S’porean, at age 36, took up 1-year business degree despite being professionally stable

Never too late.

| Fasiha Nazren | Sponsored | December 07, 2021, 06:00 PM

You can say that Dylan Tan, 39, is a seasoned career man, clocking in several years as an army regular and close to 10 years in the hospitality industry.

Photo courtesy of Dylan Tan.

With years of experience, one can assume that he is well-equipped with skills and probably a related degree in his line of career. Except, he didn’t have the latter until much later into his career.

As someone who was comfortable with his job, Tan never thought of getting a degree as “a priority”.

An unchecked item in his bucket list

At one point in his life, he even questioned if it was worth “pumping in money” towards furthering his studies especially when his career doesn’t necessarily require it.

“I was quite sceptical because I had to pump in money and my job didn’t require me to actually have the degree. So, as long as I brought home the bacon, I didn't really bother.”

That doesn’t mean that he never aspired to get a degree, especially when the people around him were mostly degree holders.

He said: “Completing my studies has always been an unchecked [item on my] bucket list in my life. My entire extended family are graduates, my close friends and colleagues are also graduates.”

Positive peer pressure

The turning point came thanks to what he termed as “positive peer pressure” from his circle of friends.

Describing his friends as people who are “very into education”, he said that he was thankful for their positive encouragement that pushed him out of his comfort zone.

“When I look at how accomplished they are, it makes me want to compete on a level playing field with everyone else at work. I need to know what I don’t know. That’s when I thought: ‘I’m not comfortable, I need to get this done.’”

And as fate would have it, it was sometime in 2018 when Tan was strolling in Marina Square when he saw PSB Academy’s City campus.

He sheepishly admitted that the “shiny, new” campus back then edged him to step inside and find out how he can upskill himself through the various management degree courses.

“I just walked in and asked to speak to someone [about further studies] and thought it’s actually doable in terms of the time and the cost.”

In 2018, he enrolled into Edinburgh Napier University’s (ENU) Bachelor of Arts Business Management (Top-up) via PSB Academy.

Photo courtesy of Dylan Tan.

The part-time programme is delivered by ENU’s fly-in faculty and Singapore-based lecturers.

It allows students to build on their experience to develop a stronger understanding of the theories and concepts of business and management in practical situations.

On juggling school and work

Fortunately for him, juggling between work and school wasn’t much of a problem.

His secret? Not seeing work and school as two separate entities.

“A lot of what I do at work is applicable to my course. In class, [if a lecturer gave a case study] I’d imagine ‘if this is my hotel, what would we do?’ Likewise, when I was doing a report at work, I would think: ‘If this is an academic report, how would I do it?’”

It also helped that he had good time management skills and supportive colleagues.

He shared: “After I clock out from work after 6pm, I would continue to stay at my table and just change my files from work to academic. I’d continue to study or work through my problems, and it helped that two of my colleagues completed their studies and were encouraging, especially with my finance modules.”

Of course, there were some tradeoffs. Throughout the 12-month course, Tan had to sacrifice part of his social life.

That, however, is a small loss, especially after he got his degree in 2019.

Tan even had his graduation at ENU’s stunning campus in Scotland.

Photo courtesy of Dylan Tan.

More confidence at work

After completing the year-long course, he noticed how the classes have helped him at work.

The man who once thought he didn’t need a degree now realises that gaining a better understanding of business management through the course has elevated his skill sets.

The business management course has helped to improve his analytical skills and picked up some pointers on how to present better.

It has also broadened his perspectives, allowing him to look at the big picture and provide better solutions at work.

“I realised how important it is to support my proposal with a lot more rigorous investigation and supporting evidence. That is something you cannot learn by watching on YouTube or reading books. I had to go through this physical process in the classroom to get the hang of it.”

And it is definitely a plus point that he has gained more confidence at work.

“It really made me more confident when I present to the senior management… There is no inferiority complex anymore.”

He added: “Back then, I would say ‘I think it is like that’ but now I can say that ‘I know it is like that’. I am more confident now, not because I have that piece of paper, but because I’ve gone through that process of learning and proving it.”

When asked for advice on those who are looking to further their studies later on in life, he stressed that it is important to be committed.

“Before you take the plunge, be sure that you can make the commitment. Finding a buddy is important as well, I had some good study buddies who are also working adults where we’d meet once a week out of the class schedule to discuss our studies. Having a study group motivated me, but also offered me a bit of a social life.”

This sponsored article is brought to you by PSB Academy.