Yesterday, Robert Kennedy College (RKC) Dean, Dr David Costa, conducted a live session introducing our 100% online master’s and bachelor’s degree programmes. This interactive session was held online and was packed with essential facts and information about the college, the universities RKC has partnerships with, and the master’s and bachelor’s programmes we offer. The session received an overwhelming response and participation from all the attendees.
As the session began, Prof. David Costa gave a brief presentation about the history of Robert Kennedy College. He also provided information about the University of Cumbria, the University of Salford and York St John University. The presentation also showed the participant’s sample degrees certificates and transcripts from all three universities.
Prof. Costa also explained the reasons that make RKC’s degrees unique. The factors include (but are not limited to):
a practical and flexible online programme
minimum duration of one year
100% online, contemporary courses
no formal examination system, assessment based on assignments
British degrees that are recognized worldwide
Prof. Costa also discussed the fee information and the discounts being currently offered. He also introduced our “ask the Ambassador” initiative, which allows you to chat with either a current student or alumni and ask any programme related questions or about their experience studying at RKC.
After the presentation, Prof. Costa opened the floor to questions from the interested candidates. He answered queries ranging from fee information, assessment method, eligibility requirements, referral discounts, course delivery methods, and more.
Does this look like something you wanted to attend and get information first-hand from the Dean himself? Do not worry. You can watch the live session recording and find answers to your questions. And if you still have questions or feel confident to apply right away, talk to one of our advisors in real-time on WhatsApp.
There are only eight days left this year. Some of you must be reflecting on how they fared on their resolutions for the year, while others will be setting new resolutions for the new year 2022. I know it’s been an extremely challenging year for everyone around the world; with Covid-19 restrictions, life has not been ‘normal’ for the longest time. And it’s far from over. I do not mean to end 2021 on a sad note. On the bright side, there are still last few days left of 2021 to do something meaningful and progressive in your life. If starting a master’s degree has been one of the resolutions for 2020, it’s still not too late. You can still embark on the journey before the year ends.
Everyone looks for “the right time” to start something new in their life. And when it’s about starting an online masters, there are many factors to consider, such as work-life balance, flexibility at work, financial factors etc.
Here are three reasons why it’s a good time to start your master’s right now:
ACCOMPLISH YOUR RESOLUTION
As I mentioned above, it’s never too late to accomplish your ultimate goals. While you may procrastinate or become complacent with your goals or even postpone them for next year, you might regret the decision one day. So, take a quick decision and enrol yourself for the master’s degree programme. Applying for the master’s is simple. The process involves applying online and providing us with necessary documents like your CV and highest education certificate.
CHRISTMAS PROMOTION DISCOUNT OFFER
We are currently offering special Christmas promotion until 26th December. With this limited-time offer, you can start with a deposit of just 500 Swiss Francs and receive a discount of 1000 Swiss Francs. (Yes, you saw that right!).
Or if you pay between 25% and 50% of the fees in advance, you can receive a discount of 1500 Swiss Francs, or if you pay 100% of the fees in advance, the discount is 2000 Swiss Francs. You can find more details on this page where you can also convert the fees to your local currency: https://chf.help/#/christmas
STUDY AT UNIVERSITY RECOGNISED BY THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT
Put your mind at rest as the University of Cumbria, the University of Salford and York St John University are fully accredited by the British government and duly listed on the United Kingdom’s Department for Education list of recognised UK awarding institutions. You can verify their official University status directly at the UK government website.
So, above are three of the many reasons you should start your master’s degree now. Talk to our advisors on WhatsApp, who can guide you through the admission process.
Let me know in the comments section below your reason for starting the master’s programme!
Ever wondered why we tend to say “yes” to people when we really don’t want to? Blame it on human psychology or human beings being social animals. We find it extremely difficult to say no to anyone.
We adore attention and feel gratified when others admire us, trust and look up to us. But when this takes the form of constant requests and more work for yourself, you detest being the go-to person. People want to say yes because they are afraid, afraid to disappoint others. We feel personally responsible for letting others down if we decline their proposition or their request for help. During these troubled times, with businesses being in jeopardy, everyone is overwhelmed, constantly working, and juggling work and relationships. Everyone is over-extended, and it is not the best soil to grow ideas or make sound business decisions.
What begins as an intent to help becomes a bad “yes” – simply because you do not have the productive capacity or knowledge to complete the task. Such a “yes” is bound for failure. When there is so much asking around in an organisation and collaborative overload, one should focus on moving to good yesses and good nos to avoid failures.
How to say No?
You have decided that you are going to turn down someone’s request to undertake a task. Now comes the even more difficult part: actually saying “no”! How do you effectively communicate your decision?
Begin with a positive statement by appreciating the opportunity extended your way, that you were considered worthy enough to do justice to the job. But present your “but” in a way that shows you have carefully considered the proposition and convey the “why” of your decision. Let them realise that you did not decide to say no lightly, that the “no” was not because you are lazy, un-zealous to learn, or simply being difficult.
Saying no can be an onerous process but trust me, it will prove to be more productive for yourself and the business. Base your decision on this checklist:
1. Do not let fear decide
If you fear that saying “no” will stress your work relationship, remember that saying “yes” when you cannot deliver the results will stress you and the relationship even more. If the working relationship turns sour just because you said “no”, then it was never meant to be. Let it go.
2. Evaluate the proposition
I know from personal experience when we are new to an organisation or a job, we are eager to learn because knowledge is power. Gain that power but keeping in view the quality you are gaining. Ask yourself what ‘value addition’ can you get from this task. Ask questions such as why, when, and what is needed for the task. Doing due diligence on someone’s request is respecting them and yourself.
3. Remember what you want to be known for
What may seem like an opportunity to learn for you could become an opportunity for others to learn a thing or two about you. When you say “no”, back it up with legitimate and fair reasons, tell them why the proposition is not worth your time or effort or simply that you do not have that kind of time to invest in this project. You already have enough on your plate. When the other person: your boss, your client, your colleague, hears your side of the story, they will understand your situation, and you will become known for your work ethics and values. You will be known for authenticity and for being a good decision-maker. Everyone will respect your decision when you say “no” the next time because they will know there is a genuine reason behind it, and it’s just not a lack of interest or laziness involved. They will even bring better propositions to you that you will find difficult to turn down. They will try to please you and not the other way round.
4. Deliver results
The only consideration that should drive your professional decisions should be results. When you say “yes” to someone’s request, you commit to executing and delivering results. You do not want to be in a position where you realise later that either you cannot, are not allowed to, or should not do so. Do not bite more than you can chew. Do not be hard on yourself thinking that you are being difficult. Convey that you are making a good business decision.
5. Provide options
While it is not easy to say “no” to someone who had high hopes on your saying “yes” and was relying on you for completing the task, remember that people come to you because you are a problem-solver and are resourceful. If you cannot do the job yourself, give them other options on how to complete the job or provide solutions to resolve the issue. It will save your time and help build trust with team members that learnt something valuable when they approached you.
You can also choose to defer the project instead of completely shutting it down. Offer them a plan where you can join the team at a later stage and be more valuable once the project’s gone past its conception stage.
6. Don’t be afraid to say the ‘C’ word
The majority of the time, bosses try to use influence to get things done. Little do they realise that when they use power, they lose influence.
Every employer has a budget, and the more he can get done without expending his budget, the better (the lesser the merrier, in this case). This is one of the most frustrating and de-motivating situations when you are asked to deliver more results and but are not “C”ompensated for that extra work. You might say “yes” to the extra load now and then, just to be nice or on the pretext of learning something new, or simply because the boss asked you to do so, but this will eventually burn you out. Be firm to tell the work is simply beyond your pay scale and justifies an extra dollar or two.
It is a misconception that you must be a “Yes Man” or a “Yes Woman” to be successful and boost your career. Remember Jim Carrey’s movie – Yes Man? The film is a classic story where the protagonist is encouraged and made to promise to answer “Yes!” to every opportunity, request, or invitation that presents itself. After a series of interesting events in his life, he realises that the covenant was merely a starting point to open his mind to other possibilities, not to permanently take away his ability to say no if he needed to.
So, are you the go-to person at your workplace? Do you always end up saying yes? How do you strategically say no?
We continue with our blog series bringing you answers to some of the questions we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) frequently get from students looking to join one of our online programmes. We asked some of our past and current students to share their thoughts and opinions, to give their feedback on how they handled online learning challenges. Hopefully, this will, in turn, help you make an informed decision.
I believe learning is a life-long process. You never know when an opportunity to learn is thrown your way. Would you grab the opportunity, or would you think it’s too late to learn and study when you reach a certain age? But is age just a number?
Antonio, an RKC student from Mozambique, is a shining example of how age is just a number when it comes to studying for your Masters. Let’s hear his story!
Who you are, really?
Antonio M, from Mozambique. A senior citizen still willing to learn and upgrade my skills in new areas associated with my country development.
Which Uni are you studying at?
University of Salford
Which programme did you choose and why?
Online MSc in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management
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?
Initially, I thought 2h a day would suffice, but I learned that I needed to spend at least an additional hour every day. Let me say, for someone with my slow thinking speed, you need an average 3h a day to be comfortable and do all the homework (forum discussions, contributions). Do this for 6 days a week, 1 day to rest if you can afford it.
What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g., early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)
In my case, evenings due to silence and more available bandwidth for Internet data.
How did travelling impact your ability to study?
Being an online course, travelling did not impact too much. When travelling, the main issue was Wi-Fi availability.
How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?
Most of my peers were around the same or close time. Having a platform and forums eased the interaction. It was not immediate, but I would get the reaction soon enough. With those closer peer friends or people with closer affinity, we shared our mobile numbers, and if required, we would use the mobile phone and interact.
How much time did you devote to each assignment?
A lot of time. As soon as you get the assignment brief, start immediately and dedicate at least 3h a day for the assignment. Make sure you state an initial outline as soon as you understand the problem to be solved. Having the outline, Google Scholar all the required stuff, minimum of 15 peer-reviewed references per assignment (my opinion).
What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?
6-7h sleeping, 6-8h working and 3-4h studying, 3h solving family issues, 2h socialising with other people. My community, Rotary, and family would require more of my time and reschedule this time outline.
Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies?
Please make sure you do participate in the weekly activities since usually they prepare you for your assignments. If you do it right, you may have a considerable part of your assignment done, at least in terms of the referencing. Going straight to the assignments is the wrong strategy. I did learn with some pain later that if I had done the week activities it would have made my life easier and would have saved time for my assignments. Otherwise, while busy with the assignment, you understand that you still need to do the work you avoided.
If you have been dreaming of joining a master’s programme or have had this personal goal to gain a higher degree, now is the time! Take valuable advice from our current students, gain from their experience, add your unique study strategies, and make your own success stories! I would love to feature you one day on our college blog.
Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.
In my previous blog, I wrote a step-by-step guide on how to write an effective abstract for academic papers. Continuing further in the same direction, this week I would like to discuss referencing and citations. As I mentioned earlier, writing an abstract is not rocket science, and neither are referencing and citating.
Now, referencing is an important academic practice. But it becomes even more important when you are studying at University level. It is thus imperative to understand the correct way to reference and cite your sources in your master’s degree assignments, academic papers, or dissertation. This blog is your one-stop shop about what, how and where, style guides, and examples of referencing and citations.
So, first things first, what is the difference between referencing and citations?
While undertaking your masters’ studies, you will constantly hear from your professors to reference your work and cite the sources of your research and ideas.
As the name suggests, referencing refers to the source of work that you used in your paper. The readers should be able to find and read for themselves the original source of information that one has read or considered in their academic piece.
Citations, on the other hand, are brief mentions of the author or the external source used in writing the paper. A citation is, in other words, an abbreviated reference. While both inform the reader of the sources of information used, there is a fine difference between a reference and a citation. Here are some key differences between references and citations:
A reference is a complete record of the source that has been sought or cited in the paper.
A citation is disclosing the source within the main body and thus is also referred to as an ‘in-text’ citation. It provides just basic information such as the authors’ names, year of publication, and perhaps the page number if a sizeable quote is provided.
References are listed at the end of the document, on a page having its own title (“List of references”, “References”, “Works cited”).
Citations are presented within the body of the document where we speak of the ideas or results of the source we are citing..
References provide the reader with information such as the authors’ names, the publication date, the title (of the book or article), page numbers, publisher and place of publishing, etc.
A citation provides less information, such as the last names of the authors and the publication year, such that it does not disrupt the reading flow.
Both references and citations give credit to the authors whose ideas have been discussed in your work, in addition to supporting or criticizing an argument. This is additionally critical to avoid plagiarism in academic writing (topic for another blog!).
Different styles of referencing and citating
Different academic disciplines prefer specific referencing styles. In business programmes (such as the MBAs, MSc’s), you will often be asked to use Harvard or APA styles, whereas in Law programmes (LLM, LLB) you will most often be asked to use Oxford or OSCOLA. You should always check the programme handbooks and assignment briefs, and in doubt, with your instructor what referencing style they expect for the assignment or academic paper you are writing.
The references should be regrouped on a new page at the end of the paper. This list gives the complete information to identify and locate all sources used in the paper. There should be a corresponding entry in the list of references for all in-text citations that were used. References typically follow an alphabetical order of authors’ last names but under certain styles the order of appearance will rather be used.
Among the different styles used by different disciplines, here are the 6 most frequently used styles in writing academic papers, each with a very specific purpose they fulfil:
APA (6th or 7th Edition)
The style guides specify the kind of information and how it should be displayed for different types of sources (books, articles, websites, images, ebooks, etc.) – ensuring consistency across not only your work, but across the entire field of study that uses that style.
At first look, these may all seem complicated, and daunting, but there are tools that can help you manage your sources, references, and citations.
For example, Word has a tool called “Citations & Bibliography” which allows you to enter your sources in a database (“Manage Sources”), to insert in-text citations that are automatically updated if needed (“Insert citation”), and to generate your list of references (“Bibliography”) according to the specific style you need (“Style”).
External tools also exist, such as Zotero, Mendeley, EndNote, or CiteThemRight – which have pretty much the same functionalities – managing your references with one of these tools will save you a gigantic among of time and effort, so by all means, pick the one that works best for you and run with it.
I promised you some examples, so here goes:
Harvard / APA styles
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2019), or Saunders et al. (2019), when the author’s names are part of the sentence, or (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2019) or (Saunders et al., 2019) when they are not.
Reference list entry
Saunders, M. N. K., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2019) Research methods for business students. Eighth Edition. New York: Pearson.
Oxford style (OSCOLA)
OSCOLA uses numeric references, with the full reference given in a correspondingly numbered footnote. So, in your text, you would simply put a superscript number by inserting a footnote1 and then the footnote would contain the reference as:
Mark NK Saunders, Philip Lewis and Adrian Thornhill, Research Methods for Business Students (Eighth Edition, Pearson 2019).
Reference list entry
Saunders MNK, Lewis P and Thornhill A, Research Methods for Business Students (Eighth Edition, Pearson 2019)
Note the difference between the footnote reference and reference list entry – in the footnote, you give the author names in “firstname, lastname” format, whereas in the reference list you give it in “lastname, f.” format.
If this looks complicated, it is! 😊 Which is why I reiterate my advice to use a reference management tool – whichever one works for you.
Hope this prepares you well for writing your academic paper or assignments. If you are stuck or have any questions, our highly qualified, world class faculty will guide you through using the correct methods and techniques for referencing and citations.
Motherhood is unique for every woman. It’s full of joy, love, challenges, despair, anguish, fun, responsibility, selflessness, and sacrifice. As it is rightfully said,
A Mother is an epitome of love, strength, and sacrifice.
A mother makes many sacrifices while raising her family and children. The instinctive selflessness and dedication of a mother make her go to extraordinary lengths to care, protect, and provide for her children. Yet, while tending to the needs of her family, a mother commonly puts her career and further education on the back burner. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn and Censuswide, nearly half of the working mothers consider a career pivot and prefer not returning to work after maternity leave in the US. And 63% of working mothers who opt to take a career break do so to spend more time with their children.
Now, if being a career woman, juggling between the roles of a wife and a mother is hard already, then deciding to enhance your career with a master’s education will make life much more challenging. But does it mean a mother cannot pursue her dream of having a job and family together? Should she not be allowed to advance her career?
The answer lies in what my mother always tells me:
I can do anything; I am a mother!
That’s right. You can do anything! Being a mother does not mean that you have to sacrifice your career and education goals. On the contrary, achieving that perfect work-life-study balance is very much possible (check out our blog and a short video about work-life balance) and realise your long-awaited dream. All it requires is a mix of planning, dedication, and clear focus on your ultimate goal.
Here are five tips that can help you better in the transition to a master’s students’ life:
Find your motivation
There could be several reasons for continuing education, such as updating your skills, gaining advanced qualifications, adding new knowledge or specialities, career pivot, financial enhancement, or the personal challenge of finally getting that university degree! First, find your motivation, as this motivation will keep you fueled and focused all through your journey of master’s for the next 1 to 2 years. Should you deviate, or lose focus, your motivation will always get you back on track and remind you of your ultimate goal.
An RKC alumni, Meg Plooy, a mother, a wife, a friend and a (foster) mother of Pitbulls, found her motivation in two things: First, to be an inspiration for her young children and be able to show them that if you work hard, anything is possible. The second was to advance her career opportunities.
Another master’s alumni, Manal Al-Khaled, shares her motivation, “In 2013, my daughters were only 4 and 5 years old when my husband lost his job due to political unrest in the region (Middle East). There was never a right time to do my Master’s degree. There were always other financial priorities, and with two little kids and a full-time job, time was a luxury I didn’t have much under my control. So I kept postponing it for all the reasons in the world. Then it hit me – it’s now no matter what”.
Develop and maintain a support network
One of our students, who is also a mother, suggests reducing personal commitment, waking up early, and staying up till late at night. While this arrangement may not always be possible for everyone, it is necessary to have a cushion, a support system to help you cope with any stressful situation you might face, or in case of emergencies. Do not hesitate to ask for help from your husband, siblings, parents, employer, or even neighbour!
Make a plan and work on a schedule
90% PLAN + 10% EXECUTION = 100% SUCCESS
Before you even enrol for a master’s, the first focus should be on how you will manage work, home, and studies. Plan a schedule and follow it religiously. Formulate a 30-60-90 plan according to the number of modules you register yourself for in a given quarter. A 30–60–90-day plan details the targets you plan to accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days of your studies. Set concrete goals and a vision for your abilities at each stage of the plan, that will act as a guiding rope and will constantly move you towards the goal.
Planning your study space at home or work, away from distractions, is also essential. Again, self-organisation is critical to be able to plan efficiently and to be able to execute it successfully.
Most of RKC’s working mothers planned their days and weeks to strike an optimum balance; they would usually be working during the day on weekdays and allocate study hours to night-time and weekends.
Meg again: “A good routine and sticking to a schedule [are a must]. The best time to complete my studies was after the kids were in bed, which gave me anywhere from 2 to 2.5 hours each night. In addition, I used Monday through Thursday as “school nights”, which ensured I was still getting downtime over the weekends. This helped me to stay focused and manage time effectively”.
Find a study buddy
Trust that you are not alone in this situation. Getting back to being a student and coping with an online learning environment can be pretty daunting. Having a study buddy will help to relieve your stress and keep tabs on the OnlineCampus class discussions and assignments. For online education students, if you can look for a study partner in the same time zone, it will be more convenient for your interaction.
Believe in yourself!
As one of our students suggests, have the confidence to believe in yourself and not procrastinate. Obtaining a master’s degree is a life-changing experience for most, and you must believe in yourself that you can achieve this goal.
Naomi, an MA Leading Innovation and Change (now MBA LIC) graduate, gave herself this pep talk: “Yes, women face issues with their husbands, childcare, and the fact that society doesn’t expect too high an education from women. My friends think having a bachelor’s degree should be enough for me, especially because I own my own business. To the society around me: “what else are you looking for in life”? Also, challenges with workplace issues, especially when women are working for other employers. Lack of funds to sponsor oneself to school, tight work schedules, and traffic to get back home are all challenges. Eiiii!! Naomi, everything is possible. Don’t think of your tight schedule at your office, the needs of your staff, or the number of employees under you. Don’t even think your husband or your three children would be hindrances. Remember, Naomi, that with determination and hard work, you can make it”.
I agree the journey may not be a walk in the park, but taking one step at a time will bring you closer to your ultimate goal – attaining the Masters’ qualification. So many working mothers have successfully achieved their educational goals, and so can you.
Happy mother’s day to all of you out there, and if you have a story about being a working mother and a master’s student you would like to share, the floor is yours!
If this year, 2020, has taught us anything, it is that risk is a part of life for humankind. The sooner we come to terms with it, identify the cause, plan and strategise to arrive at effective counter-measures, the greater our chance to survive and prosper!
What is risk?
Organisations have a number of internal and external factors that make it uncertain to meet their vision, missions, values, goals and objectives. These uncertain conditions that persist are collectively termed “risks”.
In general, our tendency is to try avoiding risks as a lot of these instances can lead to negative outcomes, but there can also be positive ramifications of risk. The positive results are an outcome of companies being able to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the risk.
Identifying negative risks and avoiding them, while at the same time being able to take advantage of the opportunities presented by positive risks can be a daunting task for a manager, as a wrong call might result in great loses or a missed opportunity for greater growth.
Risk is a future uncertain event and being able to predict the event and putting in place solutions or strategies to either avoid or take advantage of the event is what risk management is all about. But every organisation’s appetite for risk is different and that is usually directly dependent on the tolerance an organisation might have towards risk.
So, what are risk appetite and risk tolerance?
We have all heard the saying “no risk, no reward”. Taking big risks could lead to big losses, or conversely, could lead to greater rewards.
The risks which are identified as opportunities should be low hanging fruits to deal with and to reap their benefits.
Risk appetite is the willingness of an organisation to take risks, while risk tolerance refers to how much risk an organisation can bear.
According to Douglas Hubbard (The Failure of Risk Management: Why It’s Broken and How to Fix It) – Risk management is the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimize, monitor, and control the probability or impact of unfortunate events or to maximize the realization of opportunities.
Risk management can and should be implemented across any industry or vertical, such as project management, operations, finance, military, medical, etc. Like any other department in an organisation, the risk management team should ensure that it is able to justify its costs by first creating value for the organisation by becoming an integral part of the strategy and decision-making process of the organisation. The team should be responsive to changes (both internal and external), systematic and process oriented about their analysis, transparent about their processes, and capable of adapting and growing.
Effective implementation of risk management will provide an organisation with
Early warning to potential risk due to uncertain events
Better decision making through a good understanding of risks and their likely impact
Effective allocation of resources
Risk management can be broken down in five basic steps
Plan – A risk management plan specifies the management’s intent, systems, and procedures required to manage risks, roles and responsibilities, and tools to be used in identifying risks. The plan will specify how the following four steps are to be executed by the organisation.
Identify – Identify the potential risks, their causes and their potential consequences. This is usually done by a team of subject matter experts using methods such as brainstorming and tools like SWOT analysis, flow diagrams, Ishikawa diagrams, etc.
Analyse – Once you have identified the potential risks, analyse them using either qualitative (a subjective analysis that is quick and easy to implement using tools like matrices probability and impact matrices) or quantitative (a detailed and time intensive analysis of risk using tools such as expected monetary value analysis, Monte Carlo analysis, decision tree, etc.) methods to classify them as high, medium, and low priority risks. Organisations may not have the resources to plan for all the risks and might be able to accept some risks without action, some with only periodic monitoring, and finally, some with a detailed action plan to take advantage of or to all together avoid the risk event.
Plan a response – Depending on the priority of the risk, a strategic response needs to be planned, and resources allocated with the goal of reducing the impact of negative risks, and capitalising on the impact of positive risks. Some of the strategies are avoid/transfer/accept/exploit.
Monitor and control – Nothing in this world is static, change is the only constant. Risk monitoring and control should be an ongoing and continuous process. A change in external or internal conditions might result in a low priority risk evolving into a high priority risk or a high priority risk devolving into a low priority one. By monitoring them you will not be caught unprepared!
If you are interested, or have any questions, you can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programmes we offer, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.
Well, I have said it before, and I am saying it again – we live in difficult times. But the more I think about it, maybe “difficult” is not the right term to use. I think the right word to use here is “challenging”, and “challenging” isn’t as bad as “difficult”. And what challenges give us, are opportunities.
This “opportunity” (and I know it might seem crass to term COVID-19 as an opportunity or as something positive, because it is definitely not positive, and I wish it never happened!) might not have been a choice and was forced on the world by COVID-19, but this is not the first time that the world faced a widespread pandemic and it will not be the last. Every time we faced something like this (global pandemic, world wars, etc.) in the past, we have come out of it stronger and better prepared for the future, so we might as well try to make the best of a bad situation now too.
Companies and individuals around the world are seizing on this opportunity that the challenge of COVID-19 has provided. New ways to think and work, new processes and operations, new businesses and technology, new products and services, and finally, new ways of managing events.
One of the sectors that have suffered greatly, at least in the short term, is Event Management. I mean, one of the basic ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing, and that is the antithesis of a successful event.
The following are some of the challenges and/or solutions that event managers have come up with in dealing with COVID-19.
Cancellation: Events are being cancelled, primarily because the fear and risks are real, and it is always better to be safe than sorry! However, the silver lining is events still need to take place, especially in the corporate world. New products and services still need to be announced and launched, Comic Con needs to take place to announce new movies and television shows, and to keep the fans hooked.
Opportunity: While events like “grand weddings” might be a thing of the past, at least for the immediate future, the opportunity still exists to plan for a classy, intimate, and yet a memorable wedding. After all, the wedding day will always be one of the most important days in a couple’s married life, and couples still need to get married (life doesn’t come to a halt because of COVID-19) and make their day special. A grand wedding reception can always be planned for when things return back to normal, until then, recordings of the wedding can be shared with extended friends and family. Planning for an intimate, yet memorable wedding can challenge the creativity of an event planner, but in this case, it is the challenge to overcome.
Technology: That was on the personal side of things. I believe it is a lot simpler on the corporate side. Technology has made it a lot easier to plan corporate events and products launches. Earlier this month, Samsung had their Galaxy Unpacked August 2020 event, and unlike previous years, their entire audience – from the media, to reviewers, to creators – joined them virtually. Also, most of the product launches looked like they were pre-recorded and professionally edited (I felt it gave it a more completed look overall, polishing out the rough edges that were visible in previous years).
A similar strategy was adopted in this year’s Democratic National Convention, in the United States of America. Apart from the day’s presenters, most of the key speakers, spoke from their home through pre-recorded messages for the nation. Only the candidates, whose acceptance speeches had to be live, addressed a greatly reduced live audience. And even here the event was planned in such a way that it tried to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures – like having the live audience being seated 6 feet apart and wearing a mask.
Events similar to Comic Con have adopted a similar strategy to Samsung, having invited their audience to participate online, hosting pre-recorded interviews of creators, developers, and stars that the audience can view. While at the same time, having interactive sessions through video conferencing/streaming with live chat options with the stars and creators of new shows.
Staffing and Salaries: With the cancellation of events comes loss of business and revenue, and by extension (maybe) downsizing and layoffs. Because, lets face it, if companies don’t earn, they can’t pay. For those that have not been affected by downsizing, the beautiful thing about being an event management professional is the ability to work from anywhere, at least most of the time. All that is needed is your mobile phone and your laptop (and something, or someone, to occupy the kids).
Training and Planning: For the bigger event management firms that have a large clientele, this time is a great opportunity to train their staff and plan for the future. All events take time to plan and having the right vendors in place with an optimised supply chain will go a long way in bring down costs and the turnaround time in executing a successful event. Because once things go back to normal, I have a feeling that there will be a rush of back to back events, to make up for lost opportunities.
You can chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.
Once I started writing this blog, I realised my folly. The topic of my blog might sound simple, it was anything but, especially for me – (1) my knowledge of Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management (PLSCM) is entirely academic, and (2) I am not African, nor have I ever worked or even visited Africa.
But I do know that Africa is the future and has the potential for dramatic growth (if she is able to tap into that potential), and effective management of PLSCM will play a pivotal part in this future, given the resources in raw materials that Africa has.
And hence my topic, and my folly, and something I felt needed to be done.
I conducted an online survey of these students (of which about a hundred participated) and asked them about the challenges they face as PLSCM professionals in Africa, the image below indicates a country wise breakup of the response we received from our students to the survey.
The following are the top five responses I got back from the survey. Now, while this blog is Africa-centric, I find that these challenges are universal, and effect Africa as a whole, other developing nations, and even the developed or “first world” nations to some degree.
Top 5 challenges facing PLSCM professionals in Africa
Infrastructure – is the foundation on which a strong PLSCM function is built. The whole point of having a streamlined and efficient PLSCM department is to effectively purchase (at best costs) and move raw materials and finished products from point to point in a timely and less resource intensive manner. Efficiency also means having the products readily available, while at the same time not leaving them idling in a storehouse somewhere. To enable this, state of the art, physical infrastructure is needed – from roads and railways to airports, seaports, and safe and secure areas (such as industrial zones, etc.) for manufacturing and storage.
Corruption – the universal bane to businesses, and something that is global, encouraged and fostered by everyone involved, willingly or unwillingly. It is easy to blame a corrupt official for delays and holdups, until palms are greased to get thing moving without looking at the reasons why. Are you encouraging the behaviour by paying the bribe? Is your competitor paying bribes to hold you up? Why does the official need the money, is he paid enough? Are the laws strict enough to prevent corruption?
Policy Change – As one of my former managers once told me “If you are comfortable then you are not growing”. And while this is true, who doesn’t like being comfortable? From our survey, this seems to hold especially true in Africa. For policy changes to take place, something big should have happened for the powers that be to even consider a change, and even then, comities have to be put in place to suggest the changes and then review the suggested changes, all this taking forever. By the time the policy change comes about, it will usually be outdated.
Stuck in time (Slow to incorporate modern methods) – A follow on to the previous point, it is not just the people in power who are slow to incorporate change, but also the people who do the work who are slow to embrace change as well. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But what people don’t realise is, it is not about fixing it, it is about bettering it. People get comfortable and don’t want to change or learn new ways of doing things, and then complain about the people above them making life difficult by not embracing change and current best practices.
Cutting corners to save time – another universal truth. After doing a job for a period of time, we begin to believe that we know best, and can make a process better by cutting corners. But what we fail to understand is that we are but a single, small cog in the machine, and a process is in place to help the whole machine run smoother. By cutting corners and not following the process, all that might be achieved is to throw a spanner in the works. If you believe there is a better way to do something, take it to the management and make you case, it might just increase the efficiency of the whole machine.
You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programmes offered, application process, and for more information on any discounts we might be running in this rather strange period of our lives.
I am going to tell you a story about a friend of mine and yes, I know “a friend” sounds made up, but this friend is real and what happened to him could happen to anyone of us in the corporate world.
To make matters simple, let’s call this friend of mine Jojo (yes, this time a made-up name). A while back Jojo found himself out of a job due to no fault of his. The reasons given: downsizing, centralising, the usual corporate jibber jabber, and this from a company in which he had spent the last two years of his life setting up and developing an entire function for the organisation.
He was reporting directly to the Managing Director and Country-Head, a position he achieved by hard work and determination and with professional experience going back two decades – working for some of the biggest multi-national companies in the world. He was not worried: with his experience, getting a job would be EASY.
But as the days turned into weeks and then into months and he was still unable to find a job, the gloom around him was palpable.
Jojo started his career immediately after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from a top local university and as his career progressed at a faster-than-average pace, he never found the need and time to go back to school and enhance his academic profile too.
Over time as life evolved, so grew his professional and personal commitments, demanding a greater share of his time and effort. He concluded that putting in time, effort and money into his education did not merit the return on investment.
Fast forward to Jojo’s job search – he found that the lack of a master’s degree was having a profound impact on his ability to get hired.
To be clear, I am not saying that you need a master’s degree to succeed in life. In fact, most people don’t have a master’s degree and are very successful in their profession. What I am saying is that a master’s degree can have a positive impact in your professional career (because, learning is good :D).
Here are 6 reasons you should consider doing a master’s degree.
It shows you are hard working and committed: A Master’s degree implies that you have taken the extra step of getting a higher qualification, gaining extra skills and specialisations. Having worked on projects and submitted assignments and dissertations in a timely manner, it shows you to be more disciplined, structured and task oriented.
It levels the playing field: In today’s competitive job market, most of the candidates applying for any above entry level position will already have at least one master’s degree, if not more specialised qualifications and just a bachelor’s degree or lower educational qualification would just not cut it. Depending on the nature of the job and the position you are aspiring to, a master’s degree might be the minimum requirement to even apply.
It can help with switching careers: There may come a time in your career when you pull your hair and cry out – “I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”. I understand, I have been there a couple of times. For whatever reason, if you feel it is time for a change in career to a field that requires specific knowledge that you do not have or to a career in a regulated industry that requires you to have certain education qualifications, a master’s degree might give you a leg up in your new career.
It can help you standout: Unfortunately, this is the world that we live in. There may be several of your co-workers eyeing the same promotion that you have been after. Whether it is a management position or that specialised role within your company, a master’s degree could make the difference in your getting that position. In some cases, a company might also be willing to sponsor the master’s degree if they feel you are a potential leader and it could be mutually beneficial, so it is always worth asking the question to either your manager or the HR department.
It may help with relocation: We are no longer limited by geography. A master’s degree might help you in getting a work visa to a particular country; after all, you might be required to show why you are more deserving of a particular job than a citizen of the country and a master’s degree might go some ways in your company hiring you over a local.
It can fill the gap: Going back to the example of my friend, the longer you go without employment the harder it will get to explain the gap in your resume and to get employed. Doing a master’s degree is a good way to fill this gap, improve your knowledge, gain new skills and to generally show you are not one to wait around for things to happen.
I am sure that there are many other reasons why people choose to do a master’s degree with benefits we wouldn’t have even thought off. If you have experienced or can think of any, let us know in the comments below!
Finally, getting back to Jojo. It took him a while, but he is finally back to work. It is not what he wanted to do, and he had to take a hefty pay cut, but he is working again. He has still not joined a master’s programme (despite my constant reminders) but he is on the lookout for one that meets his requirements. Let’s hope he doesn’t leave it for too late. Can it really ever be too late?