South African Jean Pick started working for GreatSoft South Africa as a junior consultant in July 1999. Fast forward to July 1st 2014 – the day Jean was promoted to Managing Director responsible for a staff of 60. What happened? An Action Learning MBA, that’s what happened. “It left my peers no option but to promote me.”

Jean-Pick-2 webGreatSoft South Africa has been a leading expert in Practice Management software for any size of time based professionals in Africa since 1987. ‘In 2008 we were a company with 25 employees, and I was working as a branch manager at the time. We were doing well, but I could just see there was room for improvement. You see there’s something wrong, but you don’t know how to fix it, or how to ask the right questions.’ My desire to do research, ask the right questions and right the wrongs in the company, lead me, then 35 year’s old, to enrol in BSN’s Action Learning MBA. ‘It’s probably the best thing I could ever have done on reflection,’ says Jean.

Congratulations on the promotion. You must be very excited!
Thank you, I am. This is what every ambitious business person strives for – to be able to say that, 15 years after starting as a junior consultant, I have been promoted to Managing Director responsible for 60 members of staff. I am quite proud of what I have accomplished.

How did the MBA influence your career?
The MBA definitely played a vital role in my career. It gave me the ability to ask the right questions. I can now ask difficult questions without stepping on anyone’s toes. I can play an active role in the company; I can question why we do certain things in the business and ensure I get the right answers and if needed, change things. My MBA and ability to ask the right questions also provided the directors of the company with an opportunity to think about the business, and whether they were doing the right thing. My MBA gave me the ability to play an active role as a manager and change things. It left my peers no option but to promote me.

Was your company supportive when you said you wanted to do an MBA?
Absolutely. Doing this MBA was one of the most justifiable things ever – given that it was completely focused on our business. Not somebody else’s company or a non-existing company, but on our operations and how to influence our own processes. When I told my two directors that this was the case, they were easily convinced.

How did you manage to combine work and family?
Luckily, I have a very supportive wife and management team. They allowed me to take the time I needed to do the MBA. Yes, I had to spend quite some time away from my family but that is just something you have to accept. If you want to achieve certain things in life, you have to accept that it comes with sacrifices.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned during the MBA?
The most valuable lesson I have learned is: never give up. And that everybody has the ability to do proper research – you can research anything you want as long as you are taught how to.

What has been the biggest change in your life since your promotion?
It provided me with the possibility to make sure my wife no longer has to work and can put our family – and our two kids of 13 and 16 – first. It’s a very fortunate position to be in.

Would you recommend that people should do the Action Learning MBA?
Absolutely! If you feel you can or want to make a change in your organisation or business situation, it’s imperative you do this MBA. I have even advised my own managers to do the MBA, so that they will also learn to research certain aspects of the company and ask the right questions. You don’t learn anything unless you apply it in reality: learning by doing is key to actually learning anything new. That’s what the Action Learning MBA is all about.

Any advice for people who are about to embark on an MBA…?
Don’t give up, follow the timelines that are given to you… if you happen to fall behind – try to catch up quickly. Also, what really helped me was finding a ‘study buddy’ within my group. We studied together, got through the workload together and had the occasional glass of wine together too: having him as a companion along the way was absolutely brilliant! Thanks again Kevin.


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