After working as an efficiency coordinator for global logistics company DP World in Lima, Peru, Cristian decided to enrol onto the MSc Operations, Project and Supply Chain Management at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) in the UK
Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?
At this point in my career, I'd been working in the logistics industry for five years leading several projects focused on operational performance improvement and business transformation. So, I decided I'd like to expand my knowledge in project organisation and operations management through an international Masters programme.
After doing in-depth research into different business schools across Europe, I found that AMBS offered the perfect combination of these two subjects and would be the best place to start this challenging new phase of my life.
At the end of this programme, I hope to put in practice everything I've learned from my course along with my previous work experience as I seek out future opportunities here in the UK.
What was the application process like?
The steps were easy to follow. I started my application in the September before the course start date and received my conditional offer in January. I first needed to meet the English language requirements, which I fulfilled successfully in March.
After that, I received my unconditional offer a few months later and immediately started the student visa process - that was the hardest stage of the process due to the anxiety of waiting for the results from the UK government. It then all flowed smoothly until I arrived in Manchester.
Why did you choose this course and institution?
Once I decided to do a Masters degree, my target was to study in the UK due to the reputation of the postgraduate teaching staff at The University of Manchester.
What made me settle on this final decision was the ranking of my Masters programme, which is placed in the top ten courses for this field worldwide, and there was no better place to improve my English than in the UK.
How are you funding your postgraduate study?
Thanks to my previous working experience, I had the opportunity to save money for this Masters, so I'm self-funding the tuition and accommodation fees.
Nevertheless, I know that having additional income is important, especially in a place that's more expensive than my own country. That's why just a few months after arriving in Manchester, I started a part-time job as student ambassador for AMBS.
The role allows me to gain experience, improve my communication and social skills, and earn extra money to afford everyday expenses or to get involved with extra-curricular activities such as travelling and spending time outdoors with friends.
Tell us a bit about the course and what it's teaching you that your first degree did not.
I'm learning a lot more than with my first degree. For example, in project management, my previous teachings were based on frameworks from the Project Management Institute (PMI). At AMBS, I'm learning how to organise projects in a strategic way, combining traditional and agile project management methodologies.
Regarding operations, I have more than five years' experience focused on improving the operational performance of different companies. However, here I've learned theories and tools that would have been very useful a few years ago, since they would have generated better results in the projects I previously led.
Finally, supply chain management was a subject where I only had a basic knowledge, so it's all new for me.
Overall, what I'm learning will be useful for my future employment. I'll also be gaining extensive international experience and an expanded network.
How is the course assessed?
I have two types of assessment for different course units. There are those fully assessed through a final exam. Others are evaluated through coursework, which is less stressful but involve a greater degree of time and effort. Both have their pros and cons.
How does postgraduate life differ to that of an undergraduate?
A lot, to be honest. Firstly, with regards to the teaching methodology. In a Masters programme, lecturers encourage you to be critical all the time, by challenging your own biases and continually thinking outside the box.
Secondly, there's a greater quality and quantity of reading materials that have to be consumed. I had never read so many pages in less than a year. However, I enjoy doing this because the knowledge gained exceeded my original expectations.
Finally, you must develop and strengthen the skills and willpower required to face the challenges that come with studying and living outside of your home country.
What extra-curricular activities are you involved with at university?
During the first month of my time at university in Manchester, I was only involved in swimming.
However, after becoming more organised, I got involved in a range of extra-curricular activities, including:
- joining the quidditch team - which is funny because I only know about it from the Harry Potter books and movies. The real game is more difficult than I expected.
- participating in a contest for BP (British Petroleum) - this involved finding new ways to improve their supply chain management with the use of tools from Industry 4.0.
- taking up a role as student ambassador.
Is there anything you wish you'd known before embarking on postgraduate study?
The main thing would be difficulty with the English language. Before coming to the UK, I thought my English was good enough as I'd gained experience presenting in English as part of my previous job. In addition, I achieved a high score in the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam.
However, I soon realised that my English proficiency level was really low. After practicing the language, socialising with people and being an active participant in lectures, my English has improved.
What tips would you give to others choosing postgraduate study in the UK?
- Be organised and plan your weekly tasks. Managing different activities can be difficult, especially for those from abroad who are still adapting to the British culture. However, getting through a list of tasks you set yourself will allow you to fulfil the responsibilities for your course as well as dedicating time to extra-curricular activities, such as sports, day trips, societies and events. These pursuits are important to enjoying the full international experience.
- Don't be afraid to meet new people from around the world. I love the fact that this experience is allowing me to share my time with people from many different countries. I now have new friends spanning more than ten nationalities who I can count on for further opportunities, learn from their perspectives, and be open-minded to new ways of thinking and seeing the world.
- Enjoy every minute of your time here. As international students, we're lucky to have an opportunity like this, and so mustn't forget what motivated us to make one of the most important decisions of our lives and look towards the reward at the end of this exciting, challenged and enriching path.
Find out more
- Explore studying abroad in the UK.
- Consider a career in logistics and supply chain management.
- Study the MSc Operations, Project and Supply Chain Management at AMBS.