This September, the Alliance MBS welcomed the first cohort of students onto the MSc Financial Management programme. A total of 59 students from around the world joined the new blended learning programme, which they will complete on a part-time basis over the next two years with workshops in either Manchester or Shanghai. Next September, students in the region will be able to attend workshops in either Singapore or Hong Kong.
The programme has been carefully crafted by academics at Alliance MBS, led by course director Dr Amedeo De Cesari, Senior Lecturer in Finance and is intended to transform professionals into confident business leaders. Professor of Finance, Arif Khurshed, one of the course unit leaders, said the MSc will “help learners achieve further career progression by equipping them with the financial management knowledge and skills sought by organisations worldwide.”
The part-time and flexible study format has encouraged a diverse range of students to apply from a wide range of countries with differing motivations to study. Students have joined the Manchester group from countries all over the world, including: Oman, Brazil, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Portugal, Zambia, Egypt, Hong Kong and the UK. Professionals from across Asia are simultaneously studying as part of the Shanghai cohort, forming a truly international community.
The programme has recruited students with varying levels of professional experience, from recent graduates looking to kick-start their careers, to established managers. They are all actively working within a wide range of positions, such as: Director (Operations Support), Relationship Manager (Private Banking), Strategy Manager and Junior Financial Controller. The blend of both mature, highly accomplished professionals and less experienced, younger professionals results in a dynamic and rewarding learning environment, bringing together a diversity of global perspectives.
The diverse cohort also brings together professionals from a variety of industries including banking, telecommunications, consultancies, legal services, travel, accountancy, construction and manufacturing industries, which enriches and elevates the student learning experience. Students are currently employed by many large and medium-sized organisations, including: DZ Bank AG, Telekom Deutschland GmbH, Bank Muscat, Dangote Group, BT (British Telecom), Stanbic Bank Zambia Limited, BNY Mellon and KPMG Luxembourg. This provides opportunities to network, share best practice and knowledge across industries, which accelerates students’ growth in a supportive and mutually-beneficial environment.
Vincent Wu joined the programme in Shanghai and is a Director at Willis Towers Watson, with over 13 years work experience in the automotive and insurance industries. He is looking forward to completing his degree: “AMBS is one of the world’s leading business schools, so it’s a great honour for me to join this programme after my MBA; it will equip me with financial management knowledge and skills to progress my career.”
The course is ideal for those either looking to further their career and move into a middle level management role, or those looking to make a complete career change and enter the financial services sector. Dr Amedeo De Cesari outlined the objectives: “Whether you are a financial manager, a consultant, a financial analyst or any other professional involved in significant financial decisions, our course will help you understand the key variables that you should consider in your decision-making activities and the practical techniques that you can use to reach optimal decisions. All of this while covering all the fundamental theoretical underpinnings of financial management which should ultimately guide your actions as a finance professional”.
A flexible master’s degree
The programme has a part-time flexible, blended structure, with teaching and assessments predominantly delivered online, supplemented with face-to-face workshops held twice a year in either Manchester or Shanghai. This is highly advantageous, meaning students can study from anywhere in the world and complete their masters whilst continuing to progress their full-time career. Professor Arif Khurshed said: “This flexible part-time master’s course in Financial Management allows learners to study online but also enjoy the benefit of face-to-face workshops with academics and fellow learners worldwide.”
Teaching and learning
A unique feature of the programme is the project-based approach of teaching and assessment, with no examinations. This applied and practical approach appeals to students and sets this master’s programme apart from other similar accounting and finance programmes available. The masters’ programme advances students’ critical thinking and decision-making skills, which they put into practice working on group projects. Through tackling real-world case studies and working together to formulate solutions, students are transformed into versatile managers who have the ability to apply their learnings and financial management knowledge directly to their workplace and are better prepared to cope with the current uncertainty in the global financial world.
Zoe Zhu, one of the new students in Shanghai, works as a Senior Treasury analyst in the Asia Pacific region, for Nouryon (formerly known as Akzonobel Chemicals). Her team is mainly responsible for cash management and corporate finance activity such as bank loans and cash repatriations. She hopes “to gain confidence to make business decisions and be able to form opinions on corporate strategies.”
Delivering teaching during COVID-19
The first workshops, covering ‘Foundations of Accounting’ and ‘Foundations of Finance’, took place in September 2020. Workshop teaching was delivered online, due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, by course leaders, Professor Arif Khurshed and Dr Julian Jones, Lecturer in Accounting and Finance, via Blackboard and Go-To Meeting. The students recruited to the Manchester centre were unable to be on campus, but successfully adapted, and completed group work highly effectively, using online video meetings and Microsoft Teams throughout the workshop. Structured sessions provided dedicated time for students to work together on a case study assignment about Hola Kola, and then present their solutions to the group. Students local to Shanghai recruited by the China centre, were able to join the virtual workshops in a venue close to the China centre.
Reflecting on the first semester of this programme, Dr Amedeo De Cesari said: “We are glad that our students have shown great interest in the content of our first two units while actively engaging with tutors and fellow students. Our students’ diverse backgrounds make their interactions particularly beneficial, allowing them to be exposed to different perspectives and to exploit complementary skills and knowledge when working on the assigned projects”.