An interview with Roberta Thomson at the 2011 Student of the year awards. She won the award for 'MBA Student of the year'.
My name is Roberta Thomson. I have just completed my OU MBA last year. I work for the publishing and education organisation Pearson where I’m currently working in a role around business transformation. My background prior to that is that is working with Pearson for around six years in a variety of different roles – prior to that I worked with Elsevier. My broader experience, I suppose, is that I started out life through a degree in classics; Latin and Greek, ancient history, etc, at Oxford University and I then joined a very small publishing company and focused on trade magazines. So I have experience in marketing, online product management, sales, publishing and strategy. So I’ve been very fortunate to have that sort of breadth of experience of functions and different places in the world as well.
I think my main reason initially was that I wanted to use it to help me, myself, progress in my career but that quickly, sort of, developed into something a little bit more meaningful and I really wanted to do it in order to give me the practical knowledge and experience and skills to equip me to do a general management and a more senior management role effectively. I wanted to get knowledge of different functional areas, to understand some of the theories behind management as a principle but also to combine that with practical experience – to be a good manager essentially.
I chose it for a number of different reasons. I think primary among those were the flexibility of the course and the support that it offers for students who are doing study alongside work but also the content and the focus of the course. I wanted something that combined classical management theory, coverage of those very, sort of, traditional themes with content that focused on what it means to be an effective organisation in the modern world and really to look at some of those more forward looking, future-thinking areas of study as well. And I felt that that The Open University offered a combination of the traditional, the good, solid grounding but also that, sort of, very dynamic forward looking way of thinking through things like the Innovation, Creativity and Change module and various other elements of the course.
I think it went quite well as I’m here! I think overwhelmingly it has been an incredibly rewarding, positive experience. It took me quite a time to complete the MBA but I think it was worthwhile taking that time and not rushing it through but really thinking about the teaching that I was taking in and really applying that in principle within my, within my work. I think I’ve applied a range of different aspects from the course in many, many different ways, some of which I probably don’t even know about or recognise. I think I’ve done some very conscious activities, eg, using some of the theories and strategies in the strategy workshops that we’re holding within my organisation; applying some of the techniques around creativity and innovation in our day-to-day thinking. I think probably the more meaningful way that I’ve applied it is in actually trying to impart some of what I’ve learned, some of the approaches, to my team and my colleagues around me; so sharing the thinking, trying to introduce into the organisation some of the elements that I’ve learnt through the MBA. Whether that’s about effective team working or leadership or trying to come up with a new idea or to implement a new project I think all of those are drawn on elements of what I’ve learnt through the MBA, to try take both myself but also my team forward.
Unreservedly yes I would. I think it’s a fantastic experience. I think you do need to know how much work that you’re going to need to put into it, but it’s incredibly rewarding and yes, I would highly recommend it.
The Open University, together with international partners, offers its MBA and many other programmes across the globe.