Case study

Neil’s journey from military intelligence to an online MBA

Neil Cufley was a soldier for 20 years. After leaving the Army, he wanted to give himself the best chance of progressing in a new career. So he signed up for our online MBA.

New direction

Neil decided it was time for a change. He’d been a soldier for most of his working life, initially in military intelligence then latterly in logistics. His first step after leaving the Army was getting a job as director of operations at an independent school.

He explains: “Early on in my new appointment, I realised that I had the bulk of the experience and knowledge to succeed but I wanted to take my learning to the next level, cementing my previous learning and experiences and I saw this being an option through an MBA.

“I found out about the course through something called The Military Transition Partnership and that had the University of Derby Online Learning course listed as a course partner that would be able to offer something for ex-military types wanting to look at a masters-level qualification.”

Accredited course

Our MBA is accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Neil feels this was key to his success as he had already achieved a CMI level 7 qualification in Strategic Management.

“I wanted a credible qualification,” he says. “Now, as an MBA graduate, I feel that I have the confidence and ability to talk authoritatively about my trade, as well as having the credibility that the qualification provides. Achieving an MBA demonstrates one’s ability to engage with both theoretical and practical research to output a credible piece of work, and to think logically and strategically, all while managing and leading a large organisation.”

Neil Cufley in robes at his graduation
Neil Cufley at his graduation

Your study, your pace

What made our MBA programme especially attractive to Neil was the ability for him to study at his own pace and work wherever and whenever he chose, thanks to 24/7 access to our online learning materials.

He explains: “Juggling a busy career and a family is a difficult task in itself without the addition of masters-level study. But the CMI and University of Derby Online Learning set-up allowed me to achieve what I had first set out to do. I could work at one o’clock in the morning or at four o’clock in the morning, it didn’t matter. I could do a burst and do quite a lot and then have a couple of weeks when I didn’t do anything. 

“Studying with UDOL was made quite simple, predominantly because of my supervisor, but also because of the flexible nature of the course and the speed at which I could operate. My research project and thesis took a little under a year to complete and I graduated with an MBA (Merit).”

Changing your view

Neil says our MBA – and particularly his research project – taught him a great deal about his job. It also led him to look at problems in a different way.

He says: “For those wishing to gain a greater understanding of business, leadership and strategic management, I cannot recommend the MBA enough, especially the modular and online route that was so key to my success. I was very well supported by my employer through my studies and, for this, I am ever grateful, especially as I could study without worrying about any impact upon my daily activities.

“Before embarking on this educational journey, I had a pre-formed view that I would increase my knowledge, understanding and business acumen but I had not realised to what extent.  Choosing the particular route was key to my success and I was hugely pleased with the recognition I gained from Chartered Management Institute qualifications.”

Neil Cufley talking at his graduation

View Neil Cufley at his graduation video transcript

What is an MBA?

The Master of Business Administration degree was launched originally at Harvard University in the US more than a century ago. Today, it is recognised globally as the world’s most popular business qualification.

Neil says: “This worldwide recognition of achievement is a key reason that led me to investigate what an MBA is and how it might impact upon me, my professional development and my future employability.

“The University of Derby Online Learning MBA programme was about providing a top-level view of business activity, encouraging students to see how the different elements of business fit together, all moderated through a modular programme and a final research project and thesis.”