Member Spotlight: PgCert Success

David Meech Mazumdar: Department Manager, Strategic Planning & Development, Department of Management, London School of Economics and Political Science

I’m David Meech Mazumdar, and I am currently Department Manager for Strategic Planning and Development in LSE’s Department of Management. I’ve been in the role for five years, and I am the professional services lead for a team of approximately 60 staff. I work very closely with the academic lead to make sure that strategic goals are met and that we’re running the department so that student experience is optimum. I’ve been in higher education for approximately 15 years now

I’ve known of the AUA (as it was then) for a while. I had a member of staff who was interested in doing the PgCert about 7 years ago and because she was particularly interested in the potential pathway to a master’s qualification, so that was the first time I became aware of it. I didn’t really think about it much after that point until I was in my current role, and I had a couple of colleagues who’d had also done the PgCert.  I felt that the time was right to do something like that myself because I did an undergraduate degree in drama which I loved, but it wasn’t very vocational. It was still amazing, and it was all I wanted to do when  I was younger, but I wanted to do something that was linked to my career in the sector.

The PgCert was something that really jumped out at me and I think the fact that there was a clear pathway to a masters was very attractive, which, ultimately, I knew I wanted to do in order to develop both academically and professionally. 

I think what is great about the PgCert is that it is entry level. You are working with lots of different people from various types of roles. On the programme, there is a great mix of senior managers, more junior manager and other junior members of staff. So that varied level of experience makes for a really interesting cohort across the many disciplines and specialisms across the sector. 

How do you apply your learning into your day-to-day work?

You can really apply your learning directly to your work, the HE in context module has broadened my knowledge of higher education policy and practice, linking management theory to practice. In addition, the reflective work that takes place enabled me to consider aspects of my work that worked well and not so well using a range of tools. has been amazing. I think the programme really helps you understand the wider HE context, and now I really feel like I understand the journey that higher education has been on throughout my lifetime, which has been huge and there’ve been considerable changes in recent years. Understanding that has enabled me to adapt to these changes.

On the PgDip where we were looking at management and leadership, there was some great theoretical models which we were able to apply to our home institutions that fed into considerations for research topics on the MSc. I certainly feel like I’ve developed academically and at the same time my day job has developed in parallel, through the knowledge that I’ve been absorbing on those three courses.

How have you developed professionally and personally following the PgCert?

It’s made me much more rounded in my in my view of how things work. I feel like I’ve developed a much stronger understanding of the sector, but also working with academics all the time, I started to understand a bit more about their journey. I’ve learned how challenging it is and how complex it is to conduct research, to analyse data, to write that up and, develop this into your own theory and the deadlines that go with that. And sometimes, we don’t understand that as professional service staff, just as they don’t necessarily understand our work. So that’s been a great bonus on top of broadening my own skillset.

I would say to everyone, consider the PgCert, even if that’s the only thing that you’re going to do or you’re not sure if you want to do the full journey.  it’s a really good way to broaden your understanding of the sector and there is a practical element of it, which you can directly apply to most roles within higher education.

What are you looking forward to beyond the PGCert?

So, the AHEP relaunch I think was amazing. I was at the Annual Conference when the relaunch happened, and I think we could all feel a change coming and I think it’s a very exciting time to be part of that organisation and the HE sector overall. It really does feel like there is a change among professional services staff and to have our membership body evolving with us is fantastic.

I’ve really enjoyed being part of that journey and I really loved how the PgCert wove into the PgCert specifically as you start to understand what is underpinning the organisation as well. I’m really looking forward to the conference this year and I have built up a very strong network through the programme, which I’m sure will be beneficial going forward.

You can gain more insights like this and more at the AHEP Annual Conference 24 -26 March. Join the debate by registering here today!

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