In February 2012, I received a group e-mail from the Business Development Manager at the Murraylands branch for Regional Development Australia. Clicking on a link to the Industry Leaders Fund website was to be the start of a long journey and a new stage in my business career. In August, I was informed that I would be the recipient of a $10,000 grant towards completing a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration at the University of South Australia. I completed this course in April 2014, and what I have learnt has been even more than I could have expected.
The application process
The application process itself is a very rewarding process due to the amount of self-reflection required. The questions that needed to be answered required some deep thought on how I conducted myself as a leader, both at work as well as in community groups I am involved with. It also prompted me to research what being a leader is all about, which led to further insight and cues to help me in my business and personal endeavours.
Choosing my course
Candy Canvas was going through a lot of change at the time I applied for this grant. I discussed the opportunity with various colleagues and someone mentioned I should think about an MBA. I do not have an undergraduate degree so entering into a full MBA was not possible, however a Graduate Certificate could be studied, and providing my results were good enough, I could continue on.
The next consideration I needed to take in was whether to study on-line or on-campus. Being two hours from Adelaide would require a lot of driving back and forth in order to complete the course, however the advantages of being in a classroom environment and the networking opportunities won out. While I had some late nights returning home, I never regretted this decision.
The course experience
From the first day of my course, I found myself bringing back ideas and theories to my everyday work. The travel time back and forth to Adelaide was a struggle at times; however, I utilised this time to listen to various podcasts relating to the subject I was studying. The discussions prompted by case studies in the classes were invaluable, and I came out of most classes with a new theory or new way of looking at a problem.
With the skills I learnt throughout the course I have become a far more effective manager, and am more equipped to analyse business opportunities. Where we have seen other businesses in our industry fail in recent times, we have been able to maintain our market position and consistently increase our gross profit margins.
Whilst I am now leaving my family business to move onto new challenges, I have been able to facilitate the sale of part of the business. The sale of this portion of the business has meant the manufacturing and wealth creation will stay in South Australia.