MBA helps Paul to do the business for Oxfam

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The Independent Online

Many's the journalist who entered the profession to change the world - but Paul Mylrea could never have expected where his career would lead him.

Many's the journalist who entered the profession to change the world - but Paul Mylrea could never have expected where his career would lead him.

After 20 years at Reuters, where a diverse career took him from covering rebellions in Latin America to reporting on the European financial markets, he developed the news agency's Web service to help aid organisations and has since become head of media at Oxfam.

"Instead of being a journalist, I became a technical project manager, the fundraiser, the PR consultant, the strategist and the designer, as well as a team manager," he says.

These new challenges were so far removed from his journalism skills that Mr Mylrea decided it was time to return to study - and an OUBS (Open University Business School) MBA seemed the perfect answer.

"The initial execution of the Web service ( left major problems, so I was brought in to sort it out," he says. "I decided someone must have faced these problems before, and if I could learn from them, my life would be easier, so I checked out MBAs. I liked the fact I could continue working."

The study soon paid off, with Mr Mylrea transforming AlertNet into an initiative that gives 180 aid agencies access to Reuters' services.

His experience then landed him the job at Oxfam GB. But Mr Mylrea, who lives near the organisation's Oxford headquarters, is still studying - and his success has just seen him named the OUBS Student Of The Year. He has also been shortlisted for the Association of MBAs MBA Student of the Year award, which is supported by The Independent.

But the 48-year-old is just as pleased that his award promotes the increasing worth of such a business qualification in the voluntary sector.

"The flexibility of the OU meant I was able to study development management, giving me insights into managing in the public and not-for-profit sectors," he says. "It's one of my hobbyhorses. An MBA is not just for 'masters of the universe' who want to work for a merchant bank. I've no problems with merchant banks, but the public and voluntary sector need good managers."

But there's more to OU study than just a qualification, says Mr Mylrea. "Everything I've learnt on the course - finance, people issues, marketing and issues of structure - has given me new insights or new things to try.

"The OU's online system also means you have access to thousands of students around the globe. Whatever you want to know, someone can help you."

Managers in the public, private and non-profit sectors can build their expertise through the OUBS' new Master of Public Administration (MPA), available from November. This internationally recognised qualification covers such diverse topics as senior management, engaging with policy and community safety, crime prevention and social control. Phone 01908 653231 for more details