Mr Tim Yip, an accounts manager at Schenker Singapore, an integrated logistics services provider, has no qualms about going back to school after working in the logistics industry for over 10 years.
The 39-year-old says that it had always been his intention to understand more about logistics and supply chain in a structured way.
He says: "Logistics is only a subset of a much larger supply chain and I felt that gaining a wider perspective would enable me to build deeper relationships with my clients."
But instead of choosing the popular Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree course, he decided to opt for a specialised master's degree - Master of Science (MSc) in Business with Logistics & Supply Chain Management programme from Northumbria University in Britain.
The course is being offered at Kaplan Higher Education Institute and was started in September last year.
"At first, I was undecided between choosing a general MBA and an MSc. I have friends who advised me that an MBA is the only tool for a person to climb the corporate ladder, but Kaplan's advice was that specialisation is what one should possess," says Mr Yip.
"Since my intention was to gain more knowledge about the supply chain, I decided to go for the MSc instead, which would build on my years of working experience and take my career further."
Having done his Bachelor in International Business Management from the same university, which was also offered at Kaplan, made Mr Yip more confident of his choice.
"I knew that the university had strict standards and offered a high calibre programme.
All assignments, examinations and projects were moderated by the local institution's assigned lecturers and the 'on-campus' lecturers to ensure consistent quality," he says.
Mr Yip was also impressed by the experience he had at Kaplan as an undergraduate.
"Kaplan's strength in delivering quality programmes was evident throughout both my undergraduate and post-graduate courses there. It has a good support system for working professionals studying part-time, like myself," he says.
"The lecturers build on our work experience and the in-class sharing makes learning fun and immediately applicable to work. In fact, after taking up this course, I have recommended Kaplan to two of my friends and they are happy students there now."
A worthwhile effort
Since the course started in September last year, Mr Yip's days have become packed, with classes in the evenings and on weekends.
But the payoff for going back to school is well worth the effort, he says.
So far, the course is proving useful, and he is able to apply the new skills that he learnt in his current job.
"My presentation and analytical skills have certainly improved during this period," he says. "This course also emphasises personal reflection so this has helped me to reflect constantly, and I am more self-aware now," he says.
Building up a rapport with his clients has also become easier.
"Recently, I met up with one of my clients and he shared with me some of his logistical concerns. I asked him whether his company has adopted the CPFR (Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment) model in their existing supply chain, which is something I learnt during the course. He was impressed that I understood CPFR and it helped to break the ice," he adds.
Juggling studies, work and family is tough, but it is possible with good time management, discipline and family support.
"Most of us are drowning in work and we are expected to be on standby 24/7 so we have to manage our time wisely," says Mr Yip, who is married with a two-year-old daughter. "I am lucky to have a supportive family and a company that allows me to leave early for evening classes on weekdays so I would not miss any of the important lessons.
"Personal discipline is very important when pursuing part-time courses but the satisfaction of achieving it is unbeatable. The knowledge that I gained through group work, assignments, research and thesis is lifelong. I am certainly happy with my choice."
About the programme
The Master of Science in Business with Logistics & Supply Chain Management programme from Northumbria University in Britain will give students the general business knowledge and understanding, as well as the personal skills needed for a variety of roles. It accepts students from a wide background and offers flexibility for students to tailor the course to suit their preference. The programme may be completed in about 15 months if taken part-time, and consists of seven modules and a dissertation.
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