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My ongoing journey with Strathclyde Business School

By Gordon Stewart - Posted on 24 July 2014

Strathclyde Business School MBA alumnus and Chief Support Services Officer (CSSO) of Bahrain Airport Company, Gordon Stewart, talks about the impact his MBA has had upon his life after graduating.

“Finished!”  I said to myself.  It was 2001 and I had just graduated with my MBA from Strathclyde Business School.  Naively, I believed that was to be the end of my formal education and association with the university.  Thirteen years on I realise I could not have been more wrong.

A few years after graduating, I found myself back in touch with the Business School again.  I hosted a team of Strategic Consulting in Practice (SCIP) MBA students, giving them experience of consulting for a real-life organisation.  I later engaged as a client for some final year student projects.

So what made me return to Strathclyde Business School after graduating?  Simply put, it is all about return on investment.  By working closely with the bright students, both myself and the organisation I was working for benefited immensely.

Reliving my MBA experiences vicariously through the students reminded me of the powerful tools and techniques I had acquired during my degree.  Possessing a different perspective from outside of the classroom, I was now able to clearly see the value of what I had learned and its applicability in the business world.  I was reminded to step back from the daily grind and to really think.  As IBM founder Thomas J. Watson profoundly stated: “All the problems of the world could be settled easily if men were only willing to think. The trouble is that men very often resort to all sorts of devices in order not to think, because thinking is such hard work.”  A major benefit of the Strathclyde Business School MBA programme is that it teaches you to think at a higher level. This in itself undoubtedly makes you a better manager.

In 2010, my job led my family and me to relocate to the Middle East to work for the Bahrain Airport Company – the Gulf region’s first international airport. We’re responsible for the day-to-day running of the airport which currently employs over 3,500 staff and sees more than nine million passengers and 315,000 aircraft pass through annually.

Despite the vastly increased distance between myself and Glasgow, I was about to become even more involved with Strathclyde Business School. I was invited by the GCC MBA Advisory Board to join the discussion on how the Business School could be made even more effective in the Middle East. How could GCC businesses and students be best served by this type of institution?  This was followed closely by the request for me to become a lecturer for the MBA course in Bahrain, an opportunity I was very excited to accept.

My ‘higher thinking’ abilities became slightly stretched at this point.  In the roles of adjunct lecturer and full-time business manager, you need to think and act like an academic as well as an industry professional.  These are both very different positions yet they do paradoxically complement each other.  Academic thinking forces you to question and analyse how you work.  Is this best practice? What other ways could I do this to achieve an optimum result? Conversely, industry experience encourages you to question academic theory.  Can I practically apply this information in the real world? How could I get staff on board with this new way of thinking and working?  This unique perspective enables me to pass onto students ‘useful learning’, the balance of theory and practice.  After all, that is what Strathclyde University stands for.

For some of us there is no real graduation day.  After obtaining my MBA I have never stopped learning from Strathclyde Business School.  My association with Strathclyde is a continuing symbiotic relationship.  I have gained a lot from the university and now I have the chance to give something back, by sharing my knowledge and experience with others completing their MBA.

Have you benefited from maintaining contact with your university after MBA?  Let us know in the comments below.



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