Programme and Project Management
“After gaining my first degree in Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering in 2011, I worked in a number of roles in Iraqi Kurdistan, eventually joining Korek Telecom as a PMO Team Leader in 2015. Within a little over a year I was promoted to PMO Supervisor and I also gained PMI Project Management Professional certification.
But although I had been successful in my career, if I wanted to progress further I knew that I would need to gain a deeper understanding of all aspects of project and programme management. Since my background is technical, I would also need to develop a broader knowledge of business. I realised that I would have to step back from the day-to-day working environment and immerse myself in learning.
After looking into a number of relevant courses, WMG’s really stood out for me. I liked the fact that the modules don’t just cover the key areas of project and programme management, but also include other important aspects of business: financial analysis and the management of change for example. I knew that gaining this well-rounded commercial understanding and skill-set would really help in my future career development.
I applied to the UK government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a Chevening Scholarship – an award that supports individuals with leadership potential to study postgraduate courses at universities in the UK. Following a written application and interview, I was granted the scholarship so everything was set for the next step. Although it wasn’t easy to leave work and put my career on hold, I knew that the investment would pay off.
Diversity of people
When I arrived, what surprised me was the diversity of people at WMG. There were students from every region of the world and I felt that this was a place where I could build a network with future leaders from across the globe. I knew straight away that I’d made the right decision.
What stood out about the course itself was its use of group exercises and simulations. For example, in the Management of Change module, the class split into two groups and we ran our own ‘companies’, with each of us taking on a role within the business. One company was a supplier and the other a client, so as we managed commercial challenges, we had to find ways to work together and co-operate to create win-win situations.
These simulations are designed to replicate what happens in business, and that’s what makes them so valuable. As well finding out how to apply theoretical ideas in practice, you learn how to work closely as a team with people from different backgrounds to create solutions. At the end, we all gave presentations to the class, so that’s another skill you develop. All of this provides a solid preparation for professional life after university.
Knowing things is not enough
The course structure is unusual in that it doesn’t have exams. Half of your overall mark comes from the assignments you complete after each module, and the other half from your dissertation. I believe this is a far more effective way of assessing students’ progress - particularly more mature students who have already experienced academic life.
When you take exams, you tend to just cram your brain with information. But in the world of work, simply knowing things is not enough. You have to be able to implement them to solve real business issues. That sums up what this course it all about.
Forming a close bond
When I complete my MSc, I will return to Iraqi Kurdistan and possibly look to resume my career in telecoms, perhaps with a major vendor. I know that the skills I have developed at WMG will help me greatly. Before starting the course I was already a successful project manager. Now I have a much greater understanding both of project management and of business.
I am also thinking about working with a UN affiliated agency that’s delivering humanitarian aid to my country. People with a project management background are very much needed in this area. It would be good to use my skills to help people who need it most.
Finally, I would say that Warwick has given me a whole new perspective on the world. Working intensely with a small group of people, you become very close and form a strong bond with them. I feel as though I’ve known my fellow students all of my life and that I genuinely belong here. We all agree that we will keep in touch long after we have left Warwick and gone our separate ways. That feeling is wonderful and something I will always treasure.”