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John Bier

John BierDirector and Owner, Wynne Bier Consultancy Limited

MA Management Practice, 2001 

What made you choose Middlesex University?

There were a few reasons. The location suited me as it was near where I lived and I thought the costs for the course were reasonable. When I attended the Open Day, I liked the conversations I had and the information I was provided with.

What made you decide to study a masters degree?

I had begun my own business ten years previously and I wanted an opportunity to reflect and hone my skills and business practices. I wanted to look at new market opportunities and ways of doing things. I also saw a masters degree as a way of reinforcing my credibility in the market place and consolidating my professional shift into management consultancy having started my career in education.

What aspects of your masters degree did you enjoy most?

I really enjoyed the organisational development module. The lecturer was very professional and stimulating. I also really enjoyed working collaboratively on various projects with other masters students who came from a variety of professional backgrounds so brought a different perspective.

Would you recommend postgraduate study to prospective students and if so what do you believe to be the key benefits of a masters degree?

Yes I would recommend a masters. Ideally, if you can get some career experience first and then do a masters that enables you to build up your expertise within a specific practice area, it really helps.

Given the current economic environment this isn't always possible so a masters degree can provide a way to learn more about and get work experience in an industry area you are interested in.

How do you believe your masters degree has helped you professionally?

My masters degree gave me personal confidence and increased my knowledge. It has also given me a certain amount of credibility in my industry area.

Many of the benefits are hard to quantify. My business definitely grew and there was a step change in the sort of work myself and my business partner did following completion of our masters degrees.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

My fondest memory was engaging intellectually with a group of like-minded students and also with some specific members of staff who were really good. I also really enjoyed being able to stretch my mind again after years in the work place.

Being able to engage in extra curricular activities, such as different lectures and events with interesting speakers, was also great.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying a masters at Middlesex?

Do your research and make sure there is a genuine connection between what you are doing/want to do and the content of the course. Make sure your course matches what employers in your chosen industry are looking for and it increases your employability.

What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?

The industry I work in is management consultancy and leadership training. I started my career working in education.

I felt management consultancy and leadership training was an industry area that matched my skill set and enabled me to maintain my interest in learning and development. It allowed me to continue doing what I enjoy most - helping people learn and grow and developing their talent. It was also an area in which I knew I could start my own business rather than be employed by someone else.

The pros of running my own company are the degree of autonomy I have, the control over time and to some extent who I work with and what I work on. Having my own company also enables me to have the work/life balance I want and the level of self-fulfilment that comes from running your own business is high.

The cons of running my own business are that it is hard work and very demanding emotionally and in terms of the time you have to dedicate to keeping the business going. You have to learn to manage risk and be comfortable with a degree of uncertainty. You are only as good as your last job and you continually have to try and innovate in order to stay ahead. My field is also highly competitive – there are a lot of 'fish' in the pond!

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

My defining career moment was moving from the education sector to start my own business.

My career highlight is the gratification I get from knowing that on a number of occasions I have been able to impact individuals and teams in a positive way and help them to really move forward.

What does the future hold for you?

Keeping the business going and increasing the amount of time I dedicate to voluntary and community-based projects.

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?

Learn how to encapsulate what your skill and specifically transferable skill offering is in writing so that you can communicate this effectively in your CV and at interview. Try and focus on identifying 3-5 of your key skills and use anecdotal evidence to demonstrate situations where you have been able to apply and build on these skills.

Work on your communication skills, including your assertiveness and presentation skills.

You also need to show that you are both a team player and capable of taking responsibility. Try and create opportunities for yourself through work experience and extra curricular activities that enable you to demonstrate to future employers that you have strong leadership and team skills and potential.

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