Running a business and helping to raise a young family proved no obstacle for a Lancashire Managing Director in completing a Masters with Lancaster University.
Chris Mayne is the Managing Director of Forsberg Services, Heysham-based providers of positioning, navigation and timing solutions & products.
He combined his role at Forsberg with studying for a two-year Masters in Professional Practice, delivered by the Centre for Executive Training and Development (CeTAD) in Lancaster University Management School (LUMS).
It proved a winning combination, as the learning – which can be completed entirely online using CeTAD’s established digital teaching and mentoring skills – reflected what was happening with the business and fitted in with his commitments.
“It’s a really good course that sits alongside work,” said Chris who finished his Masters at the end of 2019. “Even with everything in my life that was going on, I didn’t find it a drain, because it was all so relevant to everything I was doing. My learning has been hugely advantageous within Forsberg and the whole business has benefitted.
“Working in the business alongside doing the Masters added rich knowledge to situations we were going through. Rather than approach things in the same way as always, I was able to put a label on a situation and provide a background and research. It changes the way you think.
“Everything I did as part of the Masters course complemented what was happening in my professional life. I have brought in a lot of employee engagement, and there has been work around strategy and operations.
“We realised how important it is to make sure data is reliable. In one case, it looked as though we were making 98% of our deliveries on time. The Masters programme helped me see that underneath this headline figure there were issues, and when we interrogated the data we were able to improve this. We are now constantly introducing new data and new information, so we can see the metrics improve.
“My mind and my analytical thinking are very different to where they were before I started. I am much more analytical, and so make far better decisions.”
Chris saw his leadership skills and his overall understanding of a business he has been with for 16 years boosted by the Masters, and said: “I looked closely into employee engagement and took modules around culture and climate and transformational leadership. Through this structured learning, I recognised issues with our change control, and so I took a module specifically to help, looking at how we create change and how we monitor it.
“The programme is bespoke, each module complementing the others, and the final project brought it all together. This brought real depth to my understanding of the organisation and had an effect across the business. People now have a better understanding of the impact of their decisions, in part because they see how their role fits into the overall strategy.”
Chris has an established relationship with LUMS, and it was while he was taking part in the Productivity through People (PtP) programme – which he describes as ‘transformational’ – that he was recommended to study for the Masters.
Some of the projects he completed on PtP – on Strategic Modelling & Business Planning and Agile Project Management – counted towards his degree, as did his previous work experience, reducing the amount of work he had to complete and reflecting his established skills.
As if family commitments, his role at Forsberg and the Masters degree were not enough, Chris also joined the Made Smarter programme towards the end of the course, allowing him to focus on the digitalisation of the business.
He admits he wondered if it would be possible to complete a Masters in such circumstances -with his third child born just before he started his degree – and added: “I have three children, so I was wondering how I could balance all this with everything else? But because it is a work-based Masters, all the assignments are centred on your role, and the project implements change within your business. I was doing that anyway, so while the reading and the research were extra, it is all relevant to your workplace so it is much easier.
“You are living and breathing it, so why wouldn’t you do the Masters? It has added value to the business, and value to me.”