Why did I choose to study an Executive Diploma?
13 June 2022

Katherine Pitts explains how the Executive Diploma in Strategy and Innovation met her expectations.

Why did I choose to do the Executive Diploma at WBS? If I’m honest I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for. My CEO approached me one day and said, “I’ve got just the course for you, it’s based in The Shard”. That was all I needed to hear, I was in. I filled out the application form with visions of sashaying through The Shard reception in my mind. I had not let the reality of actually doing a course into my subconscious as I had more important things to think about like the interesting people I would meet and the intelligent lift system that I’d heard about.

After an interesting call with one of the Business Development Managers, I was informed that I could start the Strategy & Innovation Executive Diploma in the next few weeks. I was so excited to have been accepted and nothing was bursting my Shard bubble. As the first day drew closer, I started to wonder what type of people I’d be sharing this learning experience with? I come from an NHS and healthcare perspective so was left thinking, would I be able to hold my own with peers from other industries and environments?

At last, the day to sashay into reception arrived…. I had a pass to the Shard! When I arrived on the 17th floor (and yes, the lift system is intelligent), there were people gathered and chatting. The first thing I noticed was that there was only one other woman. I was left thinking where are they all? I’d never considered strategy and innovation as a male dominated space so was left questioning why was this course not attracting more like-minded women?  

The course started and after the obligatory ‘getting to know you’ icebreaker, it dawned on me that I was on an Executive Diploma by one of the most prestigious business schools in the country. With a big gulp I realised I should have spent more time considering the course, my personal commitment and investment, and less on sashaying.

As we progressed through the first module it became clear to me that there was a significant commitment required to distance learning, reading, and completing assignments. This is without doubt not a ‘turn up and wing it’ course and you certainly won’t gain the benefits if you approach it in that way.  

The lecturers made the subject matter alive using many different examples from a vast and varied industry base. At times I have found this challenging as I do not have an interest in Silicon Valley, Tesla cars or Bitcoin currency. I do however have to clarify that no matter what industry or company is being discussed, the theory and frameworks that are shared can be adapted and used in any setting. It’s this transferrable knowledge and skills that makes this course valuable for anyone working or interested in strategy and innovation. 

While the content covered on the course is vital in terms of academic and experiential learning, one of the greatest assets is the individuals and the interactions that enhance the learning experience. The course leader and lecturers are all approachable and happy to work through any questions or queries you have. There is a true sense that they are working alongside you to ensure you get the best out of the experience. 

By learning alongside your peers from all walks of life, industries, and personal backgrounds, a supportive and challenging environment is created. The benefit for me personally was having some of my thoughts and thinking challenged in this safe environment. The course has also allowed me protected thinking time away from the business so when I return, I feel energised and ready to move forward.  

Would I recommend this course to others? That’s an easy question for me to answer, as yes, I certainly would. Did the low number of women impact my experience? No, on reflection the gender imbalance has not impacted my experience as I have learnt so much from my peers. In addition, the lecturers and evening speakers came from diverse backgrounds which has had the benefit of introducing diversity of through and perspectives.  I would however encourage more women to join this course as I do think it strengthens our place as thought leaders.

So in summary, if you are ready to come with commitment, openness, and a willingness to learn (with a little bit of sashaying), you will certainly get a lot out of this course, and it will support you in reaching your full potential.

Find out more about the Executive Diploma in Strategy and Innovation here

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