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Philip Cooper

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Delivering a multi-national project

Philip Cooper, MBA, University of Hertfordshire

Philip Cooper

The first time I went to university, it was straight from school to study materials science so I could become an engineer.  After university I had several years in industry before I came to a point where I wanted more of an overview of business.  I wanted to understand finance and marketing and why managers and leaders did certain things.  I wanted to get out of my niche area in a technical job and expand my future opportunities.

I chose an MBA at the University of Hertfordshire because it has a lot of business involvement.  There is the Collective Enterprise Module where you do a real life project for a business, the dissertation where you go into a company as a consultant and the fact that the academics leading the course have business backgrounds themselves.

The Collective Enterprise Module has been a particular highlight.  There were different placements on offer and students were placed in groups according to their strengths.  My group was given IBM and we worked with a team of students from Fordham University in New York.

Our project was focussed on ‘smarter cities’, developing solutions that IBM could offer cities to manage law and order or transport.  We started by visiting IBM in London to get their take on where things were going.  Then we had a talk from Transport for London and they gave some ideas about what we could look for and how IBM could help them.  We also had a visit to the police training centre at Hendon, where they talked to us about policing and preventative work.

The crowning point was the presentation to IBM in New York – if they were happy we had produced the goods, the project would count as a success.

The crowning point was the presentation to IBM in New York – if they were happy we had produced the goods, the project would count as a success.  If they weren’t happy we would have failed.  This is very true to life, where you do months of work and it all comes down to the final presentation to leave an impression.

Every course at the University of Hertfordshire is developed with input from employers

The project had plenty of challenges: sometimes we were leading, sometimes following, sometimes managing and sometimes being managed.  Doing a project on that scale, on something I previously knew nothing about, then to go to New York, speak to three high level directors and get through the presentation was a real feather in the cap for all concerned.

The MBA has given me the self-confidence to go into a situation that I might know very little about and handle it.  I have got rid of that limiting belief that I am just the ‘tech guy’ or the ‘plastics guy.’

The MBA has given me the self-confidence to go into a situation that I might know very little about and handle it.  I have got rid of that limiting belief that I am just the ‘tech guy’ or the ‘plastics guy.’  I am not an accountant but I can talk to finance people; I am not a marketer but I know when a marketing plan looks good or bad; I am not a CEO but I understand business strategy. It is not about being able to tell those people how to do their jobs, it is about being able to work with them and if need be lead them and manage them.  That is exactly why I wanted to do the MBA.

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