After failing to uphold the promise I had previously made to myself after completing my MBA at Warwick Business School (that I would never touch an academic book again!), I decided to give into the urge to study again. I was very clear that I was only going to restart the study journey for a course which would benefit me from both a personal and career perspective.
The decision to pursue this course was timely as the bank that I work for (an incumbent bank), had taken a strategic decision to become a platform business. I wanted to understand what it takes for such an organisation to transition from words on a strategy document to becoming a successful digital bank. I wanted to understand how an organisation would differentiate itself from every other organisation that has taken the same strategic decision. I chose WBS as I completed my MBA here and had enjoyed that learning experience.
The Executive Diploma in Digital Leadership helped me to contextualise and fully understand some of the concepts that I came across in my work. The depth of knowledge and practical examples shared were invaluable in my transition from concept to practical application. The broad range of industries, jurisdictions and experts represented by the individuals in my cohort also helped me to widen my knowledge horizon. I learnt about developments that I wouldn’t ordinarily come across in banking, but the underlying concepts are equally applicable to banking. Hearing from industry experts who were invited to share their experience and knowledge with us also enriched the learning experience significantly. I have always thought of myself as a career banker but being exposed to such a wide range of exciting industries means I may now consider venturing out of banking in the future!
The breadth of topics which were covered in the course allowed me to leave the course with the confidence that I understood the fundamental aspects of digital leadership. The design of the course achieves a delicate balance between understanding the concepts and technologies relating to digital evolution, and the principles required to successfully lead a digital organisation.
The group discussions challenged my thinking in a way which allowed me to develop a well-considered and holistic understanding of the ideas and concepts we were studying. As a cohort, we shared the challenges we are facing in our respective lines of work, and collectively, through contributing to discussions, some of these challenges were solved during our sessions. Notwithstanding the virtual delivery format of the course (due to COVID-19 restrictions) the teaching sessions and class discussions were engaging and stimulating, and we managed to forge relationships amongst the student cohort.
Despite requiring copious amounts of reading and preparation, the assignment topics allowed me to further grasp the concepts we discussed in class sessions. In fact, I am now implementing, in my job as Head of International Diaspora Clients at Standard Bank of South Africa, one of the initiatives which I developed in an assignment. This demonstrates the practical nature of the assignments.
To fully gain the value of the course, it is necessary to make a significant time investment in preparing for lessons and assignments. The full day sessions are intense and demanding and require one to be fully present, and to actively listen and participate. In other words, this course is not a walk in the park, but the benefits undoubtedly far outweigh the effort.
I am often asked whether I would recommend they do this course or an MBA. Having completed both, my response is always “it depends.” They are two different courses – one with a broad business focus, and the other with an insular focus on leading a digital organisation. Having an MBA made it easier for me to connect the dots on the Executive Diploma in Digital Leadership, and there was some marginal overlap in the content covered. However, there are important personal considerations to be made including the difference in study period and cost. Personally, each of these courses has benefited me in different ways at different stages in my career, and they have both been valuable. The ability to refer to the knowledge gained on the Executive Diploma in Digital Leadership in my personal life is a bonus. I have already started to see the benefits of this course in my career and my day-to-day life where digital is now a part of our daily existence. For example, I now understand the technology underpinning the tools which enables me to try clothes on virtually when I’m shopping online.
This time, no promises have been made to resist the urge to study further!