In a previous post, we chatted with new mum Kara about how she manages to maintain a work/life balance as a successful manager, new mum and online MBA student. She attributed her supportive partner as being an important factor in being able to achieve this mammoth feat.
So what’s it like for the other half when they want to pursue online MBA studies while working full-time, being a dad and supporting their partner?
Country Manager for a global software organisation, Kevin Kumarasinghe had just found out he was to become a father to his second child when he decided to pursue his Imperial Global Online MBA studies.
Already facing the great challenge and responsibility which comes with being a parent to a newborn, Kevin was also about to embark on the challenge of balancing his online MBA studies with both his work and family life.
But several months into his studies, and Kevin isn’t questioning his decision to take on his Global Online MBA studies one bit.
“Personally, it was the right time for me to pursue a world-class MBA. I had got through most of my academic studies at a very young age, and then focussed the next few years on building a career. I felt the time was now right to broaden the mind given where I was in my career and where I needed to be,” he says.
“However, making this decision was not easy. My wife and I had just found out we were expecting our second child. Our eldest was also just one-and-a-half years old, and my wife, a chartered accountant, works full-time. Therefore between work, family and studies, 24 hours a day didn’t seem to cut it! The challenge seemed enormous, however we felt that demands with kids and work will only tend to grow further with time, hence if we had a window of opportunity, this was it, and we should invest the next two years in getting this done.”
As was the case with Kara, Kevin needed to exercise a great deal of self-discipline and time-management skills to be able to fit in his Global Online MBA studies with his work and family life. He says careful forward study planning was essential.
“Devising a study plan is absolutely important. It would apply to taking up higher studies at any point, but especially so in circumstances where there are greater demands on your time. I initially took time understanding the requirements of the programme – exam schedules and on-campus visits. I wanted to make sure that if I started this process, I would be in a position to complete it. For me, family comes first. I knew if I was going to do this that I would need to devise a proper work/life balance that fitted in studies in a way that was practical. You need to build in family time during the week and on weekends,” he explains.
So does Kevin’s study plan differ now from what it was before he commenced his Global Online MBA studies and had a new baby? And what’s his advice for sticking to your study plan?
As any new parent would confirm, preparing a plan is one thing, sticking to it is another story.
“Maintaining this discipline and sticking to fixed timings will prove to be a challenge, and you need to keep an open mind about how you plan to catch up the hours. It’s important that you don’t fall too behind the pace of the programme. If you’re fortunate to get a few extra hours (maybe the grandparents offer to take the kids for the weekend!), cover a few additional readings and modules. You never know what eventuality could arise at home or at work, so it’s best to buffer up if and when time permits. This is also the advantage of the flexible format The Hub [Imperial’s bespoke online learning platform] offers. I can choose to cover the hours as and when time permits, be it at night or in the early hours in the morning, during lunch, or while in transit. You simply have access to all the learning material at hand.”
And the great challenge Kevin has faced in being a successful manager, father to two children, and a Global Online MBA student has, as in Kara’s case, been made easier to manage thanks to his supportive partner, as well as the support of others around him.
“The current economic climate places great demands and performance improvements at all levels. Managing these KPIs and expectations of your staff is challenging to say the least. Add in a young family and a world-class MBA programme, and you would find as I have a new appreciation for ‘time’,” says Kevin.
“Managing it would prove to be your biggest challenge. It is important that your family, friends and work colleagues know your commitments to the programme. They all place great demands on your time. Once aware, they all become a little more understanding of your priorities. I have been tremendously fortunate to have the fullest support of my super awesome wife – a.k.a supermum (no, she didn’t make me say that). She has shouldered much of the major responsibilities of our young family, helping me to find time so that I don’t fall behind in my studies. This MBA is as much hers as it is mine. My advice is to get your family involved and help them understand the demands of the programme from the outset, as they will be called upon to make some sacrifices and shoulder big support. I am sure if your spouse is as super awesome as mine, you have this bagged already! (She did make me say that).”
Kevin Kumarasinghe is currently studying the Global Online MBA programme offered through Imperial College Business School. Find out more about the Global Online MBA programme.