Video of an interview with Caroline Stevens at the 2012 Student of the Year awards. She recieved the Richard Wheatcroft MBA Student of the Year Award.
(Edited transcript of the interview)
I went into community pharmacy and worked in community pharmacy in Boots for 11 years. During that time I had a family. I had three boys. I then made the decision to go into hospital pharmacy, and in the hospital pharmacy, I extended my role and actually became an operating theatre manager, which was quite an unusual move, and then following on from that I became a managing director of a small independent day hospital in Birmingham. I wanted then to move into the independent sector. I'd always wanted to work in charities because one of my children is severely disabled. An opportunity became available to be a Commercial Director within the charity sector, so I took that opportunity and I've been in the third sector now for almost three years, and I moved on and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, and I'm just doing a stint at the moment as an acting CEO as well.
When I was working at the hospital, the chairman, who I was very close to, told me that his son had been studying with The Open University and that he'd done an MBA. Hhe told me how great the materials were and how much support his son had had, and he brought some of his son's materials in for me to have a look at, and I was really quite impressed. Prior to that I had been a bit concerned because I had got this dated view of The Open University, the 1970s men with beards and kipper ties, and I was a bit concerned that perhaps it wouldn't be the place for me. So I googled it, I went on the internet, I looked for reviews, I asked people, and all the feedback I had was fabulous and everyone told me how great the materials were, so I thought I'd go for it. I really trusted the chairman because he'd got a PhD and he was attached to an academic institution himself and he knew all about universities and he recommended The Open University, so I thought given that and given the triple accreditation that they'd got and I'd read about, I thought The Open University would be a great place to be.
They've absolutely transformed it in many ways. I think much more strategically now. I can see the big picture and I can look at the horizon and see what's coming in the future. I'm much less operational than I was before, and I'm much, much more confident with financial management. Prior to this I'd always had a lack of confidence dealing with finance and with figures, and doing the financial strategy module really changed that and transformed me so that I felt confident to be in a more strategic role.
Well, it absolutely transformed it because I did change sectors. I changed from a private healthcare sector into the third sector charity. It transformed every aspect of my working life, really. I changed direction from hospitals into charity work, and then I was promoted within the charity sector as well. So each promotion really was because of developments that had come out from my MBA.
I don't consider it as distance learning. Although you're working on a computer at home there's loads of opportunities to meet with other people, lots of day schools, and lots of opportunities to interact on open forums as well. I made lots of friends, friends who have kept in contact now, you network at residential schools as well, so there's lots of opportunities to do that, and I still keep in touch with a lot of them through Facebook and through LinkedIn and other places as well. So no, not at all, not distance.
Yes, most definitely I would recommend it to others. It's transformed me, my career, my confidence, and I've actually recommended it to one of my team members and he's going to be starting an MBA with The Open University in November.
Well, I've got a really busy life. I'm a mum. I'm a mum of three teenage boys, and one of those is severely disabled as well. So my life is very, very busy. It can be quite complex trying to juggle things at home and I'm very busy and I needed a study that would fit around that. I also commute in my job. In my previous role I used to commute on the motorways for about an hour and a quarter each way, but then I changed roles and more recently I commute down to London which is two and a quarter hours each way. So I can be on a train for quite a few hours each day and I have to use that time wisely, so I use driving time I've used to listen to CDs, The Open University CDs, and then when I'm on the train I can do reading, I can do my modules, and I can even write TMAs. I've become a big of a dab hand at doing TMAs on the train.
The Open University, together with international partners, offers its MBA and many other programmes across the globe.