Arden University Distance Learning student Simon Henry

Since I have a demanding, full-time role and 4-year-old daughter, Distance Learning seemed like the obvious choice; the flexibility is great.

I currently work at Network Rail and have held a few positions, including Senior Quality Manager until 2019, leading two tranches of a major change programme to improve business processes and deploy an integrated management system. I’m currently a Project Manager responsible for planning assurance reviews of programmes >£100m value which are seeking funding from the Department for Transport.

Despite being unsuccessful in securing apprentice funding, I didn’t let this constrain my future and decided to self-fund my MBA.  Since I have a demanding, full-time role and 4-year-old daughter, Distance Learning seemed like the obvious choice. The flexibility of Distance Learning is great and something I came to appreciate whilst studying my business management HND with Arden previously.

I’ve found the Arden MBA has given me a much more comprehensive foundation of knowledge around topics I don’t often encounter in my role, including financial decision-making, ethics and strategy. I hope that this knowledge will enable me to progress to more strategic roles in the future or to allow me to work as a management consultant specialising in governance, assurance and improvement, as I am a chartered quality professional and full member of the Chartered Quality Institute. It’s useful to specialise in a particular area, so the MBA complements your technical knowledge. On its own an MBA is interesting and useful, but to stand out and be in demand by organisations it is key to develop specialist knowledge rather than just a broad understanding.

So far, the MBA has positively impacted my career and enabled me to appreciate the great people I work with at Network Rail.  I’m currently on the research project and writing about lessons learnt at Network Rail and have had a great response to my survey and interview requests with senior leaders. This enables me to focus on something critical to the sustained success of the business and in so doing has put me in touch with some knowledgeable and experienced people. Without the MBA, those discussions would not have been held and my network would not be as developed.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve been able to continue my studies which is great compared to some students at universities that aren’t geared for Distance Learning. That said, keeping the plates spinning with fitness, family, work and studying has proven challenging. Importantly, exercise has been a priority for me to keep my mental health in check and I often go for a run or bike ride at night when my daughter is in bed or on the weekend, and take it in turns with my wife so she can get enough exercise and we both maintain resilience.

In conclusion, studying an MBA has been a difficult but worthwhile undertaking and hopefully improves my prospects of career success in the future.  At this stage it’s taught me the value of balance and not sacrificing other important parts of your life to get ahead with studying; it’s all about keeping it sustainable in the long-term and excellent planning and time management are key to this.