Our students say...
Hanna Chrysostom, Trinidad
FT MBA 2009-10
Unbeknownst to me my journey to Durham University Business School started two years before I even dreamt of doing an MBA. I had just moved to another international organisation in Barbados, as one of its in-house counsels, when I met a colleague, mentor and now close friend who was then pursuing the Executive Durham MBA in Barbados. Whilst working on a particular project I discovered that I needed to retool through an MBA of merit and one with a program that drew from the current global business environment with relevance and resonance for candidates from any market or industry. After hearing the reviews from my friend and noting the school's global reputation Durham University Business School became the obvious choice. And I have no regrets!
One of the highlights of the Durham MBA was the boardroom activity. It was an intensive yet exhilarating experience. It was a fantastic way of gaining insight into the ins and outs of a boardroom; learning how to manage competing resources and arriving at strategies that challenged and stretched a company's capabilities.
The second highlight for me was the fact that I did not have to do an academic dissertation. We were given the opportunity to self-source a business project or opt for one that the Business School sourced. The depth and scope of the business projects from the School was phenomenal, and all were interesting and challenging. I was able to apply all my knowledge, skills and tools that I acquired on the programme to the business project and it was pleasure to see the fruits of my learning in action.
It would be remiss of me if I omitted to mention the Leading Edge Programme. This [professional development] programme began with a fun-filled residential weekend and ended with the Finale Day. The co-ordinators of the programme worked assiduously to ensure that through the year we not only had fun but that we were exposed to a rich breadth of opportunities and events such as the London City Tour (visiting businesses and organizations), the Institute of Directors meeting in London, guest speaker series, career guidance and interview skills, effective communication workshops etc. They worked closely with the very active Alumni association so that we attended as many networking events as possible.
My time at Durham University Business School was one filled with hard work, challenging experiences and lots of fun. I met and became friends with an amazing group of people from different countries and the time spent here was worth it. I am definitely proud to say that I studied the Durham MBA.
Tony Obi, Nigeria
For me, the decision to pursue a full time MBA was a tough one. Given my nine years of business planning and strategy experience, a professional accounting qualification and an exciting job with a global company (MTN communication), with the prospect of a senior leadership role, it was difficult building a business case for an MBA. However, I knew there was a 'missing link' in my aspiration to become a top global manager. I needed to develop a broader view of business issues and to enhance my soft skills, and was encouraged by my manager and spouse to get an MBA. I chose the Durham MBA, after an extensive search, because of the business school's reputation, the programme content (especially the leadership development programme) and the value for money.
I arrived in Durham on the 14th of Septempter via train and was able to secure private accommodation after just four days with the help of the university property online service. Durham is a small but beautiful city with a rich heritage and historical buildings dating back to the tenth century. I fell in love with the city's natural beauty and tranquillity which is quite conducive for learning and for personal reflection. It was a welcome relief from the chaotic and fast paced city life that I was used to. Durham is pretty safe and has everthing I need.
Although the environment has a soothing effect, I found the academic program quite rigorous; demanding yet practical. It was especially difficult given that I have been away from school for a while. The first four months were fast paced, where we were exposed to modules covering key aspects of the business including strategy, marketing, managing people, managing finance, managing operations and managing in the global environment. It was exciting studying an MBA during a recession as the core theories and concepts were applied to analyse the 2007-09 financial crisis and to gain insight on how companies should be responding to the crisis. I think most of the learning occurs during class discussions and independent research.
Durham University prides itself on its research capabilities and has a large online database and library resources to support the research culture. I found these resources quite helpful and easy to access. The teaching style is research-based with a nice mix of case studies, which provides the opportunity for students to apply their learning to real business issues. The teaching staff are professional, supportive and encourage students to see things from different perspectives. For example, I learnt that there is really no one answer to a business issue, as 'it depends' is the classic answer to all issues. This has helped develop my critical thinking and problem-solving approach.
Apart from the academic curriculum, I enjoyed the personal and leadership programs especially the bi-weekly speaker series which offers opportunities for students to interact and share ideas with top business leaders. In addition, I actively took part in other personal development programs including communication, business ethics, boardroom activity, networking, emotional intelligence and time-management workshops. For me these are critical skills that have helped me to become a more effective manager.
I enjoyed the heterogeneous Durham student population involving students from over 100 nationalities. I shared a flat with three friends from Italy, Czechoslovakia and China. This gave me the opportunity to learn different cultures and business perspectives and to develop new contacts across the globe. I also participated in various international student events, including the International dress party where Nigeria came first! The university has excellent sporting and recreational facilities which provides a get-away from the hectic academic pressure.
Overall, I believe my decision to come to Durham has been worthwhile and I am now better equipped and more confident to contribute at the leadership level. Looking back, it is been a memorable experience that I will always relish.