMBA programme has a more focused approach.
5. Financial implications
An EMBA wins over an MBA programme any day when we talk about financial implications of both. Firstly, an EMBA candidate can continue their day jobs and get paid to support their education. MBA programmes with full-time study schedules make it more difficult for students to continue with their jobs. Secondly, since a large portion (or in our case, all of the programme) is studied online, one saves a huge amount of money in travel and living expenses. Thus, the return on investment on an EMBA is typically much higher than a regular MBA programme.
There is of course the issue of programme cost – these vary wildly though, and you can find really expensive programmes in both EMBA and MBA settings.
I hope the above provides a few points to help you make the distinction between an MBA and an EMBA programme.
Robert Kennedy College offers online MBA programmes – which are much closer to EMBAs than they are to MBAs because of their flexibility and incredible value for money. We do that in exclusive partnerships with the University of Cumbria and York St John University. Check out the list of various MBA progammes that we offer and choose the one that best suits your interests and career.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once I started writing this blog, I realised my folly. The topic of my blog might sound simple, it was anything but, especially for me – (1) my knowledge of Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management (PLSCM) is entirely academic, and (2) I am not African, nor have I ever worked or even visited Africa.
But I do know that Africa is the future and has the potential for dramatic growth (if she is able to tap into that potential), and effective management of PLSCM will play a pivotal part in this future, given the resources in raw materials that Africa has.
And hence my topic, and my folly, and something I felt needed to be done.
I conducted an online survey of these students (of which about a hundred participated) and asked them about the challenges they face as PLSCM professionals in Africa, the image below indicates a country wise breakup of the response we received from our students to the survey.
The following are the top five responses I got back from the survey. Now, while this blog is Africa-centric, I find that these challenges are universal, and effect Africa as a whole, other developing nations, and even the developed or “first world” nations to some degree.
Top 5 challenges facing PLSCM professionals in Africa
Infrastructure – is the foundation on which a strong PLSCM function is built. The whole point of having a streamlined and efficient PLSCM department is to effectively purchase (at best costs) and move raw materials and finished products from point to point in a timely and less resource intensive manner. Efficiency also means having the products readily available, while at the same time not leaving them idling in a storehouse somewhere. To enable this, state of the art, physical infrastructure is needed – from roads and railways to airports, seaports, and safe and secure areas (such as industrial zones, etc.) for manufacturing and storage.
Corruption – the universal bane to businesses, and something that is global, encouraged and fostered by everyone involved, willingly or unwillingly. It is easy to blame a corrupt official for delays and holdups, until palms are greased to get thing moving without looking at the reasons why. Are you encouraging the behaviour by paying the bribe? Is your competitor paying bribes to hold you up? Why does the official need the money, is he paid enough? Are the laws strict enough to prevent corruption?
Policy Change – As one of my former managers once told me “If you are comfortable then you are not growing”. And while this is true, who doesn’t like being comfortable? From our survey, this seems to hold especially true in Africa. For policy changes to take place, something big should have happened for the powers that be to even consider a change, and even then, comities have to be put in place to suggest the changes and then review the suggested changes, all this taking forever. By the time the policy change comes about, it will usually be outdated.
Stuck in time (Slow to incorporate modern methods) – A follow on to the previous point, it is not just the people in power who are slow to incorporate change, but also the people who do the work who are slow to embrace change as well. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But what people don’t realise is, it is not about fixing it, it is about bettering it. People get comfortable and don’t want to change or learn new ways of doing things, and then complain about the people above them making life difficult by not embracing change and current best practices.
Cutting corners to save time – another universal truth. After doing a job for a period of time, we begin to believe that we know best, and can make a process better by cutting corners. But what we fail to understand is that we are but a single, small cog in the machine, and a process is in place to help the whole machine run smoother. By cutting corners and not following the process, all that might be achieved is to throw a spanner in the works. If you believe there is a better way to do something, take it to the management and make you case, it might just increase the efficiency of the whole machine.
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.
Marketing, like everything else in the world is constantly changing and evolving overtime.
From cave painting to word of mouth. From messages on scrolls to pictograms. From picture advertisements in magazines and newspapers to video ads in between your favourite TV programmes.
And the evolution continues!
I mean, how many of us subscribe to a physical newspaper anymore? Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, just to name a few, have pretty much killed broadcast television and cable tv.
We live in the world of binge watching, instant news (and in some cases fake news), and WhatsApp forwards! If you blink, you will be left behind!
So, how are we to effectively market our products and services, or advertise to the masses in this fast paced, limited-attention times?
Digital Marketing is the answer, and here are six reasons why I think you should choose a career in Digital Marketing!
High demand While there are similarities between Digital Marketing and traditional marketing, the difference between them is substantial and cannot be overlooked. To do the job right, a specialist is required, and most companies accept this to be true. Digital Marketing is still a relatively new industry/vertical, and the number of specialists available is still very limited. It follows that a qualified and competent Digital Marketing professional is highly sought after.
Richness of choice within Digital Marketing Most people these days have limited choice in the career path they wish to take. When a company recruits for a job vacancy, for most roles, they will have an abundance of applicants, however, Digital Marketing being a new field, the opportunities available will be among the best in the market. Also, there will be a lot of opportunities within the various verticals of Digital Marketing. Here’s a few of them:
Web properties – websites, blogs
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Paid marketing (PPC marketing) – Google search ads, Display ads, Affiliate marketing, social media paid ads
Social media (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook channels, etc.)
Show me the money It all comes down to the salaries and pay packages, and that’s the bottom line! People venturing into Digital Marketing will be the ground breakers, the trailblazers, the pioneers of the industry, and will have the potential to earn huge. For example, just before the lockdown started, a quick search for Digital Marketing job opportunities in the United States, listed jobs for freshers starting from USD 55’000. I think that is a pretty good place to start your career from.
Minimum entry requirements Digital Marketing is still a very new field, and people working in the field have very little experience in it and are still learning how to effectively develop and execute a digital marketing strategy. As everyone in digital marketing is still relatively new and mostly learning by experience, the entry requirements are comparatively lower than most other job profiles. So, now is the time to get into Digital Marketing and build a career.
Diversity in the workplace When the word “diversity” is used, most people think ethnic diversity. And that is true here as well, but it is also means so much more in Digital Marketing. In the morning, you could be working with extroverts who may be creators, creating ad campaigns and YouTube videos, who push their creative ideas across. And in the afternoon, you could be working with introverts who may be from Data Analytics or SEO or Website Development. This is just an example. The point is, working in Digital Marketing, there is a place for every kind of personality and the opportunity to work with every kind of personality!
Creativity If you are passionate about the work you do (no matter how boring it may sound to someone else) then the potential for creativity exists. But the thing about Digital Marketing is, no other field of work encourages creativity and “out of the box thinking” quite as much as Digital Marketing does.
Now these are just some of the more obvious reasons to take up a career in Digital Marketing, and I am sure there are a number of other very obvious and/or more important reasons to make Digital Marketing your career. Perhaps you are building upon your previous Marketing career? Let us know in the comments below if you are already “in” and have some insights to share, I am sure it will help people make an informed decision.
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.
It’s almost the end of June. We are halfway through 2020 – a year that brought with it some unique challenges for everyone. It’s a good moment to reflect on the first half of the year and do a mid-year evaluation of yourself, your goals and how far you have progressed towards achieving them. You may want to re-evaluate strategy, pace up or slow down a bit (the workaholics out there :)).
We couldn’t agree more with our MBA Media Leadership graduate, Fawn Annan, who believes celebrating women graduates of RKC and showcasing their achievement and standing in the community is a great way to encourage and increase women’s participation in Master’s education. The very reason we started our Women’s Day Series dedicated to RKC’s women graduate and future graduates! Allow me to introduce you to the woman who wears several hats – that of CEO and Digital Media Publisher, of Mother, of Grandmother and of Wife – Fawn Annan!
Getting back into education
Your story of getting back to do a Master’s degree
Vidhi Kapoor (VK):What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you?
Fawn Annan (FA): I needed to find new publishing models for my business and also wanted to use the credentials to transfer my career to more speaking and book publishing.
VK:What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them?
FA: Business priorities. Many but put this as a life-changing priority.
VK:What surprised you the most when you started your studies?
FA: How much work one course take up in hours but the enjoyment I experienced did surprise me.
VK: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education?
FA: No, given its graduate-level online studies there was a difference.
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?
FA: MBA in Media Leadership — That is my profession
VK: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme?
FA: Learning is a lifetime journey
VK: How did you balance work and studies?
FA: My child is a father; my husband is retired; my business partner was very supportive and allowed me to take time to work on my studies a portion of each week and a portion of each weekend.
VK: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones?
FA: All students face the same ones.
What changed, if anything?
VK: What’s new in your life since graduating/starting your studies? Any visible impact already?
FA: Yes. Published my first co-authored book, Digital Transformation in the First Person, and have had many more speaking opportunities than before.
VK: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned?
FA: Yes. Our digital transformation was far more successful because I had the different models to try out in agile development. My business partner, a seasoned CIO, was also far more attentive to what strategy advice I had to offer.
VK: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the work place?
FA: Credentials do help.
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?
FA: Expand your mind as much as you can. Building credibility starts with knowledge.
VK:Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be?
FA: My degree
I hope you got some very useful advice and insights about our Online Masters from Fawn. I am sure you draw inspiration from her story and feel motivated to embark on your own journey towards the Masters.
After a long day, I settled down for some binge-watching on Netflix (you may be a Prime fan). I had been watching this series Ozark and wanted to watch something different that evening. Netflix had some recommendations for me – similar dramas, suspense thrillers that Netflix thought I would like based on what I had been watching. I stopped to wonder how Netflix generates content recommendations that appeal to my taste and do so for millions of other users globally.
How do algorithms work to find me my recommendations?
I am equally fascinated by how fashion brands like Burberry provide ‘personalised’ experience and buying suggestions. Not to mention how the retail and tech giants like Walmart, Amazon and Google seem to know more about you than your own mother.
All these companies have one thing in common: Big Data and Analytics.
What is Big Data?
The concept of big data has been around for several years. The term big data refers to data that are so large, complex, and comes in so fast that they are difficult to process using traditional methods. It gained momentum in the 2000s when industry analyst Doug Laney articulated a new definition for big data as three V’s: Volume, Velocity and Variety. Companies are evolving from being “knowing” organizations to “learning” organizations.
What is Data Analytics?
Big Data Analytics in simple terms can be defined as the application of advanced analytical techniques to big data. These techniques might typically include variety of tools like statistics, data mining, AI, predictive analytics and natural language processisng (NLP). The hottest trend in business intelligence today is amalgamation of these two technical entities: Big Data and Big Data Analytics.
Why is Big Data Important and why are companies using Analytics?
Gathering big data is not enough, you also need to know what you do with it. If data are the crude oil then analytics is knowing how to refine them. into actionable business insights unleashing their potential. Most of the top-performing organizations identify data analytics as to the ‘differentiating factor’ from the competition in the industry. Here’s it is how:
Boost customer acquisition and retention
Many companies are now using data analytics to understand and predict consumer behaviour. The information is in turn being used in advertising algorithms. Amazon found another use of such data – maintaining customer relations by providing faster and more efficient customer service.
Marketing Insights – focus on targeted adverts.
In the modern age, personalization is highly valuable and a differential factor for consumers. Real-time analytics have made it possible for companies to deliver more targeted and precise service and product options to their users.
Product Innovation and Development
Data Analytics provides valuable information and reveals the future trends. Companies can take advantage of big data to branch out to different avenues and open up new revenue streams. Amazon’s Whole Foods and Amazon’s Fresh are perfect examples of how Amazon utilised the analysis of consumer grocery buying behaviour from its huge supply chain database. It applied this acquired knowledge to diversify and establish new innovative businesses.
One of the basic premise for any business to be profitable in the long run is its ability to identify and mitigate business risks. The wide variety of innsights provided by data analytics come in handy for institutions to develop better risk management solutions. The future is to be able to carry out real-time risk analysis.
How can you build your career in Data Analytics?
Have you got a knack for numbers and an analytical mindset? Data analytics may be the right fit for you. As an analyst, you will be responsible for analysing and understanding the trends in big data and help improve business processes. You can launch your data analyst career with these simple steps:
Earn an Information technology, CS or statistics bachelor’s degree
If you are just starting off your career, earning a bachelor’s degree is a great place to launch your career in the right direction.
Gain analytics work experience
No education degrees are useful unless they are gainfully applied. Gain valuable experience while in school or after. Entry-level positions will provide you with much needed on-the-job training which is otherwise difficult to obtain.
Advance your Analytics career with a Masters
Work experience and a bachelor’s degree may get you to a certain level of success. For further career development and growth in the field and into the management, you should consider pursuing a master’s degree programme in data science, data analytics or big data management. These programs will provide exposure to the latest trends and knowledge.
How can we help?
Robert Kennedy College offers 100% Online MSc Data Analytics in exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria. With an in-depth curriculum, you will study data analytics, advanced databases and learn new trends in digital marketing and artificial intelligence. The University of Cumbria is ranked 8th in the world and is recognised by the British government. Trust me, with such credentials until its belt, you do not need much (big data) analytics for choosing the University of Cumbria as your online graduate school. Join us today!
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.
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!
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.