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‘The MBA made me think deeper’: living and learning online (part 2)


Gayan Sirimanne, Online MBA graduate, United Kingdom

We spoke to Gayan Sirimanne, one of the first students to embark on the University of Birmingham’s Online MBA, for the second of our articles exploring the challenges, study strategies and aspirations of online students.

With so many online business masters’ programmes to choose from, Gayan narrowed down his search by setting three key criteria before selecting the programme.

“First, because of my work-life balance, I had to go for online. Second, the triple-crown accreditation for the Business School – that attracted me. And third, Birmingham being part of the Russell Group, for the research and everything else.”

Gayan was working full-time as a production manager at UTC Aerospace Systems when he began the programme, and quickly discovered the value of effective time management.

“I had to have strict rules for time management – I had two hours in the morning, pretty much, three days a week. I aimed to finish everything within that time frame. I had a few weeks in the beginning where I slipped with my studies but then I realised if I do that over and over I’m not going to go through. I had to reach these targets week after week.”

As a father of two young children and a cricket player, Gayan had little time for study at the weekend, other than occasional group work and online sessions.

“I had to make some time in the week. For a year or so I woke up at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning. That was the commitment I had to go through, because I had other leisure activities.”

To improve productivity Gayan also set aside study space and equipment exclusively for Online MBA use.

Recommended read: Why Birmingham’s Online MBA is the best MBA for me

“I had my own working space in my house. I also had all the equipment dedicated to the MBA – my own laptop and headset – I didn’t use that for anything else, in case it crashed, and I had to do everything again.”

Despite his careful planning there were some unexpected challenges.

“I think I underestimated the reading, the extra work related to modules. I had to read and understand a lot of literature. I think that was one of the challenges – to absorb everything in a little time frame.”

But stretching himself paid dividends in the end.

“The MBA made me think deeper. ‘Critical analysis’, that’s the main thing I learnt. Everything looked simple, but you can dig deeper and use critical thinking."

Summing up the Online MBA programme in three words, Gayan described it as “Intense, interesting and compact”.

“I really enjoyed the support from the lecturers – they were real subject matter experts – when anyone asked questions they had a good answer. And also, I really enjoyed the module content and the IT infrastructure and tools.” Gayan added.

“When I was doing my dissertation it was intense, but it was a real eye-opener at the end. I found some interesting results I wasn’t expecting. I knew what some of the outcomes would be. But, because I used a lot theoretical framework from the course, it showed a lot of things I wasn’t expecting – it was an exciting moment.”

Gayan’s top study tips:

  • Plan your time and stick to it
  • Allow extra time for reading
  • Set aside your tools for study

If you are interested in finding out more about our Online MBA – or any of our other online programmes – please fill out the request information form to download a brochure or call our admissions team today.

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