“The online master’s has contributed to my critical thinking and helped me challenge the status quo,” says Gustav Nilsson, from Brazil, an HR Manager at oilfield services company Schlumberger and a University of Liverpool Online student on the MSc in Management – Oil & Gas programme.

Where are you originally from and where do you live and work now?

I’m 37 years old and I have 13 years’ experience working in HR in oilfield companies. I’m originally from Brazil but I have travelled around the world for work: France, Cameroon, Angola, Portugal, China and now I’ve transferred to California in the USA.

Why did you choose to study online for a master’s from the University of Liverpool?

When looking for a business school, an important criterion for me was that it had to be online because with such a mobile career I couldn’t commit to being in a single place for the duration of the master’s. When I discovered that the University of Liverpool has online programmes, I checked with some of my colleagues from the UK about its reputation and they gave me very good references.

What do you enjoy the most about studying online with the University of Liverpool?

At the beginning you have to get used to balancing work and studies but afterwards it’s quite smooth. The modules go by pretty fast. There is a lot of studying to do but if you really want to learn it gives you endless opportunities. When I compare it to my bachelor’s studies, I notice that there is now a lot of digital material. It’s so easy to access good papers and books online. The University of Liverpool gives us access to an infinite volume of materials in the library. It’s very easy and quick to search for whatever you want for your research. You gain a lot of time and the progress is huge.

How has the online master’s programme benefited you at work so far?

The programme contributed to my critical thinking and helped me challenge the status quo. I learned how to push beyond my current responsibilities at work. As an HR Manager, I always think about retention and look for ways to keep good talent in the company. Applying my knowledge from the courses, I proposed a framework to talk to the employees one by one to try to get closer to them before they make the decision that they want to leave. We can contribute a lot to our companies if we don’t limit ourselves.

I also proposed a training for expatriate employees and applied the leadership theories that I’ve learned during the courses by building training sessions. The module about oil and gas has helped me see the larger picture and understand the supply chain beyond the role of my company.

How valuable is it for you to know that your employer is supportive of your studies?

A good salary is not enough to have a satisfactory career. It’s important to see how much you can progress and if the company is investing in you. My career has been an example of progress; I have changed countries, tried different types of jobs and I get support from my company to do my studies. My manager gave me time to study during working hours, because he knows that the company will benefit from my new skills. My company has a superb management team and I feel valued.

Do you have any tips for other students on how to better align their learning to their work objectives?

Open communication is the beginning. Ask your manager what their dream is for their assignment – and then offer your support to realise it together. Come up with ideas. It doesn’t matter if the idea is mature or not, just come up with ideas all the time. It will help in finding a solution together.

How was your experience with time management?

I don’t get it when people say that they don’t have time. What they are really saying is that it’s not their priority. Everybody has 24 hours. I have two sons and a wife, I practice triathlon, I’m working in a management role and I also do my master’s. I find time to manage all this and I don’t get overwhelmed. It’s like a chess game. I cannot sustain all of my activities at 100% all the time. Around the birth of my son, obviously my family is priority number one. At other times, my study may be the priority. For example, when I did the oil and gas module, which is the most important module for my career, I pushed 100% on that and took it easy on my triathlon trainings. That’s how I find the balance.
In the end, it’s not about just reaching the goal, it’s about enjoying the journey.

Do you have any advice to share with prospective students?

Take responsibility for your destiny. It’s in your hands, go for it!

 

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