Striking a balance

SINGAPORE - Wanting to move up in her career, diploma holder Stephenie Zhou decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Business with International Management at Kaplan.

"The main reason for pursuing this degree with Northumbria University, based in Newcastle, England, through Kaplan Higher Education Institute was to fulfil my personal ambition of obtaining a degree and the programme offered was strongly recommended by a friend," says the 31-year-old.

"This degree has expanded my understanding of management within an organisation, as I learnt to see and think from a manager's point of view. It has effectively improved my communication skills with both clients and colleagues."

Now midway through the part-time degree progamme, she juggles studies and her job as a loans specialist in a bank.

She adds: "My role as a loan specialist takes up a great deal of time in client-interaction and sales management. Most of my time is spent meeting clients to discuss potential loans and managing my own portfolio and sales.

"A great deal of effort is needed to balance work and life, especially in my line of work. I struggled at the initial stage when starting out at Kaplan, but I have learnt that time management is very important when you make up your mind to commit to a part-time degree while working full-time. It means sacrificing some of your personal time with friends and family and adjusting your daily schedule to fit this course."

Ms Zhou says one of the most value-added principles she picked up during her tertiary education is that "listening is the key to success".

She explains: "Many times, we rush in to provide information which clients may not be interested in. It is essential to listen carefully to what they need before I offer any advice or solution that would benefit them. This has certainly helped me a great deal in my work especially when I have to give advice and solutions on a daily basis."

She also learned to manage her time, and work in the most effective and efficient way on a daily basis.

Ms Zhou describes the experience as "both fun and stressful". In fact, she is looking forward to doing a master's programme with Northumbria University.

"The fun thing about studying here is having great coursemates, fantastic lecturers and a helpful programme manager, which is very important," she says. "At Kaplan, there are lecturers who make learning so fun and easy, which is a rare thing in private schools."

The lecturers, many of whom have held senior positions in multinational corporations, shared their life experiences, she says. "It is through their sharing and the methodology in transferring their knowledge that inspired me to challenge myself to greater heights and attempt new experiences, both at work and on a personal level," she adds

The 18-month programme is split into four semesters with a short term break after each semester.

She advises those who are planning to take this course to have a positive attitude towards the assignments at university.

"At the end of it, you will not only have a good degree but also additional knowledge and polished skills to scale greater heights in your career and life."

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