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

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

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

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

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

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

An Introduction 

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

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

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

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

The Study Plan  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Travelling and Communication 

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

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

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

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

A typical day as a master’s student 

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

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

Any advice? 

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

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

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

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.

Energy and Sustainability: Everything you need to know

In my last blog, I spoke about Leadership and Sustainability while explaining briefly what sustainability is and its three interlocking aspects. One of the three interlocking aspects was the Environmental sustainability. Environmental sustainability is about the environmental impacts associated with the business while ecological sustainability is about its impacts on biodiversity. And what affects both environmental and ecological sustainability is Energy. 

I guess you take the hint that in this blog I will talk about Energy and Sustainability.

Energy constitutes an important part of the environment. Energy production is a dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy has always remained a critical pillar contributing to human well-being and poverty alleviation. It is important for economic development. Over the centuries, the ways and means by which we source energy has changed dramatically. One of the most critical challenges that the world faces today is sufficient access to clean energy for all. Hence the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7), which calls for universal access to sustainable energy by 2030. 

Evolution of energy sources

Our historical and current energy systems are dominantly based on fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas. Fossil energy was a fundamental driver of the Industrial Revolution. It also led to the technological, social, and economic development. Our energy production systems have important environmental impacts with carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases that the fossil fuels produce. 

It is because of these negative impacts of fossil energy that the world needs to find alternative sources of energy, sources that have a lower impact on the environment.

In order to better understand the energy requirements and eventual transition to cleaner sources, it is important to understand how the energy consumption has changed in a region and across the world; how the energy sources have evolved and what kind of access society has to which energy sources.

For example, according to a World Bank report 2016, only 7% of the world’s low-income households have access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking; the average share in Sub-Saharan Africa was 13%; and approximately one-third in South Asia. An in-depth analysis of these factors would truly reveal our energy requirements and energy source evolution. 

The renewable sources of energy broadly include: the traditional biomass (burning of wood, agricultural waste biomass, and the forestry materials), hydropower, solar, wind energy, and other renewables like geothermal energy. 

Let’s have a look at global energy consumption.

Global energy consumption

The chart below captures the energy consumption pattern from early 1800s to modern world 2019. While our dependency on traditional biomass has more or less remainedconstant over 219 years, energy production from renewable sources is still a significantly low percentage as compared to total energy generation through fossil fuels.

How much Energy does the World consume:

Global Fossil Fuel Consumption

As seen in the chart below, the main sources of fossil fuel production and consumption are coal, crude oil, and natural gas. Coal was the sole source of energy production until the 1870s after which oil and gas took over. Gas production was 14,119 TWh and oil production 37,024 TWh. Over two decades, it increased to 53,620 TWh and 39,292 TWhrespectively. 

Global renewable energy consumption 

The Paris climate agreement (December 2015) sets long-term targets for its member nations like reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. There is an ever increasing need of renewable sources to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions. This can be achieved with two sources of energy – the renewable technologies and nuclear energy. The chart below shows the renewable energy generation from the 1960s to 2018. 

The process of transitioning from the fossil fuels to the renewable sources is termed as decarbonisation. The modern renewables including hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal,and modern biofuel production show a considerable increase since the 1960s with the world producing approximately 6.63TWh of modern renewable energy in 2018. Hydropower accounts for more than 70% of this total production. 

Affordable and clean energy – why does it matter?

First the question is “why do we need affordable and clean energy?” and second “what kind of sustainable energy sources?”. It is one of the United Nations Sustainable development goals to have affordable and clean energy. 

So why does it really matter?

1. Economic Development: Nations need energy and electricity to power their economies. Without a sustainable source governments cannot achieve sustainable economic development.

2. Reduce Disparity: The divide of the rich and the poor, the privileged and the under-privileged has widened amongst the developed, developing, and third world countries. About 789 million people around the world lack access to electricity (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/energy/)


3. Reduce air pollution: Clean energy is the only solution to the growing air-pollution concerns caused by coal, oil,and gas.4. Better healthcare: Energy is key in facilitating state-of-art healthcare facilities in a country. Fighting diseases, formulating vaccination, and fighting pandemics such as COVID-19 is attainable with a steady supply of energy – even better with renewable and clean one. 

I truly believe that every one of us has a role to play in energy consumption / energy saving, reducing greenhouse emissions. A small effort such as switching off the meeting room lights after a meeting, or taking a bike or public transport or walking can go a long way in reducing greenhouse emissions. And for those who live, breathe, and sleep energy, we offer a 100% Online MBA in Energy & Sustainability. Chat with our advisors for more information. 

The difference between a College and a University – is there even one?

Before we get into the rest of the article and try to go past the surface differences between a college and a university, let me talk about the difference as it relates to us (Robert Kennedy College) and our partner universities (University of Cumbria, University of Salford, and York St John University). 

The relationship between Robert Kennedy College and our partner universities

As a college, Robert Kennedy College (RKC), like our university partners, is a higher education institution offering a number of master’s degree programmes. However, we are not the ones who award the degree to a student who successfully completes a programme with us. The degrees are awarded by our university partners, who are recognised and accredited by the government (in our case, as our partners are British, by the government of the United Kingdom). 

As the degree is awarded by the university, we are required to maintain education standards as prescribed by the university. They are also the ones who determine which programmes we can deliver on their behalf and generally also the syllabus of the programmes we deliver.  

Now you might be asking – What exactly is RKC’s role in all this? 

We are the ones who deliver the programmes to our students. We determine the most effective methodology of teaching the syllabus to the students, evaluating and guiding them, and providing teaching support. Not only that, we market the programmes, filter and guide students through the admission process, and provide student support. We are responsible for developing and maintaining the entire OnlineCampus and for record keeping, and are the ones who ultimately deliver the programme to the students. 

We also share responsibility with our partners on delivering residencies – the one week face-to-face components of our programmes. With this year’s residencies affected by COVID-19, we have moved to an online delivery of this component, with great success even if we say so ourselves (well, our students agree too!)

RKC’s OnlineResidency™

So far, we have focused on the relationship between RKC and our partner universities. But, in today’s world, is there really a difference between a college and a university? I will argue there is, especially in the UK, however, more and more this difference diminishes, especially globally.  

The British perspective  

Now, as we are talking about British universities, let’s talk a little about the education system in the United Kingdom and get a basic understanding of it.

There are 5 stages to the education system in the UK: 

  • Early Years 
  • Primary Years 
  • Secondary School 
  • Further Education 
  • Higher Education 

The first 3 stages are mandatory and on completing secondary school, students have to sit for GCSE or A-Levels exams. After secondary education (high school), getting a better understanding of the differences between college and university becomes important in making an informed decision about the future. 

College

A college in the UK is an educational institution that offers higher education courses that can either be vocational courses or lead to specific degree programmes. A student attending college will be equipped with the skills and knowledge required to enter into a specific job or a university programme. 

College programmes in the UK tend to focus on practical and hands-on experiential learning, whereas university programmes tend to be a mix of both practical and theoretical knowledge. Colleges also offer more part-time study options, and are usually cheaper than a university programme. 

Some of the certifications colleges in the UK offer are: 

  • Diploma 
  • Foundation Degree
  • General Certificate of Secondary Education GCSE 
  • Higher National Certificate HNC 
  • Higher National Diploma HND 

 University 

In the UK, a university is a higher education institution which has the legal authority to issue degrees. The title of “university” is obtained by ensuring a certain quality of education that is specified and monitored by a duly appointed government authority. The degrees that are awarded are: 

University of Salford
  • Undergraduate degrees 
  • Postgraduate degrees 
  • Doctorate (Ph.D.) 

However, some British universities might have branch colleges under them that run different programmes like foundation degrees, helping prepare students for university.  


Now that you have a better understanding of the British educational system, and more importantly, the relationship between RKC and our partner universities, please go through the list of programmes we offer and make your choice! Which programme is right for you?  

Celebrating our Graduates – University of Salford

Get in touch with our team of admission advisers who can have a look at your profile and give you some advice on the programmes that best meet your requirements.  Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with our Education Advisor today! Or, if you have already made up your mind, click here to apply 

The University of Cumbria ranked 8th in the world

Robert Kennedy College takes immense pride to share a recent development in the university rankings world. Our exclusive partner – the University of Cumbria – has been ranked 8th in the world by Times Higher Education. The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ranking uses 3 calibrated indicators: research, outreach and stewardship to provide comprehensive and balanced comparisons.  

At its heart, the UN has 17 Sustainable Development Goals that call for an urgent action by countries –developed and developing – for global partnership. Sustainable Development Goal 4 stands for Quality Education i.e. ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

Despite the considerable progress on education access and participation over the past years, 262 million children and youth aged 6 to 17 were still out of school in 2017, and more than half of children and adolescents are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics.

https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg4

The Times Higher Education Ranking on SDG 4 – quality education – measures universities’ contribution to early years and lifelong learning, their pedagogy research and their commitment to inclusive education. This second edition includes 766 universities from 85 countries. Metrics and the percentage weightings given to each metric for arriving at the ranking are as follows:  

  • Research on early years and lifelong learning education (27%) 
  • Proportion of graduates with teaching qualification (15.4%) 
  • Lifelong learning measures (26.8%) 
  • Proportion of first-generation students (30.8%) 
University of Cumbria – Lancaster Campus

There couldn’t have been a better timing for this impressive ranking to be announced, as we also announce that the University of Cumbria Online MBAs are now being offered 100% online. Yes, you read that right! Now you can study and receive British government approved, Swiss quality education – all 100% Online. This is, however, a limited time offer. Enrol today or chat with one of our advisors on WhatsApp now.  

Women in RKC – Renata Takac, MA Leading Innovation and Change

Dear readers welcome to the women’s Day special series. We reckon that just a day is not enough – so we will be celebrating women, their courage and their achievements throughout this month. I am excited about this series of blogs that we are presenting to you here featuring RKC’s women ambassadors from diverse backgrounds having their own unique story to tell.  

Full disclosure – the students we are featuring on the blog this month are all  RKC ambassadors. The RKC ambassadors programme is an internal project aimed at facilitating prospective students’ decisions about studying with us – ambassadors are not remunerated but decided they wanted to vouch for us and their respective programmes of study. So we must be doing something right! 

We asked a few of our female ambassadors questions about their personal journey before they enrolled for the Master’s programme, their challenges, their struggles and joys. Though we are dedicating this series to women out there, men can probably benefit from the advice too. 

Let’s meet: Renata Takac

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

Renata Takac (RT): Excellent question! I was born in ex-Yugoslavia – now Croatia and spent my childhood in Pakistan. I travelled quite a bit and loved discovering other cultures. I dedicated the first half of my professional life to corporations (marketing and sales), and the second one, since 2006, to human resources and organizational development.  I graduated MALIC [Editor’s note: Master of Arts in Leading Innovation and Change] in 2013, and my next huge step in professional development is a Diploma in Integrative Psychotherapy, which I started three years ago.  

Personally, I am a mother of a grown-up daughter, a wife and a friend. I enjoy sports – I was a marathoner once upon a time, and now I swim, row, etc. I love singing, travel, books and movies and many more. In agreement with this question – who I really am – I enjoy discovering who I am, really, apart from all the mentioned functions and roles.

VK: Which programme did you do? Why? 

RT: I did MALIC, because leadership was my primary interest at that time, and change and innovation were bonuses 🙂 

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

RT: Actually my path towards MALIC was several years long – I was looking for a program that would be a good match with my job (coaching, mentoring, training, etc.) and at least partly online. After I chose MALIC, I needed the money to fund it 🙂 so it took me some time to earn it. Finally, after I enrolled, I spent the first several weeks working in Malta; so the start was fiery, but I fell in love with the program and that was it! It’s perhaps an interesting fact that I enrolled in 2011 when I was in my prime – 48 years young. 

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

RT: I partly answered this in the previous question; once I decided that MALIC was my choice, the only obstacle was money. But I was lucky enough to be able to earn it, and I had my family’s support regarding the idea that such money is well invested.  Besides that, the program, of course, required the time and effort. However, it was such a perfect match with my professional interests that I did it with pleasure. 

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

RT: Of course, many. From my experience, I was able to enroll in such a challenging program only after my daughter grew up and I left my previous corporate job. I can imagine it could be much more difficult if I had to fight opposition from family members, or similar. 

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? 

RT: I remember one of our female colleagues telling me at the end of the York module [Editor’s note: a one-week residential (face to face) module during an otherwise fully online programme] that she was greatly encouraged to remain with the programme. Before coming to York she was not sure she can continue with the studies and graduate, but that week strengthened her resolve.  

Perhaps sharing other female students’ experiences can encourage others in their belief that they can. 

VKWhat surprised you the most when you started your studies? 

RT: The freedom – the choice of when, how to learn, etc. was great! Furthermore, the teachers’ support and respect for our previous knowledge and experience. 

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

RT: I did not notice any gender-specific challenges regarding the online study. On the other hand, I did notice that all our professors were male. 

VKWhat is the single most important thing you learned during the programme? 

RT: Oh, that is a difficult one. Perhaps the notion that I can do it! Besides that, the whole programme was so packed with intriguing, real-life related, 21st-century ideas and knowledge. For instance, the idea of ongoing change we discussed in 2012 really quickly transferred to today’s VUCA world. 

VKHow did you balance work and studies? 

RT: At the time of my studies I worked mainly on projects, so I was able to adjust the work to MALIC deadlines. However, now that I think about it, today I work 9-hours workdays and I still manage my psychotherapy studies… so I guess it’s a matter of motivation and dedication. 

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

RT: It is important to me that I can support my competencies with a degree in leadership. For many of my clients, a recent master’s degree is decisive because it signifies knowledge in recent leadership studies. 

VKAnything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned? 

RT: Many things – starting from reading (I don’t feel pressure to read the whole book or paper anymore in case I need only part of it), critical thinking, up to the content of my training, the leadership models I mention to my coaching clients, etc. 

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

RT: I would say yes. As long as any program is more accessible, it means it is even more accessible to women, due to usual restrains (demands of the job, family life, etc.). The connection between a Master’s degree and better job opportunities is positive, I guess. 

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

RT: 1. Enjoy yourself! It is demanding and stretching but at the same time an enjoyable experience. 

2. Use the chance to communicate with the professors. They are great and can help you immensely. 

3. You’ll make some long-term friends (Bert Lee, Brenda Jiaying Hobin, looking at you!) 

4. Make your study visit to York close to the end of the programme. You will know much more and be closer to your research and thesis. 

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

RT: My witch doll. It is not only a symbol of female power but the message to myself: Be yourself. You’re a survivor!  

Hope you enjoyed reading the first blog in the series celebrating womanhood. I really hope her story draws inspiration and courage in you to take the next big step to transform your career and make your own mark. Just like Renata, you will learn that yes, you can do it! And as she rightly points out, we also believe that sharing other female student’s experiences can help others strengthen their belief that they too can! So share your experience here and let your story be an inspiration for many women Master’s aspirants. 

Next week we will talk about Derrylee M. Rankin, another MALIC graduate and PG Diploma holder in International Commercial Law, sharing her story, so stay tuned! 

P.S.: In case you are wondering, Renata’s MA programme was transitioned into an MBA in Leading Innovation and Change.

Feb 29th – an opportunity to reflect on 4 years’ worth of learning?

2020 is a leap year and Saturday, 29th of February marks the leap day: an extra day in our lives that we encounter every four years. Walking through February 29 is almost like walking through a rare portal that is only accessible to us every four years. Well, when I dug a little deeper into the history of how we actually came to have 29 days in the second month of the year, I found some very interesting facts about this day.

The history of Feb 29th (and/or of Feb 28th for that matter)

A leap year was needed to correct calendar drift because the Earth orbits the Sun every 365.242 days, a number that is fairly difficult to accommodate on a calendar. And it was a lot of trial and error before the world could settle for the modern-day leap year system. Many ancient cultures had taken on to the practice of adding extra days, or even months, to round out the calendar year.  

The National Geographic News explains the Roman civilization would add months to try to correct the drift of the lunar calendar. But this system was sloppy. In the modern sophisticated society, all kinds of things such as paying rent or interest accruing on loans would all mess up.  

Egyptians were the first to determine the true length of the solar year and brought the reformation. Egypt adopted a leap-year system, with an extra day every four years, during the Greek rule of the Ptolemaic Dynasty (305 to 30 BC).  

In 46 BC, the Julian calendar came to be used as a reformed calendar after what came to be known as the Year of Confusion. But there was an inherent flaw that caused the drifted Julian calendar to drift 10 days by the late 16th century.  In 1582 the Gregorian calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, and it slowly but surely became the main calendar system for most of the world. 

Now you might be wondering why I am talking about the history of leap years? Well, apart from its historic relevance, I consider the leap days significant as the day of reflection and reminiscence.

A day for reflection

A wise person would say, don’t live in the past nor the future, stay in your present. However, it is important to foresee the future to identify the goals you want to achieve and reflect on the past to see how far you have come along your planned path, appreciate your achievements, recognize the pitfalls and improve upon them.  

Reflection is a key part of learning – it is not dwelling or beating yourself up for past events, but rather recognizing the pros and cons of past experience. Standing on the leap day today, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the achievements and memorable moments for Robert Kennedy College and its exclusive partners, during the last 4 years of imparting Swiss quality education online.

Scroll through the slides to see some of my favourite highlights of RKC history..

  • Celebrating 50 years of University of Salford

To top it all here’s a short University of Cumbria 2019 graduation video. I hope this inspires you to take the walk as a proud master’s graduate yourself one day (hopefully before the next leap year in 2024!)

So I would encourage you all to take the opportunity that this great day, that comes once in 4 years, has to offer. Reflect, plan, set your intentions and take the plunge! For any guidance that you might seek on our Master’s programme, just reach out to our dedicated education advisors

Happy Leap Day! 

Financial Management: Boring to Death or Deadly if Misunderstood?

Finance: each one of us deals with finance in some way or the other on a daily basis, whether we are a professional accountant, a number-crunching wizard, an artist, a medical practitioner, a lawyer, an entrepreneur or a home-maker. There is no escape from finance even if you do find it difficult to comprehend the financial concepts or resent dealing with numbers (that goes for myself, huh numbers!).  Being pervasive might make it one of two things (or maybe both): boring to death, or critically important. 

At RKC, we know an MBA is a prime management qualification for managers. Our Online MBAs give you a great overview of the business world and enhance your knowledge and skills further. And since Financial Management is an integral part of any business, we offer it as a core or as an elective module depending on which MBA programme you choose to pursue.  

Now, before I share with you an insider’s view of the online module let’s get started with the basics – learning what financial management is and why it is important in business.

What “Finance” really is – academically speaking 

Khan and Jain (as cited in Classification of Finance by Paramasivan and Subramanian, 2009) define Finance as the art and science of managing money. Any kind of business entity, big or small, depends on finance to meet its requirements in the economic world and so if you accept that money is the lifeblood of the organization, then finance is its heart.

Types of Finance 

As described above, Finance is one of the most important functions of a business. It plays a paramount role in the smooth functioning of the business activities.

Finance can be classified into mainly two categories:  

Figure 1. Classification of Finance by Paramasivan and Subramanian (2009). Paramasivan, C., and Subramanian, T. (2009). Financial management (New Delhi: New Age International (P) Ltd., Publishers). 

Private Finance includes the Individual, Partnership, and Business or Corporate Finance, while Public Finance, on the other hand, covers Central, State and Semi-Government Financial matters. (Source: Financial Management by Paramasivan and Subramanian (2009)).   

Financial Management 

According to Joseph and Massie (as cited in Classification of Finance by Paramasivan and Subramanian, 2009): Financial Management “is the operational activity of a business that is responsible for obtaining and effectively utilizing the funds necessary for efficient operations.” The job of a finance manager includes procurement and efficient utilization of funds. Financial management has two main objectives: wealth maximization and profit maximization.  

So ultimately, why IS Financial Management important? 

It is imperative for any business to maintain adequate amounts of funds for its smooth operations. Financial Management thus plays an important role in the following: 

  1. Financial Planning:  Financial Management begins with the determination of the financial requirements of the business. 
  2. Acquisition of the funds: A financial manager employs the most effective means of acquiring adequate funds at minimum cost.  
  3. Utilization of funds: It is not just acquisition, financial management also involves the efficient and effective use of the sourced funds to improve the operational efficiency of the business. 
  4. Profitability: Employing financial management tools like accounting, budgetary control, ratio analysis and cost volume profit analysis, businesses look to improve their profitability. 
  5. Enhance the value of the firm: As stated earlier, one of the objectives of financial management is wealth maximization and improving returns for investors.  

 
What would you learn from the Financial Management module in the Online MBA? 

Business is about profit, and there can be sustainability only with proper knowledge of effective financial management. Oxford and Harvard Business School graduate Professor David Duffill will expand and reinforce your knowledge of financial accounting, management accounts, budgeting and financing. This module aims to provide an introduction to financial accountancy and managerial economics. The module will engage you in reflective and discursive argument on the materiality of different social, environmental and ethical issues, introducing you to accounting and principles of finance and letting you use your new knowledge in practical ways by using case studies. 

What our own students say about the module?

There is nothing better than to hear from the horse’s mouth (past and current students) though, so here’s what they have to say about the Financial Management module. Each cohort is surveyed at the end of the module.

For most students, the module was “an amazing learning experience”. The course developed their skills, enabling them to quickly adapt and find a new direction. The learning also allowed them to better understand changes in the economy, and identify new business opportunities.  

It “strengthened my business and financial skills”. Students benefit from a clear understanding of the foundations of finance as well as the various financial instruments used for valuations like futures and options and also from an understanding of financial statements to make an investment decision. Videos from Professor David Duffill and illustrated instructions on exercises or examples are seen as very helpful by an overwhelming majority. 

It is not all roses though. There is also agreement on the fact that assessments are very challenging (just like real business challenges are very … well … difficult!), yet they are also a very enjoyable experience allowing students to use different financial techniques to improve a business (for those who get it right anyway!).  

I hope you enjoyed reading about business finance management today. Stay tuned for next week’s blog that takes financial management to a more personal level – managing your personal (or family) budget! Watch this space! 

Interview hacks to land yourself that dream job (and a well-paid one too!)

I have had a fair share of job interviews in my career so far. And thinking retrospectively, I realize most (if not all) of these interviews asked very similar questions. You can probably relate. 

An interview is a great opportunity to prove your worth to the interviewer
  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself (a bit of a time-waster, unless they are trying to judge your verbal communication skills – otherwise that information is already present in your CV (or should).
  2. Why are you looking for a change/career change? 
  3. Why do you want to work with us? 
  4. What value will you add to this company? 
  5. What are your strengths and weaknesses? 
  6. What criticism or advice did you get in your earlier job? 
  7. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? (another cliche´ and rather a useless question).
  8. Proudest accomplishment? 
  9. What motivates you the most in a job? 
  10. Explain the gap in your career. 
  11. How do you handle the pressure? Describe a situation when you did that and how. 
  12. What are your hobbies/passion? 
  13. Describe a situation when you went over and beyond the job requirements and expectations.
  14. What are your salary expectations?

Behavioural Interviews

Some of these questions are “old school” and of little value, but more recent research in HR, and in particular recruitment and selection point to the value of behavioural interviews and there is a tendency towards this approach in recent years.  

When interviewers conduct a behavioural interview, they are looking for past experience and evidence of existing behaviours; a clear advantage over hypothetical questions such as “how would you handle conflict with a co-worker” where most candidates will try to give the “right” answer. They are looking to find the right fit, not only for the job role but for their company as a whole. You will normally be asked to respond to questions during such an interview using the CAR (Context, Action, Result) or STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) structures. These interviews are highly focused, situation-based interviews that demand crisp, precise and structured responses and having the ability to answer in this way takes practice.

It may seem to be an intimidating experience, but as you go through job interviews throughout your career, you will probably come to realize it is merely a conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee. While you may be nervous about answering the questions right, the interviewer is equally concerned about asking the right questions and establishing a good rapport with you. Recruitment and selection are an expensive process for any company, and they would like to avoid a re-run of the process for the same position again. Organizations do realize the importance of a good employee and of the fact that even if the interview process does not end up in selection, the candidate is a potential customer of their product or service, and they would like to make a good impression.  

Preparing the interview

Receiving an interview call in itself means that you knocked off other competitors and possess the competencies that the company is looking for in its potential employee. However, do not become complacent at this point. You have got to prove your worth and an interview is a perfect opportunity to make your case as to why the interviewer should hire you. Here are a few tips that will help you in preparation for a successful job interview. 

Pre-interview preparation

Understand the job description 

The humble job description yields much more than a naïve interviewee can decipher. The job description provides you with details such as the qualifications, qualities and competencies the company desires in a candidate (at least if the job description is done well). You could pick up hints on potential questions that an interviewer may ask in an interview. This is a good opportunity to align your presentation of your qualities to the given job description and make the case that you are the right candidate for the role. 

Match your qualifications to the Job 

You must have a good understanding of how you qualify for the job and why you are interviewing for the position. You must be able to explain to the recruiter your interest in the position and convince them how and why you are the best fit for the role. You have to be honest with yourself first – are you really a good fit? 

Research the Company and the role thoroughly 

This is probably one of the most common complaints, or, rather, disappointments for a recruiter: to see the candidate did not do their homework well and have little knowledge of the company and the position. Do thorough research to show that you have invested time in preparing for the job, and do care about the company, its values, and requirements of the job. 

Identify the requirements of the company – empathize with their problem 

When the recruiter asks questions like “why should we hire you?” Or “what can you offer that no one else can?”, they really are looking to understand if you “get” their requirements and whether hiring you would solve their problems. Be a problem solver to increase your chances of recruitment. Scrutinize all resources available such as company website, YouTube channel, LinkedIn profile, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram presence, etc.  

Google Yourself 

You want to put your best foot forward in an interview. You would not want to be surprised at the interview. Some experts report that up to 85% of hiring managers “Google” a candidate before or after an interview, and so should you. See what the first page of results brings upon you, and be ready to answer any questions about those (whether flattering or non-flattering) results. 

Rehearse and Role-play 

The best way to score your performance at an interview is to practice mock interviews. Rehearse the answers you would want to give and watch out for non-behavioural communication that might confound the message. There are apps available now that use AI to score you (almost in real-time) on diction, intonation, filler words, and so on. Practice with a friend works well too.

Prepare in advance for STAR interviews

The mantra to be successful when appearing for the STAR/CAR interviews is to go prepared. Strategize and draw your responses from the key competencies for the position. Structure your responses with situations that highlight your knowledge and behaviour from previous experiences. This is a great opportunity to impress the interviewer with your skills and achievements.

Work on your body language and interview etiquettes 

Recruiters are generally good readers of body language and can gauge your confidence level just by the way you shake hands with them (they do this for a job, after all). Other body languages such as posture, gaze, how and where you sit on the chair, can leak information about your state of mind and sincerity.

Interviewers analyze your body language and etiquettes

Plan your travel ahead and get directions 

An employer appreciates punctuality and pro-activeness from its potential candidates. Being prepared and arriving prior to the scheduled time for the interview can always earn you some brownie points. 

At the interview

Wear appropriate interview clothing and groom your hair 

You do not have to dress to kill. However, put on formal clothing and take care of even how you groom your hair. A hippy hairstyle may speak volumes of your character and preferences that may not necessarily fit with the company’s vision and values. Then again, if that is who you are and enjoy being, showing your true colours can prevent landing a job in an environment you might not enjoy!

Know what to bring along for the interview  

Always ask ahead of the interview if you need to bring any original documents, certificates, etc.

Hone your salary negotiation skills

One tricky question that most candidates are hesitant about responding to during an interview, and for good reason, is about compensation.

Interviewers ask this question to see how well you know your worth, or maybe as a way to get a “cheaper” deal. Is it fair to ask it? Debates are raging, but one thing is for sure – it is fair not to answer it! 

Of course, you do not want to antagonize your interviewer, and there are different ways to handle remuneration related questions avoiding conflict. Try to deflect such questions towards the end of the interview, so that you have complete knowledge and understanding of job duties and expectations. Experts advise that instead of quoting a number, always provide a salary range. Show that you are open to negotiations. Include other remuneration forms like benefits and perks as an opportunity to negotiate.

Prepare follow-up questions 

Most recruiters will normally allow the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview – be ready to do so. It shows your interest and how well you have researched the company.  

These are some of the hacks that will come in handy to break through the toughest interviews. Sound knowledge of your field of work, grit and thinking off the feet can actually get you on the other side of the table.  

Do share with us your job interview experiences in the comment section below. And I wish those who are going to appear for a job interview the best of luck. Even though our students are mostly employed while they study in the Masters programmes, most do end up interviewing for new/better jobs as a result of graduating.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where and When to plan for residency?

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

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

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

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

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

Paul H.

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

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

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

MALIC Residency Nov 2012
Team Discussion during Residency

What else do you learn at the residency?

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

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

Luis C.

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

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

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

Maurice B.

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

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

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

Serge
A reflection session in progress

Where to stay during the residency?

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

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

Rosamunde C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John M.

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

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

Fatos A.

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

See you in Cumbria!