Following my heart and stepping out of my comfort zone

23 June 2020

Distance Learning MBA participant, Chris Chung, shares his MBA journey, explaining why he chose to study at WBS and the advantages of a distance learning programme.  

Back in 2018, I was working as a Project Manager at a provincial electric utility company in Vancouver, Canada. My role was to manage the delivery of capital distribution projects to connect customers from all over the province so that they could get electricity. With an Engineering degree, a Project Management designation, and over a decade of experience under my belt, I was adequately equipped for, and proficient at, my role. However, deep down, I craved for knowledge and critical-thinking abilities to make a greater and more positive impact to my organisation and community.

After some research, I realised that an MBA was the answer to my craving. The next step was to determine which business schools to apply for. I had two choices: a decent local school, or a distance learning MBA. The distance learning route appealed to me, because it is more flexible, efficient (no commuting to classes, etc.), and would also allow me to control my own learning pace. The only concern I had was on the aspect of networking – how do I form meaningful relationships on a distance learning programme?

Indeed, everyone knows networking is a vital part of the MBA journey, and I have heard that people form lasting bonds along the journey, and how these connections later become valuable assets to unlock future career potential. I was torn between Warwick Business School (WBS) – a prestigious, flexible, and quality programme, or the local programme – where I may connect with local professionals, in the hope that I’d make some good friends.

When I consulted with a wise friend, what he told me was worth sharing - “if you go to the local programme, you will learn about the view point of other Vancouverites; however, if you go with an international programme, you will learn about the views of people from around the world”. This was what triggered me to take a leap of faith out of my comfort zone, and I decided to pursue a degree halfway across the globe.

WBS did not disappoint. The professors and faculty were indeed top notch, and it clearly shows through the course materials and live lessons. I particularly enjoy the online forums where students are asked to share their thoughts on the course modules. This was great because it ‘forces’ an introvert like myself to share my view, and receive feedback. It also allowed opportunities to hear from all my peers. This wouldn’t have been possible in a real classroom situation, due to time constraints.

Students are also grouped into small teams to help each other with team projects and presentations. It is a humbling experience as my peers are accomplished, inspired, and energetic professionals. The weekly team chat had been something that I looked forward to.

I was most thrilled during Warwick Week, which was an absolute highlight. Not only did I get to meet my team (and the rest of the London cohort) in person for the first time, we also got to spend more than ten hours every day together putting final touches on our group projects, and learning new materials. I also enjoyed getting coffee together at the nearby Borough market, and grabbing a beer at local bars after a day’s hard work. By the end of the week, I felt I had bonded with my new friends at a level deeper than some of the friends and colleagues that I’ve known for years. I am glad I did not worry needlessly about making new friends.

I also took on the coaching session offered by the programme. My coach, Stephanie, was very helpful in guiding me through some challenges I was experiencing at work. She also shared her own experiences and pointed me to books I could read further on.

I was promoted to a team lead role shortly after starting with the Distance Learning MBA programme, and I am involved in many more managerial activities. I can already feel the shift in my mindset as I draw on things I’ve learnt and can take a more critical viewpoint when evaluating issues. Certainly, the challenge to promptly master the learning curve of the new role can be unnerving at times. However, when I think back about how I stand shoulder to shoulder with these wonderful professionals in my cohort, it gives me confidence to keep going and trust that I am able to pick myself back up even after setbacks.

Overall, I am very glad that I followed my heart and attended WBS. It is certainly one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Find out more about our Distance Learning MBA options.