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Laura Reinholz Laura Reinholz studied online and graduated with an MBA (Finance and Accounting) from the University of Liverpool. When we interviewed her she was working as Sales Technology Strategy Manager at Manulife Financial in Toronto. She is now back at BMO Bank of Montreal.

“My current role would have been difficult to get without my MBA,” said Laura, who did part of her studies while travelling the world. “This degree has exceeded my expectations.”

What was your goal in studying online for an MBA from the University of Liverpool?

I wanted to study this degree in order to further my career in BMO. I was a financial planner in the BMO branches when I started my MBA but I wanted to take my career to the bank headquarters and work in strategy, not in sales.

What appealed to me about the University of Liverpool programme was that it was 100% online. This gave me the flexibility to work full time and to go to school - as well as the freedom to take time off between modules.

How flexible is studying online and how did you manage to fit it into your life?

It’s incredibly flexible, doing this online. Two months after I started my programme, I decided to leave my job and go travelling around the world for a year. As long as you have internet access, you can do this programme.

Did the combination of travel plus study work well?

When I left my job to travel, I thought that it would be fine to just log on anywhere. But in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia internet is not always very reliable. I wrote a 1,000-word paper on human resources whilst sitting at a beach bar in Cambodia – where I could get an internet connection. That part was quite challenging because I wasn’t able to participate in my classes at the deadlines so I had to re-sit that particular class.

But on the whole, it worked into my lifestyle very well, as I was able to learn and experience the world at the same time.

Has the MBA helped you to achieve your ambition?

Yes. I returned to BMO in a different capacity at head office in October 2010. That was essentially a lateral move from my previous position. Once I’d established myself in Toronto, I then moved into my current role as Manager, Wealth Programmes. This role would have been difficult to get without my MBA. The degree has exceeded my expectations – particularly with the recognition that Liverpool has as an international university.

Some people think that if they study online they will study alone. What’s your view on that?

I haven’t found this a lonely experience at all. The degree allows opportunities to collaborate in groups. Sometimes it could be challenging because of time zones but we made it work via Skype and over the internet. I enjoyed meeting people from across the world, from different cultures. I’m still in contact with two of the students that I had modules with.

You chose to graduate in person, in Liverpool. How did it feel to graduate?

I had an enormous sense of accomplishment as it’s mostly a self-directed study programme and you have to be very focused. It was a huge milestone in my life – I wouldn’t have missed being in Liverpool to graduate.

How will your online MBA help to shape your future?

I’m very confident about my future after taking this degree with the University. I plan to go on and do my Doctorate in Business Administration as well.

The University of Liverpool Management School now has AACSB Accreditation. Will this extra recognition help you in your career?

I think that having this accreditation will work to my advantage. Four years ago when I started this degree, online programmes were not as well recognised by employers as they are today. This accreditation does increase the degree’s credibility.

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