Take a course and improve your skills – it can change your life


The writer is an investor in tech start-ups at Samos Investments

I just completed a 10 week mini-MBA and it was the best career decision I have made.

Like many who graduate and decide to work for a period and then return to academia, in reality, it is often difficult to give up a high paying job.

I enjoyed my days at University College London, but student life, based on a core allowance, was not something I wanted to revisit. In short, I put off my full-time postgraduate studies for many years.

But recently I came across the London School of Economics mini-MBA. A mini-MBA? I didn’t see how it could be valuable. And online? I thought that the whole point of an MBA was to have the opportunity to meet various professionals, to learn more about their industries and their network.

So I entered the program feeling a bit skeptical. I was quickly proven to be wrong.

It all started with a Zoom call introducing me to my classmates. I was impressed. They came from all over the world: Romania, Singapore, United States, India. They were all busy professionals in industries such as healthcare, aerospace, financial services, with a range of commitments outside of work. It got me thinking, maybe it’s possible after all. With three young children, a job and several board seats, I was afraid I wouldn’t find the time.

The reasons for joining the course were varied: hoping for a promotion, a pay rise, or simply wanting to learn something new.

Over the course of the mini-MBA, we’ve covered topics like demand and supply, pricing, inflation – really getting back to basics. It was great to have a refresher on some of the subjects I learned in college, but by revisiting them I also learned a lot of new things. This is because this time around I was able to apply my knowledge in a more practical sense through my lived experiences.

The course made me think about how privileged I am. It wasn’t cheap, £ 3,200 – out of reach for many. Much like full-time MBAs, at over £ 80,000 on average, just for the fees. So how can organizations best support employees who want to develop themselves?

First, employers need to better communicate about the training offered. Most employees never visit employee benefit portals at work. I took a look at some of the benefits available to employees of a large tech company. It offered free or discounted educational packages from e-learning platforms and had a stipend of £ 1,000 for any course.

I expected more. Many large companies offer many days of training focused on employment. What I would like to see is that more of them are offering allowances in the range of £ 1,000 to £ 3,000, where employees can learn whatever they want. If small businesses like Learnerbly, a workplace learning company, can offer a stipend of £ 1,000, then larger companies should at least be able to match that.

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The Department of Education has a wide range of options. I’ve worked with some of the biggest tech companies, including Google, to create the DfE Skills Toolkit of free short courses. Subjects offered include Mathematics, Computer Science, Digital Design and Marketing, designed for those looking to upgrade and retrain. I highly recommend people check it out – taking any short course will increase your productivity in the long run.

If you’re open to something a little more radical, Seth Godin, the American blogger and entrepreneur, has designed an altMBA, a 31-day online leadership workshop. It costs $ 4,450 and is very project oriented.

Like my classmates, I took the mini-MBA to exchange ideas, refresh my knowledge and acquire new skills to do my job better. Within a few weeks, I already had new ideas and felt like I had been given a much deeper purpose with which to operate. I wish I had done it earlier.

Whichever route you choose to pursue your education, you must be prepared to make some sacrifices to save time in your busy schedule, but it is worth it. I’m glad I did.

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