Another Story in the IHEA Member Success Series
In 2020, experienced marketing professional Vanessa Sammut graduated from Torrens University with a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Vanessa says Torrens University provided the holistic approach she was seeking. This included building her critical thinking capability and being taught by lecturers who frequently challenged her.
Vanessa has worked for 14+ years in marketing and is currently the Head of Growth Marketing for an insurtech called Kanopi where she oversees public relations and social media including organic and paid channels.
Vanessa is also responsible for a team of marketers and agency partners, the team's readiness (martech, strategy and talent), as well as our performance which includes building brand awareness, driving lead and acquisition.
Why did you choose to do your MBA with Torrens University?
I’m a bit of a hybrid marketer in that my interests span across marketing, commercial growth and finding solutions to wider business issues. I am also passionate about understanding human behavior and motivation so I can deliver better outcomes - both as a marketer and as a leader.
The MBA programme I chose had to tick all these boxes and Torrens University provided the holistic approach that I was after.
What did you enjoy most about studying with Torrens University?
I enjoyed the discussions in class - especially ones that led to eye opening discoveries - and lectures that encouraged inquisitiveness. I also loved getting stuck into assignments as that was always where I could stretch my thinking and explore topics and disciplines in more depth.
I have a very high bar, and Torrens met those expectations fully by providing all of the above as well as by using theory, application and critical thinking as the vehicle for learning.
How has Torrens University helped you on your career journey?
The programme at Torrens really fed my hunger for understanding business concepts and how these integrate across different parts of the business. It gave me the opportunity to explore leadership, marketing, finance, design thinking and much more in greater depth than I’d had the opportunity to in the past.
I have always read and listened to growth mindset type content. But at Torrens University, my curiosity on these topics was met by lecturers who challenged my thinking and enabled me to expand my knowledge and hone my critical thinking capabilities. The result is there isn’t a single work or career related challenge that I’ll shy away from. I feel I am now able to analyse situations more aptly, creatively explore solutions and confidently present compelling ideas to the C-Suite [executive level managers].
What advice do you have for others interested in pursuing an MBA?
Your North Star
MBA’s can be broad and varied in what they cover so identify what your North Star is, and that will make you feel fulfilled from a career perspective. Then figure out what type of MBA programme can help you achieve your goal. Do your research on programmes available and the experience of those delivering them. Online reviews were only mildly helpful for me, so I spoke to different universities and to alumni before I narrowed down my choice.
The Right Moment
Don’t be deterred by the fact that you haven’t studied in a while, and stop putting your MBA off because you’re too busy working to build your career, or life is generally too full to make room for assignments. These were all reasons that held me back, and so I plugged gaps with short courses, until I decided I didn't want to delay strengthening my leadership skills any longer. Work/life/study balance wasn’t always easy, but for the most part I juggled things well thanks to a few hacks…
Planning Is Key
Plan your days and your weeks. Identify when your next assignment is due and start researching and planning early. This can help you avoid potentially stressful situations such as having an overwhelming amount of things to do with little time, experiencing FOMO or letting yourself or others down.
Give yourself time to reflect and allow yourself breaks. Step away from your laptop, plan a day off or a weekend away, if that’s what you need to do. I became very aware of my triggers and reward mechanisms when I was studying, and this was something that helped me be productive and remain sane.
Body and Mind
Do at least one thing a day to look after your physical wellbeing. I used to start my day with the gym and I’d stay away from starchy or processed foods that made me feel sluggish and less alert.
No matter how organised or prepared you are, stress and anxiety can take over. I invested in 'thought work' and looked after my mental wellbeing by working with a life coach and a psychologist at different points during my MBA.
Managing Close Ones
The human brain takes a while to regain focus when your thinking gets interrupted, so let people close to you (family, housemates, partner) know when you need uninterrupted focus time. If they know how important this is they’ll understand and plan around your time. I will be forever grateful to my housemate who respected my need for focus time, but was also always ready with a glass of wine to celebrate an assignment submission with me.
Keep Applying Learnings
Maintain a curious approach to every unit and module, and weave what you’re learning about, into your day-to-day. I can honestly say that every assignment unlocked solutions at work and vice versa for me, and so I was solving solutions for work and for my MBA simultaneously almost all the time, which made for effective time management.
For more information about the Torrens University MBA program click here.
Torrens University is a highly-valued member of Independent Higher Education Australia (IHEA)
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