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Amanda Aboagye-Brobbey, Master in Business Administration

Amanda shares her experiences of the LSBU MBA: from focusing on live projects for real companies to regaining her career confidence and ambition

After running her own marketing and PR company for over a decade, dealing with large government agencies and major public sector clients, and then spending time freelancing, the arrival of her two children saw Amanda Aboagye-Brobbey’s career take a back seat.

Despite still doing odd bits of ad-hoc freelance work, for the best part of five years family life was London-based Amanda’s priority, and so once the children started school she made herself a promise that she would find a suitable masters degree while on her career break to “refresh” her skills.

A chance to test herself again

“I felt like I’d been away from the world of work for ages and so needed a ‘refresher’; something to challenge me, stimulate me and give me a chance to sharpen my skills,” she explains. “I knew I wanted to do a masters degree and thought that the MBA covered all the areas that would help me in terms of business. I was keen to learn the theory of a number of different business aspects, from human resources to economics, and also simply wanted to test myself again.

After being a stay-at-home mum for a few years, I’d lost some confidence and felt that this was an ideal way to regain some of that. I chose LSBU partly because of its location – I’m only a bus ride away – but also because of the focus I saw on business and entrepreneurship when I was doing my research. It was clear that the uni places great focus on the practicalities of business life, and I know from experience how important this is. When I visited, the staff also took time to really promote the facilities on offer, which I thought was good, as it encourages you to use them and take advantage of the excellent resources.”

Combining work with study

Now more or less half-way through her MBA, Amanda is combining her studies with work at LSBU’s Business Solutions Centre as well as freelancing as a marketing and PR consultant for a number of clients; something she says “can be very intensive”. “Being back in an academic environment is very different to what I’m used to, and combining this with work and family is tough at times, but you just have to put the hours in.

My daughter has started school this week, and so that helps as it frees up time during the day to work on my course. I’m now looking forward to beginning another semester with new modules and seeing what challenges they may bring, as I am a full-time MBA student and we have just had our summer break,” she says.

Wonders for knowledge and confidence

With years of business experience under her belt, some people may wonder whether there was much someone such as Amanda could learn, but she insists that is not the case at all and it has, in fact, been hugely beneficial.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that the MBA has done wonders for both my knowledge and confidence,” she adds. “Doing this course has really allowed me to recognise my own skills and capabilities. I was already aware of some of the things we cover from running my own businesses, but putting it down on paper and objectively thinking about it in depth has definitely helped to properly understand these areas and see how they should be performed.

I’ve also found the support of the lecturers to be a big help too. With a subject such as economics – which I struggled with at degree level – I found the module difficult, but my lecturer saw where my lack of understanding lay and really helped me get my head around economics, the one subject I believed I would never understand. This really encouraged me and helped me to keep going with the subject. The staff here really do have an open-door policy and you can go and see them at any time if you’re struggling with any aspect; they’re always happy to sit with you, break things down and make sure you do understand.”

Executing theory and ideas effectively to aid future success

As someone who has had lots of business ideas, some of which have been more successful than others, Amanda says that the MBA has given her the clarity and knowledge to see why some ventures haven’t done as well as she’d hoped.

“Over the years I’ve had a few ventures that haven’t been as successful as others, and I can now see that it was my lack of confidence that played a major part in this,” she explains. “This course has shown me how to execute the ideas and theory effectively, which I now see I wasn’t always doing. I now know I can apply this knowledge in my future activities, and they will have much more chance of success. On top of that, knowing that for two years after graduation you can turn to the Business Centre for support and advice is brilliant. No one can know everything, and so having this option to turn to is a real boost.”

In terms of her future, Amanda has recently set up and events business and a home furnishings company, and has plans to set up a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Ghana, West Africa, and so it certainly promises to be busy.

“I’m going to plough all of my knowledge into these ventures, and know already that the MBA is helping me succeed,” she says. “As an example, I know that I have to approach each venture in a bespoke manner, whereas before I’d have probably adopted a blanket approach regarding the initial business start-up.

I know that working in this more focused way will be what gives each of my businesses that competitive advantage, helping them to succeed. The course helps you to realise that to be successful in business – to be profitable – a business has to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage. As an example, this MBA teaches students how to identify what core competencies businesses may have that separates them from the rest in that market, and to continue building on those competencies using realistic and applicable strategies to maintain that advantage.

Overall, there have been lots of little gems that I’ll take away from the MBA alongside with the added bonus that a few of the MBA projects are based on live projects from real companies rather than simply academic theory. There is no doubt that this focus on practice really enhances understanding and prepares you to go out there and do it.”