Only a few of us envisage a career path that we eventually end up following or foresee the choices that we will make along the way. But each professional and academic choice shapes us and broadens our perspectives, growing our network and leading to new opportunities. The Master´s degree programme in Procurement at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences was a choice that I was often asked about.
Why study in Finland at Metropolia when I live and work in the United Kingdom? In times of turbulence, uncertainty, and change, it proved to be a choice that benefited me personally and professionally as a procurement leader. I was able to learn from senior people in the industry and apply examples of digital procurement technology and sustainability where Finland leads the way.
However, studying whilst working full time can be a daunting experience, especially remotely or as a foreign student. So, I want to share my tips for getting the most out of your master´s studies and review my Finnish student experience.
Start by choosing what you want to study
I found the Procurement MBA programme through StudyPortals.com. I’ve studied in Sweden and England previously, so I was not intimidated by the prospect of studying in Finland. The degree was in English and fully remote, and covered those aspects of procurement that I was particularly interested in, including digital procurement technology, strategy, innovation management and circular economy.
So, my advice is to choose a subject that you find interesting and valuable to your career and use the studies to develop yourself further in that field. Commit to your studies and organise yourself ahead by sharing your commitment with your line manager, with your family and friends. They are likely to be very supportive of your drive towards improving your knowledge and building upon your skills, and they may help by giving you the time and space needed for you to complete studies.
Stay in control
Studying for a master’s degree means that you are responsible for managing your time, allocating resource, and sticking to deadlines. My Metropolia study coordinator helped me with planning, so that I was able to build my own academic calendar and use the spectrum of online tools available such as OMA, Moodle, Tuudo, and other apps to ensure I was always up to date.
My advice would be to start with listing all the deadlines for your assignments and other obligations, subscribing to learning resources that are available, being proactive in contacting lecturers and fellow students, and asking questions. If you miss something, think before putting the blame to others.
We often hear the phrase ‘apply yourself’, but what does it mean for students? It means committing to the task and managing it like you would manage a project at work. In other words, prepare in advance, gather books, articles, and notes, and organize yourself into group roles with your fellow students. Pick a leader and make sure they do a good job at allocating resources and splitting tasks along a critical path.
Maintain a healthy work-study-life balance
My most important advice is to maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind. Don’t stretch yourself too thin so that you are not your best self. Ensure that you get plenty of sleep, eat well and take a day off so you can rest from your studies and work. Then you will get the desired results. Also, take part in extracurricular activities such as trips and evenings out that allow you to build your long term professional and social networks.
Ask for support
You will find that studying abroad or remotely can be difficult. You will have a whole new culture to adapt to, a different setting and a new academic system that you may be unfamiliar with. However, help is always available to those that ask for it. Reach out to Metropolia´s Student services and your Study coordinator for support. If you find yourself falling behind during your studies, be proactive in voicing your concerns to your lecturers.
For me, studying procurement at the master’s level at Metropolia was an energising experience. I was able to relate to my previous work experiences and apply my corporate procurement knowledge in the academic setting, and thus got the most out of my studies.
About the author
Mindaugas Jočbalis is an MBA graduate from the Master´s degree programme in procurement at Metropolia UAS and a Category Leader for Packaging Procurement at Associated British Foods plc., looking after Europe, Middle East and Africa since 2018. In his career, Mindaugas has often worked in procurement, but never studied it. He started his career as a retail store manager, and later managed social corporate projects at Marks and Spencer. Following this, he then moved into a graduate procurement role at AkzoNobel in the decorative paints industry in 2013. As part of his professional development, Mindaugas has completed a single year master’s degree remotely at Malmo University, Sweden, studying Communication for Development in 2016. Having completed this graduate programme, he was offered a role at GlaxoSmithKline and looked after consumer healthcare packaging for two and a half years.