MSc Management of Operations Student Experience – Ben Coughlan
2020 was a year that will live long in the memory, though many may wish to forget it. For me, it was the year I decided it was time to return to university and further my education. My reasoning was simple; I was bored, in need of something to help boost my career, and entering through the HEA Springboard+ initiative made university more financially viable. Had someone told me 8 years prior, when I left University College Cork with a degree in English, that I would end up studying a Master of Science in Management of Operations, I would have laughed at them. However, that is the path my career has taken me on.
Initially, I became a DCU student through the Graduate Certificate programme. Having been out of education for what felt an eternity, I was a little nervous. Would I have it in me to go back to being a student, to not being in charge, to having assignments, presentations, assigned readings? I’ve always been a prolific reader, though more inclined towards Tolkien et al. than Nigel Slack. From the beginning, it became clear I was not alone; there were plenty of us in the same boat. However, the faculty ensured those initial weeks went incredibly smoothly. The programme chair and course co-ordinator were both informative and quick to answer questions. Despite being a fully remote course, us students were equally keen to help each other out. We created a WhatsApp group for everyone in the course, and it was alive with conversation, particularly as deadlines loomed and pressures grew. Some of us have kept in touch since, though we never met in person while studying.
As I moved into the second year, having decided to strive to achieve the full Master of Science degree, I felt more prepared than I had the previous year. I knew where I had let myself down and what I needed to work on, yet also where I had performed well. While the lecturers could be painfully blunt when something wasn’t up to the required standards, they were not shy in giving praise when it was earned. In the end, having gotten through it and coming out with the grade I had been aiming for, it is an achievement I am proud of. It’s not something I’d sugarcoat for anyone; it was challenging work at times, especially for the majority of us, working full-time.
Hard work it may have been, but it was worth it. While I am still working a full time, pensionable job with private health insurance (so important!), I have recently set up a company, OnlyEdits Ltd, with a longtime friend, with the purpose of improving written communication in multiple sectors, including academic writing. Having the operations knowledge from both my own experience and the Masters has proven to be invaluable.
Numerous modules have had an impact on how we set up our business. Sustainable Accounting, Procurement and Finance help to inform our financial decisions, while the Service Operations Management module has impacted the design of the services we offer, how we offer them and how we deliver them. The Project Management section has also been useful, helping us to manage not only the operations side of things, but also to keep track of and guide the exhausting registration process with the Company Registration Office (pay someone to do this bit for you!).
My own dissertation looked at the impact competition levels have on the operations of service organisations. The dissertation is a large piece of work and if nothing else, it teaches vital research skills, grit, and determination. Studying the MSc Management of Operations course has ensured that our business has been set up with solid foundations. Be it our operations strategy, the SOP’s we use, or the KPI’s we analyse, having the knowledge, the textbooks, memories of conversations, and the notes from my two years in DCU has been invaluable.
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