Why I went back to college - confessions of an aspiring manager

Paul Thorning, 33, works for Zeneca Pharmaceuticals in Cheshire as a business analyst and is studying his MBA at Manchester Metropolitan University. He tells Maureen O'Connor what his course means to him
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The Independent Culture
"I started my academic career with a degree in mechanical engineering at University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. I suppose I see the MBA course as another step in my progress from engineer to general manager. At present I am waiting for my final assessment on my dissertation.

After graduating from my first degree I went to ICI and then to Zeneca, working on Teesside, in Scotland and in Welwyn Garden City, before returning to the North-West. Each new appointment took me in a slightly different direction. I moved on from being an engineer to production management, then to packaging, and then on to research and human resources. My present job is my first in a mainstream commercial role. What the MBA has offered is the chance to overlay management theory on my experience. There is only so much you can learn by moving from one job to another. There are often substantial gaps in your knowledge that are difficult to fill. In large corporations your financial knowledge is very limited because experts do those jobs. The MBA brings you up to date.

I chose the course at Manchester Met's faculty of management and business because it was AMBA accredited. I decided to study in the evenings and at weekends so that it did not interfere with my job too much. It has taken me three years to complete the course, two years of study on course work and a year to complete a dissertation. My company has paid the fees and has been very supportive. They believe in `equal pain'. They have paid the fees in full but I was committed to returning them if by chance I didn't complete the course."