Business and Management - student stories
Lee Sterry, Business Manager
What skills have you gained from your studies?
My studies at the OU have been invaluable to my job and my career; they’ve really helped me to develop particular skill sets. I knew when I was at school that a ‘regular’ university wasn’t for me – although I had an HNC, I wanted to go out and earn my own money.
I soon realised that if I wanted to be successful I needed further development in certain areas. When I joined Cognos [a computer company], I realised that although I knew the software very well, I didn’t know – that is, I didn’t speak – my customers’ language. I realised I needed to understand the markets I was working in, so I took an economics diploma with the OU; it was brilliant – suddenly I knew what everyone was talking about! It made me so much more confident.
Partly as a result of my diploma, I was promoted to a managerial position – and as I was going to have to lead a team, despite having no managerial experience, I turned to the OU again and signed up for the Certificate in Management, followed by the Diploma in Management.
What do you do now?
I now lead a European team of Customer Success Managers; something I simply couldn’t have achieved without learning with the OU. For a start, the learning method is so flexible – I did consider other options but they were much too rigid. At the OU you can study when and wherever you like, so I could fit studies around my job – often studying for an hour in my lunch break. And it was so easy to apply what I’d learned to my work. What really pleases me is that the methodology taught in the business diploma – analysis, monitoring, a balanced scorecard, seeing how the organisation operates from the customer’s point of view – is exactly how Cognos works. That gave me confidence too, knowing that the methods taught are sanctioned by other organisations.
How has your employer responded to your studies?
My employer has been wonderfully supportive, and once they realised the value my studies brought to my role and how my studies have developed me as a manager, they paid for my courses!
I’m still learning, and still keen to learn. The more I study business, the more I see the importance of learning how to speak with your customers. I’m currently studying a business strategy course with the OU and am looking at how Cognos operates as a whole – and that can only develop me further.
The OU has opened up so many opportunities for me – and as Cognos has just been bought by IBM, there will be many more; and I am in a great position to take them. Signing up for the OU was one of the best things I ever did.