I run the MA in Management and Leadership at the University of Chichester in the UK. Here is a personal perspective as to why I believe that working whilst studying is a good idea, particularly when it comes to management and leadership. It was in 2003 I started my masters, I had a senior role in a large organisation and was intrigued (and still am) as to how decisions are made in organisations and why so many of them seem irrational. During my masters I developed an understanding for all those things I had found mysterious, or at least shrouded in mystery by the ‘experts’. Soon I was able to talk confidently on their level. This included subjects such as finance, HR, governance, strategy, innovation. There were some subjects totally new to me such as complexity that changed the way I saw the world and how organisations worked. With more understanding and confidence I was starting to have a greater impact. Soon after I started I became part of the corporate planning team representing my directorate and people started to see me in a different light. From this I led a number of strategic projects and later went on to work with a Government department on the formation and implementation of a national healthcare initiative. All of this would not have happened if I had not taken those first steps and enrolled on my master’s course. At the time my family was young, the demands of the job were high and fitting it all in was a challenge, but it was a hugely enjoyable challenge. I prioritized what mattered and was more efficient at what I did. It seems odd to me not to study whilst you work, after all how else do you become experienced in the ideas you are learning about without putting them into practice; seeing what works and why.
After my masters I went on to do my doctorate, again whilst working. And now my career has moved on to being an academic. But an academic with a difference, one that strongly feels that management and leadership can only progress if it has a foot in both camps – that of practice and study.