Dave started work at a local company GEC Avionics, which is part now part of BAE systems. “I completed a student degree which is like a degree level apprenticeship, where you gained real work experience.”
After a long sabattical from “wanting to do any education”, Dave found he had a yearning to learn more which is when he looked at the Open University.
From 1989 to 1993 he completed a Certificate in Effective Management, Marketing, Finance and Accounting; “six or seven modules which got you half way through an MBA.” He then went on to gain a Professional Diploma in Management before his MBA.
He admits that he has been very fortunate as both companies he worked for, GCE Avionics and Pfizer, were willing to sponsor his studies.
Dave had joined GCE Avionics as a school leaver and risen the ranks to the level of Project Manager. The company designed, built and deployed avionic equipment, largely for military aircraft and Dave was heavily involved in the project management of equipment for the Tornado Fighter aircrafts.
After completing his diploma he moved to Programme Manager delivering IT solutions at Pfizer. The decision to return to education for an MBA was a daunting move having been out of education for a while but Dave says there flexibility of the Open University MBA put him straight at ease.
He explains, “I liked the MBA as you don’t start by signing up to the whole course at the beginning; you could modify the course content and do different modules and you could also take a break every now and then if you had a busy period at work, were changing jobs or getting married. The Open University means you quickly get used to managing your time around the way you want to progress through the course.”
For Dave the MBA was not just a qualification, “I wanted to work through the course material and learn it in depth. I had been at GCE Avionic for 18 years but my experiences were very isolated to that company.” The OU MBA was a chance to get some industry standard education and understanding.
Another benefit of the MBA course was the people Dave met on the course; “through the tutorials which took place at a local college you met some great people. Most of the courses also had a residential weekend where you got to meet people from different sectors. If we had had LinkedIn back then I would still be in touch with a lot more people!”
Having been recently married and his job at Matra Marconi Space requiring too long a commute, Dave found work at Pfizer who had a half page in The Sunday Times Appointment Pages. “I knew I wanted to get into IT as looked like the place to be and the company were looking for some people who were not scientists or techies. It was a leap of faith, I knew project management but had no scientific background.”
After being interviewed on the day that Viagra was launched in the UK, Dave completed his final MBA exam on the day that the possibility of redundancies at Pfizer was announced. Having been made redundant, Dave then made tentative steps into the world of freelance consulting. Dave then received contracts with SAIC, Pfizer, Royal Mail, Norwich Union and Astra Zeneca where he is now.
After Pfizer the opportunity to freelance landed in his lap; “I love freelancing, I am amazed I didn’t stumble into it before. I have my own firm with more control of what I do. It is something I thought I would need to be older before I started on consultancy.” Dave says that it is refreshing as he is never tied to one company but admits that making the leap earlier than planned was a big step.
Dave gets work through headhunters and LinkedIn and word of mouth recommendations, he says that jobs boards are outdated and generally prove to be fruitless. Where he will be after his current contract runs out in January nobody knows but that is the excitement of freelancing!