Stuart Taylor is a man who gets things done. Given that he manages two sales teams for two different companies, it’s no surprise that Stuart values commitment, efficiency and dedication. These traits came in very handy when he was studying for his Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Australia with Charles Sturt University. And Stuart’s decision to study an MBA online had a much more significant impact on his career than he had thought possible.
How postgraduate study can change your thinking
Stuart embarked on his postgraduate degree with a specific goal in mind – but the process of studying his MBA online with Charles Sturt University altered his expectations and professional direction.
“When I decided to undertake my MBA, I was a detective sergeant in the NSW Police Force, working in major and organised crime. I was married, but yet to have my children. I had been in the police at that point about 17 years. I had consistently gained promotion earlier than expected and was ambitious to get a higher rank. I knew I needed more formal qualifications to position me for those roles. Charles Sturt was the only university at the time that suited all my conditions: cost, whether I could study from home and Charles Sturt University’s close alignment with the police.
“However, while my initial reason for doing postgraduate study was promotion, as I progressed through the MBA it opened my eyes to a whole world of opportunities outside of law enforcement. So, while I started my MBA in the police, I ended it working as a business development manager in the IT industry. Plus, by the time I had finished I had three children!”
Advantages of online study
For Stuart, the move to study an MBA online was liberating. However, he found that study is, essentially, all about people. Collaboration was key to Stuart’s study success with Charles Sturt.
“Studying online, I was controlling the pace of my degree. Sure, I had deadlines, and assignments, but I could study at two o’clock in the morning; I could work at two o’clock in the afternoon.
“So, key to my success was number one: I was working at my own pace. Number two, however, was I was able to connect with my fellow students. In fact, my top tip for studying online is to remember you are not alone. Collaboration is key. You have peers who are doing the same things, with the same challenges. They’ll all be at different stages in life, but regardless sharing ideas and collaborating with your peers is really rewarding, sharing how you are interpreting things, sharing ideas. I remember being online chatting at night discussing how we were going with assignments or how we interpreted what the lecturer had been talking about in that day’s session. It was a real benefit.
“A lot of people starting a degree have concerns about balancing family, work, study… and social time. I didn’t find it troublesome to make time but you do make sacrifices. My wife was very understanding (and she studied after I did). At weekends we would balance the time, making study part of our day. (I have fond memories of sitting by the pool on a summer’s day, reading an economics book.) I would study on the train to and from work. It’s a question of managing your time effectively – which is a pretty good trait to develop if you want to be successful in business.”
Why get an MBA online?
Beyond the technical subjects of the online MBA, Stuart’s postgraduate study experience with Charles Sturt taught him so much more.
“Having an MBA opened up my career after the police, and it showed me what else was out there. It also gave me the transferable skills. I had them during my police career – finance knowledge, communication and negotiation – but the MBA really brought them out to me as part of my personal skill set. The MBA always got me a foot in the door – not just in terms of a piece of paper, but you learn a lot about yourself and you gain knowledge about the rest of the world.
“Whether government or corporate – organisational structures, which involved finance, operations, sales, human resources – all were covered in my MBA and the fundamentals haven’t changed. I continue to learn and keep up to date with developments in the industry, but the knowledge I gained from my MBA is still very relevant to my work.
“One of the reasons I tend to hire people with master’s degrees is that it shows they can complete what they start. It is a major undertaking and it is a good testament that someone has actually finished it: they have tenacity and resilience.
“About two years ago I returned to Charles Sturt University and undertook a number of psychology subjects – for my personal development, and to give me an edge in managing people, understanding their motivations and putting the theory to my experience. Again, it was online, and we had live chats with students from across the country. Again, I was able to be in control of my study, and I really feel that this recent study has helped me understand the motivations of my staff, and so made me a better manager.”
How an MBA can boost your career
Stuart credits his decision to study an MBA online as the main driver of his career change.
“My move into the corporate environment would not have happened – and happened so successfully – without my MBA. I wouldn’t have had the knowledge or the confidence to make the move. The MBA gave me the ‘language’ of the corporate world. It also taught me that I could learn. I’d never considered myself academically inclined, but it made me into a learner, so as I have moved into different positions in my career I have been able to learn new knowledge and skills quickly in order to succeed.”