Returning to education

20 April 2022

Executive Diploma in Organisational Change participant, Rishikesh Joshi, explores how the programme has supported his practical experience with theory and knowledge. 

“Would you go back to the classroom at this age?” My friends asked this question when I told them I had decided to pursue the Executive Diploma in Organisational Change... But, in my opinion, I had always been in learning mode throughout my corporate life by going to management institutes as visiting faculty or to deliver guest lectures.

While I was brave to say that, at the back of my heart I was anxious. How would class receive me? Would I be the odd one out? Would I be able to cope up with rigor of studies and submissions? Many questions came to mind.

After logging off from corporate life, I had decided to pursue consulting in change management as a career. Having been a part of four transformation exercises, I had developed a passion for change management as a subject. To be effective as a change agent, I realised that I need to supplement my experience with the theory and gain more insights.

That led me to the search for a programme that focussed on change management. Through my search I found two universities offering such programmes, one of them was purely online whereas Warwick Business School offered a hybrid programme with on-campus classes each quarter. Connecting with cohorts and networking was an incentive that drew me to select Warwick Business School.

Having enrolled, the questions listed above started haunting again. When I read and undertook a mandatory course on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), I gained comfort. When the classes commenced, all the fears started melting. The EDI policy assures that age is not a hindrance, and when interacting with the cohorts, I saw that I was not alone. There were at least two more classmates of similar age group. The class composition was something great to talk about.

Although COVID-19 did take away the attraction of on-campus classes, the online video sessions partially compensated for that. It was a distinct experience with cohorts joining from different countries and different time zones. It was not only students but even faculty who were also in different time zones. It was an experience to watch Professor Christian Stadler talking to us about strategy from a beach cottage in Zanzibar, or when Professor Tina Kiefer started a session for us on ‘resistance to change,’ when it was 4.00am at her place in the USA.

The topics covered in the modules were enriching, I learnt many new concepts in different areas starting from Business Strategy to Implementing Change. ‘Open Strategy’ was a new concept which could be deployed, similarly the concept of ‘emergent change’ was something that I had experienced sometimes but could not define it. The modules covered associated topics and tools like ‘design thinking,’ which everyone talks about in industry today. The course contents and sessions cleared my apprehensions on, “is there anything more to learn?”

All said and done, there were a few things that were tough for a practitioner like me. First was creating a habit of reading academic articles, they are not as simple as reading HBR or other case studies. There were pre-reads for each module, circulated well in advance, but reading them is your own task. When you attend the class, the professors also recommend additional reading material. Availability is not an issue, the Warwick University Library is efficient to make the material available to you but reading and absorbing down to you. It took some time to cultivate this habit, and I hope it continues.

If reading academic articles was tough, writing academic dissertations for the submission was even tougher. I might have churned hundreds of PPTs and several project reports in my corporate life, but writing these submissions was a different cup of tea. I really appreciated how WBS realised this need and created training material on writing academic materials. Plus, Professor Tim Wray, our Course Director, organised a live session for the cohorts on writing academic submissions and guided us on what they look for in a submission. This was immensely helpful, not only during the course but even after that in day-to-day life.

As I write this blog, I am in another city in India where I have taken up a transformation assignment. It was the learning during the course in Organisational Change, which gave me confidence to take-up the task.

Find out more about our Executive Diploma in Organisational Change here

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