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Life long learning: you're never too old

By David Scott - Posted on 12 November 2020

Education shouldn't be something we only do at one stage of our lives. As David Scott explains here, you're never too old to embark on a new phase of learning.

The journey to my Doctoral Research started in the closing stages of my MBA, which I began in my 50th year.  Prior to that, I used to joke about my highest academic achievement being Higher sums and spelling which wasn’t even true because I failed my Maths Higher (in 1982). Nevertheless, I have had a very successful business career and the honest explanation for my prior lack of academic achievement was simple teenage rebellion rather than any lack of intelligence or willingness to work hard.

That mid-life entry into the world of academia was a deliberate choice to learn the language of a bigger economic eco-system.  I took the view that had I been expanding into, e.g. Spain, I would learn Spanish.  Back then I was expanding into new markets and new industrial sectors and so I chose to learn the “commercial lingo” which many of us know as the MBA.

And it was very successful thanks to the genuinely world-class team at Strathclyde and the opportunities I had to apply the learning directly to a few businesses where I had both Board responsibilities and hands on engagement with the operational sides of those businesses.  My success then has led me to actively pursue this new venture in academic achievement as someone slightly closer to 60 than I am to the 50 when it all began!

Of course, had I already been a Masters Graduate with the experience of a Dissertation behind me, I would almost certainly have progressed directly to PhD because my light bulb moment came during the MBA Project Methodology course when I realised just what a fantastic opportunity solo research (albeit fully supported research) represented for this re-born “lifelong learner.”

Life has taught me to ask for help as soon as you know you need it – after all, the worst anyone can ever say is, “No” – and so I turned to the academic team at Strathclyde for advice and guidance on how to get to PhD “base camp” and I made it here ready to start my new upwards journey this year. 

It would be inaccurate to say that the passage so far has been easy – it is not enough to know that you are good enough, you have to be able to demonstrate that you are good enough and, my goodness, you learn a lot about your motivations during that process – but I can say, hand on heart, that everyone at Strathclyde Business School at every level has done everything that they could possibly do to remove any obstacle that would make the starting process unnecessarily difficult.  

The rest, as they say, is up to me.

For further information on the MBA please click here and for more information on doing a PhD at Strathclyde, click here.

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