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As a business leader who aims to support organisations in realising their full potential, Neil Wilkinson demanded a top performance from himself in the Liverpool Online MBA. His efforts were rewarded with a distinction. Neil, Managing Director of UK-based corporate advising firm Torne & Shirmers, graduated – and celebrated – in Liverpool in December 2016.

Neil works as a consultant, and he finds that having an MBA is an advantage when it comes to advising organisations. “An MBA offers professional recognition and status that is highly respected within professional circles. Those receiving advice acknowledge and accept it as having substance and professional content that is worthy of their consideration,” he explains.

Finding a programme that could fit around his work was important. “I was attracted by the flexibility of the programme which allowed me to attain a professional qualification from one of the world’s leading academic institutions whilst maintaining a demanding working schedule,” he says. “The opportunity to work with like-minded individuals was also appealing.”

Collaborative learning

The design of the Liverpool Online MBA learning experience was one of the highlights of studying online, according to Neil. “I found it interesting to be exposed to the variety of learning techniques, combining self-study, group interaction and project work, whilst working in a supportive and collaborative manner with fellow students combining cultural diversity and business perspectives,” he says.

He also values the professional relationships he was able to build with fellow students, which he hopes will continue into the future: “The master’s programme offered me the opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals from around the world. I hope to maintain contact with them and we may work together on future projects.”

The secret of success

On a personal level, Neil found it rewarding to be able to keep up with the pace of the Liverpool Online MBA. He set himself ambitious goals, striving to achieve the best possible grades. “The highlights included making steady progress through the various modules and accomplishing the module objectives within the required deadlines,” he says. “Time always remained the greatest challenge, and it was made greater by my self-imposed standards.”

So how did he manage to balance work and study, and get a distinction? “As an online student, it’s very important to be disciplined in managing one's time and seize every opportunity to perform certain tasks at the most appropriate moment,” Neil explains. “For example, I would read articles and professional journals whilst travelling on planes and trains. Most weekends were 100% dedicated to my MBA studies.”

He offers the following tips for other online students: “Manage your time effectively, endeavour to over-attain and only submit your work when you are satisfied you have reached your highest standard. It’s also important to carefully read the responses of your fellow classmates and endeavour to add value to the ongoing dialogue.” This final piece of advice relates to the requirement to write comments, with academic references, in the online classroom each week. University of Liverpool online students are assessed on the quality of these contributions to online discussions as well as on their written assignments rather than having to sit exams.

The final verdict

We asked Neil how he felt after receiving his degree. He said: “An MBA with distinction is highly respected and is recognised by many as a successful accomplishment. I’m certainly proud that all the hard work over the years has finally paid off!”

And would he recommend the University of Liverpool Online to others? “Certainly. I would recommend the University of Liverpool’s Online Programmes without hesitation: it has been an inspirational and motivational experience with an excellent outcome.”

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