I have been working at Pattonair for 12 years – my entire career – and am now the Group Functional Lead in Supply Chain. I joined the company as a Demand Analyst after studying Mathematics at Nottingham Trent University, and I had been thinking about studying for a Master’s degree for a number of years. 18 months ago I had another conversation about the possibility of a postgraduate qualification and I was given the go-ahead to start researching.
As it turned out, I didn’t have to look very far before I came across Cranfield. The Executive Logistics and Supply Chain Management course came up during my initial online searches, and my sister also mentioned that her boss had studied at Cranfield School of Management. Once I mentioned it to some of my colleagues, it transpired that someone else at work had studied this course around six years ago and also recommended it to me. I had also looked at Warwick, Nottingham, and Derby – but for me, the module choices at Cranfield seemed more interesting and the fact that I could study part-time in week-long blocks made a big difference in balancing work and studies.
My employers have been absolutely fantastic, as well as funding the course I get a lot of support from my boss and senior directors to bring my learnings back into the business. It wasn’t a struggle to choose my thesis topic as I was spoilt for choice with the next challenges the business wants to overcome.
So here I am, week 8 of nine intensive week-long modules and so far, so good. I can’t tell you that it has been easy balancing work, study and home life – in fact, I would say that I don’t have much of a ‘normal’ social life at all at the moment! That is offset by the friends I’ve made on the course though – one of the highlights has been meeting all these new people, from different organisations and with different perspectives, and we make sure to have dinner together and socialise in the evenings during the weeks that we are on campus. That networking element of the course is one of the most valuable aspects of coming back to studying – it’s particularly useful for benchmarking yourself and your organisation and even realising that actually we’re doing a really good job! Sometimes you need that external perspective that other people working at other organisations in the same kind of industry can give to understand that “we’re not that bad!”
Something what has really surprised and impressed me is how flexible Cranfield have been. They ask us for feedback – and they actually listen! Changes have been made to the structure based on suggestions we, the students, have made. This led to a change to the assignments, with two smaller assignments being merged into one larger one, which made a significant difference to a lot of us who are balancing work alongside the MSc. The staff are really helpful, my tutor Leila is really nice and has given me some great advice about looking ahead to my thesis.
It’s fair to say that when I began thinking about doing this course, one of my main aims was to learn things that I could apply back at work. The great thing about studying part-time for a week at a time and then going back to work in between is that I’m seeing the impact in my workplace almost immediately. For example, as a result of taking the Freight and Logistics Management module I currently have a live project at work which calls upon what I’m learning on the module in almost ‘real-time’. This wasn’t something that had occurred to me before I started the course, but it’s obviously a huge bonus, both for myself and for my company. I don’t have to worry about forgetting things and waiting a year to get back to the workplace and try them out, and my employers are hopefully reaping the benefits of investing in my development before I have even finished the course!
My advice for anyone thinking about getting back into study would be to talk to your boss and talk to people at work and find out about the experiences they have had. Be prepared to work hard, and to make sacrifices. It’s definitely not easy! And if you are married, or have a family, make sure it’s the right thing for you. I absolutely could not have done this without the support and understanding of my husband. He’s been so encouraging, and that has been one of the most important things for me.
Find out more about the Executive MSc in Logistics and Supply Chain Management