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Shifting career gears

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Choosing a suitable master’s degree in a human resource management programme took Miss Malathy Kamalakaran up to six months of thorough research before she decided to enrol at University College Dublin (UCD) via Kaplan Singapore.

“I chose UCD because it is a reputable university with triple-crown international accreditation from the European Quality Improvement System, Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and Association of MBAs,” she says.

“UCD is currently ranked within the top one per cent of higher education institutions world-wide, according to the Times Higher Education World Ranking 2017.”

Besides UCD’s favourable ranking, she also considered how she would be juggling her studies while working full time as the assistant director of human resources and administration at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Asia, in Singapore.

She also appreciated the campus’ proximity to her office and that it is easily accessible by public transport.

Moreover, she found Kaplan Singapore to be ideal as it offers various specialised programmes from Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom that are taught by experienced faculty members from reputable universities.

In addition, the campus provides good classroom facilities and the cost of the degree programmes is reasonable.

Miss Malathy was the top student of her cohort in 2016.

As prospective postgraduate students have a wide range of generic and specialised master’s programmes to consider, Kaplan Singapore chief operating officer and Provost Rhys Johnson recommends that they base their decision on the key considerations of value, relevancy and schedules.

Value refers to a combination of several factors, such as the estimated returns you could get out of your financial investment and time committed to it into your selected programme.

Relevancy addresses discipline type, assessment mode and the candidate’s profile.

A prospective student’s profession, current state of career and projected progression have a bearing on the discipline chosen. Assessment methods play a part by determining study and preparation methods. And potential coursemates will influence networking opportunities.

Schedules are important to consider because they have a direct impact on one’s work responsibilities that can involve frequent travelling or late nights at the office. Hence, the postgraduate programmes offered at Kaplan Singapore are delivered through a varied mode to accommodate the diverse schedules of working professionals.

It has been perceived that a specialised Master’s degree makes one more employable. But Mr Johnson stresses that a generic MBA and a specialised master’s degree have their own set of merits.

He says: “As an enhancement to their current professional experience, many candidates pursue a master’s degree that serves as a differentiating factor for employability.

“Apart from academic qualifications, there are many other factors that an employer looks for in a candidate, such as relevant experience, personality and a culture match. It is important that one makes a decision based on how they believe and perceive the master’s qualification will help them set apart from others, and enhance their experience to add value and contribute to the company.”

Mr Johnson also addresses the perception that certain industries only look to recruit specialists. He feels that the selection criteria in each industry varies widely in general and it depends on the exact role, its scope and responsibilities.

He explains: “A senior IT position in the finance industry for example, may require someone with a specialist IT master’s degree to fi ll the role, whereas the same senior IT position may need someone who understands business processes and operations, which makes an MBA more suitable.

“Across our postgraduate programmes, our university partners have a list of pre-requisites or criteria to ensure the suitability of our candidate’s academic and professional profiles before embarking on a programme. This is aimed to help our master’s degree graduates obtain the best possible value from their qualification to pursue their ambition.”

Choosing the specialised programme, instead of a one, has given Miss Malathy an edge over her peers by widening her perspectives on human resources management in local and global perspectives.

“I intend to remain in this field in the long term. Naturally, a specialisation in Human Resource Management is beneficial as it allows me to understand the intricacies of employing and retaining staff and faculty from a diverse background from different countries, and to influence the university’s strategic decision-making process,” she says.

She adds that she now understands employment and tax matters related to faculty lecturers from Ireland who teach in Singapore. Her employer has also recognised her efforts to level up.

Since her graduation, she has been promoted, received a salary increase, offered an appointment as Adjunct Faculty member, and taught Organisational Behaviour to undergraduates.

While Miss Malathy concedes that pursuing a master’s degree is a way of boosting one’s employability, staying industry relevant remains crucial.

For her, understanding current trends in the field via research and the application of human resource-related developments at her workplace is vital. She also needs to grasp how this knowledge and application can be transferred to other industries if she makes a career move.

She finds that her master’s programme has reinforced how a human resource practitioner is not only an administrator involved in the hiring to firing aspects of the role, but also a key driver of strategic change to assist in the face of economy upheavals, demographic shifts and disruptive technology.

Article by Michelle Bong
Source: The Business Times© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.

October 25, 2017