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Guest blog: Mastering the mutual way

Originally published in the summer edition of Society Matters magazine. Read it here.

Carolyn is a student on the BSA Masters degree programme. It’s not easy juggling a family, career and studying, but the course has changed her outlook for the better in all aspects of life. In Carolyn’s own words…

P5-Carolyn-Thornley-Yates.jpgA desire for learning about our sector

Most people these days have worked in various locations for several employers. I joined Hinckley & Rugby straight from university 21 years ago and, whilst I’ve gained a lot of insight from working in different areas of our business, I don’t have wider experience of the financial services industry.

That’s the key reason I applied to the Masters programme, despite how much hard work I knew it would be around a very full-time job. I thought it would plug that gap – and it absolutely has.

Promotions and progression

Last year the Society merged the business development and marketing aspects of the business, which already had a lot of crossover. Being on the course helped me step up to fulfil the newly-created role of Head of Sales and Marketing. The course has given me the confidence to accept additional responsibility and develop my team.

The lecturers, course content and peripheral activities have definitely fulfilled the brief that both the BSA and the students wanted. The scope of the modules means I have been able to review every part of our business, which means I can contribute a lot more to our wider strategy.

Whereas before I would prefer to talk about things in my own area of the business, I am now much more confident about other issues. For example, when I’m presenting papers to the Board or participating in senior leadership team meetings I’m now able to get involved in all areas of the discussion. It has demystified a lot of areas for me.

Working with mutual peers

Working with 24 other students from 16 other mutuals, sharing wider experiences and tackling real scenarios really brought home to me how I was doing a lot of stuff instinctively without understanding why. The course has given me the frameworks to see ‘that’s why we do that’, and then to take it to the next level.

The three-year course is almost complete, there’s just the little matter of an 18,000- word research project report due in July. Graduation is set for December 2018, and in addition to my MSc Leadership & Management, I’ll also be accredited with a CMI level 7 qualification.

Real Society changes

My research project centres on value propositions and their relevance and importance in procuring repeat business and customer retention, the customers in this case being intermediaries.

We’ll be applying this at the Hinckley & Rugby to develop a Decision in Principle process, piloting it, going live and evaluating the process and what value it has added. We probably wouldn’t be at this point if I were not on the course, there are so many other priorities competing for our attention.

Real life changes

It’s proved useful out of work too. I have definitely applied elements of the performance module on my children and thought ‘oh, look, it works’. Also on my husband, but he doesn’t need to know that!

Joking aside, having children adds to the time pressure but there is a brilliant benefit too. You are setting a great example to them. Yes, there are sacrifices, but to see you studying, learning and achieving is an example that will stay with them. They will be there in December, to see me graduate, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Next steps: Visit bsa.org.uk/MastersProgramme

Posted by Carolyn Thornley-Yates on 13 August 2018