“Focus on your key objectives in 2022” – Dean’s message for the New Year!

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.

5 ways of marketing effectively during Christmas

On behalf of the staff and students at Robert Kennedy College, I would like to wish you, our readers, and your families a very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Photo by Mitya Ivanov on Unsplash.

Christmas is a time of happiness, hope, and celebration. A time when families come together and broken friendships are mended. A time of holiday and exchanging gifts. A time for children and Santa Claus. It has always been such and hopefully will always be such.

In short, it is a dream come true for every marketing executive. 

Almost every aspect of Christmas can be made into a marketing campaign. Understanding the emotions associated with Christmas and determining how to best capitalise on these emotions will result in the success or failure of the marketing campaign.  

Whether or not companies choose to take advantage of the “Christmas Spirit”, people will still need to buy gifts, travel to be together with family or go on holiday. And, the choices that customers have today are many, and all compete for the same portion of the pie. So, why not position your company to take advantage of the opportunity Christmas offers.

The following are just five points to consider when planning your Christmas campaign!

1. The holiday emotion

This is the time of year when most people are happy and relaxed. There are lights and decorations everywhere, and everything looks beautiful; it just makes one feel so buoyant. I am sure it will come as no surprise, but happy customers tend to spend more. Companies and brands should take advantage of this and position themselves to be more associated with these emotions of happiness and sharing. Receiving presents makes everyone happy, but Christmas is not just about receiving gifts; it is also about giving gifts. This is a message that must be driven to the customer.

2.   Social Media

Photo by Merakist on Unsplash.

It is that time of the year when everyone is enthusiastically active on social media. From food to pictures of them in holiday attire. From holiday pictures to images of snowmen to umbrella drinks on the beach. Or, even just wishing each other a merry and prosperous time. This time of year is one of the peaks that social media experiences, so make sure your social media strategy is in place to take advantage of this period.

3.   Make it all about the holidays

Build-up anticipation for the Christmas season. Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

The good thing about the Christmas and New Year’s holidays is that they come towards the end of the month. So, there is a whole month to build up excitement and anticipation, to make us desire that cherry on top of the cake. This build-up adds to the positive energy of Christmas, encouraging customers to spend more and tempting them with sales and new product launches. If a marketing campaign can build up positive holiday energy around its brand, customers will begin to associate the brand with the season, and when it comes time to spend, that is where the money will go.  

4.   It’s all about the presentation

Everyone likes getting gifts. Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash.

Christmas is a season of giving and receiving. In short, it is a season of gifts; whether it is for someone else or for yourself, it is always lovely to receive a gift. So, present your product like a gift, even change your packaging to make it look more gift-like. If your product can be personalised, encourage your customer to personalise it, let them build an emotional connection with the product.

5.   Set deadlines

All good things must come to an end, and the Christmas season must also end. Similarly, the Christmas marketing campaign must indicate a clear end to the promotion and sale period and build anticipation around it. A customer must get the impression and be convinced that they will miss out on something if they miss this promotion and might have to wait an entire year to get something similar.


Explore several specialised master’s degree programmes in Marketing, Social Media and International Business that Robert Kennedy College offers through exclusive partnerships with top British universities. You could also get in touch with our team of admission advisers on WhatsApp, who can have a look at your profile and give you some advice.

If you have already made up your mind, click here to apply.

The new age leader – a coach and a mentor

We live in a world of flux – a world where change is the only thing constant.  

I remember when I was a kid, my father would tell me about his job and the management style at his office. He worked in a semi-government organization where hierarchy and command-and-control leadership dominated. A more technically qualified and experienced leader would lead a team or a department and evaluate each team members’ performance against a pre-set benchmark. Little or no importance was laid on developing the skill-sets of employees or encouraging innovation.  

Fast forward 20 years, the leadership styles shifted dramatically. The existing (ancient, in my opinion…) management styles were not sustainable and organizations begged for a radical transformation; transformations that would inculcate new energy, ideas, motivation, commitment, and innovation. 

Leaders are expected to step up and assume the role of a coach and a mentor

Types of coaching styles 

Coaches come from a variety of backgrounds. Having a consultant coach from outside the organization could be helpful for developing specific skills or as a one-off motivational camp. A modern learning organization would invest in a coaching style appropriate to the needs of the company. Keeping in view the long-term goals, the leaders within the company are expected to step up and fulfil the need of the hour – the need to assume the role of a coach and a mentor.  

The leader may adopt one of the many leadership styles, with some of the most popular being: 

  1. Democratic: This style as the name suggests, encourages the general principles of democracy and takes into consideration the opinions, ideas, and interests of the people involved.  
  1. Laissez-Faire: This style is the minimum leadership style when the team members operate at their maximum efficiency and vigor and do not require any supervision or direction.  This is generally seen as inefficient, and depends largely on the ability of the teams to self-manage and self-regulate. Not recommended.
  1. Directive: Quite contrary to the Laissez-Faire coaching style, directive leadership requires the leader to ‘tell’ people what is expected of them, assign necessary resources for successful completion of their job, and convey the expected results as well.  
  1. Holistic: No organization today operates in isolation. Businesses are global and companies all over the world are taking wholesome decisions for the greater good. This leadership style recognizes the connection between leader, follower, and organisation, and focuses on a people-in-environment and developmental approach. 

Mentor or a Coach 

People usually use the term coaching and mentorship interchangeably. This is not correct. Mentoring is offering advice based on knowledge, expertise, and experience. Coaching, on the other hand, is inquiry-based. A little push with insightful questioning can spark a person to see themselves and the world differently and solve their own challenges. 

Mentoring is more formal and structured, where a mentor helps his mentee gain a broader and deeper perspective and understanding of the business (and life). A mentor, based on his own experiences, guides and channels mentees by illuminating the right path for them. It is, therefore, more directive in nature and could be related to a directive leadership style. Mentors offer exposure and connections to other functions and levels of the organization.

A coach supports, challenges, and encourages. A coach approach for leaders, on the other hand, uses very different techniques for developing people. The role involves asking and listening rather than knowing and telling. The coach empowers the employees, by making them fully capable of finding their own answers to their problems. Employees have more self-awareness and experience an increased performance.  

Now, this is easier said than done. While leaders may recognize the need to embrace the idea of coaching and mentoring their employees and subordinates, the flair does not come naturally to every leader. However, using right set of tools and resources, anyone can become a seasoned coach. 

Using right set of tools and resources, anyone can become a seasoned coach. 

Our MBA in Coaching, Mentoring, & Leadership programme creates opportunities for you to develop through practice a range of coaching and mentoring skills and techniques and enables the development of a critical understanding of issues related to the design and implementation of coaching and mentoring schemes. The programme is delivered in such a way that you are encouraged to utilise your professional and work-based context as a resource in which to practice and develop your skills in coaching and mentoring. Feel like you could benefit from this? You are not alone! Apply now to join our more than 150 students currently taking the programme!

Should you consider a career in International Business? Here are 3 reasons why you should!

I dislike starting a blog using a cliché, let alone one the is well worn. The world today is really small. One could even call it a “global village”. There are several reasons for this: cheap, quick travel across the world to clear, instantaneous, and secure audio and video communication and conferencing. Decisions can be made from across the world, data and finances can be transferred securely and instantaneously to execute decisions, and human resources, if required, can be flown in overnight.

Small world/global village. Photo credit: Bill Oxford on Unsplash

As the result of all this globalisation and economic barriers disappearing, businesses, even small businesses, have become multinational.

Having said that, there are still several barriers businesses must overcome to be genuinely international or multinational such as language, culture, local labour laws, politics, economy, and geographical distances, to just name a few. A business will have to overcome at least as many difficulties as there are countries to truly operate internationally.

There are several ways companies overcome these challenges, from recruiting locally to creating or recruiting specialists in international business who are familiar with the local laws, culture, etc., and who can learn and adapt quickly. These specialists will not only be familiar with the working of the company but will also be familiar with the expectations of the company from their local subsidiaries, partners, and vendors. 

These international business specialists will have to work closely with their local agents communicating the company’s policy and expectations. They will, in all probability, have to travel to the new country of operation as a representative of the company and spend a substantial period in-country to ensure the processes are set up correctly. 

More prominent companies will also set up an international office with the primary purpose to troubleshoot any issues that might arise from operations in any country. 

Here are 3 reasons why YOU should consider a career in International Business

Salary and Demand

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

As per the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the U.S., only about two thousand students graduate with a master’s degree in International Business every year. To give you an estimate of the earning potential of a career in international business, according to data published by PayScale Inc., in the United States, the approximate early career pay for someone with a bachelor’s degree in International Business is about USD 52’000. I can infer from this that there is an opportunity to get in on the ground floor for a career in international business as the number of graduates is still very low. The salary offered is competitive, and depending on the company and job profile, there is the potential to earn more from the get-go itself. 

Job Satisfaction 

Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Mark Twain

Job satisfaction is very subjective. You might hate to do the work that I love, and vice-versa. So, before you take up a job in international business, ask around, find out what the job entails, how much travel is involved, what kind of job security is being offered? According to a survey by PayScale Inc., about 40% say that a career in international business has “meaning”, here “meaning” means they feel their work makes the world a better place. Whereas about 70% say, they are satisfied with their work. So, the potential of having a satisfying career is relatively high, and maybe even a meaningful career. 

Future-proof 

International business is a people-oriented job. It is dependent on people-to-people interactions, decisions, and analysis made by managers, understanding the cultural nuances of (a) people. As a result, international business cannot be automated. Even if the process you are involved in does get automated, something new will get created just above your current profile in the value chain. So, a career in business in general and in international business in particular will, in general, be future-proof, and unless something goes drastically wrong at your company, you need not worry about losing your job.


If you are ready for great career opportunities, professional growth, traveling and exploring new cultures, then a career in international business might be for you. Robert Kennedy College offers several programmes in International Business. Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information.

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

Through the #DILO series of blog posts, we have been bringing you insights into the life of our master’s students, sharing their thoughts and opinions, ups and downs, and key learning points during their online studies. The whole idea behind this series is to make you aware of the realities of online studies, and aid you in decision making.  

This week we take a look at a day in the life of one of our master’s degree students – Nicole. Here are a few insights and some words of wisdom that Nicole had to share from her experience:

An Introduction 

“I am still learning about who I really am” – Nicole

Who are you, really? 

Nicole Weiner, a lifetime learner with a family and a job, but I am still learning about who I really am 

Which Uni are you studying with? 

University of Cumbria 

Which programme did you choose and why? 

The MBA in Public Health Management program. Being a nurse, I am interested in helping people live better, healthier lives through prevention. 

Being a nurse, Nicole is dedicated towards helping people live better and healthier lives

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? 

When I do something, I do not think about “the how” so much. I decide and I do. Thankfully my responsibilities at home are minimal and I was able to carve out some time from my work agenda, since I am an occupational health nurse, I took about 2.5 hours from my work schedule each week since the two are related. Plus, I worked at home as well, especially the weekends.

But it was not difficult to participate in the forums on a regular basis. In one sitting: sometimes an hour, sometimes 6 hours. In my opinion, your work agenda should allow some time for master’s, if the two are related.

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

Anytime. If I have to do something, I can do it just about any time of the day, but after 7 pm I do like to just relax, so usually not in the evenings. During my thesis this will change because I have changed jobs and in this new job, I will not be able to carve out time to write or study during work hours.

Relating to my above answer, my next job will be as a research nurse, therefore I cannot study during work hours because I am not caring for a whole population group and there will be more technical duties to do. As an OHN, I was one nurse to 650 people. That’s significant, but the company was great and gave me space for balance. 

How much time did you devote for each assignment? 

Depends. Like I said earlier, forums usually half an hour to an hour. Assignments I dedicate a lot of time but I cannot put a number on it. But one thing I can say is that I try to start working on it very early, so that I am not rushed in the end. 

Travelling and Communication 

“As long as I had my computer I could study if I wanted to while travelling”- Nicole.

How did travelling impact your ability to study? 

No problem, as long as I had my computer I could study if I wanted to. 

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

In my personal case, there is no time difference between the UK and Switzerland. 

A typical day as a master’s student 

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

School is just an extension of my other activities. I can say that definitely, the program being online makes life a bit less complicated. 

Any advice? 

Do a little bit every day, with a day off every now and then, or vacation even. If you work on your assignments regularly, you can afford to take time off and not stress it. And please advise your professors of your absence. 

Well indeed, incredibly helpful advice from Nicole. A contingency plan not only saves you from an unpredictable situation but also helps you follow your study plan with confidence. To get you through the master’s studies we have great faculty who are subject-matter experts, who guide and encourage the students to achieve their potential.  

If you have been dreaming of joining master’s programme or have had this personal goal to gain higher education, now is the time! Take the valuable advice from our current students, gain from their experience, add your own unique study strategy, and make your own success story!

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

Getting ready for 2021

Phew! It is 2021! 2020 is finally over and behind us. After having an incredibly unique (and for many a traumatic) 2020, I am a little sceptical and at the same time joyous and hopeful of welcoming the new year.   

Well, let me first extend my warmest wishes to you, our readers, happy new year! One of the greatest joys of this season is the opportunity to say thank you and to wish you the very best for the New Year.   

‘Tis the season…  

So, what do you think 2021 will look like? Are you ready to embrace the new year as it still encapsulates certain uncertainties? Have you set any personal goals, professional goals, or academic goals for yourself? Because it is that time of the year when we sulk on unfinished resolutions or celebrate their achievement (I fall more in the former category than the latter 🙁) and look forward to new ones!   

In my opinion, it will be much more than just resolutions this year. People are frustrated with unfulfilled wish-lists, lockdowns, and fear of the pandemic. Emotions are running high; there will be no holding back, it could turn out to be a year where you tick off all the boxes (or most of).  

Here are the five trends you must watch out for in 2021:  

1. Shoppable TV and social media influencers   

Consumers will be able to buy anything they like, on the go and instantly!

With worldwide lockdowns, the retail industry saw a categorical change with the brick-and-mortar stores shutting down. Shoppers had to move online, and the businesses capitalised on every opportunity to grab consumer’s attention. Consumers will be able to buy anything they like, on the go, instantly, as they watch the advertisement on their favourite streaming channels, or a product recommended by their favourite social media influencer. I have personally experienced this; a tik-tok video made the CeraVe skincare products fly off the shelves within days. That is a powerful sales tool.   

2. Big data becomes bigger  

Big data is inexhaustible

As we rely more and more on online platforms for almost everything, from groceries to banking, to buying cars to education, the data is building up exponentially and is inexhaustible. There will be an increasing new need for data analysis and customer personalisation.  

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)  

AI is predominantly the most significant trend to watch out for in 2021. With bigger data, better interpretations will be required to understand the world and the changing patterns of the consumers. In 2021, we are likely to see further sophistication in machine learning algorithms and tools.  

4. E-Sports  

Gaming is in line to become a multi-billion-dollar industry

Gaming is one of the sectors that was positively impacted by COVID-19. While other industries suffered losses, gaming has been trending and is in line to become a multi-billion-dollar industry by 2023. It is one of the top entertainment activities that people engage in, kids and adults alike.  

5. eLearning  

With the sudden closure of schools and universities owing to social distancing and self-isolation requirements in an attempt to flatten the COVID-19 curve, online learning became a necessity overnight and is here to stay. There are several benefits of online education, such as flexible learning and quality education offered at affordable prices.

Robert Kennedy College has been a pioneer in online education since 1998. When you decide to study with us, we promise you an excellent course curriculum, British education, Swiss quality, highly qualified faculty and a variety of Online master’s programmes to choose from. Start early and talk to our education advisors to find out how you can make the most of the new year 2021 though learning.

Evolution and Innovation of the Financial Systems. Can the Financial System be updated?

Finance has always been my Achilles’ heel. It was my weakest subject during my MBA, the subject in which I scored my lowest grades. Never understood anything about the subject, but now that I think about it, it was probably because finance never interested me. And, as fate would have it, the first job I got straight from college was with a bank, and a few years later, the second job was with an insurance company.

So, whether we like it or not, finance will always be a big part of our lives. And if you think about it, you have been involved with finance ever since that day your mother gave you that coin to buy that candy from that shop near your school. And today finance is part of everything we do.

In today’s world, without a financial medium there is very little that can be done – no shopping, no job, no entertainment, no companies, no products, etc., etc., you get the picture! Finance is one of the key fulcrums around which the human existence revolves.

Today’s financial system is a product of thousands of years of financial evolution. The world’s financial system is very complex, formed by the overlapping of multiple, global financial networks that move trillions of dollars a day to serve billions of people. People who in turn use it to improve their quality of life – purchasing, trading, and investing.

Like everything huge and complex, there are a number of drawbacks. The system’s size and complexity makes it slow, expensive, lacking in transparency, and hence open to fraud. It is a system that thrives on speculation and seems to create concentrations of wealth. In today’s age of information and globalisation, is it possible to create a more functional financial system?

A complex system, formed by the overlapping of multiple, global financial networks that move trillions of dollars a day to serve billions of people

So, what is a financial system?

Simply put, it is the information layer that records and mediates economic activity. Finance serves the function of accounting for, and exchanging of, economic value. Financial systems enable funds to be stored and moved between the people involved in an economic transaction. Enabling the economic players involved, be it individuals or organisations, to share in the ownership of the economic activity, with the associated risks and returns.

Evolution of the Financial System

A financial system has always existed, and throughout history it has evolved from a community based financial system, to an industrial age centralised system, to today’s new global financial institutions centred around information technology. There are of course a number of factors that have contributed to the development of the modern financial systems, from double entry accounting, to nations adopting a single, common economic system that spanned a relatively large geographic area, and finally, to capitalism and large investments in industrial infrastructure.

Capitalism and industrial investments lead to the amassing of great wealth, which in turn resulted in even greater investment in industry. This resulted in the need for bigger, more sophisticated institutions for the regulating, storing, investing, and distribution of financial assets. Due to industrialisation, organisations moved from a more local/regional level to a national level, as a result, small local community banks with their local financial systems could not meet the demands of the industrial age. This naturally resulted in a centralised national/federal/reserve banking system coming into existence, which was the driving force behind the industrial economy.    

With the world economy becoming more accessible and deregulated, financial systems have evolved to become more standardised at a global level, becoming a system that manages a large flow of capital, organising the assets and liabilities of people and organisations around the planet.

The financial system continues to evolve and innovate to serve customers better, and move money more efficiently – from credit cards, to SWIFT interbank exchange, to ATM’s, online and mobile banking, and finally to financial products that are heavily based on speculation.

While the modern financial system continues to innovate, evolve, and improve the lives of the people using the system, there are also a number of challenges that impact the system.

A large percentage of society today is only interested in making the “quick buck”. This has resulted in the creation of financial products that are based on speculation, and this is where most people are investing their money. As a consequence of this, the actual investment made to the economy, and industry is reduced, and makes the system unstable and prone to collapse.

  • Global financial systems, while having a digital façade of simplicity, are in reality very complex and expensive to create and maintain, requiring a number of intermediaries to keep the entire system functional. All of this adds to the cost of the system, making the system inaccessible to billions of people around the world.
  • The system is made closed on purpose to protect the data it contains, as a result it lacks transparency, which from time to time, results in people on the inside taking advantage of the system to commit crimes and abuse trust.

45% of financial services organisations have suffered frauds in the last 12 months

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Sixth Global Economic Crime Survey – Financial Services Report
  • Like any system centred around information technology, security is a major concern, and back doors into the system can always be found by a determined hacker.
  • The modern financial system can be complex and difficult to understand, especially with the evolution of FinTech (finance + information technology). Technology companies have entered the world of financial services, offering a number of products along the value chain, but are still not able to offer the full services that a traditional financial service provider offers.

The financial system is once again starting to evolve with the internet driving innovation, pushing the financial system into a more decentralised model. Blockchain, distributed ledgers and tokens are showing the potential for the new forms of the financial system. With the internet providing the platform to record, store and exchange value independent of centralised institutions, resulting in an economy wide accounting system that is secure and transparent. Is this the future of the truly global financial system?

This is all truly complicated to be covered in a blog post, and especially not by me!


If you are interested in learning and being better prepared for the opportunities and challenges in the world of business, have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that could help.

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

Women in RKC – Jelly Offereins – One who found a perfect Master’s programme that seemed “too good to be true”

Allow me to introduce you to an RKC graduate of our MA Leading Innovation and Change programme, now working as the Director of International Affairs for a Business school in the Netherlands.  

Who is Jelly Offereins? A short profile: 

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

Jelly Offereins (JO): I am an energetic, task-driven, positive personality with a passion for international interactions and collaboration. I studied, lived and work(ed) across borders and as the Director of International Affairs for a Business School in the Netherlands. I support students, staff and faculty in increasing their international exposure and competence.  

Husband Paul, dog Flynn and I live in an empty nest, which is luckily not really empty as the girls (21, 23) find their way ‘home’ well. 

Jelly Offereins

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? 

JO: After having decided that I wanted to do an international master’s, with a broad focus, I specifically looked for a master (mainly) that was delivered online, for several reasons. As I travel for work quite regularly, I was afraid to miss class – and consequently dedication – required in a traditional master. Also, because being away from home regularly, I would not have liked to leave home on Friday evenings and Saturdays for school; remote learning gave me more flexibility in combining private life and studies /work. Last but not least: I was somewhat skeptical about an online master’s; could it be as good as a traditional one with regard to interaction, peer-learning, broad and deep investigation and reflection? 

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

JO: For quite a while, I kept on postponing doing a master’s since work was demanding all my time and attention and I felt it would not fit in my professional and private schedule. The online master’s enabled me to plan/block bigger chunks of time (rather than scattered moments) that I could dedicate to the master’s, which worked better for me.  

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

JO:  That I loved it right from the start!  

I loved that I could watch the videos and rewind them endlessly when I did not fully understand; 

I loved the diversity in the classroom;  

I loved that the group operated like a traditional class: there were people with lots of opinions and a strong voice, and people who brought in great sources and very well considered views, there where people like me – listening/reading carefully and posting moderately-, teachers mirrored, posed critical questions, etc. 

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

JO: Yes, and that these challenges may vary in different parts of the world and in different (sub-)cultures, financial issues, access to (earlier) education, jobs and career path, self-confidence 

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? 

JO: MA Leading Innovation & Change 

My earlier degrees focused on resp. Hotel Management and International Marketing; I decided I wanted to do something broader and more strategic 

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

JO: Self-confidence, self-knowledge, critical reflection 

I had never written academic papers in English, I had never interacted online-only, most of the content was new to me, and I discovered that I liked it and that I was good at it. 

VK: How did you balance work and studies? 

JO: What helped the most is that I really liked the programme and the way it was delivered (the videos, the sources) – asynchronously. 

I work full time, and was lucky to have 0.1 FTE from my employer to work on the master’s. My kids were happy and healthy teenagers.  

For the videos I blocked 2-3 hours. Every 4-5 weeks, I tried to take the Friday or Monday off. I used weekends and holidays and I told my family that I’d rather work on the master’s than watch TV or read a book (and they let me). 

VK: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones? 
JO: It works better if you are in the position that you can work on your study for some hours (or even a day, or even 2) more or less continuously. If other tasks at home/in the family also require attention throughout the day, the study work may be jeopardized.  

 Life post degree 

What changed, if anything? 

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

JoI have more self-confidence and I feel proud 

The most important thing that Jelly learnt during the Master’s are – Self-confidence, self-knowledge, critical reflection

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

JO: I am better in critical reading, critical questioning, reflecting 

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

JO: I would say getting a master’s may have a positive effect on the career chances for a woman; an online master’s programme maybe easier to fit in than a traditional master’s, however depending on the home situation and support. 

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? 

JO: Dear Jelly, I know that you want to have your master’s degree and I also know that you spend a lot of time on your demanding full-time job and that you also want to be a good and nice mother and that you do not want to spend evenings and Fridays/Saturdays away from home to go to school. I think I found the perfect the master programme for you: it is International, it is a UK degree, its is about Leading Innovation and Change and ….it is online, with one week in York, and it is not expensive! It is almost too good to be true. I have been looking for ‘the adder under the grass’ but cannot find it. Have a look at this link https://rkc.swiss/catalogue Kind regards, Jelly MA 

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

JO: pair of headphones 

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? 

JO: Member gets member programme*; 

Mentors and mentees;  

Increase awareness of online: combine job with study, combine home-task with study 

[*Editor’s note: RKC does in fact have a referral programme in place, allowing current students to refer friends and relatives. Talk to our advisor to know about the benefits and discount offers of the referral programme].

I hope this blog brings much inspiration and encouragement to all our readers and motivate you to start the masters that you have always dreamt of.

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.

NEWS RELEASE – University of Cumbria’s quality education recognised on world stage

The University of Cumbria’s quality education has been ranked in the top ten of universities worldwide, according to the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, the only global performance tables that assess universities’ impact against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The university ranked 8th out of a total of 676 participating institutions worldwide and first in the UK for Quality Education SDG, which measures universities’ contribution to early years and lifelong learning, their pedagogy, research and commitment to inclusive education.

In other notable categories, the university’s gender equality credentials were recognised when it came joint 81st out of 547 participating institutions for ‘Gender Equality’ and 69th out of 268 institutions in ‘Life on Land’.

Overall, and as a relatively young university making its first submission to these rankings, it achieved an overall rank in the 201-300 range of 766 institutions, firmly residing in the top 40% of institutions worldwide.

THE believe that universities represent the greatest hope of solving some of the world’s biggest challenges.

The THE Impact Rankings are designed to shine a light on the commitment of universities around the world to making a positive social and economic impact within their communities and globally, through their work towards achieving the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; from providing inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting good health and wellbeing, to ensuring gender equality and taking action on climate change.

By participating, universities demonstrate the important role they’re playing in championing a better and more sustainable future.

Professor Julie Mennell, Vice Chancellor, University of Cumbria

Professor Julie Mennell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said:

“As a university focused on serving our region’s needs many of the metrics within traditional (UK) rankings do not necessarily reflect our work or involvement within the communities that we serve or the impact we have globally through our local, national and overseas partnerships.

“Given the university’s mission and values, we felt it was important to participate in these specific rankings to more accurately highlight the world class outcomes achieved by our students and staff”

“Against the backdrop of the current worldwide crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an opportunity for universities around the world to collaborate and help to refocus the global economic agenda on sustainable development in its truest sense.

“The University of Cumbria is committed to creating a sustainable legacy and joining our colleagues around the world in championing a brighter and more equitable future”.

Many of the university’s key international partners have come forward to offer their congratulations in response to the news.

Dr. iur. David Costa, Dean, Robert Kennedy College, Zurich, Switzerland said:

“We would like to congratulate our partner, the University of Cumbria, for this outstanding performance and well-deserved recognition. The university’s continuous and relentless commitment to quality education and sustainability in all of their endeavours is an ongoing inspiration to us and our hundreds of international students worldwide.”

Professor Hamzah, CEO, Vision College, Selangor, Malaysia, commented:

“Vision College is proud to be a partner in providing both opportunities and a continuous sustainable effort in this region where we operate. I am confident that our students and staff have reasons to celebrate on your recent success and I look forward towards mutually beneficial outcomes of our collaboration”.

Reacting to the news, Mr. David Chew, CEO, FAME International College, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia said:

“The recent achievement of University of Cumbria – being ranked in the World’s Top 10 “Quality Education” (in The Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2020) – is definitely well deserved, and FAME International College, Malaysia, is honoured to associate with such an esteemed partner.

This achievement highlights the university’s serious endeavours in developing, maintaining and providing high quality education to empower individuals and equip them with the knowledge and wisdom to build a better and more sustainable environment. Well done!”

Hsu-Cheng Chua, Dean of the Office of International Affairs, Shih Chien University, Taipei, Taiwan, added:

“As one of our most valuable partners around the world we are delighted that the university has been recognised for the quality and impact of its education. The University of Cumbria is a popular choice for our students because of the excellent learning environment and the dedicated and fully rounded support they provide. For us, it is definitely the best choice in the UK.”

Dr. Yvonne Klose, Director DAA Wirtschaftsakademie, Dusseldorf, Germany, concluded:

“Great news, and indeed, justified! Our partnership with the University of Cumbria reaches back to 2011. Since then we have been sending cohorts of our business students to the university to accomplish their final year. The students graduate with great results and take on successful careers in various areas of business. This year we will crack the 100 mark of successful graduates within this partnership.”

This is the second edition of the THE Impact Rankings, which launched in 2019, and included 766 universities from 85 countries.

Top of the list was New Zealand’s University of Auckland, while three Australian universities complete the rest of the top four: University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and La Trobe University.

Japan is the most-represented nation in the table with 63 institutions, followed by Russia with 47 and Turkey with 37.

Finally..

Robert Kennedy College is proud to announce that the University of Cumbria Online programmes are now being offered 100% online. Get in touch with our team of admission advisers who can have a look at your profile and give you some advice. Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with our Education Advisor today! Or, if you have already made up your mind, click here to apply.