Applying, preparing for and starting the Distance Learning MBA

28 February 2020

Distance Learning MBA (London) participant, Stephanie Koh, gives us an overview of her experience applying and preparing for her MBA, as well as what it's like starting the programme. 

I had been considering studying the Warwick MBA for quite some time, putting off my application time after time. My girls were aged two and five and I was in a front-line maintenance supervisory role for a crude oil terminal and onshore gas plant. My full-time job and children were the reasons for procrastinating with the application as I didn’t think I would be able to manage an MBA on top of an already hectic life.

Over a long weekend, I found the courage to finally submit my application. This was after a lot of self-convincing that I would grow with pursuing formal business learning and the programme flexibility would be an enabler in my learning journey.

I was nervous when waiting to hear from the WBS recruitment team, as I am aware that the Distance Learning MBA (London) programme is very competitive. I was short-listed for a recorded video interview, which I needed to complete within 10 days. Three weeks after my application, I received an offer to join WBS and study the Distance Learning MBA (London) programme.

In terms of preparation, I realised that I am not a habitual reader. In the months leading up to starting the MBA, I went book shopping and read a few books just to warm myself up. Some books I picked up were Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead”, Dale Carneige’s “How to win friends and influence people” and Timothy Ferris’s “The 4-hour work week”.

The period after induction was focussed on getting to know my fellow MBA classmates. The amazing group (named G30 across borders) I was with for our first two modules were made up of seven individuals of six different nationalities living in six different countries. We had a Greek and Australian living in Dubai, Polish-Irish living in Qatar, Russians in Russia, Kazahk in Kazakhstan and myself a Bruneian living in Brunei. We are also from a range of business sectors; luxury retail, law, aviation, finance treasury, manufacturing, logging, oil & gas. We spent the first two weeks looking for a balance and to determine how we best work with each other in terms of timing for meetings, meeting platforms, communication channels and task splits.

The first few weeks of the programme required some readjustment of time management from my end. Being based in Brunei, Southeast Asia (+8GMT timezone), I am only able to attend some of the live sessions. However, the recorded sessions with the collaborative classroom platform with all the messaging recorded helped to ensure I did not miss out on discussions from the rest of the cohort.

As expected, it wasn’t easy adjusting. On good work weeks, I was able to catch up on reading and lessons in the evenings. Otherwise, I would be spending a large amount of my weekend catching up so that I was no more than a week behind with the online lectures. This was done whilst also finding a balance to ensure that my daughters had a fair share of my attention! It was helpful to take them out on family activities prior to my weekend study.

I also recognised in advanced that Accounting and Finance Management and Economics of the Business Environment are two very new topics for myself and it would be a stretch to manage both modules at the same time. I managed to work with the Programmes team to move one of my modules to a later date so I could focus on a totally unfamiliar topic one at a time. This is the flexibility I was after when I signed up for the programme and it has really helped me to fit studying an MBA into my busy schedule. 

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