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We interviewed Kevin Reid when he graduated from the online MBA programme. At the time he was director of Ness Botanic Gardens, part of the University of Liverpool. He is now Director of Horticulture and Learning at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

What made you decide to study online?

I was looking for a degree programme to develop my skills. As first I was looking at face-to-face programmes, because my last post-graduate was about 17 years ago. It’s really scary thinking about going back into education when you haven’t done anything for a long time. When you’re working it’s hard to find the time to go to a course a couple of nights a week. So I started to look at online. I can barely do emails, so if you are not great on the computer, don’t worry, the system is fantastic at bringing you into the classroom, and it’s easy to understand.

I wasn’t sure about not having a real person there, but in fact the whole learning experience was phenomenal. I found very quickly that I had made the right choice, because it fitted in with my work and family life, and that was important to me.

What motivated you to finish the programme?

I think I am quite a focused, motivated person. But there are times when it is quite difficult; obviously with a full time job it is very demanding. I also travel abroad with work, that was another challenge as well.

What are your tips for managing your time?

Use a timetable to really plan what you have got on during the week. Also have a dedicated space where you can have peace and quiet to work. Make sure you have a good online connection because that is important for the library.

Give yourself space if you need it - don’t feel you are on a treadmill. If you have to take a break, take a break. I did my studies over four years. Study at your own pace, the team will support you in determining what is right for you. My family were a big support too.

Has the MBA helped in your working life?

Yes, the course is practical, it’s not just about textbooks, it’s about putting the theory into practice. The programme allowed me to create pieces of work that are about strategy, about the practicalities of managing a business.

You can relate your studies directly to real situations in your workplace. And because you are having discussions in the global classroom you get these fantastic insights from people in many different industries who have got a vast amount of experience. I think this is the real value of the online programme.

What did you like most about the MBA programme?

I liked the flexibility; I liked the people I was studying with. I liked the professionalism of the tutors and their ability to understand and bring you along with them. I think they realise that people have a lot of work pressures, that people may have been out of education for a long time and need to be supported through that.

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