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OU MBA Leads Civil Servant To Teaching And Consulting

Open University lecturer says he “can count on one finger the number of assignments” his busy students turn in early!

By  Rob Kirby

Fri Apr 29 2011

This week BusinessBecause speaks to Alan Trueman, an Open University MBA graduate who has gone on to teach on the OU MBA course while setting up a consultancy firm using the skills and contacts he made at OU.

What was your life like before the MBA?
I was a traditional civil servant. The training and support I received was excellent and led to me undertake an MBA. The Open University Business School gave me an opportunity to study whilst working.

How did the OU MBA go? How did you juggle work and study?
The MBA for me was very challenging. I left school at 16 with two O levels and I am not sure they were both mine!

Seriously, without the superb teaching and support I would have struggled big time...

The best parts were the networks, camaraderie and excellent resources that Open University offered. To me Open University is still second-to-none in that respect. The worst parts for me were probably the discipline. As a non-academic the skills of studying and working, and also being organized were difficult.

This however gave me great insight to support my students when I later became a tutor on the same course.

Are there any traits you think OU MBA students have in common?
All students seem to be very busy people and last minute with their assignments. I can count on one finger the number of assignments I have received early! We are also practical people and recognize that the theory is of little value without an application in real life.

What's the big idea behind your company, Alumni Associates?
Alumni Associates is a "virtual company". It’s a network and community of practice, originally an idea of my good friends and colleagues Peter Graham and John Grahamslaw.

It’s an idea we studied on our course, that knowledge and creativity are not the domain of the individual inventor working in isolation, but developed in a context of collaboration and sharing with others.

Alumni Associates does not employ people and we don't take a commission. We collaborate when we can or when needed, for example on large projects, but we also have our own personal and work interests.

It’s nice to bring work in for myself -but it’s nicer to provide opportunities without obligation to friends and former MBA colleagues. The value of Alumni Associates is in sharing our ideas, expertise, risk and opportunities. All important in an economic downturn- or indeed any other challenging situation! We also set realistic fees for any work - quite often giving ideas and resources freely. After all, you wouldn't thank me if you later found the same information on the internet!

One of my passions is in using any skill I have in helping the mental health charity MIND in Chester le Street and Durham, as an unpaid Director and trustee.

I am glad I did an MBA and even gladder to have met so many wonderful people along the way.