Case study

MBA student — Nigel Williams

After being made redundant Nigel studied an MBA at Cardiff University and is now looking for his next role

Why did you decide to pursue a postgraduate course?

After nearly 23 years at Michelin Tyres Plc I was made redundant from my role as UK & ROI national sales manager. I had previously mentioned that I would like to study a part-time Masters. My wife pointed out that there was probably not going to be another time at which I could realistically contemplate studying a full-time Masters. I did some research and applied to Cardiff University.

On reflection, one of the reasons I applied to go back to university nearly twenty five years after my first degree was linked to the observation that managers can do tremendous amounts of work for the companies they work for and equally significant amounts of work for the development and advancement of those in their teams and woefully little on behalf of their individual selves.

Why did you choose this institution?

I would love to say that I chose Cardiff University for its record of high standards of education, its excellent purpose-led business school, and its dedication to its public value strategy and principles, but I live with my family on the outskirts of Cardiff and the business school is a very short distance from my home. Having experienced several company linked relocations over several years it is lovely to be back in the fabulous city in which I grew up.

How did you fund your MBA?

I funded the course myself using money from my redundancy.

What did the course teach you that your first degree did not?

My first degree was linked to sport. The MBA was far wider reaching in its content depth and breadth. Modules in 'Global challenges and strategic decision making', 'People perspectives', 'Financial and business analytics', 'Creativity innovation and enterprise', 'Confronting grand challenges', 'Leading change and transforming futures', and 'Leadership development' all contributed to a broad experience.

Little did I know at the start of the course that as part of the Accelerator Project module I would be involved in researching the options a local charity had to reduce its carbon footprint and producing a 5,000-word report and presentation on the subject. The final module, specifically about purpose in business, has really made me think very carefully about what I want to pursue as my next career move.

How was the course assessed?

Of the 180 total credits, each of the eight modules had either a 10, 20, 30 or 40 credit weighting. Most modules comprise both individual and group written and presentation assignments.

What do you wish you'd known before embarking on postgraduate study?

I've never been the world's fastest reader and an MBA involves a fair bit of reading. I didn't find the 'Read Aloud' function in Microsoft Word until about halfway through my MBA. What a life and time saver.

What tips would you give to others completing an MBA?

Set your personal assignment deadline two days before the actual deadline and submit your work with time to spare. Then enjoy an evening off.

When reading an academic paper start by digesting the executive summary, introduction, and conclusion. This gives you a good flavour in preparation for tackling the main body of the reading (or listening.).

Before you write a single word of any assignment open a new file and see it as a scrapbook of quotes taken from the recommended and wider reading. Once you have a collection of quotes that are all on topic it really helps you to build your own words around some of them.

Attend every lecture that you can. Get involved. Actively listen. Have questions to ask, not for the sake of asking, but due to genuine interest. Don’t be the silent one. Contribute. Most importantly remember that there are few if any right answers but there is huge enjoyment to be had attempting to find possible ones.

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