In 2015 the BSA collaborated with Loughborough University’s School of Business and Economics to launch the MSc Leadership and Management programme. After an incredibly successful first year, a second group of students were welcomed to the University in October this year. Altogether there are now 46 students from 22 BSA Members studying on the programme - that’s 48% of all BSA members. We have another important 48 – that 48% of the students are women. Here they describe their experiences so far, in their own words…
Robert Pengelly, Senior Manager in Capital Management, Nationwide Building Society
“My career to date has primarily been focused on personal delivery rather than leading people. I chose the MSc programme because I was interested in developing my leadership skills. As someone who has spent their whole career in finance related roles, I was attracted to the course because it delivers insight into a wide variety of Nationwide’s activities. This is particularly important in my current role, as Group Finance relies on successful interaction with all areas of the business.
“The course has felt like a big part of my life over the past year. Perhaps the most rewarding element has been engaging with a diverse cohort of students with different experiences to my own. As a result, the course has led to tangible changes in my working practices; particularly in terms of my approach to career development and performance management.”
David Lownds, Head of Operations, Hanley Economic Building Society
“I am a strong believer in lifelong learning and the need to continue to develop myself. The opportunity to take part in the Masters programme was one I jumped at. The combination of the opportunity to study at Loughborough University and gain a valuable qualification was the initial attraction; however, having completed my first year the programme has far exceeded my expectations.
“I have a far better appreciation of the UK financial services environment and in particularly the role of the mutual model. The programme is demanding in terms of time and effort; it is after all at post-graduate level. I have applied a number of theories back in my Society, especially in marketing. Returning to University after a quarter of century has been exciting, challenging and extremely rewarding. I’ve made new friends, heard from inspirational leaders, had great support from Loughborough staff and finally, enjoyed the odd drink at the student bar.”
Natalie Juryta, Business Manager for Chief Operating Officer, Yorkshire Building Society
“I chose the programme because I have always been motivated to improve my career. However, in the past this has been slowed by my self-limiting belief that I wasn’t clever enough because I didn’t have the academic CV that my co-workers had. It was time to change that.
“The programme is so much more than studying, it’s about new experiences such as public speaking, the friends you meet and the network you develop. It’s about being able to add value to your organisation, to the people you work with and to yourself.
“There is no magic formula; it is a challenge to fit learning in with my work. The most difficult things are the things we don’t want to do, so if you are passionate about it and want to achieve your goals, you make it work. After a while it becomes a part of your life.”
Carolyn Thornley-Yates, Head of Intermediary Sales, Hinckley and Rugby Building Society
"I was considering doing an MBA but had some concerns about the cultural fit between a traditional MBA and the different values of the mutual sector. I was therefore delighted to hear that a bespoke programme had been created by the BSA/member societies and Loughborough. My main motivation for enrolling was to supplement my ability to influence my Society’s performance in the challenging market conditions we are all currently experiencing. These expectations have been realised – I have implemented many changes as a result of the strategical insights and knowledge I have gained during the taught modules, from my fellow students and as part of my follow-up research, and can attribute some of the credit for a very strong performance by my Society this year directly to the programme."
Steven Melbourne – Treasury Manager – Manchester Building Society
"From the moment I was made aware of the Leadership and Management Masters course, I wanted to be part of something that was considered to be ground-breaking and innovative for our industry.
"Each module has taught me something new, whilst crucially providing valuable insights into the disciplines that are imperative to be an effective leader within a mutual organisation. The material covered is pertinent to the mutual sector, which easily facilitates the transfer of the learning into practice.
Balancing full-time work, studying, and a personal life has been a challenge at times, but undoubtedly worth it when another piece of the jigsaw fits into place.
The staff at Loughborough have been excellent, as have my fellow students on the course, and I always look forward to the next trip down to Loughborough to begin the next module. I really would recommend the course to anyone, at any level of a mutual organisation."
Lisa Bullen, Senior Manager, Shared Services Operations, Nottingham Building Society
"I have worked for a number of building societies spanning 28 years and during this time I have attained extensive knowledge of the sector and the various branch operational roles. I wanted to join the MSc programme to give me a greater understanding of all operations to enable me to growth my breath of thinking and knowledge.
"There has to be a significant personal commitment to the programme to get the most from it and whilst I have not studied academically for a number of years the support provided by Loughborough University, my employers the Nottingham Building Society and the BSA has been integral to my success.
"I have established a network of industry colleagues to work with and understand the differences across our respective organisations, which has been really enlightening. Some of us have already met, as part of normal working life, to drive out best practice for our respective companies, which ultimately provides greater value to me personally and also my employers."
Ben Blyth, Senior Mortgage & Insurance Specialist, Market Harborough Building Society
"In joining the first cohort of the BSA Masters Course I was apprehensive, as it would be my first academic experience other than GCSE’s 10 years prior. I chose to take this on as Market Harborough Building Society were keen to support my development for the benefit of the business, and I personally felt ready for a new challenge to broaden my own horizons.
"I was attracted to the programme because of its focus on the mutual sector which I have worked in from the age of 18, for small, medium and large societies. I felt this would be relevant and something I had a great base practical knowledge in. The course entails some intense residential visits full of lectures where there is an opportunity not only to learn, but to challenge industry experts, network with peers and also discuss the future of our sector with others who are passionate about it.
"The things I am learning are not always directly relevant to my role, but I have found that I have learned things from the course which have benefited my day to day responsibilities. The marketing and finance modules in particular were practical for me and these benefits have been noticed by the Society. The studying does not really fit in to my working day, it is a prerequisite that I will study in my own time – and this is important to be successful. The Society has however been extremely fair and accommodating when I have needed flexibility, time and resource.
"The biggest thing I am taking away from the course, after the key learning, is the network of fantastic people I have been fortunate to meet and the opportunities I have been given – the highlight of which was my debut on stage at the 2016 BSA conference!"
For more information on the BSA's MSc Leadership and Management programme, please contact Hilary.McVitty@bsa.org.uk
You may also be interested in the Leadership & Management programme prospectus.