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Student story

Ben Bainbridge

20 July 2023

"You learn skills very quickly and get real practice, and it sticks..."


Master of Business Administration

Operations Manager, Christchurch Engine Centre

Tell us about your role at the Christchurch Engine Centre.

As manager for repair operations I’m responsible for the department’s performance. Key measures are Safety, Quality, meeting production targets and financials. Additionally, the development of the repair business unit’s people and driving competitive advantage with innovation and training are an important focus for me. There are approximately one hundred people in my department.

How did you come to pursue your MBA?

I joined the workforce through trades and never pursued an undergraduate degree. Recently, I enrolled in an extramural business degree but my manager at the time suggested that the MBA would be a better fit for me. I knew a colleague that was working toward the business cert who sold me on the UC. I enrolled through a sponsorship pathway that takes into account my current role and leadership experience, instead of having a previous degree.

Favourite thing about your MBA studies so far?

The relationships I’m creating with fellow students, also, the anecdotes of the lecturers are something I find very interesting too. They’re all clearly academic, but the most important thing they bring to the learning environment is their life experiences, seeing how they've applied their teachings to their own life journeys is what really captures me.

Leadership – how do they teach it?

By stepping outside the box! There is no escape from how deep and confronting the program is when you are engaged in leadership training at the MBA. In certain courses we even do role-playing. They put you in situations and ask you to manage your way out of them. Being put on the spot like that and getting immediate feedback is really valuable. You learn skills very quickly and get real practice. It sticks.

Have you used your new skills in your day-to-day job?

100%. I find that situations are easier to navigate and I can solve issues faster. My MBA has already had a positive impact on my career. It's had a positive impact on my personal life too. A large portion of what you learn in the MBA is based around how you interact and communicate with others. That helps everywhere, not just at work!

Is it a tough course, and is there support if you need it?

It's certainly not easy. Thankfully the people who run it are very friendly and accommodating. They want to see you succeed and will carve out a pathway to help you do so. There’s plenty of support for people who don’t have degrees, or who finished their degree thirty years ago! They bring you up to speed on the academics. It’s not a cold start.

How do you feel for having undertaken your MBA?

I was a little anxious when I started out, but it's really boosted my confidence. You don't have to be a straight-A student to get a lot out of this course. Most of the learning comes from the calibre of the lecturers. It’s been incredibly fulfilling to lift myself to a new level. My employer is incredibly supportive as well and I want to bring the benefits of my degree back to them.

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