Leadership and coaching skills learned during a Master of Business Management (MBM) have helped Lorena Fierro Bermeo navigate the new normal during the Covid-19 crisis, she says.
Lorena is completing an MBM at the University of Waikato while continuing to work in her project management role for an international telco. She says papers she took early in the qualification have helped her enormously in her job during the Covid-19 crisis.
“We covered leadership skills and coaching in the first part of the programme and that has certainly helped me deal with working in a remote environment when everyone is in different places and time zones.”
Lorena is a customer project manager and says her company encourages their employees to think about their career development, which is why she enrolled to complete her masters qualification to broaden her skill base and investigate possible future career paths.
“I’ve been doing project management for a couple of years now and I thought doing this programme would open new doors for me. It’s so interdisciplinary. You explore every aspect of business from start-ups to larger corporations and organisations, and it gives you a total view over the business landscape.
“If you chose to move to a different sector, you’d still have to learn about that sector but it’s giving you the tool set to work in any area of a company,” says Lorena.
Lorena, who is originally from Colombia, has also enjoyed the diversity of the course. Her classmates come from all over the world and from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds.
“Leadership and innovation are a big focus in the course along with diversity,” says Lorena.
She says that diversity is not only about culture or backgrounds, it is also about diversity of thought.
“We are the innovators of the future and we need to be consciously aware of diversity and work with it. Part of that is appreciating different perspectives.”
“The course has taught me you can have similar backgrounds and completely different views on a project. You have to learn to leave your bias outside the classroom and work with what you have in the best way you can.”
She says working full-time in her job and studying has been a challenge, but the University lecturers have been supportive and accommodating.
“I had a big project I was working on and couldn’t be in the lectures one day because I needed to travel. They understood the situation and accommodated me. It’s intense but the course is also about learning to balance all those competing priorities.”
Lorena says the course is designed to be as wide or narrow as students wanted it to be, touching on every part of an organisation.
“If I don’t want to be in project management anymore and want to move more towards marketing then I can aim for that. The course has shown me that marketing is an area that really interests me, which is not something I knew before the course.”
Lorena says it is one of the great advantages of the MBM. It gives you a wide range of theory frameworks, but it applies them to real-life, real-world examples and makes the knowledge accessible along with challenging students to think about how they can extend their careers.