MBA Alumni – Alex Watson

I studied my MBA in 2014, completing it in January 2015. Prior to my MBA I was a Project Manager for a steelwork company based in Norfolk. Currently, I am Head of Project Management at a property investment and development company in Norwich. 

I knew that I wanted to undertake a Masters programme from when I came to the end of my first degree, but hadn’t planned when that would be. After around 4 years of working in a multiple roles, the timing was right to return to studying. I had studied some management modules during my Bachelors degree, including Economics & Finance, and had enjoyed them. So I decided I would like to study a business orientated Masters that offered an overarching view of how industries and businesses operate, and concluded the MBA was the way forward. I had looked into relocating to other cities with Universities that offered the course but after I attended an MBA open evening at the University of East Anglia, I came away inspired by the presentations and the stimulating programme offered, and I decided that the UEA MBA was for me. It offered the study routes that suited me and was in the area of the country that I had grown to love, and I had no desire or need to up-sticks and move again. 

From day one of my MBA I knew it would be tough going, but I had mentally prepared myself for the year and was willing to work as hard as needed to achieve the grades I wanted. 
I was expecting to be spending the year studying closely with a variety of professionals; supporting, helping, and drawing from each other’s views and experiences to allow me to develop. But I also understood that I would get out what I put in, so I was fully committed to completing the course to as higher standard as possible. 

My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the workload and would not achieve my potential, but I quickly overcame that by planning my work and ensuring that I kept as balanced a life as possible to avoid any negative outcomes. I was also concerned that I would be the one in the group that “shouldn’t be there”, whether that was because I was not clever enough, not experienced enough, not educated enough, or not committed enough. That quickly dissipated as I realised that the MBA is about bringing together people with different experiences, different capabilities, and different skills to enable everyone in the cohort to develop together as a group.

The first week of the UEA MBA was intense as I was meeting so many different people and slowly comprehending the year ahead, but I found everyone was very help and supportive, particularly the MBA Team and it didn’t take long for me to start to feel comfortable with studying and the university campus became my home from home.

Alex Watson speaking about strengthening network potential at a UEA MBA alumni event in 2018 – you can read the blog about this event here.

Of all the things that I learned from the MBA, the most significant and helpul post-graduation was how it encouraged me to build a life-long habit of holistically analysing my actions. The MBA provides such a wide overview of business that it gives you the tools to view things from multiple perspectives. I know for a fact that my views on many things were changed by the MBA, and it has enabled me to assess options and potential outcomes in depth and detail.

The MBA had a profound impact on me both personally and professionally, increasing my confidence to question, research, and analyse everything that I do and discuss and challenge my peers in pursuit of the best outcome.

After I finished my MBA studies I returned to my previous industry but in a different capacity than before. I took a position in a consultancy firm in Cambridge, although I made sure to have some time just for myself after graduation.

For those studying or looking to study the MBA at the UEA I advise that all you need to do is work hard. There is no secret study method and you don’t need to be ‘gifted’ to achieve the grades you desire, but it does take 100% commitment and personal planning to get there. Furthermore I would advise that you prepare to accept that you will be a different person once you have completed this MBA and allow yourself to change and develop without restraint. 

Years after my graduation I still keep in touch with some members of my cohort, one or two I am remain very close to, some I hear from once in a while, but the MBA network is a lifelong group of professionals, intellectuals and above all friends that I can rely on no matter how spread across the world we are. 

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